Monday, March 29, 2010

Lock and Key


Lock and Key is yet another novel by the supercalafragilisticexpialadosis author, Sarah Dessen.

This story revolves around Ruby, a high school senior who has been abandoned by her alcoholic mother and brought to live with her sister Cora, who has become pretty well off with her husband, Jamie. Things aren’t real hunky-dory since Ruby knows Cora doesn’t want her around any more than she wants to be there – Ruby learned one valuable lesson from her mother: Never rely on anyone but yourself. But before she has the chance to take off, she meets the nice, cute boy next door, Nate. And before she knows it she’s starting to enjoy the more stable life Cora and Jamie offer her, and Ruby begins to realize that some things she knows to be fact… aren’t. Yet as she comes to see things more clearly and starts to deal with her childhood, her friendship with Nate begins to strain. He seems unable to let her in to his life. Ruby wonders what could be keeping him so distant.

I love Sarah Dessen. Her books are exquisite, poetic, graceful, perceptive, and heartbreaking. Not to mention inspiring. Lock and Key is more in the category of the grittier Dreamland and This Lullaby, which are a couple of my favorites. Sarah is amazing at creating a main character than can be so flawed, so torn up, and sometimes truly screwed up – in a way we all can be. Ruby is both relatable and familiar. You feel like you could know this girl. You could be this girl.

Sarah’s writing is at the caliber it always is, yet again, in Lock and Key. She kept me gripped in this personal, family story. It felt intimate, sometimes painful. She adorned the novel with a group of three-dimensional REAL people, from her sister and brother-in-law, to the boy next door who might not live as perfect a life as he seems (who does, really?), to the people she works with at the mall.

However, I won’t deny that there were plot points and twists that I saw coming before they, well, came. I guessed right on more secrets than I’d have liked. And I felt like, surprisingly, the final quarter of the novel seemed rushed and wrapped up too quickly to have the normally more-than-satisfying Sarah Dessen conclusion.

I don’t know… It was odd. The first three-quarters of Lock and Key was fantastic, beautiful, insightful, and touching (though, like I said, a couple storylines I saw coming), but then out of nowhere the quality seemed to drop. Maybe it’s just me. Like I say, don’t take my word for it. And, anyway, the first three-quarters of Lock and Key are worth reading no matter what – but I still felt like, by the time I slid Lock and Key in my bookcase alongside the incomparable That Summer, Someone Like You, Keeping the Moon, Dreamland, This Lullaby, Just Listen, and The Truth About Forever… it didn’t QUITE live up.

But still highly recommended.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Contest at Book Divas!!!

Hi Fellow Bibliophiles!!!

Special post here to let ya know that there's an awesome contest going on for a SHORT time at bookdivas.com that's giving away Advance Screening Tickets to the new Miley Cyrus movie: The Last Song! This is based off a Nicholas Sparks book (so, it's probably darn good!).

So head on over to http://www.bookdivas.com/contests/2010/03/win-advance-screening-passes-last-song FAST!

Why fast??? Because they are only accepting entries until 8:59 AM on March 24th! That's TOMORROW!!! So... what are you waiting for? GO!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sea Change


Sea Change is a YA fantasy romance by Aimee Friedman, best-selling author of a couple of the SimonPulse romantic comedies, among other books.

The most bare-bones, spoiler-free summary I can give you is thus: Seventeen year old Miranda is suddenly ferried to Selkie Island when her estranged grandmother dies and leaves her mother a manor. Miranda postpones her summer internship and comes to help her mom pack everything up and try to sell the place. But before much packing is done, Miranda realizes there’s a lot more to her Mom’s past on Selkie Island – that there are secrets here that have been long kept and an magnetism about the place that seems to change her Mom’s behavior… and maybe even her own. When she meets a mysterious (not to mention hot) guy, Miranda finds her science-driven, reality-focused mind begin to go a bit cloudy.

First off, I want to say that I really, really liked it. And here’s why: Miranda is a very relatable main character, she’s not fighting off boys, she doesn’t have the best self-image, but she’s smart and level-headed in a way that teenage girls are so often not portrayed. But one of the main enticements Sea Change had for me was what could be called the true main character of the novel: Selkie Island.

Now, Aimee Friedman made me feel this island. As I turned pages, I could smell the sea air, feel the grittiness of the sand beneath my feet, taste the fish in the local restaurants. It had that heavy, thickly layered atmospheric quality that I think Stephenie Meyer excelled at in the Twilight Saga. It was really incredible. So, I felt like I was with Miranda, truly in Selkie Island as I read Sea Change.

The plot is rather light, I’ll admit, and the end is somewhat unsatisfying… but I almost feel it’s unfair to say that. Because with Sea Change you almost feel like things end the way they should – better not say any more about the end or I’ll give something away!

Romance plays a fantastic role in Sea Change – it’s intense, captivating, and hypnotic – yet still believable to me. I found the airy fantasy touch just subtle enough to be ignored or embraced – the reader’s choice.

I could almost say I wish there was a sequel to look forward to, a chance to mingle yet again with the high society of this Georgia area island and their fancy ways, with the locals who are derided by the summering wealth, yet perhaps way more intriguing than you would first guess, but most of all… to linger in the languor of the foggy haze of Selkie Island once more.

But, alas, I know not if a sequel is to be. And if not, well, thank God there’s always rereading!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mieradome


Mieradome is a new, upcoming YA fantasy e-book by Kate Hegarty.

In it, Amavia, a fifteen-year-old girl, and her two brothers Inocian and Thewlis end up pulled into a faery world called Mieradome where friends may be foes and a desperate grab for the crown of the faery world by various competing royal families is dangerous. Not soon after being enchanted and mesmerized by the beauty of the place does Amavia realize that she may have ties to Mieradome – mystery and secrets surrounds her.

One thing was quite clear to me as I read Mieradome – Kate Hegarty has spent a lot of time fleshing out this faery world and inhabiting it with all sorts of different races of faery, different cities with distinct environments, royal families with detailed lineage, and exhaustive background for all of the above. It felt like a labor of love, which was charming.

I will say that it took a good, if small, period of time for me to really connect to any of the characters – but I did soon enough. Details of Mieradome are plenty, but details of the characters take a bit more patience to find out about. However, with that patience does come a better understanding of the characters and their personalities.

Kate Hegarty creates a fun story full of adventures, some overarching and some simpler and quicker to resolve that help create gateways to showing off more of her fully realized world and the creatures in it. At times it almost feels like a collection of short fairy-tales.

However, there are some mysteries that have a darker tone, which I admit I was more intrigued by (though the jovial adventures had their charm, as well, of course). I don’t want to give too much away, but I was quite surprised and absorbed by the course some of these stories took. There are some twists that I did not see coming!

Mieradome, I felt, was really a quest for truth. It was about being in a picturesque faery land, but it was also about, Who am I? What is my purpose? What is my past?

At times I did find myself confused by all the details and backgrounds, and I think a good reread would help clear up some things for me. I bet I would enjoy it even more the second time around!

I can’t help wondering if the story is really over, or if Kate Hegarty might decide to let us roam about Mieradome once again.

To check out the blog go to: http://mieradome.blogspot.com/ or head over to Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mieradome-by-Kate-Ohegarty/180095833998?ref=ts

Check it out!
P.S. Isn't the cover pretty? :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Glitter Girls and the Great Fake Out


Glitter Girls and the Great Fake Out is Meg Cabot’s fifth outing in the Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls series and perhaps the best yet.

This time, Allie is mesmerized by Erica’s older sister Missy’s coming-up regional Twirltacular baton competition. She and her best friends are desperate to attend and support Missy and her low self-esteem (at least they think that’s why she’s so mean).

But Allie finds out her Mom has already agreed to have Allie attend the horrible Brittany Hauser’s birthday party. She nearly throws up at the idea… until she finds out that the birthday party includes a trip to the legendary dream store Glitterati, where the girls’ can get dressed up and fashion pics taken of them. Allie’s always dreamed of going.

So… what does she do?

That’s what the reading part is for – so don’t look to me to tell you how it turns out! But I’ll admit this… it’s awesome! ;)

How does Meg Cabot make every book so insanely funny? The 4th grade voice of Allie just seems to give her even more room to spread her hilarious wings, I tell you.

The premise is unbelievably entertaining! For a book that has no action, no romance, and no fantasy element of any kind – the Allie Finkle books are surprisingly page turning! I always want to know what Allie is going to say next, what’s in store for her around the next corner.

Yet again, Allie’s character is true-to-life in portrayal of the modern-day elementary girl, and she has been consistent from book one to, now, book 5.

I find Allie Finkle’s personality addictively engaging and personally think she’s be an awesome friend – and I’m dying for Meg Cabot to let us read all about Allie Finkle as a teenager – because Allie is just that awesome.

Oops, am I saying awesome too much? Oh well. It’s true!

For someone who is far away from the “target audience”, I was thoroughly charmed and entertained (obviously). I think you will be too!

Come on Meg, tell me you’ll have an Allie Finkle: The Older Years series!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Birthmarked


Birthmarked is the first YA novel for author Caragh M. O’Brien. It’s also one of the those books that will be very hard for me to summariaze for you, because it was so desperately good and so full of twists that I’m afraid of giving anything, even the teeniest thing, away and spoiling it for you!!! We Bibliophiles have to help each other out and make sure our personal reading experience is undefiled by any “spoiling”!

So first I will give a very basic, dry bones sort of description to whet your appetite.

Here goes: Birthmarked is a stunning sci-fi YA that breaks your heart, takes your breath away, and keeps you turning pages long into the night. It’s main character, sixteen-year-old Gaia, is amazingly believable and relatable, and strong, yet sweet. Birthmarked is a story about a horrifying dystopia, and entertains and thrills constantly.

Okay, what do you think? No details about the plot – no real analysis of any kind. I strongly suggest that if this is your kind of book and you’re intrigued that you read no further and just read Birthmarked as soon as it comes out on March 30th. I won’t give anything away in my review that isn’t given away in the inside jacket cover, but I still encourage my fellow Bibliophiles to simply read it without any further knowledge, with my full recommendation behind it.

If you need a bit more to convince you, here goes:

Gaia has lived with her mother and father her whole life outside the Enclave, the walled area of privilege that the outsiders only get to see on the Tvalter (a sort of community TV) specials, a place of education and wealth. Her scar has made her an outsider among even her peers outside the Enclave, but she has found happiness with her parents and her apprenticeship as a midwife with her mother. Every month three babies, per midwife, born outside the Enclave are “advanced” to receive all the things those who are not “advanced” do not receive (wealth, colored clothing, education). Gaia has never questioned this, believing it to be duty. But when Gaia’s parents are suddenly arrested and taken inside the Enclave to face charges, without any explanation given to Gaia, she begins to delve deeper into the secrets of the Enclave to save her parents.

As you can see, there’s a lot of heavy stuff in Birthmarked. The plot is rich and full of possibilities right from the start, which is always promising. I was stunned and immediately yanked on the sometimes-painful journey Birthmarked takes you on.

Without giving anything else away, I will say that I really loved this book. I thought it was highly original, suspenseful, and the characters (even the background characters) were so fully formed, realistic and dynamic that I was really blown away. There is an undeniable slow build (if you can really call it a “slow” build) to a shocking climax at the end, where my heart was literally racing.

However, I will say that the end did disappoint me a little. Don’t get me wrong – it was great and I still LOVED the book and WHOLEHEARTEDLY recommend it, but the end… it felt familiar. You tell me when you read it, but it reminded me of another book (can’t tell ya which one of course!). I was surprised, since Birthmarked is so unique.

But despite that small complaint, I thought Birthmarked was quite exquisite – a fantastic addition to my sci-fi shelf, a book I will most certainly reread.

And I am left frantically hoping for a sequel!!!