Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Free Kindle or Nook version of iTunes Book of the Week: Tyger Tyger!!!

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton is a contemporary fantasy, and first book in The Goblin Wars trilogy, that is unique, amazing, suspenseful and AWESOME!!!

In fact, to hear me go on and on, read my review of Tyger Tyger here.

I don't want ANY of you to miss out on this week's opportunity!

This week only, get your copy of Tyger Tyger FREE when you go to iTunes, Barnes & Nobles Nook or Amazon's Kindle! Learn more HERE!

DON'T MISS THIS!

I am actually rereading the first two books in this trilogy RIGHT NOW (really, no joke) to ready myself for the last book, When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears.

The Goblin Wars trilogy is just too fantastic to deny!

Enjoy - and spread the word!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Double-Trouble: Identity Theft & Defriended

Happy Halloween, Everybody!

Well, on Thursday, that is.

In honor of the spooky holiday, I am reviewing TWO of Scholastic’s Point Horror novels, YA suspense.

First up is Identity Theft by Anna Davies.

Hayley gave up what is considered a normal teenage life a while back to pursue what she felt she did best: academics.

As a finalist for a prestigious college scholarship, she is getting closer to her goals and believes soon all of her sacrifices of friendship and free time will be rewarded with a great future.

But she has to continue to keep a spotless profile in the meantime.

When a Facebook profile in her name suddenly shows up online with pictures of her partying and altogether NOT acting like herself – she is astounded. Clearly someone is using Photoshop to sabotage her.

But things get more disturbing when pictures of a birthmark no one knows she has appear in the pictures and the Facebook page seems to appear and disappear randomly.

Something is going on that Hayley, for once, does not understand…

Though at times Identity Theft bore strong resemblances to certain Lois Duncan books, there is a building suspense here that is very enjoyable to read. It’s a creepy and fun mystery that confronts some of the more obvious theories head-on.

Identity Theft has a moody, eerie atmospheric tone and is a great Halloween read. And even though the end is a bit cliché for a horror story, it has enough of a wink-wink feel to keep me satisfied.

Next up is Defriended.

Jason has met the perfect girl. Her name is Lacey.

She’s into all the same music as him. They agree on class lessons, they have similar senses of humor. They can talk for hours.

But it’s all online.

Jason wants to meet Lacey in person, but she always seems to avoid his request.

Then, one day, he gives in and does a Google search on her. He’d avoided it before because it always felt kind of stalker-ish.

Of all the things that he could have imagined finding out about her, he’s dumbfounded by what he discovers.

Apparently, Lacey died almost a year earlier.

Suddenly, Jason is thrown into a disturbing puzzle.

Either someone is playing a bizarre trick on him, or he’s suddenly talking with the dead…

Defriended started off intriguing enough, but never really became scary.

The concept was a little TOO unbelievable to me. Without giving away too much, I’ll just say that the things Jason becomes willing to do is a little odd – and the mystery itself, I felt, was very muddled.

Plus, once the resolution becomes clear – I felt there were quite a few holes and things that didn’t make sense earlier on in the story. But, that’s just my opinion.

So, of the two, my recommendation would definitely lean toward Identity Theft – though both could potentially be campy, cyber fun.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Since You Asked...

Since You Asked… is a YA contemporary humor novel by Maureen Goo.

It all started when happily-under-the-radar fifteen-year-old Holly Kim was bored to tears while performing her duties as copyeditor for her high school newspaper.

Reading about some senior’s love of “the best years of their lives” was enough to make her gag and fall asleep.

So, once she was done copyediting it to perfection – as her education-minded Korean family would expect – she decided to have a little fun by doing another copyedit – and changing the SATs-are-fun! vibe to her much more sardonic humor.

Guess which version accidentally makes it into the newspaper?

Suddenly Holly is not so under-the-radar anymore. In fact, she is actively hated by a substantial group of students – but abruptly offered her own column in the paper.

This’ll be an interesting year…

I really, really, REALLY liked Since You Asked…

Holly is a funny, cheerful, invisible good girl with just enough snark to be entertaining without being flat-out mean. Her hilarious accidental fame spurs a delightful plot arc that spans a year of learning how to balance her family’s suffocating traditional Korean values with her bountiful personality.

Her narration voice is delightful and caused me to laugh out loud multiple times. There are even some (very) occasional drawings and photos to keep the feel of Since You Asked… modern and real-feeling.

I really liked Holly and her awesome, if sometimes ungrateful, personality. And I hate to say, her attitude was truly enjoyable, except for maybe her harshness with her Mom – which still felt believable and gave the novel that added genuineness.

Plus, the secondary characters – such as Holly’s awesome friends – were also very well-written.

Since You Asked… was extremely amusing and very entertaining – made me a happy bookworm!!!

My only problem? I really, really, REALLY want a sequel.

Possible???

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Drowned Vault

The Drowned Vault is the second novel in N. D. Wilson’s middle grade/YA supernatural adventure series Ashtown Burials.

Personally, I thought that the first Ashtown Burials book, The Dragon Tooth, was awesome. So, if you haven’t read it yet check out my review here, and avoid this review for potential spoilers!

All you savvy bibliophiles have already read The Dragon Tooth, though, right? ;)

It’s been nearly a year since Cyrus and his sister Antigone found a home at Ashtown – though not necessarily one where they are welcome.

Nearly a year since they’ve been introduced to a life of mystery, adventure and mythology come to life as they earned a status of Journeyman amongst the order of explorers who’ve guarded the world’s secrets and treasures for generations.

As Cyrus failed to protect the Dragon’s Tooth against villainous Dr. Phoenix, and the simple fact that they are Smiths’, they are not well liked at Ashtown.

In fact, they are in extreme danger.

It’s not long before Cy and Antigone find themselves on the run – and desperate for a way to save not only themselves, but Ashtown also…

I made an executive decision to not re-read The Dragon’s Tooth before diving in here. It just didn’t seem like I read it that long ago. I would’ve liked a little bit more of a recap in The Drowned Vault, but I felt refreshed quickly enough.

Ashtown Burials is a series I’m excited about. The Dragon’s Tooth gave me a strong, good vibe – and the characters felt vibrant while the plot felt new. Sometimes a bit of a rare thing in this genre!

The Drowned Vault, like its predecessor, swept me into an environment that is unique and hums with adventure. It’s not so much magical as adventurous, action-packed, and mixed with lore a bit. There’s excellent character growth and maturity in the way it is written in such a way to make these siblings believable.

Real danger looms in The Drowned Vault. Serious stakes are felt. And with the way N. D. Wilson causes me to care for this family, including the sympathy for the children concerning their comatose mother and deceased father, it’s quite effective.

Fantastically, it’s also really funny! Modern, smart characters with witty senses of humor plus a very involving, creative and exciting plot makes a gratifying dish!

I was surprised that I felt it got a little slow toward the end – a little mish-mashy.

Maybe I was just tired?

But then the CLIFFHANGER had me ready for book three NOW. And I remembered why I’m kind of rooting for this series.

It has some serious potential, people.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Vote

Vote is a middle grade humorous novel by Gary Paulsen.

It’s also the fourth book featuring main characters Kevin Spencer. Personally, I recommend you read them in order – Liar, Liar; Flat Broke; and then Crush. You can click on each title to find my reviews.

Now that fourteen-year-old Kevin has become the boyfriend of Tina, the World’s Most Beautiful, Most Perfect, and Best-Smelling Girl – he needs to figure out how he can stay that way.

How will he hold her interest?

When Kevin’s nemesis, irritably good-looking new guy Cash Devine, announces his campaign for class president – Kevin gets a flash of genius.

He should run, too!

Recognizing his strength of always being a great leader, he knows this was inevitable. The first step in a long, rewarding political career.

And a way to impress Tina.

In order to do that, though… well, he’s going to have to win.

Therein lays the problem.

Since I read Liar, Liar I have always been eager to read another Kevin Spencer book. He’s clueless, a little bit crazy, but is always hilarious and good-hearted.

Vote, for me, wasn’t AS entertaining as the other three novels. I didn’t laugh out loud as much; I wasn’t delighted by as much quirkiness. In some ways, it was almost a shade more solemn.

However, it was still a fast read and enjoyable. The characters alone make reading it worth the time – which isn’t even much time since these books are SO short.

I kind of wanted more, though.

Kevin shows some great growth in Vote – but where was his sparkling charm, awesome personality, and out-there ideas? Not as present here, unfortunately.

I do have to say, though that Markie (the little boy neighbor that Kevin babysits) has to be probably the best toddler in literature. Honest.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Reluctant Courtship

A Reluctant Courtship is the third novel in The Daughters of Bainbridge House trilogy, a Regency era historical romance series, by Laurie Alice Eakes.

Though each novel focuses on a different Bainbridge sister, and therefore has its own story, reading A Reluctant Courtship before the other two books could potentially give you spoilers of events in the previous books.

I recommend reading the books in order. First is A Necessary Deception and then A Flight of Fancy. Click on the titles to read the reviews.

Honore Bainbridge, the youngest of the sisters, has been left to the country estate – in hopes she’ll stay out of trouble. And out of the public eye.

After two scandalously bad courtships – one of whom was a traitor, the other a murderer – it seems that Honore’s taste in gentlemen constantly leads her astray.

So, when she meets Lord Ashmoor – tall, dark and handsome – it’s almost a given that he also would be unsuitable.

Of course he is.

His American upbringing and fears that he helped French prisoners escape from Dartmoor Prison make him a highly dangerous match.

In fact, Lord Ashmoor himself is looking to secure a courtship that will bring him above reproach of the English and help get him out of the cloud of suspicion he’s in. Which means he should stay far away from disreputable Honore.

Yet the two are drawn together…

I love the Regency era. Yet it has to be done just so for me to feel swept into that time period in novels. I can’t ask everyone to compare with Jane Austen, who obviously lived in the era, but I do need to have a sense of the age through descriptions, language, and overall atmosphere.

Unfortunately, for me, that was truly lacking in A Reluctant Courtship.

I liked A Necessary Deception and A Flight of Fancy was okay – both of the heroine’s out of the ordinary personalities or situations helped the otherwise, in my opinion, lackluster stories. Yet, here, Honore just seems to be a typical blonde beauty – and she fell flat for me.

My feelings were ho-hum to start A Reluctant Courtship – and sadly they progressed that way. Descriptions of Honore’s loveliness and Lord Ashmoor’s handsomeness do not a romance make.

For this reader, anyway.

After continuing to not grab my attention after quite a few pages, I decided to skim the novel. I hate doing that, but there are so many books in the world – we have to make time for them!!

Unfortunately, A Reluctant Courtship just came across as too familiar, too cliché, almost too cookie-cutter of a story and then didn’t have the sweeping, engrossing sense of the Regency time for me to stick with it.

Hopefully, you’ll feel differently! Remember to try it for yourself – I’m only one opinion.

*Available October 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

*I received a copy of A Reluctant Courtship from the Baker Publishing Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Red

Red is a YA contemporary novel by Alison Cherry.

Felicity has grown up in Scarletville – a town that was founded as a sanctuary for redheaded people, in order to recognize their true potential outside of the discrimination they usually found in the world.

Not to mention to foster the redheaded gene.

Here redheads are the popular ones. The ones with the best jobs. The best opportunities.

It’s been that way since Felicity was a baby.

This is why her mother started dying Felicity’s hair a constant shade darker of red in a very measured way to make it look natural.

Now, Felicity gets touch ups and dye jobs like a spy – sneaking around, never letting anyone know her true hair color – not even her best friends.

If anyone were to find out, her life would be over. Scarletville hates arties (artificial redheads).

So, when a note is slipped in Felicity’s locker advising her that they know her secret and if she wants to keep it that way she has to do what they say – Felicity already knows.

She’s going to have to do everything they ask…

Red has a concept that is hard to believe and sometimes difficult to swallow from a serious perspective, yet somehow it did grow on me.

There’s actually a real sense of becoming your own person, an individual, here – of being honest and facing irrational bias. That was nice.

Red is entertaining, at times suspenseful and presents an overall odd, out-there town that mirrors a less unbelievable bigotry.

In the end, I was kinda won over by Red – except that it had some leftover open ends that I would’ve liked resolved. It seemed to end sooner than it should have.

So, not perfect – not as quirky or satirical as I would’ve expected for such a strange plot – but largely an enjoyable, diverting novel.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Icons

Icons is a YA post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel by Margaret Stohl, of co-author of Beautiful Creatures fame.

Dol is haunted by vivid memories of The Day.

Of her father, her mother – her family – dying in that moment that took so many lives.

The Day the world changed.

Even though her life now is simple and quiet, hidden in the countryside along with her best friend Ro and others, the memories still hit her hard and strong, all these years later.

It’s because of what she is.

Telepathic-like abilities and the power of feeling others emotions plague her, just as strong anger and violent tendencies do Ro
They’re different. And they don’t know why.

But when she and Ro are captured on one initially normal day they’re taken to the Embassy where they meet Lucas and Tima – both with abilities of their own.

Questions, secrets, and dangers abound as they search for answers and a chance of survival under the shadow of one of the largest Icons…

I have a copy of Beautiful Creatures that I’m going to read here as soon as I can. I’ve heard so much good about it, and I’m excited. With Icons, though, since it was sent to me for the purpose of review I needed to get to it first.

I’ll admit… I hope that Beautiful Creatures is better.

Icons
has a startling, grim, intriguing prologue as we witness Dol’s terrible memory of The Day. Quickly thereafter we are introduced to a romantic triangle that is initially relatively effective. And though confuddling, it’s fast-paced and interesting from the get-go.

My issue was that I felt Icons was lacking real grounding in characters. I didn’t feel like I was getting a good feel for them, except for their abilities that are rooted in overwhelming emotions. It wasn’t long before the romantic triangle started feel a little The Hunger Games-lite, too.

At first the plot was holding the course for me, keeping me in the book despite my ho-hum feelings about the people involved.

However, that even started to crumble for me, unfortunately. The plot continued to be unclear, in my opinion. I kept waiting for more world-building, more explanation or flashbacks or something to make this novel’s present-day more clear. That would have been, I think, extremely beneficial.

Instead, terms are thrown about and The Day is bandied around without me ever really feeling like I had a handle on it. Because of that, the action portion of Icons fell flat, as I didn’t really know what was going on.

Icons began to jump all over the place, I became more and more lost, and eventually boredom started to sink in during the last quarter.

I have to say I was rather disappointed. In fact, I’m not real confident I’ll be interested in reading the next book.

You could come to completely different conclusions and be absolutely thrilled from start to finish, though. So, read Icons for yourself, bibliophile!

I’d love to hear what you think!

Monday, October 7, 2013

City of Death

City of Death is the third novel in the middle grade fantasy City Trilogy by Laurence Yep.

This review is for those of you who have read City of Fire and City of Ice.

If you haven’t, there is a possibility that the synopsis of City of Death will give away spoilers of the earlier books.

You’ve been warned!!!

Scirye and her faithful companions have chased Mr. Roland and the evil dragon Badik all the way from the Arctic to the Kushan Empire, where the City of Death is.

Now that she has been reunited with her parents and has new allies to assist her, Scirye feels more determined than ever to stop Roland from pursuing his goal with the stolen treasures he has gathered – and avenge her sister’s death.

Yet just as they begin to prepare for their closing battle with their adversaries, they realize there is an even greater enemy facing them…

As I did not get involved enough in the first novel, City of Fire, to finish it – I have not actually read City of Ice or City of Death. My philosophy was to present the synopsis to you, you crazy bibliophile you, so that you could decide if it sounded interesting to read.

I, however, don’t have much to say on it except that I found City of Fire to have an interesting, adventure/fantasy flavor that could possibly be quite good if I gave it another try in the future – which is why I didn’t want to ruin any future reading by skimming the latter novels.

Laurence Yep is a two-time Newbery Honor Award-winning author, and this trilogy has many devoted fans.

So, check it out and let me know what you think!

Maybe it’ll encourage me to revisit City of Fire (and the next two books) sooner than later!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dualed

Dualed is a YA sci-fi dystopian novel by Elsie Chapman.

The city of Kersh has avoided the turmoil of war by keeping their population strong. How they do that is a high price, however.

Every person has a genetic Alternate – essentially a twin or clone – raised by another family. And by their twentieth birthday the two Alternates will be “activated”.

That’s when they’re given thirty days to eliminate their Alt – proving their worth to the society as someone able and strong enough to kill another.

Once they’ve survived that test, better food and livelihood await them.

West Grayer, fifteen years old, has seen almost everyone she loves die. Having trained as a fighter, as a killer, she feels she’s ready for the day of her assignment to come – until another tragedy in her life shakes her confidence.

Unsure if she is worthy to survive the battle with her Alt, West decides to start making dangerous, risky decisions that will give her more of an opportunity to prepare – and maybe avoid thinking about all she’s lost.

But will she have a chance to win her survival?

Dualed, with its concept of an Alternate for every person, was appealing to me. I wanted to read it when I heard even just a tad of its premise.

Sadly, Dualed did not live up to my expectations.

The bizarre, but initially intriguing, plot felt like a game. I felt that, as a reader, I was thrown into the story without enough of an opportunity to really get a feel for the world and characters – and care. But I, of course, tried to give it a chance and be patient.

Just a few pages in, I realized that the storyline was actually rather upsetting and disturbing to me, not fun. And not in a way that is thought-provoking and compelling, but more in the way that I started to realized that I just didn’t like it.

I hate to say something like that because I know that an author, and others, worked hard to create this book and present it to the reading public – but that is how I felt.

Also, I continued to be disconnected to Dualed throughout the entire novel. Perhaps because there was a majority of telling and maybe not enough showing.

Plus, our heroine, West, was not at all likable to me. I didn’t feel like her decisions made any logical sense, or were even explainable on an emotional level. She frustrated and upset me.

I really didn’t feel anything as I read Dualed, except impatience.

Eventually I started to skim the novel, which I felt bad about – but it did nothing for me.

Even with an, in my opinion, lackluster romance – Dualed was stale, odd, and lumbering.

Hopefully you’ll disagree!