Sunday, August 29, 2010

Black Halo

Black Halo is out early!!! Black Halo is the sequel to Bird Song from the Falling from Grace series (Check out the older posts for my review of the earlier two books).

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wisdom by Amanda Hocking

I found Amanda Hocking while browsing Amazon recommendations. Honestly, I bought her book Switched because it was fairly cheap compared to most of the books I was looking at so I was willing to take a gamble on a new author. I read Switched (see the archives for a review) and moved on to the My Blood Approves series. Wisdom the fourth book in the series was released this past Monday.

Here is the summary from Amanda’s site:

“Seventeen-year-old Alice Bonham's life feels out of control after she meets Jack. With his fondness for pink Chuck Taylors and New Wave hits aside, Jack's unlike anyone she's ever met.

Then she meets his brother, Peter. His eyes pierce through her, and she can barely breathe when he's around. Even though he can't stand the sight of her, she's drawn to him.

But falling for two very different guys isn't even the worst of her problems. Jack and Peter are vampires, and Alice finds herself caught between love and her own blood...”

While My Blood Approves isn’t the most original novel on the market (see the bookshelves for hundreds of vampire YA romance novels), it has many merits that quickly endeared the series to me.

First of all Alice and Jack’s relationship develops normally. They spend time together as friends and then love grows from the relationship. The way their relationship evolves is genuine and not based on some crazy predestined draw.
Second Alice is her own person and makes her own decision between the two guys. She does not simply become a “trophy” and does not agree with everything Jack or Peter say. I see her as a strong female lead character which goes a long way for me in a novel.

The plot changes in each book and is always resolved the major problems by the end of the book. Many of the series I have been reading don’t resolve the main problem at the end of the book and I find that quite annoying.

Amanda Hocking is a great writer and is an undiscovered treasure in the YA paranormal world. Although I must admit I prefer her Switched series I also enjoyed My Blood Approves. I give the series as a whole a 4/5.

Be sure to check out her series on Amazon along with her most recent release Wisdom.

Shadow Hills **Mild Spoilers**

I picked up Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus from a recommendation on goodreads. I was extremely surprised at what I found. Here is the summary from Amazon:

“After her sister Athena's tragic death, it's obvious that grief-stricken Persephone "Phe" Archer no longer belongs in Los Angeles. Hoping to make sense of her sister's sudden demise and the cryptic dreams following it, Phe abandons her bubbly LA life to attend an uptight East Coast preparatory school in Shadow Hills, MA -- a school which her sister mysteriously mentioned in her last diary entry before she died.

Once there, Phe quickly realizes that something is deeply amiss in her new town. Not only does Shadow Hills' history boast an unexplained epidemic that decimated hundreds of its citizens in the 1700s, but its modern townies also seem eerily psychic, with the bizarre ability to bend metal. Even Zach -- the gorgeous stranger Phe meets and immediately begins to lust after -- seems as if he is hiding something serious. Phe is determined to get to the bottom of it. The longer she stays there, the more
she suspects that her sister's untimely death and her own destiny are intricately linked to those who reside in Shadow Hills.”

I finished this book in one sitting and it wasn’t a short quick read. I really liked the science aspect of gene mutation mixed in with the magic paranormal side. I am a huge comic book fan and having the somewhat comic book science plot added to the paranormal one simply created a great story.

The characters were very well developed. Even the ones on the sidelines were given personalities and discussed. I found the independence of Phe added to the realism of the relationships within the book. Her strength and kindness to all those around her endears her to the reader.

I also found that the plot was not as predictable as most paranormal reads. There are several mysteries within the one book and you are left guessing which way each will end up. I will say that I did figure out the ending a bit early but overall I was kept on my toes.

I give Shadow Hills a 5/5 with some bonus points for the length and depth of the story. I highly recommend this read as it is different from the traditional boarding school paranormal story.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner

From Amazon: Carrie, 19, is a genius: she's already graduated from Harvard. But social success has always eluded her. She now lives alone in a New York apartment and every week sees a therapist who makes a list of goals for her, including going out on a date and joining an organization. Of course, Carrie goes about these things in her own quirky and hilarious way. The organization she picks is a church, which she is certain is cultlike and run by a minister who is fleecing the parishioners. She turns to the personal ads for a date, and picks Matt, an engaged man looking to cheat on his fiancee, and Carrie plans to rat on him. But even brilliant Carrie can't predict that she'll be attracted to Matt or that the minister is actually moral. Lissner's heroine is utterly charming and unique, and readers will eagerly turn the pages to find out how her search for happiness unfolds.

I came across this title on netgalley and was intrigued by the premise. Even though it is not a paranormal book it is outside of the box as far as typical YA literature goes. The main character seemed pretty eclectic. I enjoy the sarcastic wit in books and decided to give this one a try. As far as wit goes this book gets a 5/5. There are so many hilarious dialogues between Carrie and the other characters throughout the book. In addition, her internal monologue is pretty hilarious. Caren Lissner created a character that stayed true to herself throughout the book as she gave us glimpses inside her head. Having been in school with a few prodigies in my lower school education I feel that Carrie’s character was well researched and true to the struggles that most prodigies go through.

Carrie’s personality comes out when she places a personal ad to satisfy her therapists requirement for going on a date.

Prodigy seeks genius- I’m 19 very smart seeking nonsmoking nondrugdoing very very smart SM 18-25 to talk about philosophy and life. No hypocrites, religious freaks, macho men.

The story is one comical social interaction after another as Carrie seeks to fulfill her therapists list of social interactions to become a happier person.

The only drawback I found to this book was that at times it was a bit slow and there were some lags in between. However, it was not a dominant part of the book. If you are someone that enjoys dry wit then you will definitely enjoy this book. I give it a 4.5/5.

New Releases

On an exciting note Wisdom by Amanda Hocking is on sale this weekend. If you haven't read the Switched review then you should check it out in the archives. Amanda is a great author. I will be reviewing the entire My Blood Approves series together after I read Wisdom. So check it out on amazon kindle or Smashwords!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen

Past midnight is a story about a young girl named Charlotte who has famous ghost hunting parents. The twist is that her parents don’t really believe in ghosts but in energy. However, after one particular investigation some ghosts connect with Charlotte and things start to get really weird. She moves to a new town and finally fits in and makes popular friends. Avery her closest friend has recently suffered a tragedy that involves a boy named Jared. However, the “energy” or ghosts follow her to the new house and begins to make life complicated. Charlotte has to figure out what the ghosts want before it is too late.

This wasn’t one of my favorite reads. I liked the basic storyline and found it interesting. However, I found myself getting bored at certain points in the story. It takes a long time for events to happen in the book. At least it takes quite a bit of background to get to a revelation to the problem in the story. The drama with the cheerleader Avery gets a little tough to read at times. I feel as though some of it could have been cut out. Jared's character seemed really intriguing and then it was never really developed. I kept hoping to catch a further glimpse at his character but that never came.

Overall, I found the premise intriguing and the writing was well done. The dialogue was genuine to the genre. However, as compared to many YA paranormal books there is little to no romance in this one. That is a bit unusual. If you are looking for a YA book with some romance in it this is not the book for you.

I give this book a 3 out of 5. I would be interested in reading further books from this author. However, this particular one was not one of my favorites.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading ( Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

~ Grab your current read
~ Open to a random page
~ Share “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
~ BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
~ Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's mine!

"You've got to get out of my head," I said as Lex opened the driver's-side door for me. "You've got to make me. Robbie and I will follow you. See you at school, sailor?" I flipped him off and started the car. He laughed. "You never fail to disappoint."

From Love Sucks! by Melissa Francis

A Non-Paranormal Review

Jennifer Echols is one of my favorite non-paranormal YA authors. Every now and then I like to step away from the paranormal genre and read something else. I stumbled across Jennifer Echols while reading some of the lighthearted Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies series. Then I read her book Endless Summer that came out earlier this summer and thoroughly fell in love with her outlook as a writer. Forget You is her most recent book and is a bit racier than most YA literature.

The main character Zoey is struggling with her home life. Her mom and her dad recently separated and her mom is struggling with the situation. Zoey is trying to hold everyone together but quickly learns that she can’t. She makes some bad romantic choices while trying to deal with her life. Meanwhile, Doug has been in love with her since he asked her to the middle school homecoming and he is trying to reach out to her despite her current choice of boyfriend. Zoey gets into a car accident and can’t remember anything from that night especially what led up to Doug rescuing her from the vehicle and feeling comfortable enough to act like a couple in the ER. During the book she tries to piece together her heart and her memories.

I like the realistic nature of this book. Doug and Zoey are complicated characters and all of the relationships are complicated. Zoey is strong and yet shows a weakness and vulnerability much the average teenager. Their concepts of love are lofty idealistic ones. The dialogue is true to the age group. There is not undying love speeches or any soliloquies about needing the other to live a full life. I think that sets Echols apart from a lot of YA authors. She doesn’t idealize love or sex in her story. It is realistic and raw. I think this is a great read for most of the older YA readers out there. Additionally, even without the paranormal aspect the story itself is enough to keep readers interested. I give the book a 5 out of 5.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ghost Huntress 4

So I have officially joined netGalley which is an online way to get Galleys of books to review for publishers. With that said I did get an advance copy of this text and did not pay for it. However, this does not influence my review in any way. Several of my upcoming reviews will be from this site.

The fourth book in the Ghost Huntress series by Marley Gibson is titled The Counseling. I have recently read the other books and the newest one in the series continues to follow the main character Kendell as she discovers who she is as a psychic and overcomes her fears that are developed in book 3. She is also still trying to put together the puzzle pieces of who her birth parents are and how to contact blood relatives. I found myself vey intrigued with the bit of mystery surrounding her parents. A new love interest enters Kendell’s life and a promising relationship evolves throughout the book. Kendell is a very refreshing female character. She is a young independent woman that does not need a male in her life. She has healthy relationships with friends and family that is sorely lacking in most paranormal literature.

I really enjoyed the way that the book reads. The author uses texts to make the prose a bit more relatable. It isn’t used quite as much in the fourth installment and I find that I do miss it. It made the events and people more real. In addition, the writing is authentic for the genre. Gibson uses true terms for ghost hunting but does not overwhelm the reader with new vocabulary. I also like that I could have started with the fourth installment and I wouldn’t have been entirely lost. Obviously, reading the earlier books will give more insight to the story but if you just started with the fourth book you will not be lost.

Overall I give this book a 4 out of 5. I feel that the beginning went pretty slowly and was a bit too in depth for the events that were going on. I also feel that only a very small amount of time progresses in each book and that could be a problem for readers. For instance, the House of Night series has gotten tedious for me to read since so little time is covered. However, the writing is good and the characters have realistic struggles and interesting dilemmas. It is not filled with the typical teen angst and narration about how the female lead can’t live without the male lead. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in paranormal YA romance especially those that like a bit of mystery interwoven to the text.

This book is due for publication in September.

Click the Amazon link below to order/pre-order

Monday, August 2, 2010

Review of Jealousy by Lilith St. Crow

I have been a bit absent due to taking my students to the national math competition. Before you ask we didn't do as well as in the past two years but did place fairly respectably. Thus, I have been quite busy and unable to post anything on here. However, while there I shipped my copy of Jealousy to the hotel and was really excited that it came on release day fairly early in the morning. I read the entire book in one sitting while my kids were in testing and I had some rare time off. Without further ado here are my thoughts on Jealousy:

Wow. After waiting for MONTHS for this book, I finally got to read it and it was worth the wait. Jealousy was a fast-paced roller coaster with Dru’s emotions and relationships.

In the book Dru is finally brought to the main schola where she will supposedly be safe. Unfortunately for Dru there simply isn’t anywhere that is safe for her. The series continues to examine the complexities in the relationships between Dru , Christophe and Graves. I wish there was some resolution there but that will be for later books. Additionally, Lili brings more discussion Ash into the book. Dru brought Ash to the main schola and has a very maternal instinct toward him. Dru needs to be needed and Ash is the only one that truly seems to need her. Be ready for some interesting plot twists in this book because it will not end in the way you expect it to.

Jealousy is by far my favorite book so far in this series (see the Archives for a review of the first book in the series Strange Angels). It was so much faster than the other two books. Furthermore, as a reader you really feel the process of Dru blooming or going through a second puberty. She is very unsure of herself but is still trying to figure out who she is without everyone else. She has her moments where she seems weak or stubbornly strong. I believe that these traits will allow all readers to connect with her and understand the story in a first person manner. I give jealousy a 5 out of 5.