Monday, January 26, 2015

Violet Eyes

Violet Eyes is a YA retelling of The Princess and the Pea, one of the Once Upon a Time books, by Debbie Viguie.

Contented, simple farm girl Violet’s life is made more complicated when she and her family take in a wounded stranger – who turns out to Prince Richard of the realm.

Once he is returned to full health, he’ll have to head to the kingdom after a year abroad locating princesses for his parents, the king and queen, to enter into a competition for his hand in marriage.

Reluctant to do such a thing, Richard instead finds himself intrigued by Violet’s straightforward, strong personality and they quickly fall in love.

Yet in order to have a chance to be together, Violet will need to compete against the many princesses in odd, enigmatic tests that range from the ridiculous to the dangerous…

Violet Eyes moves swiftly, as it sort of has to since it’s just shy of 200 pages.

I’m never a fan of love at first sight – finding it superficial, improbable and irritating – but for the case of a little book like this, I set that quibble aside to enjoy it for what it is. Thankfully the characters aren’t hopelessly mushy about their feelings.

The interesting twist, where the princesses have to compete for the prince’s hand rather than the other way around, made me more willing to play along. It definitely becomes increasingly fun to read as the competition begins!

There were a couple smile-worthy little allusions to Viguie’s other books in the series – Midnight Pearls and Scarlet Moon – when mermaids and werewolves are referred to.

Violet Eyes happily shows that there is more to the strange royal competition than you initially think – making for a good little story with a decent plot and execution.

If you want to divert your attention for a short period – maybe after an emotionally draining novel – this could be an affable choice

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Page Turners

The Page Turners is a YA contemporary horror novel, and the first in a trilogy, by Kevin T. Johns.

Nate, Danny and Spenser are outcasts – and they’ve found that this is far more apparent and dangerous now that they are freshmen in high school.

Daily they are victims of ridicule and, at least in Nate’s case, violence. For Nate, his home life is not much better.

One of the only bright moments the friends look forward to is their self-made club – The Page Turners.

Essentially they meet in the library to discuss their mutual passion for fiction – whether literature, movies or television – and present their opinions and thoughts in an organized, official manner.

It’s during one of these meetings that Nate happens upon a strange book in the library – something old, handwritten and brimming with mystery. He’s sure that it is real magic – but when they speak the incantation they find in English – nothing happens.

…or does it?

The Page Turners is a quickly paced book that is easy and fast to read – as well as surprisingly intriguing!

I felt that the rather creative plot – which I’m not giving away much of in the synopsis I wrote – was relatively well done, too. At times, the writing came across perhaps a little more self-important than needed – maybe a tad more serious than necessary…

Yet the characters were presented with having some rather dark family and personal issues, which gave the fantastical plotline a huge dose of realism as it was grounded in that edginess.

Sometimes I felt that the boys argued too much and I would’ve liked to perhaps see more bonds of friendship – but overall I felt The Page Turners was a very good contemporary horror book that didn’t skimp on character development!

I will be interested in what happens next, for sure.

Monday, January 19, 2015

City of Bones

City of Bones is the first book in the YA urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare.

It’s just another night for Clary when she and her best friend Simon are hanging out at the Pandemonium Club in New York City – but when she happens across a strange scene that no one else seems to see, her life takes a turn for the otherworldly.

Trying to brush off the fact that no one else – including Simon – saw the teenagers with peculiar markings covering their skin talking to another teen they kept calling a “demon”, Clary returns home to an overprotective mother that is so upset that Clary is a little late that she wants to take the two of them away for the summer with family friend Luke.

Fuming, Clary finds solace with Simon – until she has another encounter with those mysterious teens and finds out they are Shadowhunters – warriors devoted to purging the earth of demons and keeping other not-fully-human creatures like vampires and werewolves in line.

When her mother disappears and monsters show up at her home, Clary realizes that she has somehow become part of something dangerous and secretive – and everyone she loves is now in jeopardy.

But why do the demons want to go after Clary?

Hmm.

I’m torn, people.

Despite some interesting world building and a good helping of fantasy and supernatural suspense, I had difficulty connecting with the characters of City of Bones. I’m not entirely sure if it was the writing – which was, I feel, at times rather juvenile – or the overall personalities of the characters…

They just didn’t jive with me very smoothly.

However, a vulnerable, sad, horrid personal story from Jace – the main, attractive Shadowhunter Clary meets – did make me feel more empathetic toward him. It brought a bit of a psychological aspect to him, at least. This helped when late in the novel he started doing things that really irritated me – yet I could sort of see why he would make those decisions…

Sort of.

Anywho, with less interrupted reading time, I was able to start getting more entertained by City of Bones. It’s certainly fast paced and has a decent plot. It started to grow on me a little and as it picked up – though still not head over heels – I began to understand the appeal.

Unfortunately, I had been informed of a big twist before reading the book – the unnamed person shall be forevermore banned from discussing books with me – and that certainly didn’t help. It’s a huge reveal – but kind of odd and makes me curious why Cassandra Clare went there….?

But hey – I’m intrigued enough to try book two.

Right now, though, I’m not clamoring.

P. S. I am not a fan of this cover. Not to mention, there are no scenes - from my memory - that included a half naked male. Therefore, not only is the cover not a favorite of mine but it also isn't accurate! Argh.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Well of Lost Plots

The Well of Lost Plots is the third book in the book lover’s fantasy series Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde.

Though it’s been said that these books stand well on their own – I still STRONGLY recommend reading them in order. That means The Eyre Affair first, Lost in a Good Book second and THEN The Well of Lost Plots.

To avoid any potential spoilers for the first two books, I also recommend not reading this review unless you’ve read the prior novels. Deal?

After burning some serious bridges at her Spec Ops-27 Literary Detective job, being pursued by the power-mad Goliath Corporation and continuing to carry the child of a husband that no longer exists, Thursday had to get away.

Where better to get away than inside a book?

Being one of the rare individuals that has entered BookWorld as a non-fictional character, Thursday has been granted permission to participate in the Character Exchange program – allowing a character in the unpublished Caversham Heights go on holiday while Thursday steps in to take her place for, presumably, the next year.

While taking care of herself and her unborn child, her Jurisfiction mentor, Miss Havisham, will continue to teach her the ways of book jumping and book monitoring, as well.

Despite getting cozy in her temporary home, Thursday soon finds out that the hackneyed, pulp mystery mess that is Caversham Heights is up for potential salvage – which is when BookWorld hawks plot devices, characters, etc., on the black market of the Well of Lost Plots.

On top of that, a murderer is targeting Jurisfiction personnel.

So much for rest and relaxation!

Oh, Jasper Fforde!

It’s relatively rare that you are utterly floored by originality. Fforde manages to do that to me. I mean, WOW!

The Well of Lost Plots is truly ingenious – ready for multiple re-reads to fully understand this complex, intricate, fascinating world called BookWorld.

It’s stuffed full of bookish creatures, wondrous rules, clever laws and actions and oh-so-much wittiness! There’s humor, suspense, mystery!

This really is a world as multifaceted, imaginative, involving, entertaining and DIFFERENT as a Harry Potter type of environment. I am a tough one to get to compare to Harry Potter – but the Thursday Next series definitely steps up the game.

Too much fun – yet extremely intelligent, demanding attention and memory to fully enjoy The Well of Lost Plots – I am overcome with the desire to read the whole series RIGHT AWAY.

Thank you, Jasper Fforde!!!

Strongly, strongly recommended!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Angelic Upstart

Angelic Upstart is a YA contemporary fantasy – and third book in the Alex Trueman trilogy – by Martin Dukes.

To fully appreciate and enjoy this trilogy, I strongly recommend reading these books in order. First there is Caught in a Moment and then Worm Winds of Zanzibar.

If you haven’t read them yet, to prevent being spoiled – don’t read this review! Instead, click on those titles to begin reading about Alex Trueman’s adventures!

I’m trusting that the only bibliophiles still reading are caught up with the series…

Returning to normalcy is not as easy as you’d think.

Not for Alex.

After first spending a horrific, mind-bending time in the time-frozen world of Intersticia and then an alternate version of Zanzibar, not to mention the angelic realm of Elysium, normalcy is, well, boring…

Plus, he’s been encouraged to cease using his abilities.

While his friends adapt back to their reality, Alex struggles – and eventually gets involved with a mysterious, fascinating archangel named Nathaniel.

Where the other archangels have forbidden Alex from using his powers, Nathaniel is helping him to hone them.

Before he knows it, Alex is spending almost all of his time with Nathaniel and learning captivating things.

However, it is this very friendship that may risk the survival of their world…

Oh my!!!

Angelic Upstart was… WOW!

Initially I was irritated with Alex – some decisions he makes early on are rather poor and thoughtless – yet also based in a psychologically understandable place.

But when the elements of the plot come together – oh my gosh this is a HORROR STORY!!!

Without giving anything away, I will say that Angelic Upstart is a very effective, disturbing, mesmerizing, thought-provoking novel that keeps going where you don’t think it will go. Martin Dukes doesn’t hold back the punches here, people!

A captivating, twisty, dark, intelligent final entry – terrible, terrible things happen in Angelic Upstart. It features what may be on the most psychotic, terrifying villains I’ve ever read!

It’s a hefty book full of character development, suspense and a fully rounded plot that left me feeling that it all worked together from book one to book three – this is an epic feeling novel!

And when those last few pages were completed I was left with goose bumps! It was not an expected, predictable end – it surprised and touched me!

Angelic Upstart is a memorable conclusion to an imaginative, sharp trilogy that will most certainly be re-read!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Lost in a Good Book

Lost in a Good Book is an adult fantasy, sci-fi, bibliophile’s dream by Jasper Fforde. It is also the second book in the Thursday Next series – the first of which was The Eyre Affair, read my review here.

Truly these books transcend genres and are just stunning achievements in creativity and surrealism.

I strongly, strongly recommend reading The Eyre Affair before Lost in a Good Book. Deal???

Thursday – renowned Special Operative in literary detection - is happily married and resting after a duel to the death with dangerous criminal and murderer Acheron Hades.

Yet the massive Goliath Corporation – with far too many strongholds in the government – has not forgotten how Thursday entered Jane Eyre to accomplish her feat. Nor have they forgotten to pursue the means of doing so themselves.

In order to blackmail Thursday into releasing one of their errant employees – Jack Schitt – from the The Raven, Goliath eradicates someone Thursday loves dearly – leaving her as the only remaining person with the memory of their ever having lived.

Desperate to regain the existence of this person, Thursday works to figure out how she can enter another book without her genius uncle’s Prose Portal.

However, Thursday will soon find out that within the tomes of millions of novels lies the secret world of Jurisfiction – and Miss Havisham has been waiting for her…

Wow – what a mind bender!!!

Jasper Fforde has taken the brilliance of The Eyre Affair and increased it tenfold here!

Lost in a Good Book is startlingly, refreshingly unique and inventive!

It takes an already alternative 1980s England setting and mixes in a brand new world WITHIN books that is so much fun – and SO unpredictable!!!

You never quite know where the plot is going to take you – but it is equally, funny, suspenseful, fascinating and almost exhausting (in a positive way) in its new concepts and environments.

And – as a bibliophile – the idea of book jumping and the “realness” of fictional characters are beyond awesome!

There is so much detail, so much intelligence and cleverness I don’t even know where to start.

I’m ready for book three!!!

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Rules of Survival

The Rules of Survival is a YA contemporary novel by Nancy Werlin.

A life of tension and walking on eggshells is all Matt and his younger sisters are used to as their daily lives dramatically shift with their mother’s violent, startling mood swings.

As the oldest, Matt has learned to attempt to pull the attention on him when their mother turns more erratically aggressive, but it does not always work. Sometimes Callie or the little one Emmy end up being the victims – either when he’s not there to stop her… or when she’s too determined to be distracted.

It’s a life of fear and survival – every second of every day.

When Matt sees a man named Murdoch protect a young child from an abusive father in a public place, a part of him soars with a hope he long thought was dead.

Could this man – this man that had the courage to stand up to that steely-eyed father – help them too?

Matt knows it’s time to take action…

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Nancy Werlin novel but my prior experiences have been very positive. I’ve read The Killer’s Cousin, Locked Inside, Black Mirror and Double Helix – all of which were amazing, as I recall.

The Rules of Survival was no exception.

In fact, it was much more than that.

This is a harrowing, disturbing, edgy depiction of children in a state of constant trepidation with a mother frighteningly unstable and downright terrifying. The portrayal is never over the top and the narration, which is of Matt telling his youngest sister Emmy about this time of their lives via a written letter, feels very, very real.

With how tired and busy I am after working hard all week, it’s been a while since I’ve read an entire book in one sitting. But that’s what happened with The Rules of Survival – I devoured the whole thing, which is admittedly only 250 pages – in one Saturday afternoon.

Why? Because it is horrifying, gripping, nerve-wracking and impossible to put down due to the investment in these poor children – and the need to know what is going to happen.

By the end I was wowed by how enormously, powerfully touching and memorable The Rules of Survival was.

Strongly, strongly recommended.

My interest in Nancy Werlin has been reignited, no doubt.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Deviation

Deviation is the first book in the futuristic sci-fi YA series The Sophisticates by Christine Manzari.

Cleo is a Sophisticate – one of the children genetically engineered in the Program to combat terrorism since the both economically and murderously destructive Wormwood hit America 30 years ago, changing everything.

She’s a Vanguard – focused more on advanced academics to create a brighter economic future for the country one day. Sophisticates do not have family – they do not have control over their own lives – they are owned by the Program and are reminded of it constantly.

Yet Cleo is not content with this – and when she’s caught hacking into a Program computer system to try and learn more about her donors she gets very upset.

And when she gets upset… something bad happens. A dangerous, unexpected anomaly.

As much as Cleo tries to hide what happened, she’s sent to the Academy to switch from a Vanguard to a Mandate – the military branch of the Program, where Sophisticates are trained to track and kill the nation’s enemies.

She’s not the only Sophisticate that looks like a Vanguard amidst the bulky, muscular Mandates…

Cleo’s determined to find out why.

Deviation was a fine book.

Not the strongest praise, I know.

As always, I strongly recommend people read books for themselves to form their own opinions as we are all so different – and Deviation has a LOT of fans out there!

For me, I found the plot of Deviation to be rather unoriginal and there seemed to be a lot of repetition in the narration.

I felt like we never learned enough about Wormwood. Even though we’re given the impression that the whole story isn’t being revealed – shouldn’t we be told everything that is common knowledge, at the very least? Seemed rather sparse.

Then there’s the aspect of romance in the book – which, though probably one of the strongest plots in Deviation, felt cliché and not genuine enough for me to truly care.

Deviation has some humor and has a vibe of being a mash-up of a high school teen movie and X-Men – but more teen movie, in my opinion.

Sadly, the novel never pulled me in enough to make me feel really connected or invested in anything or anyone. Due to this, after dutifully reading the first half of the book I began to skim the remainder.

I feel bad – but sometimes a book doesn’t harmonize with the reader and there are so many books to read, we sometimes have to make that decision.

Again – READ IT FOR YOURSELF!!!

This could be your next favorite book!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Stand-Out Books of 2014!

Time to find out what I personally recommend to you, my lovely bibliophiles!!!

After what I hope was a bookish Christmas full of gift cards and novels wrapped in pretty, festive paper, I am bringing to you the fifth annual Stand-Out Books of the Year post!

Being that I am working full-time and sadly have less time to read than I used to, a lot of my numbers have dropped when it comes to statistics.

However, what has not changed is the fact that there are a whole lot of books that stood out to me in 2014!

As always, the books don’t have to have been released in 2014 – I’ll just have read and/or reviewed them in 2014.

So:

How many books did I read?

120

That's 45 less than in 2013.

How many pages did I read?

41,186

That's 15,123 less than in 2013.

How many pages, on average, did I read per day?

113

That's 41 less than in 2013.

Like I said – far busier as I get older – but a bibliophile I shall always be!!!

This year there are a whopping 44 books on the Stand-Out Books of 2014 list!

I know!!!

Keep in mind, that I may have liked or even loved many other novels throughout the year – but when going over the list these are the ones that stand-out specifically.

You can click on each title to be transported - almost magically you might say - to my original review of the book.

The Ultimate, Fantastic, Gothic Book for Book Lovers:

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Oh my gosh. Do you love gothic fiction? Do you love to be swept away fully and completely by gorgeous writing? Do you like to be both unsettled and intrigued? Do you, perhaps, enjoy feeling wholly obsessed with a novel? Then this gem is for you! A book that blew me away with mystery and utterly captivating prose, this story of a book loving writer penning the biography of a reclusive author is one-of-a-kind!

Charming “Children’s” Classics:

Howl’s Moving Castle / Castle in the Air / House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones
Featuring charismatic characters, witty dialogue and clever fantasy plots, these three novels were such fun to read! A couple of them have some romance, all of them have surprising character development, and each has an astoundingly intricate story that doesn’t disappoint!

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Golly, this book is a marvel in creativity! When a young boy receives a mysterious tollbooth that magically transports him to a land where he must survive the Doldrums, take look over Point of View, jump to the Island of Conclusions and much other extremely clever wordplay – all the while learning lessons that sparkle with true wisdom – we, the readers, win the bibliophile lottery!

The Chronicles of Crestomanci, Volume I by Diana Wynne Jones
Well, this was the year I really started to read Jones and was enchanted, truly! Here we have the first two books in the Crestomanci series in one volume. Taking a magical, alternate universe and mixing in trouble, multi-layered characters and legitimate surprises and most excellent humor – we yet again have proof that “children’s” books are not always for children! In fact, the best ones (which I feel like I’m featuring in this section) are a delight to ANY age!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente
Okay, yes, I know that this is a newer book and probably can’t officially be called a classic yet – but my goodness golly does it feel like one! Placing a smart, creative little girl in a Fairyland fraught with tyranny from a frightening queen that doesn’t look any older than her, this stunner combines incredible prose with Alice in Wonderland-like surrealism and underlying astuteness. I was absolutely blown away!

Percy Jackson and the Olympians # 1: The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan
Again – not officially a classic yet but, I believe, soon to be one! What a fun, original, contemporary fantasy take on Greek gods and myths! Mixing comedy, suspense, mystery and adventure into a clever reimagining of mythology, as soon as I finished book one I started looking at every other book Riordan wrote – not to mention the rest of this series – and started getting ready to order!

All the Wrong Questions # 1: Who Could That Be At This Hour?
All the Wrong Questions # 2: When Did You See Her Last?
File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents all by Lemony Snicket
I know, I know. Maybe I shouldn’t have named this section “classic” children’s books - but I’m sorry, I’m convinced! Lemony Snicket is back after the woefully wonderful A Series of Unfortunate Events books, telling his own tale as a youngster entered the enigmatic work of VFD – solving mysteries and avoid photographs of his face. All three are literary fun with awesome wordplay and giggle worthy silliness. File Under is especially fun, providing 13 short story mysteries that have solutions you flip to the back for. I’m ready for more, Lemony!!!

Fantastic Fantasy

The Dresden Files # 1: Storm Front by Jim Butcher
As a huge fan of the short-lived television series, I knew I had to eventually try the popular book series it was based on. Happily, this fast-paced, humorous yet serious urban fantasy was a great start to what I am hoping will be a great series! If you like your hero hard-boiled and mixing all kinds of magical beings with crime mystery, time to try this!

Valour and Vanity
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Here we have the fourth entry in Kowal’s wondrous Glamourist Histories series. Tying Regency-era England, a phenomenal romance and uniquely natural magic called glamour, this series just seems to keep getting better. I especially love the characters and awesome relationship between the married leads – mix in suspense and wartime intrigue and you get quite the read!!!

Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
In the second entry of the ridiculously clever, intriguing, laugh-out-loud funny Finishing School series, we get more gorgeous alt-Victorian steampunk fun with a heroine that is both intelligent and charming. Truly packed with entertainment as we enter a school of espionage amidst vampires, werewolves and more - total re-read material, this a fantastic!

The Parasol Protectorate # 1: Soulless
The Parasol Protectorate # 2: Changless
The Parasol Protectorate # 3: Blameless
The Parasol Protectorate # 4: Heartless
The Parasol Protectorate # 5: Timeless all by Gail Carriger
Set later in the same alt-Victorian world of Curtsies & Conspiracies, The Parasol Protectorate is an adult series rather than YA as the above. Full of romance, humor, and cleverness up to your eyeballs – this is pure awesome fun! Nothing like worrying about the polite society etiquette rules after accidentally killing an errant vampire during a ball!

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
This is the first book in the Thursday Next series – an out-there conglomeration of goodness! First of all it takes place in an alternative version of 1980s London – the Crimean War is ongoing, there’s time travel and the resurgence of extinct species, such as the dodo. Our main character, Thursday, is an operative the in the Literary Detection agency – in which they spend their time investigating crime against literature! Already sounds too good, huh?! Well, believe me there is so much more – a crazy awesome start to what looks to be a series that gets better and better!!!

The Rising by Kelley Armstrong
As the final book in the Darkness Rising trilogy, which ties into my beloved trilogy Darkest Powers, this one is bittersweet. I felt it was a great ending to a great series – and yet again provided a fresh romantic perspective amidst some truly excellent power and abilities and suspense!

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
I have a feeling you are going to start seeing Mr. Fforde’s name on these lists a lot in the future! This is a YA novel – the first in a quirky, yet heartfelt, Chronicles of Kazam series. With wordy, sharp humor, silly fun and a fascinating world in which magic seems to be fading until word of a dragon hits the streets, this is yet another diverting read!

Miss Mabel’s School for Girls by Katie Cross
When a teen girl slips amongst the ranks of one of the toughest magical boarding schools EVER, she makes it her mission to win an early competition that allows her to be tutored directly by the powerful Miss Mabel. Her intentions, however, are not honorable and she has alternative motives – she wants to take Miss Mabel down. This was a totally different, mesmerizing book that was very suspenseful and felt dangerous – I look forward to reading book two!

The Lynburn Legacy # 3: Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan
Ooooh boy, can’t say much as this is the third book in a trilogy that is AWESOME. I love, love, love this YA book and love, love, love this trilogy! Creepy, funny, romantic, quirky and beautiful, I am now a full-fledged fan of Sarah Rees Brennan and want more from her!

The Raven Cycle # 3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Again, tough to say much when it is the third book in a quartet – but Stiefvater is convincing me more and more that she is one of the best YA authors out there with a truly lovely, atmospheric tone and gorgeous writing. An astounding contemporary magical fantasy that is dark and rich with character development.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Placing a contemporary American teen girl in an English boarding school and adding in super creepy supernatural activity – such as they apparent return of Jack the Ripper – creates an awesome book! Especially when there is humor and suspense and all together great writing. I’m happy there are more books to come!

The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist
Though there is a strong fantasy/fairy-tale vibe to this book, it does not feature any magic or clear fantasy elements. It does, however, provide an original, effective court intrigue story and a swap between two damaged girls. I was surprised just how much I loved this book – it is done very, very well with great suspense and excellent psychological character development. Again – yay, there’s a sequel!

Relatively Realistic Fiction

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
When a girl with a blocked memory of one pivotal summer begins to face the truth, well – let’s just say there’s a lot of twists and turns here. I wouldn’t say I NEVER guessed anything correctly here, yet it is the taut writing and well-drawn characters that help to make this stirring, disquieting novel so very affecting.

Starstruck by Rachel Shuckert
A start to a series, this book focuses on starlets in the 1930s – those who have the fame, those who want it, those who are losing it and those who are thrust into it. Soapy, suspenseful, romantic and mixed in with some mystery, this was a fascinating, undeniably addictive read that was a ton of fun but also had some decent substance to it!

Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
A follow-up to the awesome series and fantastic movie – need I say more? I’m always ready for more mystery, drama and romance with this little blonde private detective!

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Tugging on the heartstrings and managing to, yet again, create some of the most realistic, believably flawed human beings in contemporary YA literature, this novel really stuck with me. Dealing with the betrayal of a parent’s unfaithfulness, the splitting of a family and the desire to recreate oneself – this is a great book about family and identity.

Ravishing Retellings


Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce
If you like your fairytale retellings more Grimm than Disney, this is a Snow Queen retelling for you! Combining excellent character development, romance and magic with suspense and nerve-wracking danger, Jackson Pearce convinced me yet again that she is one of my favorites when it comes to this genre.

The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson
Okay, I will not say I am that familiar with the Ballad of Tam Lin – but this is a retelling of that, apparently. All I know is that this is a searing Civil War era novel that creates great characters and mixes in forbidden romance and voodoo – a page turner with substance.

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacy Jay
A bloody, dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Stacy Jay turns the story I love into a mash-up of war, hate and deep, overcoming romance. I loved the lack of superficiality here!

Sensational Sci-Fi

Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson
A hauntingly written final book in the Jenna Fox Chronicles, this is a futuristic masterpiece, asking just what defines a human. Lovely prose, excellent thought provoking plot and a bit of a tear jerker.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Some people want to compare it to The Hunger Games – I don’t feel they’re all that similar, so don’t let that dissuade you! In fact, I felt this was an original page turner, full of suspense, character development and awesome intrigue. I was addicted very quickly and quite consumed by it!

The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancey
A cinematic, truly scary post-alien invasion survival story! Well-written characters, great atmosphere and just enough humor from our strong female lead to not fall too far into hopelessness. Happily, there is a book two!!!

Burn by Julianna Baggott
Oh golly – this was a post-apocalyptic trilogy for the ages! Gory, creepy, frightening – this is a dark tale of what happens after all the “end of the world” events. Complex, intricate and absorbing, this finale pulls everything together for a final epic conclusion.

Neverwas by Kelly Moore, Amber Reed & Tucker Reed
The second book in the Amber House trilogy, this was one of the smartest books I read this year! It’s rare that someone can really dive into alternate futures and realities in such an interesting, diverse way, but this family of writers did! Following up from the end of Amber House in a brilliant way, I was floored by the intellect, detail and suspense involved in this awesome story – and I am breathless for the final book!

The Colors of Madeline # 1: A Corner of White
The Colors of Madeline # 2: The Cracks in the Kingdom both by Jaclyn Moriarty
I am a full-fledged fan of Australian author Moriarty – no qualms about it!!! These two books stunningly combine alternate universes with parallel storytelling – one involving the ordinary world we know and the other a world very different – but somehow, despite the many fantasy elements, just as grounded in reality – and realistic, wonderful characters. One moment it can be hilarious, the next it can break your heart. They are books of their own caliber in creativity and astounding writing – I cannot say enough!!!

Crushing Classic and Its Remarkable Retelling

Persuasion by Jane Austen
What a gorgeous, gorgeous book! Full of melancholy, maturity and lost romance – Austen has painted a beautiful portrait of a woman who regrets choices she made when influenced by others and the painful ache of acknowledging she can never remedy it… or can she? As always, Austen swept me away with prose that is quotable, searing and just simply unforgettable!

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diane Peterfreund
So, take Persuasion and turn it into a YA futuristic sci-fi novel? Sounds like sacrilege, right?! If it hadn’t been Peterfreund (who has proven her stunning writing skills in prior novels such as Rampant and Ascendant), I don’t know if I would have even tried it. THANK GOODNESS I DID!!! Somehow, she perfectly retold Persuasion with original, unique perspective of the future and made a lovely, memorable read of romance and sci-fi! Not to be missed.

Okay then, you book loving geniuses!!! There are 44 books to fill your shelves with, chat about and (hopefully) recommend madly to everyone you know!

I sincerely appreciate the ongoing readership that the Bibliophile Support Group has, despite my no longer featuring author interviews or giveaways!!! I feel that you awesome bookworms understand that life can become busier and it’s more important to focus on what we’re truly about: BOOKS

It’s been fantastic mixing in older titles with the new releases this year in an effort to return to pure bibliophile enjoyment – I hope you’ve also had fun possibly discovering some new titles that aren’t exactly “new.”

Have a wonderful New Year’s – and let’s meet back here in 2015, eh?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Love Me

Love Me is the second book in the YA 1930s Hollywood Starstruck series by Rachel Shukert.

As this is a highly serialized series, I strongly suggest that you read Starstruck – reviewed in October - before Love Me. Ya hear?

If you have yet to read Starstruck, avert your eyes from this synopsis…

After becoming an overnight sensation and sparkling movie star, Margaret Frobisher is now truly Margo Sterling. She’s also involved with heartthrob Dane Forrest – someone whose picture was over her bed back in Pasadena not that long ago. Now the issue is not losing it all…

Amanda Farraday is nursing a broken heart after her seedy past as Ginger was revealed to Harry Gordon, hotshot screenwriter. She’s sure if she could only talk to him she could convince him that the love they have overcomes her scandalous former life…

Popping pills and downing alcohol is getting easier and easier for childhood vaudeville star Gabby. She’s still waiting for her big break after Harry Gordon decided to go in a different direction for his newest picture. Desperate for someone to see her as a woman and treat her as such, Gabby sets her sights on musician Eddie Sharp – but is she ready for a bad boy?

Hollywood in the 1930s in more dramatic behind the scenes than on it…

I found Love Me to be unapologetically entertaining.

Happy to be back to the dramatic, sordid, fascinatingly messed-up world of 30s Hollywood, I embraced the rather depressing circumstances our characters are in and went along for the ride!

This is pure craziness, soapy fun mixed with truly disturbing glimpses of backstage envy, romance and deceit.

Love Me has some major shockers and twists amidst the glitzy diversion. It dives into some distressing, heartbreaking moments and grounds the plots in reality at times – making the series feel classier than some other fluffy books.

Rachel Shukert manages to make all the characters sympathetic, even as they morph before your eyes from likable to unlikable. That, plus all the little mysteries and surprises, make me all the more ready for book three of the Starstruck series.

I’m waiting!!!