Thursday, September 30, 2010

Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

I picked up Always a Witch on NetGalley. I was really excited to see it since it won’t be published until Summer 2011 and I have read the first book Once a Witch. If you haven’t read Once a Witch you may want to pick it up before reading the rest of this review as it will contain spoilers.

The book follows Tamsin as she realizes that her family is still in danger from Alistair. Alistair has gone back to the past and is trying to change the course of the future. Tamsin is the only one that can go back and stop Alistair. However, she has to protect the ones that she loves and keep them from going back.

I really enjoyed this series and found it to be somewhat like a cross between paranormal literature and a bit of a superhero story. Each member of the family has a “talent” that reminds me of superpowers. While they still observe Wiccan guidelines the “talents” themselves remind me of superheros. I found this to be a nice twist that isn’t used too often in this genre. It kept me interested as there is so much literature out there on witches right now.

The writing is extremely fluid. I read the book in one sitting and found myself sad when the book was over. I am not sure if there are to be any other books in this series because the plot is resolved at the end.

The romance between Tamsin and Gabriel is refreshing because they were best friends growing up. I really liked that it wasn’t a love triangle between someone she grew up with and a “hot” new comer. It’s good to see the nice guy win out every once in a while. They have a relationship based on equal footing where they are balancing each others wants and needs. This is seen at several points in the book where they go back and forth about not telling the other person what to do.

Overall I give this book a 5/5. I really enjoyed the storyline and found the plot to be very unpredictable. I never saw the ending being what it was. I also found that the characters really spoke to be as everyone doesn’t fit in at some point in time. I hope to see more coming from Carolyn MacCullough in the future!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Almost to Die For by Tate Hallaway

I absolutely loved Almost to Die for! It was sitting in my Amazon recommendations and I loved this book. Here is the summary from Amazon:

“On her sixteenth birthday, Anastasija Parker learns that her so-called deadbeat dad is actually a vampire king. And he wants Ana to assume her rightful position at his side, in spite of the fact that she has witch's blood running through her veins-from her mother's side.

Too bad witches and vampires are mortal enemies. And now Ana's parents are at each other's throats over her future. It's up to Ana to make a choice, but deciding your eternal destiny is a pretty big deal for a girl who just wants to get through high school.”

I really liked that Ana struggled with her identity but didn’t let her identity define her in the end. While the book seems to have some of the ideas of destiny, Ana makes her own future. This was probably my favorite part of the book. I also loved the honest of her character. While other characters are heralded for their honesty Ana doesn’t sensor her feelings. When a potential suitor frightens her, she calls him on it.

I also enjoyed the plot. It was a different twist. No one was trying to end the world or kill another species per say. It was a simple story about a girl and her own battle to find who she is amidst her different heritages. Keeping the plot simple has many benefits for the reader. It made me want to keep reading from start to finish to find the answers for Ana.

The only detractor from this book for me was the ending. I would have liked to see a longer ending. It felt like there was this huge buildup but then it was wrapped up very quickly. Maybe I will feel differently about that after a few days because I do love the way Hallaway keeps it simple.

Overall I give this book a 5/5 and really recommend reading this book. It is a different twist on the vampires and on the love triangle.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bite Me & Try Me by Parker Blue

I came across these two books from Amazon’s recommend feature. Here is the summary of Bite Me from Amazon:

“Life after high school is tough enough without having to go 15 rounds with your inner demon. Val Shapiro is just your ordinary, part-demon, teenaged vampire hunter with a Texas drawl. And a pet hellhound named Fang. Soon enough she finds herself deep in the underbelly of the city, discovering the secrets of the Demon Underground and fighting to save those she loves. Whether they love her back or not.”

I absolutely loved this series. It ranks up there with the Chicagoland Vampire Series for me. It is a YA book but for the older crowd. Val is 18 and is finding herself on her own. She is going through the same struggles that everyone else does when they strike it out on their own. I like that her character is so strong and independent while having a deep loyalty streak to her family even though they have severely mistreated her.

I loved reading about the different friends that she makes in the Underground Demon organization. Parker does an excellent job of coming up with imaginative demons and making the side characters interesting.

Try Me is an excellent sequel to Bite Me. Val grows so much in the first book and yet the second book doesn’t feel stretched at all. She continues to discover more about her demon side and her human identity. I think that everyone can related to Val’s character as throughout the series she is trying to understand who she is and how she can define herself.

Val’s relationships with male characters also matures a lot in the second book. She gets her first boyfriend and has to deal with the confusing parts of a new relationship. She also has to deal with how her demon defines her feelings and relationship. Because of this she has to try harder to make things work in her relationship.

I give this series a 5/5. I am eagerly awaiting news of the third book and can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Moon Spun, Moon Rise and Moon Stone by Marilee Brothers

This series revolves around a young girl named Allie and the events surrounding her coming to possess a magical Moon Stone. Allie posses supernatural powers that are amplified by the stone. In addition to surviving the normal trials of being a teenager Allie has to survive being the keeper of the Moon Stone.

I found this series hard to get into at first. Being an adult that likes to read YA I tend to gravitate toward the upper end of the YA spectrum. Thus I found Allie’s goofy moments a bit difficult to get through at first. However, as I got further into the series I found it a quirk that I looked forward to seeing in her character. It sort of “grew” on me.

I did find her character flawed but fun. She is strong and independent but still has the vulnerability for a girl her age. She thinks things through and does not simply follow whatever her friends dictate. She is strong enough to take care of her mom but she doesn’t simply do everything. Her and her mother butt heads as she tries to get her to take some responsibility for the household. Also, even though her mother may not do a great job of taking care of her, Allie still makes good choices to not go out and take advantage of the situation. I do hope to see a bit more of her friends’ personalities in the next installment. They are mentioned but their characters are not developed.

The story line itself keeps the reader interested. While it took me a while to get through the first book I feel as though I am hanging off of a cliff waiting to read the fourth installment... I am left hoping that the fourth book is announced soon and maybe I can get it early thorough NetGalley ;)

I also liked that the major issues were wrapped up in each of the books. I do not feel like the entire plot is one big loose end. Some of the series that I have been reading lately have felt like nothing is ever resolved. (I don’t tend to blog about those..)
Overall, I would give the series as a whole a 4/5. For the older audience the goofy aspect may take a while to grow on you and it may take some patience to get through the first book since Allie is so young.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Trickster's Girl by Hilari Bell

I came across Trickster’s Girl on NetGalley while browsing the latest releases. Here is the description given on NetGalley:

“In the year 2098 America isn't so different from the USA of today. But, in a post-9/11 security-obssessed world, "secured" doesn't just refer to borders between countries, it also refer to borders between states. Teenagers still think they know everything, but there is no cure for cancer, as Kelsa knows first-hand from watching her father die.
The night Kelsa buries her father, a boy appears. He claims magic is responsible for the health of Earth, but human damage disrupts its flow. The planet is dying.
Kelsa has the power to reverse the damage, but first she must accept that magic exists and see beyond her own pain in order to heal the planet.”

I found the book to be very inspiring. While this is not the book for people looking for romance in a YA story, it is still a innovative inspiring book about a journey. While Kelsa is on her journey to heal the world she comes to grips with the death of her father and the resulting problems in her family. The futuristic aspect of the book is very believable. I liked that the technology wasn’t so far removed from what things are today and that the security really seemed to be the direction we are headed currently.
Kelsa is a strong lead character and the book centers around her and “Raven” her helper. Raven is the one that explains how to heal the world and takes Kelsa on a interesting adventure to save the world. The story is fast paced and it is constantly changing. The plot is not predictable in the least.

I did find that the ending was somewhat abrupt and it felt a bit unresolved. I am not sure if this is leaving an opening for a future book or a series. However, overall if you are not looking for a YA story with romance this is an excellent book. Especially since it has a “moral” and is relatable for most people in an environmentally conscious time. I give the book a 4.5 out of 5.

Trickster's Girl comes out on 1/3/2011.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Alpha Trailer

If you have read Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series you should check out her Shifters series. The shifters series is an adult series but it is really good. Here is the description from Amazon:

"Vincent's debut, an urban werecat fantasy, is a good story that suffers from about 200 pages of bloat. Faythe Sanders is a Texas grad student with a secret: she's a shape-shifting werecat. After she's attacked by a Stray—a werecat without ties to any pride—Faythe's father, the Pride Alpha, orders her to return to the family compound. As it turns out, two other werecat tabbies have gone missing, indicating an organized effort by the formerly go-it-alone Strays. The author's world building is intriguing but overly narrow, reducing the range of jungle feline behavior to a keen territorial instinct. Secondary characters abound, including Faythe's intended, formerly human werecat Marc; five years earlier, she escaped the pride on what was supposed to be the eve of their wedding. Unfortunately, they both have frustrating character tics that are only exacerbated by the novel's length: Faythe is more often too-stubborn-to-live than kick-ass, and all the tears Marc wells up over Faythe don't forgive his insufferable jealousy. A polished tale may hide within this one, but Vincent needs to rein herself in a bit if she wants to build a readership."

Here's her trailer for the latest book Alpha!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Manifest by Artist Arthur

I got Manifest by Artist Arthur through Netgalley. I found the description to be very interesting and requested the book. Here’s the plot summary from Amazon:

“When fifteen-year-old Krystal Bentley moves to Lincoln, Connecticut, her mom's hometown, she assumes her biggest drama will be adjusting to the burbs after living in New York City.
But Lincoln is nothing like Krystal imagined. The weirdness begins when Ricky Watson starts confiding in her. He's cute, funny, a good listener—and everything she'd ever want—except that he was killed nearly a year ago. Krystal's ghost-whispering talents soon lead other "freaks" to her door—Sasha, a rich girl who can literally disappear, and Jake, who moves objects with his mind. All three share a distinctive birthmark in the shape of an M and, fittingly, call themselves the Mystyx. They set out to learn what really happened to Ricky, only to realize that they aren't the only ones with mysterious powers. But if Krystal succeeds in finding out the truth about Ricky's death, will she lose him for good?”

I found the story line to Manifest to be intriguing. The plot keeps you interested in the book. I appreciate the amount of thought that was put into the story line. I found that the characters had a lot of potential and the resolution was well-written.
However, I felt disconnected from the characters while reading the story. I felt like there was so much devoted to the story itself but the characters were left out of that. Krystal has a lot of potential as a lead character but since she isn’t as developed you feel like her depression is just annoying.

I did find Ricky’s mystery to be a very non-predictable scenario. I liked that I didn’t automatically figure it out. I found that Ricky was my favorite character in the story. While he was a bit demanding of Krystal he genuinely cared about the other characters and I felt like I got the best glimpse of him.

Overall I found the story made up for the disconnect with the characters so I would recommend this book to other readers. I am looking forward to see what happens in the next installment but am hoping that I get to see a bit more than the surface of the characters. I give the book a 3.5/5.