Kelsey Hayes is working at a circus in Oregon. There she grows attached to a white tiger, who, in due course, is sold and is to be shipped back to Ind...moreKelsey Hayes is working at a circus in Oregon. There she grows attached to a white tiger, who, in due course, is sold and is to be shipped back to India. Kelsey accepts a position to travel with the tiger to India and help reintroduce him back into the jungle.
The tiger, however, is not a beast, but a prince who was cursed 300 years ago. He can only remain a man for 24 minutes a day and only when he is free. The prince, Ren, and his faithful man-at-arms believe that Kelsey is the key to breaking the curse.
Thus begins a journey through the jungles of India and Indian myth and legend. Kelsey and Ren come face-to-face with Hindu gods. They travel through elaborate Indiana Jones-like temples, complete with snakes and booby traps. Along the way, (and this is where the book really falls apart for me) Kelsey and Ren fall in love. Kelsey's immaturity concerning the relationship drove me bonkers. To the point that I just wanted the book to end so that I didn't have to listen to her inner monologue. Kelsey's narration put a damper on what could otherwise have been a swashbuckling adventure tale melded with India mythology. (less)
Kasie West is my current author crush. Reading her books is like giving yourself a little reward. On the Fence, West's new contemporary YA novel, has that golden glow.
Charlie Reynolds lives with a house full of boys. There's her dad and her three older brothers and then there's Braden, the kid from next door, who might as well be her brother. Charlie is athletic and competitive, and growing up with all those boys and no mom means that Charlie is a little insecure about girly stuff.
I love Charlie so much. She reminds me a lot of my friend Eve who is very athletic and has four brothers. Eve once told me how she went to play ultimate frisbee with some of the guys from her work and all of her brothers insisted on tagging along, so she shows up and says, "Hi. I'm here, and here are all my brothers." I can definitely see that happening to Charlie. One of the most wonderful things about this book is the dynamic between Charlie and her brothers. I love when an author writes a group of guys really, really well. (This is one of the things I love about The Raven Boys too.) Kasie West nails all the ribbing and teasing that means you are loved in a family like this.
I also didn't know, but was so pleased to discover, that On the Fence is a companion book to The Distance Between Us. Charlie is forced to get a job to pay her dad back when she gets a speeding ticket. She gets a summer job right down the road from Dolls and More, and Skye plays her part in Charlie's story.
Charlie has always just been one of the boys, but she's getting older and her new job kind of forces her to embrace her "girly" side. What will her brothers say about that? She might never hear the end of it. Plus, her relationship with Braden is becoming a more complicated. The scenes with just Charlie and Braden are loaded with things unsaid and complicated emotions.
On the Fence is funny. I laughed out loud more than once (the loafers!). It's also got enough emotion behind it that at times I was trying to hold in a few tears. The romance had me closing the book with a satisfied smile.
I always love a seasonally appropriate read, and On the Fence, out July 1st, 2014, would be a perfect addition to a summer reading list.
Holly Nolan's grandfather left her his Las Vegas wedding chapel in his...more Featured in "Reading on a Theme: The Boy Next Door" on Intellectual Recreation.
Holly Nolan's grandfather left her his Las Vegas wedding chapel in his will. Grandpa Jim also left her a letter to deliver to Dax Cranston, the grandson of his mortal enemy and the owner of the chapel next door. On top of mourning Grandpa Jim and dealing with a bidding relationship with Dax, the Rose of Sharon chapel is in financial straits. For Holly the chapel is more than just a job. It's family, it's home, it's her grandfather's legacy, and she's desperate to save it.
The Chapel Wars is a deceiving little book. You think that it's going to all light and cute, but it deals with so much and so many emotions. Holly's desperation to save the chapel is tied up with her grief over her grandfather's untimely death, her inability to imagine herself doing anything else, her need to support her family, and her pain over her parent's recent divorce (who, by the way, both work at the wedding chapel). I really loved the way this book dealt with Holly's grief, and the time that was spent on Holly's relationships with her siblings, especially James, and how the death and divorce affected them all.
Holly's romance with Dax is fraught with barriers as well. They are the grandchildren of mortal enemies and, thus, afraid to tell their families about the relationship. Also their chapels are direct competitors. Regular teenagers have plenty to negotiate when it comes to relationships and Dax and Holly are not exactly normal. I loved their banter. I loved Holly's obsession with counting and her love of Las Vegas. I love that Dax is complicated, hurting, and nuanced.
This blog post gives some insight into why the emotions in this book are so raw and powerful. I really loved it.
I'm keeping my eye on Kasie West. She has the potential to become one of my favorite authors. West's debut novel Pivot Point made my favorites of the...moreI'm keeping my eye on Kasie West. She has the potential to become one of my favorite authors. West's debut novel Pivot Point made my favorites of the year list for 2014. I have not-so-patiently waiting for the sequel. Luckily I was able to fill some of the time with West's contemporary YA novel, The Distance Between Us. It was another smash-hit for me from Kasie West.
Caymen lives with her mom over their doll shop. When's she's not at school she's helping out in the shop so the two can scrap together enough money to carry on. Due to many a cautionary tale told by her mother, Caymen has always stayed far, far away from the rich folk that live in their town and patronize their store. But she starts to question the wisdom of that when she meets Xander, the grandson of one of their rich customers.
This book is exactly how I like my YA contemporary novels. Caymen is feisty, sarcastic, and funny. I laughed out loud more than once. And Xander gives her a run for her money. The scenes with the two of them are just so much fun. Plus the quirks! I love a novel with plenty of quirkiness, and the whole creepy doll shop thing really worked for me. (Maybe because, I too, have a grandmother that loves dolls. She had a whole room dedicated to them in her house. It was kind of creepy. Ahh those eternal wailers.) I loved the other characters, the surprises, the romance. I loved everything about it. Basically this book has a golden glow to it.
Defy by debut author Sara B. Larson is the story of Alexa who, disguised as a Alex, serves as a guard for the prince of Antion. Things in Antion aren'...moreDefy by debut author Sara B. Larson is the story of Alexa who, disguised as a Alex, serves as a guard for the prince of Antion. Things in Antion aren't so great. The country is at war. Orphan girls are forced into the breeding house (thus Alexa's need to masquerade as a boy), and King Hector is pretty darn ruthless. Alexa guards prince Damian because it's her duty, but she's pretty convinced that he is smug, stuck-up, and wimpy. Things are, of course, not as they seem, and more than one person is putting on a mask.
The one thing that I didn't love about this book was that Alexa's lengthy descriptions of the beauty of the male body got a little sappy for my tastes. If she's just starting to notice these things because she's grown older, that's fine and actually kind of interesting, but I wish it had been handled with a bit more nuance. That said, Alexa is in a situation that she has never encountered before. Once the fact that she is a woman is revealed she no longer knows how to act. She's been pretending to be a boy for three years. Plus, there's those two boys that really like her confusing her even more.
The adventure in this book is pretty solid, the stakes were definitely high, and a lot happens. There are multiple layers of secrets, and the pace at which they are revealed is good. I liked that Alexa is a darn good sword fighter, that she was trained by her father, and that (view spoiler)[there's a good reason why she is so good with the sword (hide spoiler)]. Also it really didn't bother me that a lot of people knew that Alexa was really a girl because, honestly, it's pretty tough for a girl to pull off being boy once she reaches a certain age, and the fact that so many people knew her secret really threw Alexa.
I inevitably compare Defy to the Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce, and it's easy for me to think, "oh, but Alexa is no Alanna." The thing is, if I look back at my review of The First Adventure I wasn't in love with Alanna or her series right away either, but by the end I thought it was just about the best thing ever. Here's hoping that Larson can make this fantasy series truly epic.
Pivot Point was easily one of my favorite reads last year, and I impatiently awaited the second in the series Split Second Pivot Point 2. Split Second begins shortly after Pivot Point left off. Addie is going to visit her dad in Dallas for the extended Winter Holidays. Dallas is also the home of Trevor, but he is merely a forgotten memory from one of Addie's searches.
Split Second is possibly even more heart pounding than Pivot Point. The book alternates between Addie and Laila, who are outside and inside the compound. I loved reading about both of the them. Laila has a difficult home life; she's raw and defensive, and I kind of love her. I really love her interactions with Connor. Addie has some healing to do after the events of Pivot Point, and then there's Trevor.
In Split Second it becomes clear just how far the Compound's government is willing to go to protect themselves. I hope Kasie West continues this series. I, for one, would love to read more about these powerful kids.
Strands of Bronze and Gold is a retelling of the Bluebeard fairytale set in antebellum Mississippi. After her father's death Sophie Petheram leaves Bo...moreStrands of Bronze and Gold is a retelling of the Bluebeard fairytale set in antebellum Mississippi. After her father's death Sophie Petheram leaves Boston to live with her Godfather, Bernard de Cassac, on his plantation. A widower four time, at first Monsieur Bernard seems enchanting and sad, but as the plot progresses the creep factor steadily increases.
Monsieur Bernard is officially on my most creepy villains list. He is so manipulative and so possessive. It was hard to read about a woman who as powerless as Sophie is. I thought the antebellum setting worked well for this retelling. It gave Monsieur Bernard even more control over his surroundings and, therefore, even more control over Sophie.
I've heard some complaints about this book being too slow. I listened to the audio version, and I have a much higher tolerance for a plodding pace when I am listening in 20 minute segments rather than reading in long bursts. I did listen to some of the beginning of this book on the plane, and I was rather bored. I even put the iPod on double speed to pick up the pace (the reader is also very slow). However, the end of the book really picks up, and by the time I finally got there I had almost forgotten the slow beginning.
By the way, the author, Jane Nickerson is a friend of a friend. This in no way affect my review, I just think it's an interesting aside.(less)
Evie's attempt to be "normal" isn't going all that well. Despite the joy of lockers, there's her out-to-get-her gym teacher, her after school job at t...moreEvie's attempt to be "normal" isn't going all that well. Despite the joy of lockers, there's her out-to-get-her gym teacher, her after school job at the paranormal hangout, her vampire roommate, and the reappearance of faeries, not to mention her immortal boyfriend. Maybe it's so hard to be normal because almost nothing about Evie's life is normal. Plus, Evie misses being special, so she takes a job with IPCA under strict stipulations, one of which (no working with faeries) means that Evie has to work with newcomer Jack.
I didn't enjoy this sequel to Paranormalcy quite as much as I did the first in the series. Evie is a bit too shallow for my tastes. She's often slow to figure things out, and she keeps way too many secrets in this book. Still, the world is still fun and funny. It's nice to read a paranormal series that doesn't take itself too seriously. (less)
I had heard good things about Kiersten White'sParanormalcy, and I was not disappointed. Paranormalcy is at least one-part satire, poking fun at both the other paranormal romances that populate young adult literature these days and popular culture (think Buffy and Gossip Girl).
Evie is special (aren't they always). She can see through glamours, thus her usefulness to the IPCA (International Paranormal Containment Agency). But Evie isn't really all that kick-butt preferring to use her trusty taser Tasey to get the job done. Evie's lack of kick-buttness kind of got me down at times, but it really helped with the whole satire bit. This book is pretty funny. Evie is spunky narrator. Girly to a fault sometimes, sheltered, naive. (less)
My library in Kansas did not have a copy of Sean Griswold's Head while I was there. (Now they do. I just checked). I purchased the book for my stash o...moreMy library in Kansas did not have a copy of Sean Griswold's Head while I was there. (Now they do. I just checked). I purchased the book for my stash of "books to read while between libraries." I really enjoyed Lindsey Leavitt's two middle-grade novels and was looking forward to reading something a bit more mature.
When Payton Gritas discovers her father has multiple sclerosis (in a truly horrifying way) she doesn't hold it together very well. Because she won't speak to her parents they arrange for her to have sessions with the guidance counselor. The guidance counselor suggests that Payton find a focus object which will hopefully take her down the road to expressing her feelings. Payton picks Sean Griswold's head (not exactly what the counselor had in mind). What follows is a charming story about Payton coming to grips with her life. Her relationship with Sean (who she hardly knows when she picks his head to study) develops in unexpected ways, and truly does help her on her road to self-expression and acceptance. Sean is such a nice guy, but he's not at all dull. Also, hooray for a book about athletes. (less)
The Royal Treatment is pretty much as darling as the first in the series. Desi has been advanced to Level Two. She's dealing with a whole new set of...moreThe Royal Treatment is pretty much as darling as the first in the series. Desi has been advanced to Level Two. She's dealing with a whole new set of princesses. She's learning more about Facade and her MP (magical potential), and it's looking like the insides of Facade are not so perfect. At home Desi's tried out for a play and is trying to help Kylee work up the nerve to speak to Reed.
So stinking cute. This book is perfect for its target audience.(less)
Entwined is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale. It's more of a younger book. It reminded me of Ella Enchanted or The Goose Girl. It's not told in first person. (Hooray for that. I am getting a little tired of first person YA books.)
Basically this is a cute story full of sisterly affection, sneaky magic, a little fairy-tale-style romance, and, of course, dancing. I enjoyed seeing how the girls relationship with their father and suitors developed. I must say that I never did trust the villain.
And Heather Dixon is another BYU/Utah/Mormon author. I did not even know until I flipped to author bio (which I will admit I always read before I finish the book).
Also the cover is gorgeous. It's so much lovelier in person because of the shiny, silver leaves (which decorate the inside too). (less)
Once again I have neglected logging the books I've been reading for far too long (darn that dissertation and my non-procrastinating ways). Luckily, I...moreOnce again I have neglected logging the books I've been reading for far too long (darn that dissertation and my non-procrastinating ways). Luckily, I have a post-it note right here with all of them, and I will do my best to remember my thoughts.
[Book: A Mormon Mother] was Janell's pick for book club. It's the story of Annie Clark Tanner, as written for her children, of her life as a second wife to J.M. Tanner. It was enlightening and a bit disturbing. I know we are only getting one side of the story here, but she and her children were ill-treated by Tanner who eventually stops supporting them all together. It's only one story and as Annie Tanner says, every plural marriage relationship was different and there were no norms because relatively few practiced this principle, but I'm glad it wasn't my life.
I was so sad to miss book group when this was discussed. I'm sure it was a fantastic discussion.(less)
Desi Bascomb lives an unsatisfying life in Sproutville, Idaho. Her parents seem to love her baby sister more than her. Her ex-best friend is making he...moreDesi Bascomb lives an unsatisfying life in Sproutville, Idaho. Her parents seem to love her baby sister more than her. Her ex-best friend is making her life miserable. Her long-time crush can't seem to remember her name. And her job involves wearing a rodent costume. Desi wishes to make an impact or at least have a better job. And that is why Meredith arrives, and she gives Desi the chance to be a princess sub (they prefer the rem surrogate).
Lindsey Leavitt's debut novel, Princess for Hire is darling. It is a little younger than the books I've been reading lately (Desi is only 13), and it reminded me why I used to read some much children's (rather than YA) fiction. It was because those books can be so darn cute. I would highly recommend this one. I wish I could read the second in the series right now.
I had read some pretty mixed reviews of Ally Condie'sMatched so I went in a little wary, but I really liked it.
Cassia's story begins the day that s...moreI had read some pretty mixed reviews of Ally Condie'sMatched so I went in a little wary, but I really liked it.
Cassia's story begins the day that she is to finally find out who her match, her perfect mate and future husband, will be. She is surprised but pleased to find that it's Xander a friend she's known her whole life, but later when she sits down to review the disc she's given she sees a different face and that is the beginning of her rebellion.
A lot of the reviews I read remarked negatively on the similarities between The Society in Condie's book and The Community in Lois Lowry'sThe Giver. Those similarities are definitely there. I was remarking on them before I even read any reviews, but, for me, the similarities were actually a good thing. I love The Giver but it's so short and it's written for a younger audience and the main character is in a much different and very unique situation. I enjoyed reading a book where a world like that of The Community was much more fully developed, where we saw things from the perspective of a normal, ordinary girl. The book to me was all about Cassia's coming-of-age, her awakening to a larger sense of purpose, and not some much the romance which I could take or leave. The book does not have a lot of action, but personally, I liked the quietness of this book. It fit perfectly with the oh-so-controlled life these people lead. Throughout the reading I kept thinking about how boring it would be to live in a dystopia masquerading as a utopian society. They are generally very dull places. Imagine only having 100 Songs, 100 Poems, 100 Paintings (I think I've memorized 100 paintings in every single art history class I've ever taken).
I'm interested in seeing where Ally Condie takes this story. (less)
Calamity Jack is the sequel to the great Hale, Hale, and Hale collaboration Rapunzel's Revenge. This second installment follows Jack's story, filling...moreCalamity Jack is the sequel to the great Hale, Hale, and Hale collaboration Rapunzel's Revenge. This second installment follows Jack's story, filling in the details that occurred before he met Rapunzel, and then continuing on with how the two of them return to the city so Jack can make amends.
The book has some fun twists on the Jack and the Beanstalk story with the giants taking over the city. I also like how the city has a kind of steampunk feel to it with the floating penthouse and all that. All in all, I liked Rapunzel's story more, but this one's fun too. Also, I enjoyed the nod to the Provo Library.(less)
Stephenie Meyer's newest edition to the Twilight world is short, sweet, and just okay. Bree Tanner is one of the members of the newborn army in Eclips...moreStephenie Meyer's newest edition to the Twilight world is short, sweet, and just okay. Bree Tanner is one of the members of the newborn army in Eclipse. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner follows her life from shortly before the battle until its abrupt conclusion. It's a short book, obviously, and I'm not sure it's really long enough for us to get to really know Bree. Bree is different from the rest of the newborns. That's what makes her part in the whole event a story, but I'm not sure Bree was newborn-y enough. She just seemed so in control. Still it was fun to revisit the world. I've kind of taken a hiatus from the whole craze as of late. (less)