Monday, July 19, 2010

Rant and Review of Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

So after seeing Eclipse in theaters I have decided that I am really against a screen version of a book. Here's my question: If a book sells thousands of copies and is quoted all over the place, why would you change it? I guess I am a bit of a purist. This goes for many movies that I have seen after reading the book and vice versa. I do feel that some of the Harry Potter movies did justice to the writing. I just don't feel like you should make major changes to something that went over so well to the main populace. If its a book that didn't really sell, then feel free to take some liberties. I keep hearing the saying, "Why fix something if it isn't broken?"

Enough of my rant. Amazon had this book recommended on my homepage based on my buying history. I read the synopsis and decided it was worth a read. Hearts at Stake is a light read told from the perspective of Solange and Lucy. Solange is the first female born in 900 years to an ancient vampire family. This fulfills the prophecy that a born female will become queen. She has suitors constantly leaving somewhat gross presents for her and gets really annoyed with the swooning of the male population for her ability to bear vampire children. Lucy, whose real name is Lucky, is her human best friend. Lucy is extremely outspoken and has a tendency to break other people’s noses, especially Nicholas Solange’s older brother. The Drake famly ultimately finds themselves embroiled in a political battle and Solange winds up fighting for her life as she completes her change.

I found this book to be a very good light read. If you are looking for something to fill a few hours with a very light romance story and witty remarks then this is your book. The banter between Lucy and Nicholas keeps the novel moving. However, I was a lot less interested in the bits told from Solange’s perspective as I found her view of the world bland. She seems always in a funk and the narrative is weak when she is telling the story. The story does have some undertones that address prejudice against people who are different. This does add a little to the story. I recommend this book if you are looking for a fun quick read.

Hearts at Stake is the first in a series that follows the Drake family.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Falling From Grace Series

I have been reading the Falling from Grace series by S.L. Naeole for the past two days (Book 1: Falling from Grace; Book 2: Bird Song). It has been incredibly difficult to put it down for any reason. Grace is the epitome of someone who is different due to her inherently good personality traits. She is loyal, compassionate, and forgiving. All of these traits aren’t common in a high school senior. Although, she does have her flawed moments, which makes her character more believable. She hates being viewed as different and yet everything about her personality sets her apart from her peers. She is ostracized at her school for being different since she survived the car crash her mom died in. Grace loses her best friend Graham for a while in the book and this leads to a dark vulnerable place in her life when Robert steps in. She also happens to find a new friend in Stacey who is a strong and opinionated character. The remainder of the series focuses on her relationships with Robert, his sister Lark, Graham and Stacey.

This series had me captivated with the easy to relate to characters. The characters are flawed and commit mistakes that they have to learn from. This makes the book seem real to the reader. In addition, there are several surprise moments. One of my favorites was when Grace’s willingness to forgive a major transgression from Graham and Stacey takes it upon herself to educate him in the error of his way in a very physical manner. Moments like these will lighten up a sometimes very serious plotline while also making the characters relatable for readers.

The main criticism that I have of this series is the same one I have with several YA paranormal romance stories. It stems from my personal independence. I think that at times Grace acts like all happiness in her world depends on the males in her life. This drives me somewhat crazy being a very independent person and a teacher/mother that wants to see her daughter/students grow up to be strong independent females. Grace and Robert’s relationship escalates very quickly even though she isn’t quite as instantaneously ready to jump into a very serious relationship. I do applaud the hesitation that the author writes into Grace’s character. I do like the way that she does stand up for herself at times and that she doesn’t automatically give in on issues with the males in the story. However, she forgives almost instantly and they still remain at the center of her world. I also did not enjoy her constant insecurity about her looks. In the first book she constantly compares herself to other girls and the topic of how average she is comes up with several different characters. I realize that many teens can relate to this insecurity but I never really saw her perception of herself evolve and really would like her to see her inner beauty. She accepts who she is but I didn’t feel like she ever took pride in herself and perceived herself as beautiful. I would like to see that in the upcoming books.

That being said, I loved this series. I have yet to find an angel series that I liked and yet I found myself unable to tear away from this story. There are moments when you will laugh, cry, smile and experience the entire spectrum of emotion. I find it rare that a writer can make me feel so many things for characters in the span of two books. I feel like I know the characters personally and can begin to think of what they would do if they truly existed. The third book in the series Black Halo will be released on August 31. You can find the series on

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

The Body Finder is by far one of my new favorite books. The book has a mystery aspect to accompany the paranormal which makes for a unique read in today's YA world. Violet is compelled to find dead bodies of anything from animals to people. However, one day she finds the body of a girl that has been murdered and this sets off a chain of events. Jay, who has been her best friend since childhood accompanies her throughout her adventures and their relationship begins to evolve. Violet eventually finds herself drawn into a serial killer case and is a bit too close for comfort.

This book is an excellent read! It has a real “meat” to the story. The relationship between Violet and Jay is refreshing because they have a history. It isn’t the typical girl meets supernatural boy and falls in love story. In addition, the love story is an indirect plot to what is going on with Violet’s ability and with the mystery of who is committing the murders in their small town. I give this book the highest reccomendation.

Also the news of a sequel titled Desires of the Dead has just been released. The date of release for the sequel is March 15, 2011.

Dark Flame by Alyson Noel **SPOILERS**

Dark Flame is the fourth and latest installment in The Immortals series by Alyson Noel. **SPOILER ALERT** This book follows Haven’s new life as an immortal and the choices she makes. Roman continues to cause problems for Ever and Damen. Ever is still trying to discover her full psychic gift and is trying to reverse the binding spell she did at the end of Blue Moon.

I find that this book is very well written, however, I am getting a bit tired of the angst in Ever and Damen’s relationship. She has gone through four books without their relationship advancing and she still does not seem to have any faith in Damen’s love for her. It seems as though the plot has been a bit stretched out in the last two books. I believe that Evermore was an incredible book with a great plot. However, I find myself reluctant to recommend Dark Flame.

If you have read The Immortals series I recommend it in the sense that you will need to read this one to understand the progression in the plot. I do recommend this series to any reader that enjoys the YA paranormal romance genre. However, be aware that the first two books are the best so far in the series. I do love this series I am just not a fan of this last installment. The plot moves too slowly and the relationship between Ever and Damen is stale. I hope that in the next book Noel can bring back the great storyline and can give something fresh to Ever and Damen’s relationship.


So I have been on a bit of a hiatus from blogging and from reading actual "fun" literature. Switched was my first book in quite a while that wasn't related to my dissertation. Unfortunately, for me I am spending my summer off from teaching writing my dissertation so I can finally be finished with graduate school. Of course, I highly recommend it although not for casual reading :) However, I am now in the editing process so I am hoping to get through my reading list since there have been several books released this summer that I am wanting to read. I also have several books I need to review as I read them on some down time. Hopefully, I will get some of that accomplished this week as I am taking a bit of a break for a few days.

I am also working with my five year old on his reading skills. Thus, my reading has been related to either math or kindergarden reader books about the strangest topics. We have been reading through the ABEKA curriculum books for kindergarden and the topics are just a bit strange. Entire books about how a dog ran.. Strange. I do wish I could find some books with a bit more of a story because it is not only important that he can read but that he can comprehend what he is reading. It is a bit hard to question the plot of "See spot run." "See spot run in the house"... Oh well. At least my five month old finds lots of humor in hearing him read the books to her.

I would also really appreciate it if July 29 would hurry up as I am waiting for the release of the third book in the Strange Angels series (see review below): Jealousy by Lilith Saintcrow.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Switched by Amanda Hocking

Switched is the first book in the Trylle trilogy by Amanda Hocking. Switched is a great addition to any paranormal readers library. Switched centers around two main characters Wendy and FInn. In the beginning Finn is introduced in a bit of a creepy manner as the kid that stares at Wendy at her new school. In a moment of hilarity (for me) she awkwardly confronts him and quite blatantly asks him why he is staring at her. This amused me greatly as it is something that I might would be inclined to do. Wendy hasn't really fit in any of her previous schools and Finn becomes her main attachment at her current school despite their awkward interactions. The story continues to evolve around them and their relationship. I don't want to spoil the story since the plot is not as predictable as most other books in this genre and there is even a bit of a twist with what exactly Wendy is. I was anticipating something other than what was revealed. Thus, that is all the details I can give on the plot.

The love story evolves logically over a period of time which is a bit more realisitic than the typical paranormal love story. The characters have a great depth to them and many different facets to their personality. At times it appears that Wendy is selfish and only concerned with herself. However, we see the love that she has for her family and her passion for equality in the story. This is what makes this book such a good read. The characters are dynamic and realistic. I highly recommend this book.

If you like Switched then you may be interested in the My Blood Approves series that Hocking has also written.