I read this book over the holidays, and it's fitting. I knew that I had to be the Grinch because my heart grew two sizes the day I finished reading Destiny, Rewritten. It felt as if it would burst right out of my chest because I was felt with such overwhelming happiness and love for the characters, who are some of my all-time literary favorites. There is not one person in the book that I did not want to scoop up and squeeze into a bear hug.
Destiny, Rewritten taught me something that I have been overlooking about myself - I LOVE stories that make references to other stories or pieces of pop culture. I found myself giggling several times throughout the book because of arguments that Emily Elizabeth Davis and Wavey St. Clair, her best friend, would have about female roles in Star Wars, Little House on the Prairie, or even paper towel commercials. This was a perfect little running joke (it has to be a joke because it was so hilarious!) to go along with Emily while she searched to find her lost book, unknown father, and herself. Emily's letters to Danielle Steele and love of romance novels' happy endings are also so brilliantly woven into the story. There are also tree-huggers, used bookstores, a cashier from Goodwill who is all things awesome, and more minor characters who kept me beaming.
My absolute favorite part of the book, however, was that each child in the story was encouraged to be their very best at whatever they did. The children were supportive of each other, and not one of the adults ever treated any of them as anything less than the intelligent, nerdy, brilliant balls of potential they were. Yes, there are bullies and adults telling kids, "There's no way you can do that!" in the real world, but there are so many people who are the polar opposite of that, and I think the book is a lovely homage to them. Cecily Ann likes to give science reports in poem form, but no one really gives her a hard time. Montie is an eight year old little boy who is counting the days until he can join the army, but nothing is said to dissuade his dreams or soldier-in-training behavior. Connor Kelly, Emily's crush, even had an entire conversation with her in haiku during English class. I seriously want to live in their neighborhood and be friends with all of them.
This is far and away one of the best books that I read in 2012. Yes, it is contemporary (which I usually avoid), but Destiny, Rewritten is full of the magic of innocence and childhood. It reminds us that it's okay to be yourself, it's okay to chase your dreams, and sometimes your happy ending is where you least expect it.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a digital ARC of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
I picked up this book as a part of the Magnificently Magic Read-A-Thon* both because it was a book I had been wanting to read and because of how perfectly it fit the criteria. Being as it weighs in at 228 pages and is assuredly lower middle grade might have had something to do with choosing it.
Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King is the first book in The Guardians series. It takes place after The Man in the Moon, which is the first book in the picture book companion series, The Guardians of Childhood, also written by William Joyce. (It's a quick read, and I recommend that you read it first.) The Nightmare King, Pitch, escapes his imprisonment after the inadvertent actions of a moonbeam releases an elfish boy made of light encased in a dagger in Pitch's heart. This sets of a chain of events that is the focus of this.
I'm not sure if I've ever said this on the blog, but I have a special place in my heart for middle grade novels. There is rarely any gore, minimal depressive events (before you say anything, I believe Harry Potter 5-7 is YA), and a lovely, magical sense of fun whether there is literal magic or not. Nicholas St. North gives us just that. Joyce & Geringer brilliantly draw the reader into the story, while setting up the world in the novel for the entire series. Where the picture book, The Man in the Moon introduced the reader to Mim, AKA Tsar Lunar, in this novel we meet Nicholas St. North (Santa, perhaps?), Ombric the Wizard, and Katherine, a little foundling girl in Ombric's care. Nightlight, a character and friend of Mim's in The Man in the Moon, makes a reappearance in this novel. The first half of the story is mostly devoted to world-building (which is rich), but the action is exciting once it comes.
This would be a fantastic story for fans of fairy tales or reimaginings, and I highly recommend this book for reluctant readers. There are illustrations scattered throughout the book, and the pacing is gripping and fast enough to hold on to those frustratingly short attention spans. There is also the film adaptation, The Rise of the Guardians, that can be used as a tool to bring readers to Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King and vice versa.
*I hand write most of my reviews before I type them up and put them on the blog. Yes, I wrote this review three months ago. I will neither confirm nor deny whether there are any other, older reviews in my notebook.
The Cadet of Tildor is both an intelligent and entertaining novel, without being something that could be intimidating to more reluctant teenagers. Lidell weaves political intrigue, excellent fight scenes, and realistic relationships that are not centered on romance between her main characters. As many fans of fantasy novels well know, the stories can sometimes be formulaic, but The Cadet of Tildor is fresh and exciting.
Renee de Winter is a heroine who I think is a fantastic role model for teens, as well as a fun character to read. She follows her dream of becoming a Servant of the Crown, despite the fact that very few females make the cut. She grows through the book as she tries to figure out what is wright and for whose sake things should be done. Her friends, Sasha and Alec, are good side characters, but I feel that they were mainly tools used to show how Renee was changing and growing (not that it's a bad thing). The way Renee interacted with Commander Korish Savoy also showed us a great deal about what kind of character she was - stubborn and unwilling to give up. The best thing about the relationship between Renee and Savoy is that it wasn't focused on love, as you may expect, but more of a comrades-in-arms. (We shall see how it goes in a sequel, if there is one.) Renee also takes Diam, a little boy at the Academy, under her wing, in a sense. He is absolutely adorable and one of my favorite things about the book.
While the characters were a very entertaining aspect of the novel, the themes were also important. The mages in the novel are discriminated against and forced to register once their powers manifest or face terrible consequences, which could be execution. This, in addition to the crime families and their dealings, really makes the reader, as well as the character, question what is right and if it is always right. I think this would be a great classroom book due to the depth of the novel and the entertainment value. The Cadet of Tildor is a wonderful debut, and I look forward to reading more of Alex Lidell's work in the future.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of a Debut Author Challenge ARC Tour in exchange for an honest review. The advance copy was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
Zuto: The Adventures of a Computer Virus is the middle-grade debut novel of Udi Aharoni. The story is set inside of a boy named Tom's computer and follows a Zutrog-33 virus named Zuto.
The Writing of Zuto really made reading the book a breeze. The style is definitely aimed at a younger audience with short chapters and cute illustrations every ten pages or so. There is also a "Zutopedia" in the back that defines some of the computer terms that are used in the course of the book. The characters are funny, and Zuto is charming enough to make a virus a sympathetic character. The only drawback that I saw with the novel is that it may be a little too simple for the age group it is aimed at, but this one is not a major concern because most children (like adults) like an occasional easy read, and Zuto sneaks a little educational material into the story. 3.5/5 Stars
Udi Aharoni's World-Weaving in Zuto is fantastic. The entire story takes place in less than a minute (though much longer for the characters), and it turns the inner-workings of a computer into a world that easy to imagine and that makes how a computer works more understandable. There is a "Firewall" that is by the port, that is described as being by the sea much like an actual port. The anti-virus program is similar to a police officer, and he patrols the Mathematical Co-Processor on a motorcycle. I personally am not a computer expert, so reading Zuto gave even me, an adult, a greater insight into the way computers operate. 4.5/5 Stars
The Pace of the novel is very fast and can easily keep a middle-grade reader on board. The events unfold quickly, and a lot happens in this very little book. The chapters are short, but they pack a lot of heat. 4/5 Stars
The Extra Magic of Zuto is the way Aharoni and Troitsa take a subject that many would find boring and present it in a way that is appealing. While computers are an essential part of my life, I've never had much interest in knowing how they work or why they do what they do. As long as I was able to get online and my research was kept safe, I did not need anything more from my computer. However, reading Zuto taught me a few things, but mostly it made concepts that went right over my head before a little more tangible and understandable. 4/5 Stars
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book from literary publicity firm, JKS Communications, in exchange for an honest review as a part of the book tour. This has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
Dystopian fantasy novel, Luminosity by Stephanie Thomas, is the author's young adult debut. The main character, Beatrice, is a Seer who has been receiving visions of an impending invasion by City's mortal enemy, the Dreamcatchers. As tensions mount and the City goes on high alert, Beatrice starts keeping secrets that could be dangerous to everyone.
Initially, I was not a fan of Luminosity. It is written in first person from Beatrice's point of view, and I was a little confused about the way Stephanie Thomas brought us into the story. For one, I thought Gabe was some sort of guard, and we're told the Keeper is supposed to be intimidated by Beatrice, but I never got that vibe. Despite these things, once I got into the novel, it really began to flow, and I was hooked.
I'm usually disappointed in books that have romance as a major part of the novel because it comes at the cost of world-building, plotting, or character development. However, the romance in Luminosity was not overwhelming and watching Beatrice and Gabe was sweet, though very high school-esque. (Yes, I know this is aimed at a young adult audience.) The only thing I didn't really get was the "falling in love with the enemy" from the book's description. I never got any indication that Beatrice had feelings for anyone but Gabe. I mean, Gabe wasn't my favorite character in the book by a long shot, but at least I understood Beatrice's attraction to him.
Luminosity is an average-length YA book, and I think it was perfect for the story told. The pacing of the novel was really good, and it was packed with action that was well-executed. I think teens will really be able to connect with the book and characters, and I told myself several times while reading it that it's written for teens without being dumbed down. Luminosity had a rocky start for me, but I was impressed by the end. I even look forward to rereading it in the future.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of Itching for Books Blog Tours in exchange for an honest review. The advance digital copy was provided to the tour by the publisher, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
Provocateur is a novel of intrigue and womanly wile that follows the path of Nadia Borodin from her...moreReview originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please.
Provocateur is a novel of intrigue and womanly wile that follows the path of Nadia Borodin from her poor beginnings in Russia to her role as a top earner in the agency which rescued her.
The Writing of Provocateur was not quite what I expected from the novel. It was an easy read, but I found myself a bit disconnected and confused from time to time. The premise was fascinating, and I had no trouble sitting with the book for an hour or so at a time, but I felt like I was reading a documentary. The author inserted little tidbits of history and some great photographs into the novel, and it proved distracting. As much as I love history, I think that it took away more than it gave to this novel about a seductress. The narrator was also a little too omniscient, also lending to the documentary feel. Charles D. Martin provided the thoughts of various characters to us, whether it was necessary or not.
The biggest thing that confused me in the writing was when Nadia went undercover as a hostess at a yacht club, using the name "Tatyana". During those chapters, the narrator inconsistently refers to Nadia as Tatyana, as well as the other characters who know her as Nadia. It left me scratching my head because there was no real pattern or reason as to why. And as soon as the "job" was over, she was back to Nadia. Despite these things, I still enjoyed reading about Nadia and her conquests and was able to lose myself in the story. 3/5 Stars
The World-Weaving of the story was good. I was able imagine myself in high society with Nadia and right there with her on her assignments. Martin is obviously knowledgeable about the upper classes and brings that to life on the pages. I did have trouble suspending belief in a few situations (extremely wealthy and successful businessmen can't possibly be THAT dumb), but it's fiction, so I just took it for what it was. 3/5 Stars
The Pace and my Attention Span (I'm throwing these together here) of the Provocateur was good. It was an easy read with lots of action. It's common to find dead filler in adult novels, but even what I found to be excess history in the book was fascinating to read, all the same. 3/5 Stars
The Extra Magic in this novel was the kickass heroine, Nadia. She was able to rise from her beginning in a Russian orphanage to become a strong, confident, and successful agent. It was stressed time and again that it was her intelligence, not her sexiness or beauty, that made her special. I think that was my favorite part of the entire book. 3.5/5 Stars
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free through JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.(less)
Loving Lady Marcia is the first book in Kieran Kramer's new Regency series, The House of Brady. It is...moreReview originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please.
Loving Lady Marcia is the first book in Kieran Kramer's new Regency series, The House of Brady. It is a light-hearted adult romance that is inspired by situations in the beloved American sitcom, "The Brady Bunch". The main focus of the book is Lady Marcia Brady's romance first with Finnian Lattimore, and then later his brother, Duncan Lattimore, Earl of Chadwick.
The Writing of Loving Lady Marcia was typical for the adult Modern Regency novel, if you are familiar with those. It was a very fun read that follows the characters through the romantic and conservative standards of 19th century British society. Lady Marcia is the oldest daughter in the Brady household who we meet while she is traveling to a wedding in Ireland with Lord Chadwick (Duncan) and Mr. Lattimore (Finn). She turns sixteen on the journey and falls madly in love with Mr. Lattimore, who proceeds to break her heart. Kieran Kramer takes us on a delightful romp with Marcia through London five years later, following her dismissal as headmistress of her former school by the school's benefactress (and her rival), Lady Ennis.
The story is filled characters with characters that you will recognize from "The Brady Bunch": the parents, Gregory, Janice, Peter, Robert, Cynthia, Alice the maid (briefly), and a nod to Tiger (the dog). They encompass everything that was fun about the sitcom, while playing true to the Regency standards in the novel. Gregory acts as a friend to Lord Chadwick and an excuse to visit the Brady household while he woos Marcia, and Janice is her sister's best friend, as well as becomes a target of the story's womanizer, Finn. However, the characters who stole the book for me were Joe, Lord Chadwick's son, and the Duke of Beauchamp. Their interactions was hilarious and provided a cute distraction from the romance developing on hand.
As for the romance and love triangle implied by the synopsis, I never felt drawn to Marcia and Finn as a couple. I enjoy a scoundrel as much as the next person, but it merely worked (for me) as an introduction to the romantic feelings between Marcia and Lord Chadwick. Though she has sworn off romance following her fling with Finn as a teenager, she did not take long to rush into the arms of the very attractive earl. It seemed that Duncan only wished to "clean up" Finn's messes, so to speak, but his true feelings for Lady Marcia were evident very early on in the novel. Most of the character and romance development did seem a bit manufactured at times (Finn was really the only one that stayed true to form throughout), but it was fun to read none-the-less. 4/5 Stars
The World-Weaving was a very fun part of the book. There were lots of glittering balls, card parties, outings, and secret trysts that occurred, and they were a beautiful setting for the novel. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the clothes and the frills of the peacocks of London society. Kramer always took special care to give a good visualization of each event, no matter how minor it may have seemed. The one thing I would have liked to see more of is some of the historical going-ons during that time period, but it did not really pertain much to the novel. (That's just the historian coming out in me.) 4/5 Stars
I am going to completely skip my Attention Span portion of the review, as I did read this as a part of a blog tour, but I will focus instead on the Pacing of the novel. One of the great things about these cute Regency romances is that they are fairly predictable. These romances are great fun to read when all you want to do is just sit back and enjoy a book with no heavy lifting. However, it can happen from time to time that the story will drag because everyone knows what is going to happen except for the characters. This was only the case a few times in Loving Lady Marcia, but I did find myself skimming once in a while because I wanted to get back to the romance at hand. (No, I was not smut-cruising!) The characters dancing their way through society can be great fun, but I tend to lose interest quickly if I get too many distractions from the events at hand. 3.5/5 Stars
The Extra Magic in the novel is going to make me seem like a hypocrite, considering my issue with the pacing. While some of the events in the novel had me skimming, the parts with Joe (as I stated before) were some of my favorites. The four year old did so well in bringing out the characters around him. Okay, I also enjoyed reading the sexy-times. There, I said it. 3.5/5 Stars
Loving Lady Marcia is a sexy, funny book that is filled with beautiful settings and society that will surely be enjoyed by anyone who loves historical romance or Regency novels.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a free digital ARC of the book for reviewing purposes as a part of Innovative Online Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are honest, my own, and have not been influenced in any way. (less)
The Dark Unwinding is the debut young adult novel by Sharon Cameron. It is a Victorian mystery, centering on Katharine Tulman, an orphan who lives under the "kindness" of her Aunt Alice. She is sent to stay with her uncle, Frederick Tulman, to testify that he has gone mad so she can secure the dwindling family fortune for her cousin, Robert. However, once she arrives at Stranwyne Keep, Katharine learns that things are not at all what they seem and that maybe what is happening at the estate is more than madness.
The Writing of The Dark Unwinding was enjoyable, though a little confusing for me. I had a bit of trouble following the plot (mysteries that are too layered tend to lose me), and I spent a great deal of the book wanting to shake Katharine. There was a lot that we (the audience) are kept guessing at throughout the course of the novel. Is Uncle Tully mad or a genius? Is Katharine herself mad? Is there something deeper and darker going on at Stranwyne Keep? The mystery in the story was a bit complex for my taste, but if you enjoy mysteries, this will be a good book for you.
The characters in novel all have little secrets of their own. Mrs. Jefferies, Davy, Mary, and Lane each have something to hide from Katharine, but it is not their open disdain for who she is and what she came to Stranwyne Keep to do. They are all extremely loyal to and protective of Frederick Tulman, and they will go to any length to protect him. Their behavior is admirable to an extent, but they all become rather scary. If I was Katharine, I would have left after the first week, duties be damned. The estate was creepy, and there is no way I would sleep in a house with that many people who had it out for me. Even her only ally, the student Ben Aldridge, had secrets and became a bit frightening.
There is a quasi-love triangle in The Dark Unwinding, but the romance takes a backseat to the mystery and wonders of Stranwyne Keep. I never felt that Katharine should be with either one of the guys, but I completely understand her initial decision regarding them. That being said, I personally wouldn't have stayed around long enough to develop any sort of relationship with anyone there. Those servants were SCARY. I suppose the purpose of a gothic sort of mystery is to keep you on the edge of your seat, and Ms. Cameron definitely accomplished that. 3.5/5 Stars
Sharon Cameron was very successful in her World-Weaving in The Dark Unwinding. While I did not actually feel like I was in Victorian England myself (I can become quite immersed in what I'm reading), the setting was fairly plausible. Cameron based her story on William Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck and Welbeck Abbey. The idea of Stranwyne Keep and its residents was fascinating, but knowing that it was inspired by reality made it that much more interesting to read. Stranwyne Keep definitely counted as a character in the book. It was wonderfully described in a way that I could picture in my head. I would almost want to visit it, but for the servants (who would not have to worry about me ever darkening their doorstep). I suppose the peculiar characters being woven into the peculiarities of the estate made The Dark Unwinding that much more intriguing and enjoyable to read. 3.5/5 Stars
While the Pace of The Dark Unwinding was good, my Attention Span did not cooperate entirely. There was always something unraveling or a bit of action, but the set-up of the various enigmas and said action tended to drag a bit for me. The Dark Unwinding is a relatively short book, but it took me longer to read it than what I would have figured for its length. Since I was unable to really connect with Katharine, I suppose that also affected how much I was invested in the book. If nothing else, I stayed with the book to see how the novel would play out and if there would be a Happily Ever After for Katharine and the people of the estate. 3/5 Stars
The Extra Magic in The Dark Unwinding is none other than the very sweet "Uncle Tully". While being very childlike, he was so much more than expected. I always had a smile on my face when I read his scenes, and I never had any difficulty in understanding how a man obsessed with his inventions (okay, toys) could elicit such love, loyalty, and devotion from everyone who met him. 4/5 Stars
The Dark Unwinding is a suspenseful and interesting novel that I think mystery and historical fiction readers will enjoy. While it is classified as young adult, I think it will hold just as much appeal to adult readers.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
When Let's Hear It For Almigal arrived in the mail from JKS Communications, my five year old daughter immediately snatched it up and ran to her bedroom to look at the book. Since I received the book for reviewing purposes, I had to negotiate with Bug (my daughter) in order to have a turn with the book. The end result - I got a turn to read the book, but I had to read it aloud to her. Being as it is a children's book, I think reading it in this manner was best for the review.
The Writing of Let's Hear It For Almigal is great for children who are still being read to. (Some of the words are a little too big, and the book itself is a bit too long, in my opinion, for beginning or intermediate readers.) However, the "read to me" age will really enjoy the book. Wendy Kupfer introduces Almigal, a little girl with hearing loss who wears hearing aids in a way that children can easily relate to her. She is shown to be a completely normal little girl well before any mention of her disability is made. Almigal's struggles and mishaps are portrayed in a light and funny way that doesn't make anyone feel sorry for her. I think children will identify with Almigal's ability to get in trouble and the triumphs she makes throughout the book. 5/5 Stars
I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was the Illustrations* that drew Bug to the book. Tammie Lyon illustrates the Eloise series, and the pictures for Let's Hear It For Almigal are no less engaging. There is one picture in particular that Bug really liked, which showed how say "I love you" in sign language. The book is bright, colorful, and perfect for keeping the attention of an easily distracted child. 5/5 Stars
Since my Attention Span is not really an issue, I'm going to base this part on Bug's reaction to the book. She is a very active child who is constantly looking for something to do or trouble to start. However, as soon as I opened the pages of the picture book, she was enraptured. Bug did not move from my side until I finished reading the story. Once we were through with the book, she immediately returned to her regularly programmed shenanigans. 5/5 Stars
The Pacing of the story was fairly typical for a children's book. Being as I'm not exactly sure how a children's book should be paced, I'm going to skip rating this portion.
The Extra Magic of Let's Hear It For Almigal for me was that my daughter was not asking me why Almigal was different. Usually, if Bug sees someone with a hearing aid, a cane, or who just looks different, she is interrogating me as to why that person is that way. With Almigal, she only saw another happy little girl who had lots of friends, cute puppies, and did not always do what she was supposed to. 5/5 Stars
This is easily my favorite children's book that I have read in 2012, and I think it will be a fantastic book for all children - especially little girls. I think it has just enough information to make children more aware of hearing loss in other individuals their own age, but not so much that it bores or scares them. Let's Hear It For Almigal will be a great addition to any library, be it public, classroom, or home.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free through JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.(less)
Riser is a science fiction novel by Becca C. Smith that is aimed at a young adult audience. It tells the story of Chelsan Derée, a young girl who lives in the United States in the year 2320. Although aging has been cured, people (and other animate creatures) still die of other causes – and Chelsan can raise the dead. While she tries to discover herself and the source of her powers, she has to overcome betrayal, heartache, and figure out why someone wants her dead.
I’m not going to review this book under my new “guidelines” because I did not finish it. Before you skim off, I want you to know that Riser started strongly for me. I am a huge fan of science fiction, and this was a very fun read. Chelsan, who narrates the story, has a very bubbly voice and personality, and Becca C. Smith's writing is fantastic. I enjoyed learning about the world that Smith created in this futuristic America where over-population is a huge problem because of the age cure, trees are one of the most important resources, and immortality is government-sponsored. It had all of the right ingredients.
Like many young adult books centered around high school kids, there is this “mean girl” who makes the protagonist’s life a living Hell. In Riser, it was a super rich chick named Jill. She was a horrible little bitch, but most teenage girls are. (Sorry, I was one. I wasn’t a bully, but I was still awful. It’s the hormones.) I liked to dislike her. I couldn’t wait for her to get what was coming to her. (Aren’t nasty villains fun?) Unfortunately, for me, she got what was coming to her by getting punched in the face. By a guy. And not just any guy, but a guy Chelsan liked. I know violence happens in books, but none of the characters in the book saw a problem with this. Chelsan thought it was sweet that he would do that for her.
He. Punched. A. Girl. In. The. Face.
I kept reading a few chapters further in, but I just couldn’t stomach that character hanging around or Chelsan’s fascination with him. Yes, Jill was a full-fledged Missus Nasty-Pants, but she was still a girl. And guys shouldn’t punch girls in the face. Period.
Why do I care so much? I had a guy – my boyfriend – punch me in the face when I was a young adult. He knocked me out. I justified his behavior and stayed – not long, but longer than I should have. This is why I could not with a clear conscience recommend this book to anyone. I would hate to think that a girl may read this book and think it’s okay that a guy hit her because she was being a bitch. You know, some guys will tell you that’s why they did it. It. Is. Never. Okay. Got it? However, that’s not to say I will discourage anyone from reading Riser – it has all the makings of a great book. I just can’t bring myself to finish it or put it in someone else’s hand. But I’ll still read Becca C. Smith’s next novel. In fact, I’m looking forward to it.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free from the author through Innovative Online Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
*After my review was posted on my blog, the author (Becca C. Smith) stated that she would be changing the problematic scene due to continued complaints, as it was unnecessary to the novel. This review is based on Riser as it was in July 2012.(less)
When I first discovered that Innovative Online Book Tours was doing a review tour for The Wild Princess, I jumped at the opportunity. Historical fiction is one of my favorite alternatives to science fiction/fantasy. Philippa Gregory is one of my absolute favorite authors, so I could not get my hands on the book quickly enough.
The Wild Princess does not release until July 31st, so the copy I was provided with was an eARC. That being said, there were barely any technical issues on the Writing. The only thing I had a problem with was Princess Louise's name was often misspelled as "Louse", but I am pretty sure something like that was caught before the finished copy was printed. I did not see much symbolism or themes, and that was completely fine with me. This book was nothing but a pleasure-read, despite it being a review. 4/5
The World-Weaving was pretty good for a historical romance. I had no problem believing that Mary Hart Perry's interpretation of the British royal family behaved in the manner she described in The Wild Princess. Stephen Byrne was a completely fictional character, but there were times that he felt more real than Louise. The supporting characters also lent much to the book. John Brown was a real person, and I love that it gives a little wink to their relationship. (I know it is something Perry would have had to mention with the bit of controversy surrounding it, but it was thankfully not overwhelming.) As for the main character, Louise, I quite enjoyed how Perry portrayed her as a woman well ahead of her time, who was passionate and strong-willed. I read a lot of YA with female characters given much freedom and opportunity to be strong, but Louise was born into a gilded cage, and made her life her own in this novel. The Civil War ammunition veterans who worked for the Fenians were my least favorite characters, but they were needed antagonists in the plotting of the story. Louise's husband, Lorne, was also somewhat of an antagonist, but he was not evil or even unlikable for me. Yes, he was not the man that Louise deserved, but that was how it went in "arranged" marriages. (Historically, Lorne and Louise's marriage is usually described as a "love match", but Perry did not use that scenario at all. I will not spoil it for you.) Victoria was also a bit of a villain when it came to Louise, but as a mother and a historian who understands the necessity of maintaining royal perfection, I did not begrudge any of her actions. She was merely a mother who wanted to protect her daughter, her family's reputation, and the monarchy.
The setting itself was enjoyable because it had Fenian plotting at every turn to create tension in the beautifully described royal opulence. Louise's time spent in the more common areas of London also seemed very real. The scenes with the royal family traveling or on the parade route were some of my favorites, and I did not even care to check the historical accuracy of it. (That is usually one of the first things I check.) Did a royal take a bullet for Victoria or face death during another attack? I don't know, but it was a lot of fun to imagine that she did. 4.5/5
The Pacing of the story was the one problem for me. I enjoyed the story itself, but there were periods of time that I felt like nothing was happening. The blame for this can be easily blamed on the fact that I've read quite a few novels lately that are action-packed, and it's been a while since I've read an adult novel. When all the pieces came together, I could not put the book down. I suppose I was just impatient for Louise and Stephen to come to terms with what was happening around them. Perry also made us aware of nearly every aspect of the plots against the royals, so there was not much suspense about what would happen - only a question of when.
There was a few flashbacks in the story that helped the characterization of Louise, which made The Wild Princess more enjoyable for me. Those were some of my favorite parts of the novel. There was also a side plot point that involved one of Louise's school friends that I would have liked to seen wrapped up, but some questions have no answers. 3/5
My Attention Span would have been a lot shorter when it came to this book, and I would not have read it nearly as quickly if I had not read it during the Once Upon a Read-a-Thon. I'm glad that I pushed myself through it because it really was a lovely book. However, there were outside forces at work here, so I don't feel I should offer a score based on this factor.
The Extra Magic for me came from the story Perry created based on rumors and whispers from the Victorian era. There is no historical evidence that some of the events in this book occurred, but it is a lovely to think that Victoria is spinning in her grave from the liberties taken with the royal family. Louise was given a life I feel that she deserved, and I have no doubt that was the author's intention. Every woman should have a great romance and fictitiously giving one to a princess whose life was never her own was a beautiful tribute to her life. 4.5/5
Overall, I found The Wild Princess to be a lovely example of historical romance. I would be hesitant to compare it to the novels by Philippa Gregory except as a reference point personally, but that is merely because Mary Hart Perry has a style that is all her own. I look forward to reading her future novels about the Victorian princesses.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free through Innovative Online Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.(less)
Valkyrie Rising is the young adult debut novel of Ingrid Paulson. It is a mythology-based story set in modern Norway about Elsa "Ellie" Overholt, who discovers a family secret and more to this world during a visit to her grandmother's in Norway.
The Writing of Valkyrie Rising is something that I belive would be perfect for teen readers and other lovers of YA. The characters are interesting and engaging, and the plot never really dragged. The writing style itself is something that teens will have no trouble flying through, and the first person point of view will give the reader a chance to get to know Ellie and connect with her.
Ellie is a fairly normal teen girl whose only real gripe is her very overprotective older brother, Graham. She has a bit of a like-hate relationship with Tucker (Graham's best friend), which is explored in the course of the novel. The minor characters were also well-done, and I especially loved Loki and Astrid. Loki was portrayed to be fairly true to the myths that I've read, and Astrid was awesomely kickass. My only gripe about the characters was that everyone was so damned beautiful. Ellie herself came awful close to being called "Mary Sue" a few times, but I'll back away from that and say that she's not.
As I said before, the story did not drag, but I was a bit thrown off by the usage of time in the story. Ellie and Tuck had a set amount of time to save the day. AS quickly as they traveled on their mission, in addition to all of the events between scenes, it's improbable that they did everything in 48 hours. (Keep in mind they were in a different country.) Ellie's instant badassery also made me raise my eyebrows. Other than that, I liked how the novel was executed. 4/5 Stars
Ingrid Paulson's World-Weaving in Valkyrie Rising successfully wove mythology into the modern world. The reality in the book had mythological beings existing right along with everyone else, and this is slowly revealed to Ellie upon her arrival in Norway. Unlike other YA mythology novels, not everyone in the book is superhuman. I'll grant that most of the main characters are, to an extent, but "regular" side characters played a bit part. I also would like to give Ms. Paulson major props for setting a story using Norwegian mythology in Norway. That, my friends, makes me happy. 4/5 Stars
The Pacing of Valkyrie Rising was good. As I said before, it never really dragged, but I was never at the edge of my seat. I didn't feel a sense of urgency, despite the fact that Ellie's brother had been kidnapped by beautiful demigoddesses. There's a good chance that I may have wandered away from the book if it wasn't for the Writing. It was a nice, leisurely rush through Norway to find and do Things, and I can't complain - the scenery was nice. 3/5 Stars
Mythology will always be the Extra Magic for me. I mean, unless the author REALLY messes things up. I may even like mythological reimaginings better than fairy tales. *ponders* Maybe not. Anywho, Ingrid Paulson wrote a lovely book. I liked it, and I think teen readers will as well. Okay, you adult crossover readers might just enjoy it, too. 5/5 Stars
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of a Southern Book Bloggers tour in exchange for an honest review. The advance copy was provided to the tour by the publisher, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
The Raven Boys is the latest novel from popular young adult novelist, Maggie Stiefvater. It tells the story of Blue Sargent, who lives with her mother in a household of psychics, and four boys who attend Aglionby Academy - Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah. Blue has always been told that her true love would die if she ever kissed him, but she did not know that the first ghost she would ever see belonged to someone who hasn't died.
Even though I've never been a fan of Maggie Stiefvater, there is no denying the beautiful style of her Writing - especially in The Raven Boys. We're given a lovely blend of mysteries, ghosts, leylines, Welsh mythology, brotherhood, and just a touch of romance. The storytelling and writing is smooth, though luscious, and will appeal to both teen and crossover adult audiences. I can also see it appealing just as much to male teens with the novel centering more on mystery and mythology than the romantic aspect of things.
The story focused primarily on Blue, the psychic's daughter; Gansey, the saucy rich boy obsessed with finding lost things; Ronan, the broken bad boy with more issues than National Geographic; Adam, the poor local scholarship student; and Noah, who seems just a bit off. Additionally, there was a multitude of minor characters that were just as fascinating and given nearly as much depth as the protagonists. Maura Sargent's psychic roommates, Persephone in particular, were the aunts and cousins that I never knew I wanted. I'm trying to avoid saying too much because I'm afraid to spoil even the tiniest thing. That being said, the characters and the writing is the very best part of the book. 5/5 Stars
Once I started reading, I was immediately drawn into the fictional town of Henrietta, Virginia by Stiefvater's World-Weaving. The location was beautifully described, though far too eerie to be anywhere I'd like to visit, and I could see every setting of this novel clearly in my mind's eye. The graveyards, churches, leylines, and everything were presented in such a way to make perfect sense to me. The way Stiefvater tied the Glendower myth into the story was genius. There was enough history and mythology to make me a very happy girl, but not too much to turn off less voracious readers. The world of The Raven Boys is one that most people can enjoy. 5/5 Stars
The Raven Boys is another book that I feel I must throw the Pacing and Attention Span together for reviewing purposes. While the story dragged a bit in some areas, it was constantly on my mind - even as I did other things. I gave myself a full week to read it because I wanted to savor it. Things unfolded quickly enough in the novel, but I like to simmer when it comes to books with twists and numerous pockets of information. The drag at the start of the novel may be off-putting to some, but it is well worth it in the end. 4/5 Stars
Would you want to choke me if I told you that the Extra Magic of The Raven Boys is the magic? Yes? Well, there wasn't really magic, per se, in the novel, but it was definitely an outstanding ghost story. I have not read many young adult novels that weaved psychics and ghosts together in a way that wasn't trying to scare your pants off, and it was nice. The Raven Boys consists of good, old-fashioned storytelling of a world and characters that drew me and kept me hook (even at the few slow parts) until the very end. Also, I appreciate the lack of a nail-biting cliffhanger. (But do not for a moment assume there was none.) One final thing that I would like to mention is that I have been writing and rewriting this review - finally scrapping the entire thing I was working on - because I don't feel I can say enough to do this book justice. This is far and away my favorite fall read to date. 5/5 Stars
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of a Southern Book Bloggers tour in exchange for an honest review. The advance copy was provided to the tour by the publisher, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
The Raft is a contemporary young adult novel by S. A. Bodeen that follows Robie – a fifteen year old girl who lives with her research scientist parents on Midway Island – after her plane crash on her flight home from Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Writing of The Raft is perfect for a young adult reader, but still has crossover appeal for adult readers. It is not too technical and does not use terminology that would potentially be daunting for a more reluctant reader. There are scientific facts woven into the story, but it is done in such a way that makes the story flow and could very possibly interest a reader into finding out more about various settings, creatures, situations, etc. in the novel.
While it is not too technical in structure, there is definitely a literary streak to the story. Robie found herself in two old-fashioned literary conflicts – Man Vs. Nature and Man Vs. Himself (okay – Girl Vs.). She found herself at odds with the elements and wildlife throughout the story, in addition to the hard decisions that she was forced to make in order to survive – along with dealing with their repercussions. This is a modern book would be great to read in a classroom setting since it does not have the intimidation connotation that lingers around “classics”. There is current pop culture references made throughout the story that I believe would make it even more appealing.
As for character development, Robie is sensational. Readers get to see her grow so much, and I never found myself doubting her choices or behavior during her fight for survival. Max, on the other hand, had quite a few holes. I had difficulty connecting with or caring for him. *Spoiler* (view spoiler)[Castaway was able to pull a similar character off more efficiently. I cried when Wilson drifted away. With Max, I basically shrugged and went about my business. (hide spoiler)] *End of Spoiler* Honestly, I was more attached the seal that makes an appearance in the book.
My biggest gripe about the writing was that the story felt a bit cliché at times. I feel like this is done quite a bit in the young adult [non]genre, but I can definitely see where a bit of a formula can make a book easier to read. 4/5 Stars
The World Building was so well done that I felt as if I was reading a true account of someone’s survival. Robie was very convincing in her reactions to her various circumstances, and I battled nature and those inner demons right along with her. Bodeen’s implementation of trivial knowledge about the survival kit, sea life, and the islands better illustrated the situations of being lost at sea and life in the Pacific islands for me as a reader, as neither of them are something with which I am familiar. I could see everything in the novel perfectly in my mind, even tasting the salt and fear with Robie. That being said, I’ll probably pass on boarding a cargo flight from Hawaii to Midway if the opportunity ever presents itself. I may also fear tiger sharks more than snakes now. 5/5 Stars
I could not put this book down, so my Attention Span was at one hundred percent. I was glued to the pages, desperate to discover what would befall Robie in the coming chapters. This is not my usual reading material, but I was besotted nonetheless. I was gripping the book for dear life (Robie’s, of course), and on board for its entirety. 5/5 Stars
The Pacing of the novel was perfect, and it is not a long book. I did not ever feel that I was being fed the literary equivalent of pink slime (filler). All of the scenes were necessary to the flow of the novel, and were put together in such a way that my interest never faded. 5/5 Stars
The imminent danger, fear, and horror that saturated the book were all a part of the Extra Magic of The Raft. I believe that is what kept me reading the story. I was disturbed, and one of my usual deal-breakers happened in the course of the novel. Despite that – and maybe because of it, as it worked for the story – I could not put the book down at any point. 5/5 Stars
As I conclude, the main thing important to mention is that the book should be enjoyed by a more mature teen that can handle the intense situations in the story. I would see no problem with a tween picking this book up if they are not weak at heart when it comes to survival. The Raft is a harrowing story of a young girl struggling against the elements and choices, and it is most assuredly a book not to be missed.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of the Once Upon a Twilight ARC Tour in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by either the publisher or author, which has had no effect on the outcome. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Burn Bright is a young adult novel by Marianne de Pierres. The story centers on a young girl named Re...moreReview originally posted at Bibliophilia, Please.
Burn Bright is a young adult novel by Marianne de Pierres. The story centers on a young girl named Retra who runs away from home to find her brother on the mysterious island of endless pleasures and endless night, Ixion. The book is a mixture of the paranormal and science fiction.
Retra always led a very sheltered life in a place called Grave. It is an island that frowns upon touching, expressing emotion, and any sort of pleasure. Retra is a Seal, which is one of the most extremely limited members of that society and focuses meditation, solitude, and isolation. After her brother Joel ran away the previous year, her family lost all privacy in their home. Additionally, Retra had an obedience strip implanted into her upper thigh that caused intense pain if she strayed too far from her set limits within the Seal compound to deter her from ever attempting the same. She worked against the pain and the knowledge of what her actions will do to her parents, sneaking aboard a mysterious ship that comes to Grave to pick up unsatisfied teenagers once a year. The journey alone is fraught with peril, but nothing compared to the danger she will face on Ixion if she cannot let go of her modesty and "burn bright".
Burn Bright was one of the most unique books I have ever read. The world is (as the best I can figure since I was confused by it most of the time) made up of various islands, which teenagers escape from to go through a vortex that takes them to an island that exists in a plane where night never ends. The guardians of the runaways are Ripers - human-seeming individuals who both rule and place themselves above their charges led by Lenoir. They keep order on Ixion and try to keep the children on the pathways and out of the grasps of the island's Night Creatures. The runaways themselves are perplexing, as they all have their own motives for being there - some of which are surprising. I don't want to say too much about what goes on in the book because part of the reason I enjoyed it so much is that I was really clueless throughout most of it.
Being as Burn Bright was such a dark, violent book with instances of drug use and sexual situations, I would recommend this book for adults and older teens. Even if someone is hesitant about reading something of this nature, it is not one to miss. If you are American and lucky enough to get your hands on a copy, I would suggest that you jump on the opportunity. You should also make arrangements to get Angel Arias. That's what I'm currently doing.
So Close to You is the debut novel of young adult author, Rachel Carter. It is about a young girl, Lydia Bentley, and her search for answers about the Montauk Project and Camp Hero.
The Writing of So Close to You gets no complaints from me. Even though the copy I had for reviewing purposes was an ARC, I cannot recall any problems that I had with the structure of the book itself. It is written in a way that is not intimidating, so teens (even the younger ones) will have no difficulty in reading this book. I suppose the theme of the book is family and the lengths we're willing to take with our loved ones. 4/5 Stars
Rachel Carter's World-Weaving in the story is quite lovely, and I had no problem believing the parts of the book that were set in the 1940s. I thought Ms. Carter captured the essence of that time period (as I think of it) and portrayed the atmosphere of a country at war convincingly. She even included pop culture references from that era that teens may be excited to recognize. However, I found the characters in the "world" (both 1944 and 2012) to be a bit two-dimensional, but that is not to say there is no beauty in a flat image. Lydia Bentley is the only one with substance, but she has a bit of a one-track mind. She offered no surprises or growth (not that there is much point for it in the story). I won't even get started on the instalove.
As a science fiction nerd, I do need to touch on that aspect of the world-weaving. I wanted more explanation than what was given for the rules of time traveling in Carter's world. Not much more was offered than a nod to Edward Lorenz' Butterfly effect (also known as the Chaos theory). I suppose it doesn't help that I always go back to Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" when reading about these things, but I digress. I know that I'm hard to please where time travel and paradox is involved. Also, I came to this book excited about reading nerdy things (okay, I thought I was getting inter-dimensional travel), and I found a time-traveling contemporary novel. I'm not saying it's a bad thing - just not what I had expected. 3/5 Stars
Now here is where I started to have trouble with the book. The Pace of the novel was a little slow for me. I kept waiting on something - anything - to happen. See, I find myself stressing over plot points such as being stranded in another place/time/etc., and I don't like that kind of tension. I like it even less when the protagonist can leave at any time, but doesn't. (Where is Travis when you need him? Kidding...) I am well aware that when the tension is a major component of the book that it will not end until the book does. This is precisely why I do not read them. Once I take away my irritation at Lydia being in the wrong time, I can appreciate the pacing of the novel. It's not bad and it has exciting parts - I was just distracted by the tension. 3/5 Stars
Since I did not do well with the pace and tension, and So Close to You was not what I had expected, my Attention Span suffered. It took me five days to read the book (it usually only takes two when I have the amount of free time that I did), and it probably would have been longer if I wasn't participating in the ARC tour. I kept getting distracted, and it was hard to go back and read. About halfway through the book, I couldn't stand the tension any longer and skipped to the end of the book. I still finished it, but I was tired of waiting to find out what happened. 2.5/5 Stars
Despite the drawbacks to the book for me, there is some Extra Magic. Though the characters lacked development, they were a lot of fun to read. I loved Mary Bentley's enthusiasm, and Lucas was pretty dreamy. I would've been more than happy to stay with him in 1944. I also enjoyed the way Carter incorporated the wartime rationing into the story. The descriptions of the clothing and what the women had to give up for the war was a nice touch. I giggled when Mary complained about having no bras or hosiery and how she painted it onto her legs - seam included. It was charming and fit the story well. 3.5/5 Stars
So Close to You will be enjoyed by any reader who likes a little time travel with their romance and doesn't want to do any heavy lifting, plot-wise. I also think it will appeal to sci-fi and contemporary readers alike, as long as they don't go in looking for too much of one of those genres. It really is a unique young adult novel, and the characters are a lot of fun. It is also a shame that Michael Crichton and Ray Bradbury made my time travel standards so high. While not for me, I have no doubt that many readers will find much to enjoy in the book.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of a DAC ARC Tour in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour either by the publisher or author, which has had no effect on the outcome. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.(less)
The Wicked and the Just is the debut novel of J. Anderson Coats. It is historical fiction and focuses on the lives of two girls forced together during the early years of England’s subjugation of Wales in the late thirteenth century and told from alternating points of view. The novel is aimed at the young adult audience.
Cecily d’Edgely thinks life is very unfair. Since her uncle’s return from the Crusades, she and her father lost “their” claim to the family holding. To make matters even worse, she is to leave her friends, family, and all that she knows behind to start a new life in Wales – that’s if she isn’t murdered by barbarians first. Once there, they are no better than foreigners in Caernarvon until her father is sworn in as a burgess.
Gwenhwyfar hates the English. Not only have they taken Wales, but they have also broken her family. Her father hung from the castle walls after he refused to swear allegiance to the English king. Due to her family name and the difficulty for men to find work, she is forced to work as a maid in a house that should belong to her. If it wasn't for her brother Gruffyd – who was too honorable to take jobs before family men – or her dying mother, she wouldn't have to deal with the English brat who she hates.
I enjoyed The Wicked and the Just, but it took me longer than usual to read it. The characters were believable, but I found hard to form a connection to them. Cecily was a spoiled rotten, nasty little brat who was capable of terrible cruelty, and "Gwinny" was like a shark waiting to strike. I always felt closer to Cecily – even though I felt the constant urge to shake her – because Gwinny terrified me. The title represents the characters because every one of them in the book behaved quite wickedly, and all believed themselves to be just or serving justice.
I do have one complaint about the language used in the book. Gwinny's chapters were written in a manner that went overboard in demonstrating that English was not her first language. It was hard enough to read her chapters with all of the rage she had pent up inside of her, but Gwinny's crudely written POV was distracting. This angry girl was a lot of things, but stupid or ignorant do not show up on that list. It definitely affected my ability to relate to her. Cecily's mixture of period and modern slang stood out a little at first, but it was not noticeable once I was well into the book.
Despite the minor issues that I found with The Wicked and the Just, I found it to be a well-researched, enjoyable, and educational read. I learned things about that period in history that I have only skimmed over in my own historical studies. J. Anderson Coats really brought the setting to life and was able to tell the story in such a way that neither "side" was vilified. I would even go so far as to say that it was one of the most unbiased historical fiction novels that I've read. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction (young and older) or novels that center on enemies coming to see eye-to-eye.
*To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.(less)