Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones

Synopsis:
Fans of urban fantasy should prepare for a new kind of vampire—one that feeds off of tears instead of blood. Descended from an ancient line of creatures that gain their energy from human tears, Cassandra Gray depends on human sorrow to live. Her job as a grief counselor at the hospital provides the perfect cover to keep this secret safe, and any time a friend needs a shoulder to cry on, she’s there. Only Cass has grown tired of living a lie and wants to live like a human, especially now that she’s found someone worth fighting for.

Rating:
Character Development: 8/10
Originality: 8/10
Overall Enjoyment: 8/10
Ending: 8/10
Voice: 10/10
Setting: 7/10
Recommendation: 8/10
Total Score: 57/70

Grade: A!

Age Appropriate?
Cussing: Quite a bit
Drugs, Alcohol, etc: Mentioned in conversation
Sexual Content: Mentioned in conversation, and almost rape situation
Disturbing Images/ Violence: Many deaths, torture, and kidnapping

Review:
The Tear Collector is a refreshing paranormal read. It is so different than all of the other supernatural books out there. Scott and Cassandra were not "inexplicably drawn" to eachother. It was not "destiny" that brought them together. It was two people learning about eachother and learning to love eachother.

This book isn't about Scott and Cassandra falling in love and struggling to be together even though one is a supernatural creature and the other is human. It is about Cassandra struggling to find herself, struggling to be human. It is about why people are the way they are. Why they handle grief in the way they do. It is much more than just a paranormal romance.

Patrick Jones successfully created a very intriguing novel. Even when discovering something important, more mysteries arise. More answers lurk in the pages and keep you flipping them lightning fast. The truths surface at excellent timing, perfect plot structure. And the last line of this book will send an eerie chill up your spine.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No Shame, No Fear by Ann Turnball

Synopsis:

It is 1662 and England is reeling from the aftereffects of civil war, with its clashes of faith and culture. After completing his studies, seventeen-year-old Will returns home to begin an apprenticeship arranged by his wealthy father. Susanna, a young Quaker girl, leaves her family to become a servant in the same town. Will and Susanna meet and fall in love, but can their bond survive--no matter what? Theirs is a story that speaks across the centuries, telling of love and the fight to stay true to what is most important, in spite of parents, society, and even the law.

Rating:

Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 9/10
Overall Enjoyment: 9/10
Ending: 9/10
Voice:8/10
Setting: 10/10
Recommendation: 9/10
Total: 64/70

Grade: A+

Age Appropriate?

Cussing: Very small amount.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Not much, but some teen drinking, but it's culturally accurate for the novel
Sexual Content: Limited, some speculation and discussion
Disturbing Images/Violence: Mild child abuse, sickness, some faintly disturbing prison scenes.

Review:

The story of Susanna and Will is a tender one. I was fascinated by their world and their tenacity. Ann Turnball's writing captured the time period and the woes and sorrows of the Quakers in a way that made for a fantastic novel. I was blown away by my love for both Susanna and Will and all the characters. They were real, interesting people that captured my attention.

While primarily a pleasant love story, No Shame, No Fear is also about persecution. The Quakers are an intriguing people with a troubled history. Their woes created the perfect setting for Will and Susanna's story. And while it sounds rather usual--high-class boy falls in love with low-class girl and all the odds are against them--it truly is an unconventional tale.

An impressive, engrossing novel, No Shame, No Fear is guaranteed to give you a satisfying experience with more life in its pages than most historical fiction books. It will leave you yearning for more.

Liar Trailer

Here is the trailer for...



ENJOY!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Synopsis:

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much--if you don't count her secret visits to the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man choose for her.

But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle--who already has six wives--Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

Rating:

Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 10/10
Ending: 10/10
Voice: 10/10
Setting: 10/10
Recommendation: 10/10
Total Score: 70/70

Grade: A+

Age Appropriate?
Cussing: Some, but very, very sparse.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Not much.
Sexual Content: Some brief discussion, etc. But this it is all very euphemistic.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Murder, incest, child abuse, beating, torture, polygamy, marriage of girls to old men, forced marriage, teen (and younger) pregnancy. This book is scary. Recommended only for mature audiences.

Review:
Trying to find words for this book is...difficult. It is a painful novel to read. Painful and powerful. I cried pretty much from the beginning until the end, and they were tears of hurt, tears of hate. I felt for this book, for Kyra, so profoundly. The tortured, desperate voice of the whole story, the overwhelming realism of it... It was incredible.

Kyra is such a pure, real character. Her torrential emotions and words and actions were just so dynamic, so potent for a girl so young, in such a tragic situation. Carol Lynch Williams has created a character who will crawl under your skin and capture your heart. She will disillusion you, make you see polygamy and life on a Compound for what it really is--a truly screwed-up place where love and fear flourish side by side. Williams and Kyra are a formidable pair, and from them flows a tidal wave of power, enough to put you on your knees.

Williams' writing is amazingly lyrical and fluid. It flows seamlessly from prose to poetry, adding art to the tragic words. She captures a desperate, hopeless situation in such an innocent young girl--a girl who wishes death on her beloved leader yet faces death herself for falling in love. Thirteen years old, and already she is more of a woman than most of us will ever be.

An insightful, intense, compelling story that will fill your heart with melancholy and amazement, and that you won't soon forget. Everyone should read it. You should read it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Guest Blog: Samira Armin Hodges (Including Contest)

Before we get to the real fun stuff, here's some info about the book:

Welcome to Camp Milestone:

One day. That’s how long it took for fourteen year-old Faye Martin’s ordinary life to take a dramatic and unexpected turn. First, she gets struck by lightning. Second, Benjamin Parker, the object of her obsession, witnessed her near-death experience. Finally, her parents force her to leave her hometown of Seattle to attend a summer camp, aptly named ‘Camp Milestone’.

Only, Camp Milestone is no ordinary camp. Before she knows it, Faye finds herself caught in a whirlwind of uncertainty, torture, calamine lotion and romance….All in the name of summer camp. But as the summer unfolds, she realizes there is much more to Camp Milestone than meets the eye. Will she be able to unravel the mystery that surrounds this unusual camp? And more importantly, will she be able to survive the madness long enough to put the pieces together.

TRAILER:



GUEST BLOG:

Hello Readers! My name is Samira Armin Hodges and I'm the author of the newly released novel, Milestones. Elise was nice enough to participate in my ongoing blog tour. So far, I've done many interviews and some fun guest posts but for today, I wanted to do something different. You see, in my experience, many bibliophiles (aka bookaholics) also love to write. So in the spirit of writing and creativity, I'm hosting a contest. Below, I've written an unfinished short story which I would like for you to finish. Here are the rules of the contest:

* Length of the entry should be no more than a page.

* Entries should be emailed to me at samirahodges@hotmail.com (along with your name and email address).

* Contest will close on Monday, June 28th and the winner will be announced on my blog, www.sahodges.blogspot.com

* Entries will be judged based on the quality of writing, their creativity and imagination. Bonus points will be given to those who come up with a title for the story as well.

* The Prize: A signed copy of Milestones and a hard-cover copy of Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (which I have recently read and would be happy to pass on to a fellow, dedicated book-lover).

* Contest is open to US residents only please.

That's all! Good luck with the contest and I look forward to reading your entries,

Samira Armin Hodges.

The Unfinished Story

My knees are bloody. For a moment, I can feel the burning sensation that ensues as my raw wounds are exposed to the cold, crisp air of autumn. It stings. Before I have time to cringe, my adrenaline kicks in again and I gain momentum. I’ve been running for a long time. I didn’t know I had it in me to run for so long. For one, I’m no marathon runner. I don’t do track and field and I’m not exactly the athletic type. But it’s amazing what a little motivation will do. Today, the motivation comes in the form of fear.

You see, I’m being chased. He’s been chasing me for miles. He’s almost caught me twice but by the skin of my teeth (and by the luck of the draw), I’ve managed to escape him. Twice. I’m not sure I’d be lucky enough a third time. Part of me wants to give up and quit running. I could face the fate. Face the consequences. But the other part of me knows that reality is far too awful to bear. I have to keep running. I just have to. Bloody knees or not, I must outrun him.

“Daniel!” That’s the first time he’s called out to me. Instinctively, I turn around at the sound of my name. My foot catches on a gap between the cobblestones on the road and I fall again. Ow. Stupid cobblestones. We don’t have those in America. Running on pavement doesn’t require so much coordination.

“Daniel, wait,” he calls out again. This time, I don’t turn around. I get back up in one swift motion, shrugging off my aching, pulsating wounds, and leaving a small trail of blood behind me. He’s getting closer, I can feel it. I cannot let him catch meDespite my previous state of denial, one thing becomes quite clear to me: we can’t go on like this forever. Either he will catch me or I will lose him. One of us will win and the other will be defeated. I keep running. I’m panting. My legs are tired. Maybe it will be me. Maybe I will be the one to be defeated. Maybe it’s time to accept reality. I can feel my pace slowing down…. But just then, it appears. And just like that, I know what will happen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Interview with Patrick Jones

Patrick Jones is the author of Cheated, Chasing Tail Lights, Things Change, Nailed, and his newest book, THE TEAR COLLECTOR. He is visiting us to day with a wonderful interview.
Please be aware that some of the answers may not hold appropriate things for younger or easily offended audiences.

You say that music helps to inspire you. What kind of music? How does it inspire you?

Like a movie, each of my books has a soundtrack. For my first three novels, I even put play-lists on my website of the songs I was listening to as I was writing the books. The music matches the theme of the book or captures the essence of the character. For example, in Stolen Car, I used Tom Petty’s music. Each character has almost a theme song. The main character Danielle was “American Girl” while the best friend with the secret past was “Refugee.” It is not that I would expect teens to listen to these songs, but I think they can relate to how a song can capture emotion. Just look at myspace or facebook; many are filled with inspirational music and quotes from lyrics. Things Change, my first book, is about a working class kid, so Bruce Springsteen fit that bill, while Nailed is about an outcast kid, so REM was perfect. The early draft of that book actually had each chapter title being an REM song. Chasing Tail Lights was inspired in part by the song “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman (thus, the positive adult in the book is Ms Chapman). For Tear Collector, I used Van Morrison because his songs like “Into the Mystic” fit the mood of this book perfectly. Also, Morrison’s romantic songs, such as “Someone like You” or “Have I told you lately” really helped when I was writing the Scott / Cassandra falling in love scenes.

You were a theatre kid in high school, which, as one myself, I must say is rockin' awesome. Did your experience in the theatrical world influence your writing in anyway? If so, how?

Not so much in Tear Collector, but that experience is the backdrop of Nailed. The mentor teacher character is called Mr. Douglas; my theater teacher was Douglas Dixon. Some of the plays mentioned were ones I did in high school and the best friend Alex was based on a guy from theater. While I have a huge treasure trove of funny high school theater stories, somehow translating them to print never works out. The other influence would be that most of my characters are underdogs in some ways. In my school back in Flint in 1979 – and I think this might still be true – many of the theaters kids were fringe kids who didn’t “fit in” with the rest of the school. Most of my teen characters have some of that fringe element to them, although none more so that Bret in Nailed. He’s a nail who sticks out in a high school full of hammers.

How has writing about other characters taught you about yourself? About people in general?

Wow. What a great huge question. There’s a line in Tear Collector that sums up what I’ve learned nicely: “we all have good intentions, but all with strings attached.” That is, I think most people in the world want to do good, but only if they get something out of it. That’s not seeing the glass half-full or half-empty; instead, it’s a glass you can’t see into. Our acts might be obvious, but often are agendas are hidden. One thing most of my main characters have in common, and this is very true for Cassandra in Tear Collector, is they are struggling with identity, between who they are (flawed) and who they want to be (perfect). That’s the struggle of every person, thus the struggle of every character. The book my editor has now (Clicked) is about that theme. There’s a line where the main characters says the difference between your dreams and your daily life is a canyon of despair. My characters live in that canyon.

Is there a most important message that you want to convey to your readers in your books? If so, what is it?

The philosopher Thomas Hobbes aka Mr. Happy wrote that life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” I’d say my “message’ is that life is very hard, very complicated, but the teen years are short, you’ll get through them. That is a huge idea. A lot of people fuck up the rest of their lives because of decisions they make as teens. It is only six years! You will get through this!! But instead, people lose perspective and give their lives over to substances, to crime, to early parenthood, and thus, they’ve made a hard life even harder. In Stolen Car, there’s the analogy to life like being a game of Uno. The goal is to get rid of all your cards – that is all the shit that weighs you down. But some people, like Ashley in that book, got a handful of cards through not fault of her own, while Danielle makes bad decisions that keep bringing cards into her hand.

How do you come up with the names for your characters/ places/ things?

While I gave in with Things Change and set it in Pontiac, Michigan, all my books are set in or near my hometown of Flint, Michigan. The high schools are real schools, and most of the places are real names. I have a folder of pictures on my myspace of places in Flint that show up in my books. Character names are normally based on people I knew in high school, associations that names have with me (like Bret and Sean in Nailed which speaks to my pro wrestling obsession), or character names with symbolic significance. This is never more true than in Tear Collector which uses names from mythology (Cassandra), The Bible (Veronica and Simon), and names that mean something, like Cassandra’s best friend who she uses for juice / tears is named Berry.

What is your writing process?
It varies with each book. I wrote the first draft to my first novel Things Change in 1987 and got it published in 2004, while Stolen Car I wrote in spring 2007 and was out by fall 2008. Tear Collector I wrote – no lie – in three hours. What I mean is that in three hours, as I drove from Fort Wayne IN to Flint MI on 15 March 2008, I saw the book in my head. I imagined the story, developed the main characters, thought of key scenes, and explored the “mythology.” I quickly unrolled that movie from my mind into an outline, then just started filling it the “tell” with show. By Memorial Day, I had a good rough draft. I then sent that out to a couple of author friends to read, while at the same time, asking teens I’d met doing school visits to read it. That is the key part of my process that I think differs from most YA writers: I invite teens to read, comment, and thus shape my work before my editor gets it. After I took all that teen feedback, I sent it to my editor. She sent back her comments, mainly to clarify the mythology and bump up the romance between Cassandra and Scott, and I did one, maybe two big revisions. The book I just wrote Clicked was very different. I’d had the idea, the title, and some key scenes for maybe two years, but couldn’t write it. I’d start, hate it, start over, hate it more, etc. Then in mid-May 2009, something “clicked” and I went from 0 to 55,000 words in ten days. My editor has it now, and it may or may not be my next book. I also wrote the Tear Collector sequel in a similar way with a big burst of inspiration, a detailed outline, and then many words over a short period.

Outside of the literature world, what do you do?
I still have a day job, like many of my YA author friends. Because I’m with a smaller publisher, because I write for older teens, because I write honestly about sex, and maybe because I write about kids in Flint who live in trailer parks rather than gossiping girls who live in NYC near Central Park, I’m not making enough $$$ to quit that day job. I work as an outreach librarian: in the mornings, I’ll visit a juvenile correctional facility and work with young men who have never read a book in their life, and then in the afternoon, I’ll talk on the phone with homebound seniors who have read most of their eighty plus years. I travel a lot to do school visits, but used to travel more to train other librarians that allowed me to visit all 50 states, as well as Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Singapore. I hang out with my partner Erica and our dogs (Bella and Fargo), ride my bike too little and TV watch too much (Damn you Jon Stewart! Blast foul woman Lois!). I also have serious facebook / myspace issues.

What things could you not survive life without?

Just about everything I named above, plus the Wrestling Observer newsletter.

What do you feel is most unique about your writing?
One blog “review” of Tear Collector was “I stopped reading, I don’t’ like this girl.” Hmm, a creature that lives off the suffering of others, you’d think she’d be likable how? I think what I’m doing is unique – and mind you, I don’t read anywhere as much YA fiction as I used to – is three fold. First, most of the characters in my books are working class kids in the Midwest coming from busted up families in part destroyed by bad choices and a runaway American dream. I don’t think there are lot of teens like Paul in Things Change, Christy in Chasing Tail Lights, and Danielle from Stolen Car in other YA fiction. One person told me they didn’t like Cheated because they didn’t like the main character Mick. Why? “Well, he drinks, looks at porn, lies to him Mom, gets angry at his Dad, smokes, curses, and lusts after girls”. Well, there’s a name for that behavior: being a 15-year-old boy! Second, every book contains sex scenes. Sex is a HUGE force in the lives of teens, yet you rarely see it in teen novels unless it is what the book is about, but that’s not the case in my stuff. My kids have sex lives, but again, it’s not glamorous (back seat blowjobs) or, for some of my critics, not condemned. While I scaled it back in Tear Collector, it is there because Cassandra manipulates boys through her sexuality. Finally, I’m unique, as I mentioned, in how I use teens to shape my work before my editor sees it.

What is your favorite quote from your newest book, The Tear Collector? (No spoilers please!)

This is the last part of the first chapter. If you know the premise of the book, then there’s no spoiler here, just a punch line ala R.L. Stine. Cassandra is sitting in the car with her best friend Robyn Berry who is crying because she’s just broken up with boyfriend.

"I don’t respond, instead I let more drops soak into my shoulder and I feel a rush from the energy in the tears, probably like an addict feels getting his fix from his drug of choice.

When I’m so full that I’m almost disorientated, I take a white linen monogrammed handkerchief from my back pocket. I gently transfer the tears from her face to this old-fashioned yet invaluable family heirloom. I pull her close, so she can’t see the smile forming on my face as a waterfall of tears continues to cascade from her eyes. Robyn needs to cry, but what she doesn’t know – and nobody outside of my family could imagine – is that I need her to cry even more. Just like a vampire needs to suck blood to live, I need these human tears in order to survive."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ruined by Paula Morris

Synopsis:

Rebecca Brown couldn't feel more out of place in New Orleans, where she comes to live while her dad is away on business. She's staying in a creepy house with her aunt Claudia, who reads tarot cards for a living. And at the snooty prep school, a pack of filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she's invisibly. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey seems to give Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he's got a hidden agenda.

Then one night, among the oak trees in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to show Rebecca the nooks and crannies of New Orleans. There's just one catch.

Lisette is a ghost.

A ghost with a deep, dark secret, and a serious score to settle.

As Rebecca learns more from her ghost friend--and begins to trust Anton Grey--she uncovers startling truths about her own history. Will Rebecca be able to right the wrongs of the past, or has everything been ruined beyond repair?

Rating:

Character Development: 5/10
Originality: 6/10
Overall Enjoyment: 6/10
Ending: 8/10
Voice: 4/10
Setting: 10/10
Recommendation: 7/10
Total Score: 46/70

Grade: B

Age Appropriate?

Cussing: Some, but not much.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Several scenes of teen drinking.
Sexual Content: None.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Several murders/blood/etc.

Review:

With some interesting characters, creepy situations, and tumbling roller-coaster of a plot line, Ruined was an easy book to get into. Unfortunately, it was also quite easy to get out of; I was often distracted reading some of the longer rants, and much of the writing is repetitive.

However, the setting added a ton of flavor to an otherwise colorless novel. New Orleans becomes an enigmatic place of hierarchy and mystery and voodoo magic. Not what I was expecting of this story. I loved the atmosphere of it, the spark. There's nowhere else in this world like New Orleans, and there's nowhere else where this story would be believable.

Much of the characters in Ruined were thoroughly one-dimensional, including the protagonist. Rebecca was flat and dense and annoying from beginning to end. Her emotions were self-centered and blind. There was no spark of relationship or affection between her and any of the other characters, even when it is obviously supposed to be there. The only emotion I think was really captured in this book was, frustratingly, anger.

But, on the positive side, it made for a fascinating, complex ghost tale that really shows an intricate knowledge of New Orleans, and a respect for its diversity and history. Morris taught me so much about that city that I never could have guessed, and made it into a beautiful place despite the negative affects of Katrina. If you like Mardi Gras, this book is worth it just for the magical descriptions of the carnivals and the city caught up in celebration.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A GREAT AND TERRIBLE CONTEST WINNERS!


CONGRATULATIONS
to the winners of the Great and Terrible Contest!

Jules
and
Cassandra

have both won a paperback copy of Libba Bray's A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY!
Yippee!

Thank you all for your participation, particularly to our wonderful new followers!

Check back for some upcoming contest awesomeness!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

CHALICE Contest

Are you ready for another contest?
You have a chance to win CHALICE by Robin McKinley.
On the flap:
As the newly appointed Chalice, Mirasol is the most important member of the Master's Circle. It is her duty to bind the Circle, the land and its people together with their new Master. But the new Master of Willowlands is a Priest of Fire, only drawn back into the human world by the sudden death of his brother. No one knows if it is even possible for him to live amongst his people. Mirasol wants the Master to have his chance, but her only training is as a beekeeper. How can she help settle their demesne during these troubled times and bind it to a Priest of Fire, the touch of whose hand can burn human flesh to the bone?
Robin McKinley weaves a captivating tale that reveals the healing power of duty and honor, love and honey.
CONTEST INFO:
Open for international readers!
Just leave a comment with your email or email readingrocks4me@gmail.com for a chance to enter.
Contest ends October 15, 2009.
Good luck!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines


This book will be available October 13th, 2009.

Synopsis:

During the week, Lyn lives in a big house in Cambridge, and hangs out with friends in Harvard Square. But over the weekends she cheers her father on when he gears up for neo-gladiator competition—a high-profile televised blood sport that rivals the NFL. Lyn’s father is the top player in the league, and the paparazzi that have always swarmed him have started to dog Lyn’s every move. All this fame comes with an even higher price. Lyn’s family lives with the constant presence of violence, uncertainty, and a strict cultural code set by the Gladiator Sports Association. When a skilled young fighter slays Lyn’s father, the GSA imposes an unthinkable sentence—Lyn must marry her father’s murderer. Though her mother has made a career out of marrying into Glad culture, Lyn is prepared to do whatever it takes to claim her independence. Even if it means going into the arena herself…. Lise Haines’s debut novel, a dark satire for our time, is a mesmerizing look at a modern world addicted to violence, fame, and greed—a world eerily close to our own.

Rating:

Character Development: 8/10
Originality: 7/10
Overall Enjoyment: 7/10
Ending: 6/10
Voice: 7/10
Setting: 8/10
Recommendation: 7/10
Total Score: 50/70


Grade: B


Age Appropriate?


Cussing: Quite a bit.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: A lot of smoking (including teens), some drinking.
Sexual Content: Nothing too direct, some crude humor and adult content.
Disturbing Images/Violence: The point of the entire book is that grown men get together and try to carve each other's guts out. So, yes, there is violence.


Review:

This book was weird. I mean, it was just plain bizarre. That's not to say it wasn't good--in fact, it was thoroughly engrossing. But it was just a rather strange experience for me. I enjoyed reading it, for the most part. The emotion, the lost-ness of it all, was quite intense.

The story makes a statement. A statement about our world that we live in, our culture. What it all comes down to, when you get rid of all the glamor--all the celebrity worship, the drama, the plastered-on emotion--it's all destruction and honor. And that's what the Roman gladiators were about. That's what the neo-Glads are about.

The world of Glad culture was disorienting. It is here. It is now. And while it's not what we know, it is frighteningly close. The desensitization to violence, the overwhelming power of the sport, the idolatry we pay to stars--it's all there, magnified until it can't be ignored.

Lyn's story is a suspenseful combination of internal and external conflicts that reflect and contradict each other in a harsh and violent way. However, relationships were seriously lacking. Nothing went anywhere. Having read the book, I absorb and appreciate the messages, but there's little else to it. The plot rides on narration and reactions, and while this usually wouldn't be a problem, it did affect the enjoyability of the story.

The writing was well-executed, if a bit quirky. For no apparent reason, dialogue was written like this:

--Hello, she said. --I haven't seen you in a while.

And thoughts were written like this:

i know not what i am.

It was difficult to get used to, difficult to pay attention to the story when the abnormal grammar choices stuck out so much. But after a while, it didn't bother me so much. The book turned out to be not very eventful, extremely meaningful, and abundantly energetic. If you liked trippy novels with lots of edginess and little relationship development, this is your book.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough


On the jacket flap:
Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.

Rating:
Character Development: 4/10
Originality: 8/10
Overall Enjoyment: 6/10
Ending: 4/10
Voice: 6/10
Setting: 9/10
Recommendation: 5/10
Total Score: 42/ 70
Grade: B

Age Appropriate?
Cussing: Some
Drugs, Alcohol, etc.: Wine consumption, main character smokes a couple times
Sexual Content: Suggestive in conversation
Disturbing Images/ Violence: Creeper that controls one of the characters, kidnaps, and drinks blood

Review:
Once a Witch is one of those cute, easy reads. Neither the writing style nor the plot is phenomenal, but it's still fun to sit down and read this book. The characters are flat, but still hilarious. It's a book to read when you need something light-hearted and quick.

I do think that it would have benefited the book to have at least a couple more developed characters. I would have loved to see this in Tamsin, Rowena, Gabriel, and Alistair particularly. Why did they do what they did? Why did they act the way the acted? What was the reason behind it all? How were their relationships with each other developed? These were questions that were left flat, and it deterred from the overall story.

One of the shining aspects in this novel was concept of time. Traveling through time is always an interesting, and confusing topic. Every miniscule part of the past has an effect on the future. The future is so dependent on the past. Fun stuff...

Anyway, plot was kind of scattered, characters lacking development, and sometimes cheesy writing were my main complaints. This book was like a fairy tale, an enchanting story that seems to unrealistic, but is entertaining nonetheless.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Libba Bray Interview Video

LIBBA BRAY is the author of A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY and her upcoming book, GOING BOVINE (which I am anxiously awaiting). This is a hilarious video that will hopefully get you as excited for GOING BOVINE as I am!



Amazon Product Description of A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY:

It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?

If you have not read these books yet, it is imperitve that you do so immediately. They are captivating, magical, suspensful, and romantic. They are PHENOMONAL.


Random House 'About this Book'... GOING BOVINE:

Can Cameron find what he’s looking for?

All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

Visit Libba Bray's amazingly fantastic website HERE.

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

This book will be available October 6th, 2009.

Synopsis:

When Cassie was little, her grandmother told her a story about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was imprisoned by trolls. Now that she is eighteen and determined to become an arctic researcher, Cassie knows the story was just a nice way of saying her mother had died. But everything in Cassie's life changes when she meets a mysterious polar bear and realizes that the fairy tale could be true--her mother might be alive. So Cassie makes her own deal with the Polar Bear Kind: Bring my mother home and I will be your bride. But what will her bargain cost Cassie?

Rating:

Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 8/10
Overall Enjoyment: 10/10
Ending: 9/10
Voice: 10/10
Setting: 10/10
Recommendation: 10/10
Total Score: 67/70

Grade: A+

Age Appropriate?

Cussing: Pretty frequent use of some mild-to-offensive language.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: None.
Sexual Content: Yes--there is one scene and some narration, etc. Teenage pregnancy.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Some gore and bloody stuff. Some graphic polar bear seal-consumption.

Review:

Everyone has read or at least heard of the East of the Sun, West of the Moon fairy tale retellings; they're everywhere. There must be three or four well-known ones in the YA section alone. They tend to be pretty identifiable by the girl-and-polar-bear images on the cover. However, you have never read one quite like this.

Sarah Beth Durst weaves a tale of magic grounded in reality, strange but radiant love, intense emotion, drama, and one heck of an epic adventure. Her writing is so natural that the fairy tale underneath her plot is nearly indistinguishable from her seamless additions. The fascinating characters--particularly Cassie and Bear--resided in a perfectly gorgeous Arctic setting that complimented the characters and story so impossibly well.

This version of the tale is so much more than just a retelling; it's a total overhaul of the original. Durst threw in countless heavy elements, a thousand breathtaking details, and many startling twists that breathed life into it. Ice has really set itself apart, not just from retellings, but from all love stories as well. I loved it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti

Synopsis:

Jade DeLuna is too young to die. She knows this, and yet she can't quite believe it, especially when the terrifying thoughts, loss of breath, and dizzy feelings come. Since being diagnosed with Panic Disorder, she's trying her best to stay calm, and visiting the elephants at the nearby zoo seems to help. That's why Jade keeps the live zoo webcam on in her room, and that's where she first sees the boy in the red jacket. A boy who stops to watch the elephants. A boy carrying a baby.

His name is Sebastian, and he is raising his son alone. Jade is drawn into Sebastian's cozy life with his son and his activist grandmother on their Seattle houseboat, and before she knows it, she's in love. With this boy who has lived through harder times than anyone she knows. This boy with a past.

Jade knows the situation is beyond complicated, but she hasn't felt this safe in a long time. She owes it all to Sebastian, her boy with the great heart. Her boy who is a hiding a terrible secret. A secret that will force Jade to decide between what is right, and what feels right.

Rating:

Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 10/10
Ending: 8/10
Voice: 10/10
Setting: 8/10
Recommendation: 10/10
Total Score: 66/70

Grade: A+


Age Appropriate?

Cussing: Quite frequent throughout.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Many references to teenage drinking and drug use, but is not part of the plot.
Sexual Content: A lot of discussion/narration/reference to, and is part of the plot, but there are no gory details, for the most part. Some animal behavior stuff.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Not really.

Review:

I had trouble putting this book down. It was one of those stories that it doesn't matter how long it takes you; you just want to sit forever and absorb the beauty of the words, the ease of the voice. I was never rushing through a portion to get to the good stuff. I craved every single page.

Through this book, Deb Caletti displayed a deep respect for the animal kingdom, and for people too, but in ways you wouldn't expect. The whole novel becomes a symbol for how we as humans are just another race of beast with the same emotions, societies, priorities, and diversities. This is a good place to be, it says--a wonderful place.

The writing was fantastic, plain and simple. Perfectly balanced, fulfilling, dryly humorous, witty, empathetic, impossibly thoughtful and developed. Jade was a character I felt for deeply, a character I loved. Her emotions were concise yet genuine, and her life was somehow so interesting, despite the seeming ordinariness of much of it. It all comes back to the writing--beautiful.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Storm Glass TRAILER

The book is epic, the trailer is epic, and epicness is awesome. Watch:


Read the STORM GLASS review here.
Read the SEA GLASS review here.

Reading books by Maria V. Snyder ROCKS!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

Synopsis:

When Miranda Merchant, sixteen and levelheaded, escaped her lonely, hot summer in New York City, little does she know what awaits her. She steps off the ferry onto an island rife with legend, lore, and a past her logical mind can't make sense of. She isn't expecting to feel a connection to this unusual place, so filled with languorous charm and strange history.

And when she meets Leo, a mysterious local boy, she finds herself questioning everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship, reality...and love.

Is Leo hiding something? Or is he something she never could have imagined?

Rating:

Character Development: 8/10
Originality: 6/10
Overall Enjoyment: 7/10
Ending: 7/10
Voice: 8/10
Setting: 8/10
Recommendation: 6/10
Total Score: 50/70

Grade: B

Age Appropriate?

Cussing: A little bit...
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Several scenes of teen drinking
Sexual Content: MUCH discussion, etc. One near-scene.
Disturbing Images/Violence: None.

Review:

Sea Change is a great example of the typical YA paranormal romance novel. With enjoyable prose and a surreal island setting, this book was interesting and pleasing. While prominently a love story, the story was riddled with magic and lore and typical teenage issues that made it seem all the more real. Miranda was very lifelike for all of the little quirks about her, from her self-consciousness to her interest in science.

Despite all these good points, I thought the plot was a little lacking. Like many books similar to this one, it was predictable, with a too-perfect male lead. The near-love-triangle thing that made up most of the storyline was kind of disappointing. While Leo was nicely developed (despite his otherworldly good looks), T.J. Illingworth, the classically handsome rich boy, was completely flat. I had trouble imagining him because of this, and I didn't believe Miranda's attraction at all.

However, for someone who is partial to paranormal romances (as I am not particularly fond of them), I think this would be an excellent read. With the well-thought-out, mysterious magic and the spine-tingling romance, many will continue to go crazy for this book. So, while I may not read the sequel (if there is one), it does not mean that this book wouldn't be worth it for you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Forest Born by Shannon Hale

Synopsis:

Rin is sure that something is wrong with her...something really bad. Something that is keeping her from feeling at home in the Forest homestead where she's lived all her life. Something that is keeping her from trusting herself with anyone at all. When her brother Razo returns from the city for a visit, she accompanies him to the palace, hoping that she can find peace away from home. But war has come to Bayern again, and Rin is compelled to join the queen and her closest allies--magical girls Rin thinks of as the Fire Sisters--as they venture into the Forest toward Kel, the land where someone seems to want them all dead. Many beloved Bayern characters reappear in this story, but it is Rin's own journey of discovering how to balance the good and the bad in herself that drives this compelling adventure.

Ratings:

Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 10/10
Ending: 10/10
Voice: 10/10
Setting: 10/10
Recommendation: 10/10
Total Score: 70/70

Grade: A++

Age Appropriate?

Cussing: Limited, if any.
Drugs, Alcohol, etc: Some scenes where drunk people make appearances.
Sexual Content: A very teensy weensy little bit thrown into some conversations, but otherwise nothing at all.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Some graphic descriptions of war and torture.

Review:

Okay, this is Shannon Hale--we all knew it would be fantastic. But even in my wildest dreams did I dare hope that it would be THAT fantastic!! Whoa! Rin was an unknown before this; she had been mentioned, but only briefly, and we really knew nothing at all about her. She turned out to be completely fascinating. Her story is engrossing, beautiful, and emotionally intense.

Rin's focused, strong-but-quiet voice truly made the book for me. Her disciplined, closed way of being was so different from Isi's or Enna's or Razo's, and it was captivating. The Forest, which was important but not a priority in the other books, now comes to the foreground, and it is presented in a different light, like everything else. Through Rin's eyes, the world is a large and alien place, and in that respect it was so easy to relate to her, to become her.

A welcome aspect of the book, like seeing an old friend after years apart, was the reappearance of the main characters from the last books. It was comforting, thrilling, and wonderful to see them again. And in such a rich and brilliant setting... Shannon Hale's writing is the very essence of what fairy tale has evolved into--adventure, romance, magic. Who could ask for a better story?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Devoured by Amanda Marrone

In Stores September 22, 2009


On the flap:
Megan’s twin sister Remy died in an accident nine years ago, and she’s been haunting her ever since. Knowing how crazy that sounds, Megan keeps this secret to herself and tries to lead a normal life. But when she takes a summer job at Land of Enchantment to keep an eye on her new boyfriend and his lovesick best friend, Samantha, she meets fellow employee Luke who can see Remy, too. Things get even twistier because Megan’s new friend Ari is sporting a massive crush on Luke, who seems to be developing a massive crush on Megan…making for a love triangle that’s positively possessed.

Megan wants to keep her distance from Luke, but when Remy’s visions get crazy violent; she knows she needs his help. Because someone’s definitely in danger...the only question is who?


Rating:
Character Development: 5/10
Originality: 8/10
Overall Enjoyment: 7/10
Ending: 9/10
Voice: 6/10
Setting: 6/10
Recommendation: 7/10
Total Score: 46/ 70

Grade: A


Age Appropriate?
Cussing: A not unbearable amount...
Drugs, Alcohol, etc: Underage drinking...
Sexual Content: Happens, but not descriptively...
Disturbing Images/ Violence: Blood and gore, murderous people, cutting hearts out...


Review:
Drama packed, and filled with murder, mayhem, and magic, this book is quick to read and hard to put down. The plot is intriguing, twisted, and packed full of unexpected occurrences.

The character development wasn't as high as I wished it to be. I found it hard to connect to many of the characters at all. It's told in first person from Megan's point of view, and Megan wasn't that interesting of a character. I didn't feel like we learned much about her other than her relationships with her friends, her boyfriend, her mother, and her sister's ghost. There wasn't much about Megan herself, as a person.


The plot and drama was crazy and complicated, but when reading it, it didn't seem like it was at all. It made sense, and was easy to comprehend, understand, and keep up with. It was paranormal, with also a fairy tail edge that wasn't expected, but added depth and interest to the story. Not to mention the creeptastic people that were descendants from... well, you'll just have to read it to find that out.


All in all, an enjoyable read for modern and paranormal audiences.

Friday, September 11, 2009

James Patterson Prize Pack WINNERS

Thanks to the RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR...
The two winners of the James Patterson Prize Pack are...
JUJU
and
KATE
Congratulations!
I will be contacting you soon for mailing information.
Thank you to everyone who entered.
Stay tuned for more contests.

Violet Wings by Victoria Hanley

Synopsis:

For Zaria Tourmaline, the five years without her mother and brother have been lonely ones, living with a cold and distant guardian while she completes her education. Just as she is ready to join the world of adult fairies and genies, she finds a spellbook written entirely in her mother's hand. But this treasured object is not safe from a new enemy, a fairy with more power than Zaria ever dreamed existed. Only among the humans--who must never know fairies and genies exist--can Zaria hide the spellbook; but hidden magic, it turns out, can expose a fairy in ways she never thought possible.

Rating:

Character Development: 8/10
Originality: 9/10
Overall Enjoyment: 9/10
Ending: 9/10
Voice: 9/10
Setting: 8/10
Recommendation: 8/10
Total Score: 60/70

Grade: A!

Age Appropriate?

Cussing: None.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: None.
Sexual Content: None.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Some child gun-wielding; some mild violence

Review:

I had a very unique experience with this book, as I received an earlier review copy several months ago and read that, and now received this finished copy. Though most of it was the same, some major changes were made, and even seeing that part of the journey was fascinating. So, I have now read Violet Wings twice, and I'm not tired of it yet!

Victoria Hanley's writing is so natural! This is apparent in all of her previous books, so it wasn't at all surprising. But the story of Zaria Tourmaline is so different from anything she's ever written as well as being vastly different from anything I've read recently. This surprisingly intense fairy story was refreshing, fulfilling, and luminous, told through the very unclouded perspective of a relatable protagonist

Violet Wings can't be classified as a middle grade book, or Young Adult, or geared toward males or females. I believe anyone, of any age, could enjoy Hanley's twisting plot. It's full of mystery, suspense, action, magic, and a million other things, with pleasing themes of friendship and selflessness. The beautiful yet troubled world of Tirfeyne is easy to be entranced by, with all its real-world parallels and the intriguing tidbits inserted at the head of each chapter. Hanley's unique world-building abilities obviously came into play when creating the ever-connected worlds, and I would say she definitely succeeded!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Poem of the Month-- September


POETRY: the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts.

Poetry is a wonderful form of literature that we want to show appreciation for on our blog. So we have a Poem of the Month segment where we will present to you some amazing works of art. Please comment with your thoughts about the poem. It's great to hear different views and input!

A Martian Sends a Postcard Home

Craig Raine 1979

Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings
and some are treasured for their markings--

they cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain.

I have never seen one fly, but
sometimes they perch on the hand.

Mist is when the sky is tired of flight
and rests its soft machine on the ground:

then the world is dim and bookish
like engravings under tissue paper.

Rain is when the earth is television.
It has the properites of making colours darker.

Model T is a room with the lock inside --
a key is turned to free the world

for movement, so quick there is a film
to watch for anything missed.

But time is tied to the wrist
or kept in a box, ticking with impatience.

In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps,
that snores when you pick it up.

If the ghost cries, they carry it
to their lips and soothe it to sleep

with sounds. And yet, they wake it up
deliberately, by tickling with a finger.

Only the young are allowed to suffer
openly. Adults go to a punishment room

with water but nothing to eat.
They lock the door and suffer the noises

alone. No one is exempt
and everyone's pain has a different smell.

At night, when all the colours die,
they hide in pairs

and read about themselves --
in colour, with their eyelids shut.

Note from Elise: Can you guess the things the martian is talking about?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Coming Soon...

Soon to be read and reviewed by US are many fantastic books that YOU should get excited about. Here are some trailers and jacket flaps for your viewing pleasure. :)

Shannon Hale Books:






COMING TO STORES THIS SEPTEMBER...

Rin is sure that something is wrong with her, something really bad. Something that is keeping her from feeling at home in the Forest homestead where she's lived all her
life. Something that is keeping her from trusting herself with anyone at all. When her brother Razo returns from the city for a visit, she accompanies him to the palace, hoping that she can find peace away from home. But war has come to Bayern again, and Rin is compelled to join the queen and her closest allies--magical girls Rin thinks of as the Fire Sisters--as they venture into the Forest toward Kel, the land where someone seems to want them all dead. Many beloved Bayern characters reappear in this story, but it is Rin's own journey of discovering how to balance the good and the bad in herself that drives this compelling adventure.

Once again, Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale brings readers to a world where great friendships, unexpected plot twists, and a little dose of magic make for incredible storytelling.
VISIT SHANNON HALE'S SITE HERE. There is lots of fun stuff here, including book experts. Make sure to check it out.

The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones:

Fans of urban fantasy should prepare for a new kind of vampire—one that feeds off of tears instead of blood. Descended from an ancient line of creatures that gain their energy from human tears, Cassandra Gray depends on human sorrow to live. Her job as a grief counselor at the hospital provides the perfect cover to keep this secret safe, and any time a friend needs a shoulder to cry on, she’s there. Only Cass has grown tired of living a lie and wants to live like a human, especially now that she’s found someone worth fighting for.

VISIT THE BOOK SITE HERE.

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.
VISIT THE BOOK SITE HERE.


Ruined by Paula Morris
Rebecca couldn't feel more out of place in New Orleans, where she comes to spend the year while her dad is traveling. She's staying in a creepy old house with her aunt. And at the snooty prep school, the filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she's invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey seems to give Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he's got a hidden agenda. Then one night, in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to talk to Rebecca, and to show her the nooks and crannies of the city. There's just one catch: Lisette is a ghost.

A ghost with a deep, dark secret, and a serious score to settle.

As Rebecca learns more from her ghost friend -- and as she slowly learns to trust Anton Grey -- she also uncovers startling truths about her own history. Will Rebecca be able to right the wrongs of the past, or has everything been ruined beyond repair?


Violet Wings by Victoria Hanley

For Zaria Tourmaline, the five years without her mother and brother have been lonely ones, living with a cold and distant guardian while she completes her education. Just as she is ready to join the world of adult fairies and genies, she finds a spellbook written entirely in her mother's hand. But this treasured object is not safe from a new enemy, a fairy with more power than Zaria ever dreamed existed. Only among the humans--who must never know fairies and genies exist--can Zaria hide the spellbook; but hidden magic, it turns out, can expose a fairy in ways she never thought possible.

VISIT THE BOOK SITE HERE.

Now you have a heads up on some of the reviews that are coming soon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

This book will be available in the US and Australia on September 29, 2009.

Synopsis:

Micah will freely admit she's a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she'll ever tell you. Over the years she's fooled everyone: her classmates, her teachers, even her parents. And she's always managed to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as easily as breathing?

Taking readers deep into the psyche os a young woman who will say just about anything to convince them--and herself--that she's finally come clean, Liar is a bone-chilling thriller that will have readers seesawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly.

Rating:

Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 8/10
Ending: 8/10
Voice: 10/10
Setting: 7/10
Recommendation: 9/10
Total Score: 62/70

Grade: A+

Age Appropriate?

Cussing: Quite frequent, some very crude.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: References teenage drinking and teen drug use, one or two scenes with teen smoking.
Sexual Content: A lot of narration and description and a few scenes. I would say it's PG-13.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Not for any squeamish animal-lovers. Several scenes of animal gore; graphic death; murder; some violence.

Review:

When I think about this book, I shiver. Seriously. It shook me to the core. Everything I knew about writing, everything I knew about lying, about characterization, about trust, came crumbling down. Justine Larbalestier accomplished what she obviously intended to do when she set out to write a book titled Liar--she made us ask ourselves, "What is a lie?" or, more importantly, "What is true?". When you set out to read this, accept that you will doubt every word that is written. As you should.

Micah was immensely intriguing from the start. The complexity of her thoughts and her actions and her past (or what she says is her past) is so in-depth and captivating to be almost frighteningly believable--especially when you realize with an amazed sigh that it is probably all one big lie. How can you a trust a person whose life is so strange, so crazy, that the most authentic-seeming thing she tells you is laughably outlandish? When, at every turn, Micah says "you are the only person I haven't lied to" followed promptly by a chapter titled "Lie Number Three" that explains how, when, and why she lied to you. The scary thing is, it's shocking every time.

With Larbalestier's manipulative, hard-edged, psychologically chaotic writing building a fluctuating plot line, this story is off-beat and colorful. Like a magician, Larbalestier distracts your attention, draws your gaze in one direction, only to cause an explosion behind your back. She captures the very essence of lying--the incomprehensibility, the bone-deep need, the human sense behind it. With a peculiar, troubled protagonist, the author questions reality, and asks the question: Where do you draw the line between what is real and what is fiction?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri


Synopsis:
One night, in cities all across Europe, five children vanish — only to appear, years later, at an exclusive New York party with a strange and elegant governess. Rumor and mystery follow the Faust teenagers to the city’s most prestigious high school, where they soar to suspicious heights with the help of their benefactor’s extraordinary "gifts." But as the students claw their way up — reading minds, erasing scenes, stopping time, stealing power, seducing with artificial beauty — they start to suffer the sideeffects of their own addictions. And as they make further deals with the devil, they uncover secrets more shocking than their most unforgivable sins. At once chilling and wickedly satirical, this contemporary reimagining of the Faustian bargain is a compelling tale of ambition, consequences, and ultimate redemption.

Rating:
Character Development: 6/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 5/10
Ending: 9/10
Voice: 7/10
Setting: 8/10
Recommendation: 4/10
Total: 49/70

Grade: B

Age Appropriate?
Cussing: Some
Alcohol, drugs, etc.: Some alcohol, if I remember correctly.
Sexual Content: None
Disturbing Images/ Violence: The book is about children who have sold there soul to the devil. There are many nightmarish and disturbing scenes. The whole thing is kind of creepy.

Review:
Another Faust holds an original idea, but the book was very hard to stay into. At times, the interest level was very low, and I think part of this had to do with the plot, and part with the characters. The characters did not seem like real people. This made sense, because of their dealings with the devil, but it also made you have no emotional connection to the characters. At all. The story was focused mainly on the children’s' faults and their desires... except for the few small tidbits about the real person underneath.

If the entire novel had been focused on Bicé and her journey to find the truth, then the book would have been much more enticing. Instead, you read about each of the Faust children and how they go about completing their goals. Yet, since there is no emotional connection to the characters, and their goals are selfish and immoral, you do not even want them to reach success.

Despite these bad points, the writing was extremely well done. The figurative language and the layout of the chapters were exceptional. The beautiful writing was much more appealing than the story itself.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lady Macbeth's Daughter by Lisa Klein

This book will be available in October 2009.

Synopsis:

Albia has grown up with no knowledge of her mother or her father, the powerful Macbeth. Instead, she knows the dark lure of the Wychelm Wood and the moors, where she's been raised by three strange sisters. It's only when the ambitious Macbeth seeks out the sisters to foretell his fate that Albia's life becomes tangled with the man who leaves nothing but bloodshed in his wake. She even falls in love with Fleance, Macbeth's rival for the throne. Yet when Albia learns that she has the second sight, she must decide whether to ignore the terrible future she foresees--or to change it. Will she be able to save the man she loves from her murderous father? And can she forgive her parents their wrongs, or must she destroy them to save Scotland from tyranny?

Rating:

Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 9/10
Ending: 8/10
Voice: 10/10
Setting: 8/10
Recommendation: 10/10
Total: 65/70

Grade: A+

Age Appropriate?

Cussing: Not really.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Yes, drinking, and some poisons and things.
Sexual Content: For one character, the purpose of her life is to bear children for her husband, so yes, there is talk and scenes and things. For the other characters, it is in dialogue and some narration, but there is never anything too graphic or unnecessary for the plot. Mentions of rape.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Some very disturbing murders of adults and children alike that are graphic, bloody, and creepy. Some child neglect and sort-of abuse. Frequent small things that are thrown into the narration that are slightly nightmarish...

Review:

Fraught with danger and magic, this quick-paced historical fantasy from an author of renowned writing prowess was a beautiful read. Lisa Klein ingrains Albia into the plot of Macbeth flawlessly--and as I am not extremely familiar with the play, I wonder how it could possibly be that she was Klein's invention!

I will always remember Lisa Klein for her skills in manipulating voice. In her previous two books, she also blew me away. Her other narrators, Ophelia, Lizzie, and Rosanna, are all so different in personality and perspective, and even time period. Albia and Grelach join the ranks of these unique women and live up to their standards. Their individual voices are just as differing, personal and powerful, and conveyed along with the storyline a deeper-than-words sense of the setting--11th century Scotland. Phenomenal.

Through Klein's archaic prose, we come to understand the grief and suffering of Macbeth's lady, and see on an intimate level the progression from ambition to madness of the king himself. And, of course, there was their daughter. Fiery, spirited, impassioned. She was a captivating character that I would have liked to know. Her emotions were real and her actions decisive. Her struggles with everything--from love to murder--are heartfelt. Klein again attempted to portray an extremely volatile cast of characters, and the result was this fascinating book that has joined the ranks of my favorite historical fiction alongside, naturally, Ophelia and Two Girls of Gettysburg.