Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Book Review: A Darkness Strange and Lovely

Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone.  Quoted from Goodreads


Despite the numerous books I've read to the contrary, zombies aren't really my thing.  Yes, I adored Warm Bodies, and I appreciated World War Z, but it isn't a selling point.  So, last year when Something Strange and Deadly came out, I passed it by.  But then all the reviews were so positive and this ADSL kept popping up on everyone's most anticipated for 2013 list, I decided I had to check it out. So here's me, jumping on the Susan Dennard's bandwagon.

Really, I've thoroughly enjoyed this series.  It's addictive, and while I'm super glad I waited until the second one came out so I could read the first two in a row, I can't wait for the third one. 

First, there's the lovely Eleanor.  I adore her as a main character.  Sure, she has her very stupid moments, she's way too impulsive, curios, insecure, headstrong, and makes loads of mistakes, but she's always trying.  Plus, nothing she does is inconsistent with her character.  She's the same, albeit slightly improved/braver/more heartbroken, girl we meet in the beginning of the first book.  

This book we also get introduced to the absolutely delightful Oliver (and a few more excellent characters, but none I loved as much as him).  I adore his character.  It's light, funny, but he also brings so much gravity to the book.  What happens between him and Eleanor (and don't worry all you Daniel shippers) was heartbreaking and perfect and horrible at the same time.  He's a great source of both conflict and comfort, and more than anyone, I really love what he brought to this second installment.

Now for everyone else, and I do, remarkably, mean everyone. All the characters that you love (and hate) from the first book make an appearance.  I wasn't sure how much some of them would, considering the change of scenery and all, but everyone gets their moment. I absolutely adored Eleanor's individual relationships with each character. Nothing was cookie-cutter, and even characters that only appeared for a chapter or two this time around still exacted an emotional pull on her and me as a reader.  It's probably one of the things I love most about this series.  The characters and their relationships are constantly changing and keeping you guessing.

Then we have the lovely Daniel.  He really only gets better as the series goes on.  This was the perfect second book for their relationship. I won't tell you exactly what happens (misunderstandings, fights, teamwork, etc.) but it continues to solidly build their relationship, and I can't wait to see how the third book plays out.

Now, in case you're getting tired of all these glowing character reviews, there is action.  Tons and tons of action piled on top of itself.  We have hellhounds and demons, murders and kidnappings, all on top of the ever present zombie threat.  And it's mostly set in Paris!  

This is the sort of book you can't put down.  It has great characters and loads of action.  It's a innovative 4 stars for me.  Really this series has been one of the discovery highlights of my July reading.  Now I'll have something to look forward to for next July, and I'm already counting down the days.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Review: Shadow of the Mark

Their love could destroy them all.

Through the ages, Marked Ones have harnessed the powers of the four elements: Water, Fire, Earth, and Air. Much about the elements is shrouded in mystery, but one thing is certain: A relationship between two Marked Ones has the potential to cause widespread devastation.

Megan and Adam—Air and Water—are determined to defy the risks.
But the power that swirls inside Megan is growing in twisted ways. And the closer she is to Adam, the closer Megan comes to unleashing a dark force that could spell destruction for the entire Marked line.  Quoted from Goodreads


In a nutshell, if you like the first book, you'll probably like this one, if not, this book isn't going to sell you on the series.

Really, I think this book is pretty much just like the last one.  It's mostly Megan and Adams relationship---they can't be together for some reason or another connected to their powers, but they're determined to make it anyway---and then the very end we get some action. 

Here's the thing. I love the mythology in this book.  I enjoy the world Leigh Fallon created, the lies and conspiracies, the way their powers evolve, etc.  My one problem is Megan and Adam's relationship.  Sure, they're cute together, and to be honest it bothered me less in this book just because this is the second book in the series, so their relationship had already been established, but the fact of the matter is, I have no idea why those two are together.  Sure, there's this mysterious pull that made them fall instantly in love, but that's all we get.  Even after they're together, we never get to see why they work so well as a couple.  They just go around making out and declaring their never-ending love.  We never know why they were drawn to each other in the first place or why they're still together.  If there were more action, more focus on their powers and the conspiracy surrounding them, it wouldn't be such an issue, but like I said, their relationship is the backbone of this series, and I'm afraid it's a bit lacking.

Still, like I said before, I really do like the mythology.  I love the ideas she plays with.  My favorite part is probably the way Megan's powers interact with Rian and Aine's. I won't give anything away, but it was probably the twist I loved most in this book. Seriously, there were parts that cracked me up.  

I also really enjoyed the addition of Chloe to the mix and the part Caitlin plays in everything.  I won't give away more because of spoilers, but they were both great additions to the plot.  Even Petra, Megan's Dad's girlfriend was a nice addition though I didn't love her as much as the other two.

Plus, we finally get introduced to the true villain of the story!  In the first book the whole kidnapping thing was really weak, in my opinion.  This ending was slightly better.  Plus we're given a concrete evil that Megan will have to overcome.  I realize life isn't always like that, but this story was begging for  a solid antagonist and now we have one.

All in all, I think this book is a definite improvement over the first one, but like I said before, if the first one didn't grab you, this one probably won't either.  Still, I'm invested enough in the series that I need to see it end. Plus, with the way the this book concluded, the third one looks to be a definite improvement, and may even solve all the hang-ups I have with the first two.  At least I can hope.  This book is a nice 3 stars for me.  I love the cover and am hoping the third one finally grows into the story's potential.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Theater Thursday: The Seventh Son

I'm not quite sure what I feel about this.  On one hand, Jeff Bridges is an amazing actor and Ben Barnes is attractive---both good points.  Plus they upped the action factor, and I'm not worried about them making Thomas a little bit older; the scary factor in the books justify that decisions. Still, it looks like they deviated a lot from the plot.  Maybe it's just the preview skewing things, but the feeling of the books is missing, at least to me. That's something I think Harry Potter really tried to do: capture the feeling.  This adaption?  I'm not so sure about. Of course I'm hoping for amazing, but a January release date isn't exactly full of promise. I'd be happy to be proven wrong though.

I realize the preview came out a couple of weeks ago, so many of yo may have seen it, but I'm afraid Autsenland and How to Train Your Dragon 2 took priority.  Anyway, here it is.  Let me know what you think.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Meme Monday
Unfortunately this is way too true.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Flashback Friday: The Blue Sword

Harry Crewe is an orphan girl who comes to live in Damar, the desert country shared by the Homelanders and the secretive, magical Hillfolk. Her life is quiet and ordinary-until the night she is kidnapped by Corlath, the Hillfolk King, who takes her deep into the desert. She does not know the Hillfolk language; she does not know why she has been chosen. But Corlath does. Harry is to be trained in the arts of war until she is a match for any of his men. Does she have the courage to accept her true fate?   Quoted from Goodreads


I have a love/hate relationship with Robin McKinley's writing.  There are books of hers that I absolutely adore.  Her Beauty is absolutely one of my top ten books. Basically, if she wrote it in the '70s or '80s,  I love it.  Her newer stuff? Not so much.  Maybe I should give the few books of hers I haven't read a try because I did love those first books so much, but . . . well . . . we'll see.  I don't know if I can take any more disappointment. Still, The Blue Sword, published first in '87 is one that you absolutely need to check out.

Quick warning, this is Flashback Friday, which means I haven't read this book in years. I'm probably due to read it again soon.  Yes, it's that good.  Still, while I remember the essence of the book, I know there are things I've forgotten.

This book is a classic coming of age/adventure.  It's about Harry finding her place in the world and becoming who she was meant to be.  The poor girl goes through so much: kidnapping, culture shock, becoming a warrior, etc. and in the end, risks so much, you can't help loving her for what she does and who she becomes. She's also the perfect blend of her two worlds, which helps you see the driving conflict better.

Really, this book is a wonderful mix of adventure and beautiful writing.  It has excellent characters and great world building. The magic is practically a character in itself.  Then there's the romance.  It's a lot more subtle than a lot of books out there right now, but Harry and Corlath are perfect for each other and I love their relationship.

Basically, you need to read this book.  It's fabulously done, a fantastic adventure, full of memorable characters and an excellent setting.  I know I've been a bit vague and short on the review, but it's been at least seven years since I last read this (which is a tragedy in itself).  This is the kind of book  that deserves gushing and heaps of praise.  So sorry if the details are a bit fuzzy, but this really is a book everyone should check out and one I need to read again.  It's a solid 4 stars for me, and who knows, maybe it will go up when I read it again. It probably deserves it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Theater Thursday: How to Train Your Dragon 2

I am ridiculously excited for this movie.  I realize it's a year away (it's due out 20 June 2014), but I still can't wait.  I absolutely adored the first one.  To be absolutely honest, HTTYD and Tangled were probably my favorite movies of 2010 ( I didn't see The King's Speech until 2011), beating out such greats as Iron Man 2, Alice in Wonderland, and even Inception (and a bunch of other movies I don't really remember, so yeah, maybe not the greatest year, but still . . .).

The trailer doesn't show all that much, but I did thoroughly enjoy that slightly more grown up version of Hiccup ( I guess the movie takes place 5 years after the first one).  Anyway, let me know what you think.
If you haven't read the books (and I'll admit I haven't, but I hear great things), here's a quick summary
of the first one. It's short, I know, but at this point almost everyone should have seen the movie, so I have little sympathy, and it basically sums up the essence of what the book is about (or at least the movie).

Chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III as he tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan, the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, by catching and training a dragon.   Quoted from Goodreads

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Review: The Nightmare Affair

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.


Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.
Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.  Quoted from Goodreads


If I were to sum this book up in one word, I would have to choose fun.  I suppose there are other, more creative words out there (bubbly, vivacious, effervescent, to name a few) but I'm sticking with fun.  I'm not going to claim it's the most original story, but it's still rather delightful.

Like is says in the summary, Dusty is a Nightmare, a creature who feeds on dreams. There's a lot of different ways to slant this.  Rachel Vincent went for a little bit darker take in her Soul Screamers series.  Mindee Arnett, on the other hand, plays it to full comedic effect.  Sure, there's the whole clues to a murder mystery hidden inside Eli's dreams thing, but there's also the awkwardness of sneaking into a cute boy's room at night to feed off his dreams.  In fact, the whole situation is rather hilarious.  

Dusty is a fun, strong character with a distinctive, witty voice that I really enjoyed.  I also quite liked Eli, the other half of Dusty's dream-seer team.  Sure, he follows the standard YA trope by being gorgeous, popular, but secretly really sweet, and his girlfriend just doesn't get him, etc.  Still, I really did enjoy his interactions with Dusty.  After waking up to find her sitting on his chest in the middle of the night and the resulting chaos, he has every right to be a bit disturbed and hostile towards her.   

I also adored the whole idea behind this world.  I liked how Dusty had to search out the murderer both in Eli's dreams and in real life.  The whole dream-seer team, and I found this to be a wonderful interpretation of the Nightmare mythology.  I also enjoyed how it played out in Dusty's magic.  The whole thing was really creative.  

Unfortunately, there were also a lot of things in this story that reminded me of other books.  This is one of the few books I really do want to compare, world-building-wise, to Harry Potter, but it's also pretty reminiscent of the Hex Hall series.  Sure, they're both great books, so the comparison isn't bad, but the world itself isn't memorable because of it.  The mystery was also a little bit weak. I liked the visions twist, but I wish there had been more of a sense of urgency or pertinence to Dusty in particular. 

Still, like I said before, it's a really fun, fairly quick, read, one that made me wish I had read it sooner. I'm awarding it a solid 3.5 stars, and I will absolutely be reading the next one.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Book Review: Edenbrook

Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will she be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.  Quoted from Goodreads


I am, quite possibly, of of the last people in existence to jump on the Edenbrooke bandwagon. It was sort of a novel experience, really.  First, it's recommended by a friend of my sister, who then (without reading it), told me I had to read it so she could.  Since this doesn't happen often, I was kind of intrigued and a bit wary. Then I started reading it, and everyone, and I mean everyone, (okay, every girl) who found out what I was reading, immediately told me that I would love this book . . . and for the most part, they were right.

This is one of those simple, adorable stories.   It's mostly set in the aptly named Edenbrooke estate, a place I would love to visit, but with a highwayman and a forty thousand pound  inheritance hanging in the balance. Basically, it's Jane Austen (time period and character-wise) with a bit more passion/excitement thrown in, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

First, there's the delightful Philip.  I absolutely loved his character.  He was sweet, funny, and just what Marianne needed.  I really liked the way their relationship grew as the book progressed.  It wasn't love at first sight.  You could really see why these two fell for each other as they spent time together talking and doing things.  This book's success is dependent on their relationship, it's success or failure riding on how well we like the way their romance plays out, and it definitely succeeded.

Marianne was an interesting character.  She was sweet, naive, fun-loving, and adventurous, with a bad twirling habit when she was happy.  She was also, at times, really thick.  Mostly I loved her character, and I do understand that she was new to the whole flirting/courtship thing, but there were a few instances that drove me absolutely crazy with how long it took her to figure things out.  Despite that, there's something about her I really liked.  You couldn't help cheering for her.

In some ways, however, Marianne's sister, Cicely, was one of the best characters.  She was full of contradictions, but she came across as completely real and complex.  She was shallow but cared for her sister.  She was a bit mercenary, overly fashionable and in many ways Marianne's opposite, but for all her faults, she never abandoned her relationship with her sister or how important it was to her, and I really liked that.  

All in all, this is a strong 4 stars for me (with the possibility of being bumped half a star higher  in the future).  It was one of those books that made me immediately go back and read my favorite parts when I was finished with it. Plus, there were a few twists I didn't see coming (which is hard for a book as straight-forward as this one, for the most part, was). It also served as the impetus for a historical/Austenesque reading frenzy, I'm still immeshed in. So if you're looking for a great love story, you need to read this book. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday Shorts: The First Star to Fall

Discover how it all began . . .

New Pacifica was designed to be a tropical paradise, a refuge for humanity filled with natural wonders and technological marvels. A place of perfect peace, where “war” was only a war out of ancient history–or so the privileged teenage aristocrat Persis Blake had always been taught.

But then comes the revolution and the death of a queen, and suddenly it’s no longer enough for Persis to trust the words of her parents, the lessons of her teachers, and the decrees of the men in power.
One terrible night, Persis witnesses the truth: there are those who will stop at nothing to destroy her world… but is there anyone who could save it?    Quoted from Goodreads


!!!!! I am so excited for Across the Star-Swept Sea. Diana Peterfreund keeps picking books I absolutely adore. First we got For Darkness Shows the Stars, a retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion, and now she's doing a retelling of Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel!  I absolutely can't wait for this book.  Of course too much anticipation and expectation can be a bad thing, but that's a whole different blog post.

This is an excellent novella/prequel.  It does everything a prequel should do.  It gets you excited for the book .  Introduces some of the main characters/conflicts, gives you a taste of what the full book will be, etc.  Plus, it's an entire story in itself.  If you're familiar with the book The Scarlet Pimpernel, you know where this story is going.  What this particular story gives us is one, life-altering day, where Persis's whole world is changed.  Again, if you've read TSP, you know where this is heading.  

I love the choice of subjects.  It's not something that you absolutely have to read before starting the next book, but it does matter to the next book.  Honestly, what this novella does more than anything is guarantee that I will absolutely pick up Across the Star-Swept Sea the day it comes out.  I can't wait to read more about Persis and her adventures, so I'm giving this story a strong 4 stars and counting down the days to October 15th.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Theater Thursday: Austenland III

The Trailer for Austenland is here! Sure, we've had clips, but since the theater release date is just over a month away (Aug. 16th), I've been hoping for something more for awhile now, and here it is!  Okay, maybe that's too many exclamation points, but I am really excited for this movie.  I tried seeing it last January the the Sundance Festival but never managed to snag a ticket, so I've been waiting far too long.  Anyway, hope you're all as excited as I am.  Check out the trailer below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Book Review: The Feros

After using your newfound super powers to defeat the most evil villains on the planet, what could you possibly do for an encore? 

After defeating their villain mentors, the Vindico, James, Hayden, Sam, Emily and Lana are finally ready to join the League of Heroes. But as their induction into the League draws near, they are framed by a group of rogue Heroes and given life sentences on the Perch.  Thunderbolt, the League’s leader, is the only one who can clear their names, but he is missing. To make matters worse, the Vindico are mysteriously let out of prison and a group of strange Shadow people start trailing the teens’ every move. Unsure of who to trust or where to go, the teens put their new skills to the test once more as they fight to save themselves—and their families—from an unknown foe. But how will they defeat an enemy they can not see?  Quoted from Goodreads


Straight up, excellent adventure.  There's not much more to say, really.  When I heard there was a sequel to The Vindico, I wasn't quite sure where it would go.  Would it be a straight forward super-hero book, or would the villains come back.  Would something happen to set some of the kids back on the path to super-villainy or would they stay strong.  There are so many directions this book could have gone, but I really like what Wesley King did with it.  It's an absolute must read if you enjoyed The Vindico, and even if you didn't, I think this book might even be better.

What I loved: First, our excellent five main characters.  I'll admit Hayden is my favorite. He's hilarious, quick-witted, and absolutely cracks me up, but it wouldn't work if he didn't have James to tease and Lana to roll her eyes at him.  Sam is as adorable as ever, and I love Emily's insecurities.  It sounds weird  but after the first book the rest of the kids are so confident in what they do, she really rounded out the story.  It also showed another side to her we didn't get as much in the firs book.

I also adored the whole idea that the heroes made their own nemeses.  The Vindico aren't after power or world domination like so many evil characters you read.  Instead they want justice for what the League of Heroes did to them.  They want revenge.  I know that's addressed in the first book, but it's further explored here, and I'm glad the author carried the idea over.  

Plus, this book starts with a bang and never lets up.  Seriously, these poor kids are constantly trying to snatch a few hours of sleep in-between attacks, car chases, prison breaks, etc.  The tension never stops.  Each kid has to deal with his or her former mentor, plus a delightful new villain, multiplying the layers of conflict. If you're looking for a fun, fast, action-filled read, look no further.

To sum up, this book is a blast.  It's a heroic  3.5 stars for me.  It's a straightforward adventure with fun characters and excellent villains. If you haven't read The Vindico check it out, and then you need to pick this up. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Book Review: The Distance Between Us

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.
She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.   Quoted from Goodreads


This book did so many things right, it was adorable. First, and this is going to be a weird beginning, but I love the setting.  Caymen works above a doll shop! And for those of you wondering, no, I'm not all that excited about dolls, but it makes for an excellent background to Caymen's life.  Honestly, the idea of living and working in a doll shop kind of creeps me out, but the idea was so unique, right there, it stood out from so many, less imaginatively set, contemporary YA books.

As for Caymen, she's a delightfully sarcastic character.  This book's a little bit like Pride and Prejudice without being a retelling at all, mostly because Xander's rich, Caymen's poor, and she judges him for that.  To be fair, he doesn't make the best first impression (he beckons her while talking on his cell phone), but he makes up for it later, so no worries.  Still, it's easy to understand Caymen's prejudices because of her background and what happened to her mom.

Caymen's the type of girl you'd like as your best friend.  She's cute and has a distinctive voice, but she's not one of those too perfect people. Xander's also adorable, despite his being ridiculously wealthy. I mean, he wears driving gloves, which I just found hilarious.  It's interesting seeing the contrast between their two lives and the way they connect. Plus, their relationship really builds from their first meeting.  They put thought into helping and understanding one another, so you see why these two are so perfect for each other. 

The plot is simple, cute, and fun. Yes, it's been done before, and yes, it's not astoundingly deep, but it's not supposed to be.  It's just one girl's coming of age/first love story. Still, there were a couple of twist at the end I didn't see coming.  I knew Kacie West was a good writer from her first book, Pivot Point, but this one guarantees that she's more than just a one hit wonder.  

Basically, if you're looking for a fun contemporary romance, this is it. It's possibly my top contemporary romance of this year (at least so far, though there are a few close contenders).  From the adorable cover to the random twist at the end, this book accomplishes what I wish so many other books would.  It's a strong 4 stars for me. I know it's a stand-alone, but I would actually kind of like to see a sequel.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Meme Monday: Somewhere to Go
There are so many great quotes about books, I decided to post some of them on my blog.  I'll try and give credit where credit is due.  Most  of them I see on, but they are everywhere.  I've decided when I come across a particularly good one, I'll post it here, probably as a Meme Monday sort of thing. Again, not every week, but as often as I can. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Book Review: Awaken

Death has her in his clutches. She doesn’t want him to let go.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera knew by accepting the love of John Hayden, she’d be forced to live forever in the one place she’s always dreaded most: the Underworld. The sacrifice seemed worth it, though, because it meant she could be with the boy she loves.

But now her happiness — and safety — are threatened, all because the Furies have discovered that John has broken one of their strictest rules: He revived a human soul.

If the balance between life and death isn’t fixed, both the Underworld and Pierce’s home back on earth will be wiped away. But there’s only one way to restore order. Someone has to die. Quoted from Goodreads


There's something delightful about Meg Cabot's writing, and Awaken is no exception.  It's fun and quirky, despite the more serious tone of this particular trilogy compared to some of her other work.  I thoroughly enjoyed this retelling/exploration of the Persephone myth, and am sad to see the series end.

What I liked best?  I'm not sure. Probably the way Pierce really steps up in this book.  Without giving any spoilers, things happen that force her to grow up and take charge for a good portion of the story.  I also enjoyed the way John softened as the trilogy progressed. In the beginning he was your basic tough-guy with occasional rage issues, but he's turned into a great character/love interest.  The part I think I enjoyed the very most, though, was how Pierce's parents reacted when they finally got to meet  him.  It totally cracked me up, especially how her father handles it.

As for everything else, it was fun.  I loved seeing a little bit more of the underworld and the way Pierce would be involved.   I loved the different reactions of the friends she brought down there ate the end of the second book, though one of them kind of bugged me. Basically if you loved the first two, you'll love this one.  It starts up with a bang right where the last one left off.

All in all, it was a nice conclusion to a really fun series.  All the loose ends were wrapped up nicely (except for one small detail even Pierce wonders about), and I love the direction most of the characters are headed. There was just enough of an ending after the climax to leave you satisfied but nothing too long so you're wondering when the book is actually planning on ending or if there's some kind of twist coming because all those extra pages need to serve some other purpose.  What I'm trying to say is basically the ending was perfect.

Thus ends another great series. Really, so many series are ending this year, I feel like I'm not reading enough new books to compensate. Still, I've loved so many of Meg Cabot's series (but for some reason not Princess Diaries), I can't wait to see what comes next. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Film Friday: The Giver

Well, it looks like the long stalled adaption of The Giver is finally moving forward! I'm really excited about this adaption. Granted, I'm also a little bit scared, since this is one of my favorite books, and adaptions are always tricky things.  If they do this right, it will be amazing, but it could also turn into a disaster *cough* Ella Enchanted *cough.*

Brenton Thwaites
There isn't much so far.  We have the amazing Jeff Bridges as the titular character, and they recently cast Brenton Thwaites as Jonas.  Here's where things could be tricky.  Jonas is 12 in the book.  Thwaites was born in '89, so the youngest he could probably play is 16 or so.  Now this might work.  They upped the age in Percy Jackson, and while I did have a few issues with the movie, the character's age wasn't really one of them.  Anyway, I'm glad this movie is being made.

If you haven't read the book yet, which would just be sad, you absolutely have to pick it up. It's amazing. Plus, again, distance between reading the book and watching the movie is always good. Here's a quick summary.  Hopefully the movie follows it's source material pretty faithfully.

Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back. Quoted from Goodreads

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Book Review: The Madman's Daughter

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.
Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.  Quoted from Goodreads


Oh, this book, this book.  It was utterly, gruesomely delightful.  I haven't read The Island of Dr. Moreau, so I can't use that as much of a reference, but it did remind me a lot of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (the second book is inspired by this one), The Heart of Darkness, and Robinson Caruso, more in tone than content, though there are definitely parallels to each of those as well.

Really, everything was just very well done.  The writing was magnificent. The whole tone of the book screams Gothic thriller. It was haunting and dark, with the perfect blend of description and action.  It starts with a bang, but not the usual kind.  It's not a fight or a death or even a chase scene, but it grabs you right away, and the ending is even better.   There might be one or two slower spots in the middle, but because of the constant tension and mystery hovering over the story, I never really noticed.  It was one of those books I couldn't put down.

Plus Juliet Moreau is a fabulous main character.  She's spunky, brave, and intelligent, but never comes across as a modern person, which I absolutely abhor in historical fiction. It ruins the whole book for me. Juliet is put though a lot because of her father, but she still makes the best out of her situation and options.  She fights for what she wants, and I loved following her through the book. 

Her father is one of those characters you love to hate.  He's incredibly well done, and it's sort of heartbreaking the way Juliet clings to hope that he will be the father she remembered as a little girl and not the man who abandoned her and her mother.

Really, the only problem for me in this book was the love triangle. Yes, the love triangle strikes again.  It's not that I didn't understand Juliet's conflict. It's just that she was so utterly wishy-washy about the entire thing.  In one line she's thinking about Montgomery and one sentence later, she's on to Edward.  I get she's drawn to each of them for different reasons, but she went back and forth a bit too much for my liking.  Plus, with all the craziness going on around them, I would think love would take a bit more of a back burner.  Still, I'm glad the author included both of the love interests.  They each played a vital role, and I'm excited to see what happens in the second book.

All in all, this is definitely a book you need to check out. It's a strong 4 stars for me.  The atmosphere was haunting, the characters excellent, and the writing well done.  If you're looking for a fun Gothic thriller, you absolutely have to read this.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Anticipating July!

Summer is a good time to catch up on all the books you've wanted to read but never gotten around to. Partly it's because people seem to have more free time, kids are out of school, days are longer, that sort of thing.  It's also good because there are less new books coming out (at least that I'm interested in).  If you look at what I read in June, half the books are from earlier months (or years) I'd been meaning to read but never got around to.  I guess this post is starting to sound all doom and gloom for July releases, but there are a few I'm really excited for . . . and then there are some I'm intrigued by but not sold on, so we'll see what happens. Anyway, here's the books for July I'm absolutely going to check out.

            2nd: Awaken – Meg Cabot
                   The Distance Between Us – Kacey West
                   Vortex – S.J. Kincaid
                   This Strange and Familiar Place – Rachel Carter

            9thRaven Flight – Juliet Marillier
                    Shadow of the Mark – Leigh Fallon

            16th: Belladonna – Fiona Paul

                     Starglass – Phoebe North
                    Of Beast and Beauty – Stacy Jay

            30th: Midnight Frost – Jennifer Estep
                     Earth Bound – Aprilynne Pike
                    Indelible – Dawn Metcalf
                    The King’s Guard (novella) – Rae Carson
                     The Historians – Trisha Leigh
                     All our Pretty Songs - Sarah McCarey

So that's it.  Let me know if you find any other amazing books that I need to check out, and whether it's catching up on old releases or finding something new, happy summer reading!