Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Trailer Tuesday: The Giver

Finally we get a trailer!  I have been waiting for this movie, literally, since I first read the book as a kid.  I knew exactly how I would do it, from the black and white beginning, scoreless beginning, to the flashes of color and music, and finally the nail-biting escape in the end.  The book was screaming to be made into a movie, and finally they have.  Unfortunatley---and check out the trailer below to see if you agree with me---I am not overwhelmed.  Honestly, it looks okay, but like it's trying to be an entirely different dystopia book all together.  I'm hoping they'll put out a second trailer soon that restores my faith in the movie.  I mean, it has some amazing actors---Meryl Streep? Anyone? In fact, everyone looks talented and well cast. Maybe it's just because I love the book so much and this adaption isn't anything like I imagined.  I don't know.  Will I still see it?  Of course, because I'm desperately hoping it will succeed. Still, based on this trailer, I'm not convinced. I'm so not convinced, that though the trailer came out the same week as the Maze Runner, I decided to review/share that trailer first because that one made me excited.  This one? Not so much.  So check it out and see if you agree with me. Maybe it's everything you were hoping for.  It just doesn't seem half as good as I wanted it to be.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Meme Monday


Friday, March 21, 2014

Book Review: Sky Raiders

Cole Randolph was just trying to have a fun time with his friends on Halloween (and maybe get to know Jenna Hunt a little better). But when a spooky haunted house turns out to be a portal to something much creepier, Cole finds himself on an adventure on a whole different level. 

After Cole sees his friends whisked away to some mysterious place underneath the haunted house, he dives in after them and ends up in The Outskirts. The Outskirts are made up of five kingdoms that lie between wakefulness and dreaming, reality and imagination, life and death. It’s an in-between place. Some people are born there. Some find their way there from our world, or from other worlds. 

And once you come to the Outskirts, it's very hard to leave. 
With the magic of the Outskirts starting to unravel, it's up to Cole and an unusual girl named Mira to rescue his friends, set things right in the Outskirts, and hopefully find his way back home before his existence is forgotten.  Quoted from Goodreads


Ever since the Fablehaven phenomena, I've been a big Brandon Mull fan, so, of course, I had to check out his new series.  I'll admit, I was a little bit scared because I didn't feel like The Beyonders, while good, was nearly as good as Fablehaven, so I was interested to see how this book would turn out.  I was delightfully surprised. I thought maybe each series would get progressively worse, but I think I enjoyed Sky Raider's more than any book in The Beyonder's series, and if Mull holds true to form, each book in this series will get progressively more and more interesting, so I'm excited.

Brandon Mull is such a creative writer, and he proves it once more in Sky Raiders. Again we have a boy from our world sucked into a fantastical journey in a land that has different rules  and dangers than anything we face here.  Beyond that, they're different from anything I've encountered in other books as well. I love the world building.  Everything is unique, creative, and essential to the plot.

I really enjoyed all the characters.  Cole is a well crafted protagonist, and the supporting characters are just as strong. Plus, all the action has a point. We don't get a fancy, creative fight or monster for no reason. Each obstacle thrown in the characters path reveals something about them or affects them later on. It's also rather refreshing to read some middle grade and get away from the YA angst once in a while. Sure, Cole likes Jenna. There are several other crushes in the book as well, but that is not one of the top ten driving forces propelling our characters in their decisions.  

As for the action, it's awesome.  Like I mentioned before, we have a very creative world for our character to deal with, and it comes with it's own host of problems. Basically, this is one of those quick read books, not because it's sort (432 pages), but because you never really get a breather where you can put it down, sure that your characters are safe.

All in all this is a delightful 4 stars for me.  It's a great beginning to a new series, and the best part is that book 2 comes out in October, so i don't even have to wait that pesky year to see what happens next.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Trailer Tuesday: The Maze Runner

I am so excited.  The trailer for Maze Runner movie just came out, and it looks amazing!  Seriously, it's a movie I would totally see even if I haven't read the books.  Check it out below, and let me know what you think.  Are you as excited as I am?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saturday Shorts: Bridge of Snow

Ignore the stirrings of war. Let the carriage to a royal ball wait. There is a story to be told: of a starless night, a mother and her sick son, and a mortal who falls in love with the snow god, and will do anything to have her . . .   Quoted from Goodreads


This is a sweet, heartbreaking book.  The story itself isn't actually that sad, though the story in the story is rather tragic. I read this after The Winner's Curse, and having that glimpse into the future of these characters is what makes the story so haunting.  At the same time, it really is a sweet glimpse into Arin's life before everything happened.

The book is only 32 pages, so I don't want to say too much, but it is a great addition to the series.  Do you have to read it to understand the book at all? No.  Does it rehash things you've already learned? No, again---thank goodness, since that happens far too often in these novellas.  The story is entirely separate, so you could easily read it before or after The Winner's Curse, but part of me would recommend reading it after.  Maybe because that's what I did, but I felt like I appreciated it more knowing a bit more about the world.

So do I recommend this? Absolutely.  But, again, it is short.  If I were to compare it to an object, it would be a snow globe, and not only because of the whole snow connection. It's a private, tiny little glimpse into a perfect moment and character, so while it's not earth shattering or a huge adventure in and of itself, it's still an utterly delightful 4 stars.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: Mirk and the Midnight Hour

A Southern girl. A wounded soldier. A chilling force deep in the forest.
All collide at night’s darkest hour.

Seventeen-year-old Violet Dancey has been left at home in Mississippi with a laudanum-addicted stepmother and love-crazed stepsister while her father fights in the war—a war that has already claimed her twin brother. 

When she comes across a severely injured Union soldier lying in an abandoned lodge deep in the woods, things begin to change. Thomas is the enemy—one of the men who might have killed her own brother—and yet she's drawn to him. But Violet isn't Thomas's only visitor; someone has been tending to his wounds—keeping him alive—and it becomes chillingly clear that this care hasn't been out of compassion. 

Against the dangers of war and ominous powers of voodoo, Violet must fight to protect her home and the people she loves.

From the author of Strands of Bronze and Gold comes a haunting love story and suspenseful thriller based on the ancient fairy tale of “Tam Lin.”


This was such a fun surprise.  Sure, I read Strands of Bronze and Gold and enjoyed it, but I liked this one so much better.  It's not so much that Jane Nickerson's writing has drastically improved her second time around---both books are written beautifully---but I liked the story so much more in The Mirk and the Midnight Hour.  

Besides some Voodoo, this  book reads more like Civil War Era historical fiction than a fantastical fairy tale retelling, which is one of the things I loved most about it. You can practically taste the atmosphere through the writing.  Plus, giving it such a strong setting and flavor makes it stand out from so many of the other retellings out there.  And the world building isn't limited to just the setting and time period.  All of the characters, even many of the minor ones are complex, multi-faceted people with their own strengths, weaknesses and particular habits. 

Violet is an excellent main character.  The story starts off with a little bit of a Cinderella vibe (I'll admit, I had to read up on Tam Lin before I started this book, just so I could recognize it's influence on the story), where Violet's father marries and then immediately goes to War, leaving Violet with her new step-mother and vain step-sister Sunny, but that's as far as the comparison goes.  This story is really a coming of age. It deals with Violet accepting change and being forced to confront what the war is really about and how she feels about it personally.  I love the subtle changes in Violet throughout the book and especially the person she ends up being.

I'm also a big fan of the romance.  It's not as bit a part of the book as you might think from the synopsis, though it plays a significant part.  Again, this is more of a coming of age story, but still, this serves as a catalyst for a lot of Violet's growth.  I love it because we get to watch it grow slowly.  We also get Sunny's more flamboyant romance as contrast so we can see how good Violet and Thomas really are. 

The magic in this book is of the subtle variety, so we don't get to see much until the end.  Still, it's a constant presence throughout the story, and while I didn't understand it all that much, it's more because Violet didn't work with it rather than lack of world building, because what we do see was rich and complex.

All in all, this is a wonderful 4 stars for me.  If you're looking for an excellent fairy tale retelling or are a fan of historical fiction or just want to read something well written, you absolutely need to check this out. It's atmospheric and delightful and absolutely insured that I'll be impatiently waiting for Jane Nickerson's next book, A Palace of Stone and Shadow.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book Review: Death Sworn

When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.
But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins . . . and possibly the entire world.  Quoted from Goodreads


First, I absolutely adore this cover.  It's hauntingly beautiful and possibly my favorite cover this year.  Second, if the cover weren't enough, I loved Leah Cypess's Mistwood, so even if the cover had been bad, this would still have been a must read for me, and it didn't disappoint.

First, Ileni is a strong main character.  Everything she wanted and worked for is taken away, and instead of complaining or wallowing in self pity, she takes an assignment that she's almost certain will kill her, all because she wants her life to mean something, even if it's not the something she spent her life working towards.  Sure, she's a little fatalistic at times, but in the beginning it makes her a little better at her job.  Plus, despite her diminishing magic, she still struggles to teach and solve the mystery of who is killing sorcerers.  She's smart, though she does make some stupid mistakes, and she never gives up, even when she doesn't seem to have anything left.

As for world building, it's a bit mixed.  The story takes place in caves.  All of it.  So while that aspect of world building is intricate, gritty, and realistic, we don't get a ton about the rest of the Empire.  This could have backfired horribly, but it works, because while the Empire is the big, ultimate threat of the story and behind all the assassin's work, it only plays a small part in this installment. With the way the next book is set up, I'm guessing it will expand that facet. 

I loved the plot.  It's a bit slow sounding on paper, half mystery, half survival/suspense---not the murders and secret missions you might expect of a book about assassins---but Leah Cypess's writing is addictive and she builds tension throughout.  I loved the absolute lack of safety the book provides.  Ileni is surrounded by killers, people who she knows has killed the two men who came before her for unknown reasons, and no one is safe.  It's not just that there is a murderer on the loose, but everyone and anyone could decide to kill her for a myriad of different reasons.  Plus, Ileni's magic is fading more and more as the book goes along, so as things get more dangerous, so does her ability to physically defend herself.  

As for the romance, I absolutely adored it. It's light, not a main plot-line, but it's sweet and awkward and fully developed.  First Ilena and Soren become friends . . . of sorts.  She lets herself trust him, even though part of her knows she shouldn't, and he's just adorable awkward when it comes to relationships with girls, which is a striking contrast to his absolutely confidence in everything else. Plus, no love triangle.  There could have been since Ilena's the only girl in a cave full of boys, but most of them pay little to no attention to that fact, which is pretty refreshing in YA.

Overall this is an excellent, suspenseful story, with fully fleshed characters and an intense setting.  The writing is beautiful, and I adore the way Ileni grows and changes over the course of the book.  I'll admit  I did guess the murderer before Ileni does, but I didn't feel she was dim witted for not getting it sooner, and I didn't really see one aspect at the end coming at all, though it was perfectly set up. If you're a fan of fantasy, you really should pick up this book.  I'm giving it a strong 4 stars and eagerly awaiting the second half of this duology.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Book Review: The Winner's Curse

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse
 by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.  Quoted from Goodreads


If you've been paying any attention at all this week, this book is everywhere.  I'm pretty sure everyone has read it, and everyone loved it, so I knew from the start that this would be good.  Or at least I hoped it would.  I haven't read a lot of new series this year that I'm absolutely in love with. I've read a bunch of good books that I'm excited to see continue, but few that I absolutely love, which is always a little scary as I methodically finish off trilogies and duologies and sagas one by one.  This one though is everything I've been looking for and more.  I love, love, loved it.

Despite the cover, which is deceptively YA historical fiction/romance, this book is a fantasy.  Yes, the main character is seventeen and she does wear pretty dresses. There also is a fantastic romance and forbidden love. But. This story is so much more than the cover suggests. It's political intrigue, betrayal, strategy, war, rebellion, deception, murder, espionage, manipulation, escape, leadership, coming of age . . . the list goes on.  Oh, and there's romance, dancing, and star-crossed lovers.

Are you convinced already, because you should be.  Told in alternating POV, Kestral and Arin are both complex, compelling characters that are faced with impossible decisions.  This is the sort of book that breaks your heart while simultaneously forcing you to cheer for the characters and their actions. 

Kestral is strong in a non-traditional sense.  While women joining the military is accepted and even expected and despite Kestral's father pushing her in that direction, fighting  isn't where her strength lies, and it so easily could have been. Instead, she's a brilliant strategist and could easily become one of the greatest generals in the empire if she wanted to.  In the end, that, and a mutual love of music, is what draws her to Arin, who can match her move for move, battle for battle.  I love smart, complex characters, and these two are everything I could have asked for with no danger of ever drifting into Mary Sue/Gary Stu land. Plus, they're on opposite sides of just about everything their lives stand for.  You get two sides in a war, and while you do believe that one has more of the right of things, nothing is black and white and both characters are easy to sympathize with.

I love the worldbuiling in this book.  You can feel the empire stretching across countries and examine the differences between the different cultures, all without feeling like the author ever just dumped pages of exposition. Everything is shown, artfully slipped into the story to flesh out the setting.  It walks the line between fantasy and historical fiction without really falling into either category, which heightens it's unique feel.

To be honest, this book does remind me a little of General Winston's Daughter by Sharon Shinn, but I adored this one so much more.  If you're only going to read one book this month, I would probably have to choose this as the winner.  Of course that might be a tragedy, since there are a whole slew of amazing books out this week alone, but this one is probably the best in my opinion.  Oh and the title, The Winner's Curse, it is absolutely perfect.  At first it stands for something rather small, but then it encapsulates the entire book brilliantly.  This is a gorgeous 5 stars for me.  I love, love, loved this book and am absolutely dying for the next one.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Book Review: Dangerous

Maisie Danger Brown just wanted to get away from home for a bit, see something new. She never intended to fall in love. And she never imagined stumbling into a frightening plot that kills her friends and just might kill her, too. A plot that is already changing life on Earth as we know it. There's no going back. She is the only thing standing between danger and annihilation.
From NY Times bestselling author Shannon Hale comes a novel that asks, How far would you go to save the ones you love? And how far would you go to save everyone else?  Quoted from Goodreads


I'm a huge Shannon Hale fan, so even in an over-crowded book release date, this one topped my list.  Plus it's so different from all the other books she's written, and I really admire her courage to change things up.

I'll be the first to admit, the above blurb doesn't do much to explain the book.  I knew a little bit more about what to expect because I follow her blog, but even so, I was going it knowing very little.  First, it's science fiction---as in aliens and space camp---not exactly what you might expect from the writer of Goose Girl and Princess Academy. Still, I thought it was a great adventure, and I really appreciate the stand alone status.  That's almost impossible to find these days.

I love Maisie Danger Brown, and yes, Shannon Hale really went there and made her middle name Danger.  In fact some of the names were the absolutely awesome.  I adore Jonathan Ingles Wilder (What can I say? The Little House books are among my top favorite books of all time) and even Dragon.  Back to Maisie, she's a great main character.  She's strong, doesn't accept her limitations (she only has one arm) an adorable science geek, and a dreamer all at the same time. She also feels like a genuine teenager, not overly adult or what an adult thinks a teenager is.  I love no matter what crazy thing happens to her (and a lot of crazy stuff does) she keeps fighting and does her best with whatever comes her way.

The adventure itself is unexpected (and I say that, knowing science fiction is really popular right now). There are a lot of aspects that you just never see in YA books. For example, Maisie goes on the run at one point and her parents come with her!  That literally never happens, but it worked really well and didn't diminish the responsibility on  Maisie's shoulders or the decisions she had to make.  Plus, along with some common ones, we get some great new super powers to play with (sorry if that's a spoiler), rather terrifying and absurd (I'm talking pink, here) aliens, greedy criminals, shifting loyalties, life on the run, genius children, and a fun, all-around adventure.

Really my only complaint is that I felt the book started rather slow.  I realize that we needed to establish Maisie as a character and her life pre-space camp, but besides a few need-to-know details, I felt like the story really started at the end of space camp and there could have been other ways to learn all those little pesky details that make Maisie who she is.  Still, it's always interesting, and once the adventure starts, I couldn't put the book down.

All in all, this is a strong 4 stars for me.  I love that the author tried (and succeeded) in doing something new.  I love the main character and Hale's version of our not too distant future.  So if you're looking for a fun, exciting read, you should check this out.  Just remember it is different from Hale's other work, and it's supposed to be.  Plus, once you've read this, you can check off book one of the five books Shannon Hale's putting out this year.  It's going to be great.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Trailer Tuesday: Elusion

Ever since I saw the cover, this has been one of my must reads for this year. Then we got this excellent trailer, and I'm sort of hooked.  Check it out for yourself and let me know if you're as excited as I am.  I've included the summary below so you can get a better idea of what the book is about.

Soon, Elusion® will change the world and life as we know it.

A new technology called Elusion is sweeping the country. An app, visor and wristband will virtually transport you to an exotic destination where adventure can be pursued without the complications—or consequences—of real life.

Regan is an Elusion insider. Or at least she used to be. Her father invented the program, and her best friend, Patrick, heir to the tech giant Orexis, is about to release it nationwide. But ever since her father’s unexpected death, Regan can’t bear to Escape, especially since waking up from the dream means crashing back to her grim reality.

Still, when there are rumors of trouble in Elusion—accusations that it’s addictive and dangerous— Regan is determined to defend it. But the critics of Elusion come from surprising sources, including Josh, the handsome skeptic with his own personal stakes. As Regan investigates the claims, she discovers a disturbing web of secrets. She will soon have to choose between love and loyalty…a decision that will affect the lives of millions.

Suspense, thrills, and romance fuel this near-future story about the seductive nature of a perfect virtual world, and how far one girl will go to uncover the truth behind the illusions.  Quoted from goodreads

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Anticipating March

Have you seen how many amazing titles are coming out on March 4th! Of course the rest of the month looks amazing as well, but it certainly starts out with a bang.

Here are the books I'm really looking forward to this month.

            4thDeathsworn – Leah Cypess
                   Dangerous– Shannon Hale
                   Words of Radiance – Brandon Sanderson
                   Let the Storms Break – Shannon Messenger
                   The Nightmare Delimma – Mindee Arnett

                   The Winner’sCurse – Marie Rutkoski
                   The Assissin’s Blade (novella) – Sarah J. Mass
                    Cured – Bethany Wiggins
                    Nil– Lynne Matson
                     The Haven – Carol Lynch Williams
                     Sing Sweet Nightingale – Erica Cameron

            11thThe Shadow Prince – Bree Despain
                    Sky Raiders – Brandon Mull
                    The Mirk and the Midnight Hour – Jane Nickerson
                    Promise of Shadows – Justina Ireland

                     Strange Sweet Song – Adi Rule

            18thElusion – Claudia Gabel, Cheryl Klam
                    Remnants of Tomorrow – Kassy Tayler
                    Moonlight – Ann Hunter
                     Alpha Goddess – Amalie Howard

            25thA Phantom Enchantment – Eve Marie Mont

                    The Unfairest of them All – Shannon Hale