Sunday, January 23, 2011

Firelight review

by Sophie Jordan

(synopsis from Ms. Jordan's website)

With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki—the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda's rebelliousness leads her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can't resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she's risking not only her life but the draki's most closely guarded secret.

my thoughts:

this book surpassed my expectations. i didn't really know what to think when i bought this, but after reading it, i was glad i'd gotten it!

Firelight was different from the other paranormal romances i've been read. it was subtly enchanting in it's own way. it didn't have the normal paranormal creatures (instead, it had the unique drakis), and Firelight had no love triangle! kudos to Ms. Jordan for breaking that trend!

Will presents a fascinating dilemma. Jacinda can't stay away from him, but being near his family is the surest way to get herself's a new level of forbidden romance.

i could feel and see the setting (an element that is too-oft neglected), which was enhanced by the draki's unique traits. the story was neatly written and sewn together so that all the elements meshed. i liked that.

on the other hand, Firelight left me hanging....just like half of the other books i've read lately. *sigh* at the very least, i wish i knew that these books were the first in a series and not stand-alones like i'd assumed.

my rating: 4.4

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Matched review

by Ally Condie

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

my thoughts:

this was one of my most anticipated reads of 2010. i was waiting for months before i finally read it, and i wanted so much to love it. wasn't everything i'd hoped.

it took me a while to really get caught up in the story. however, once i did, i will admit that it was completely engaging. fighting against the government? reminiscent of The Hunger Games, definitely a plus. the concept of your true match being chosen for you? original. a fluke causing you to have two matches? very intriguing.

the story did rely on a love triangle, though, and that is quickly becoming one of the more frustrating cliches in YA lit. at least the triangle wasn't dragged out past the ending of the book. but there-in lies another of my peeves with Matched: there was no conclusion! i have to wait many more months to find out what happens?? i am so sick of waiting!

i know i'll be in line to get the next book, though. Xander, Ky, and Cassia were all compelling characters in their own way and i really, really want to know what will happen next. but i'm not forgiving Ms. Condie for leaving me hanging like that!

my rating: 4.1/5.0

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Aurelia review

Aurelia by Anne Osterlund

(synopsis from Fantastic Fiction)

Princess Aurelia is next in line to rule the kingdom of Tyralt, but she would rather be one of the common folk, free to learn and roam and . . . not marry the next tyrannical prince that comes courting. Naturally, the king wants Aurelia to marry for political power. Aurelia wants to marry for love. And someone in the kingdom wants her . . . dead. Assigned to investigate and protect Aurelia is Robert, the son of the king's former royal spy and one of Aurelia's oldest friends. As Aurelia and Robert slowly uncover clues as to who is threatening her, their friendship turns to romance. With everything possible on the line - her life, her kingdom, her heart - Aurelia is forced to take matters into her own hands, no matter the cost.

my thoughts:

Aurelia wasn't what i'd expected from Ms. Osterlund. i'd read Academy 7, and the two books are completely different!


Aurelia was historical fiction and mystery. i like both of those genres.
the ending was a surprise.
i liked Aurelia and the other MC, Robert.


Aurelia was definitely lacking the originality that defined Academy 7! Academy 7 was an ingenious blend of scifi/fantasy that i couldn't put down...Aurelia was pretty conventional. politics, a non-descript kingdom, and rather flat characters weren't what i was expecting after reading Academy 7.
as far as subplots go, there wasn't much to speak of. it was a fairly simple, straightforward story.

bottom line:

Aurelia was a good debut, but my experience was greatly overshadowed by how much better i know Ms. Osterlund can write. however, i am looking forward to the sequel, Exile, now that Ms. Osterlund has some additional experience writing.

my rating: 3.8

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Skate review

by Michael Harmon

(synopsis taken from here)

Kirkus Reviews This remarkable first novel features a rebellious, smart outcast who's battling life as he struggles to take care of his little brother. Their crack-addicted mom has essentially abandoned Ian and Sam. Ian manages to protect Sam, but can't protect himself from an unscrupulous high-school principal who's determined to get Ian out of the school. When Ian loses his temper and decks his coach, he decides to take Sam and flee across the state in an effort to find their long-absent father. Harmon has crafted a tale of compelling suspense-part adolescent psychology and part survival tale-painting sharply clear portraits of his characters, particularly Ian. The result is a sense of strong realism and sympathy for the characters, even when they screw up. Were it shorter it would be perfect for reluctant readers, but surely will appeal to a wide audience. A marvelous debut. (Fiction. YA)

my thoughts:

this book was great. i honestly didn't know what to expect--i only bought the book because of it's title, Skate. (i was disappointed to discover that this book had nothing to do with either figure skating or in-line skating...) however, the title actually captures the essence of the book: should Ian stay and face people who will never treat him fairly, or should he give up and run away?

Ian's dilemma had me rooting for him from the start; he's not stupid (in fact, his smart mouth is what often gets him into trouble) but the school principle has it out for Ian. everyone from his family to the teachers at his sports-oriented school is trying to hold Ian back. he has real, in-your-face problems, and he has no one to help him figure out what to do. finally, he does the only thing he can think of: he skates away.

Skate is, ultimately, a story about when to stop skating and face your demons. it was a thought-provoking, deep story that left me feeling satisfied and introspective. it reminds the reader of what's important in life. it was one of those rare reads that i want to recommend to all teenagers and that i think would appeal even to teens who hate reading.

i would highly recommend this book.

my rating: 4.5

Stylish blogger award

first and foremost, i want to thank Jess from She Known as Jess BlogSpot for giving me the Stylish Blogger Award!!!! thank you SO MUCH, Jess :)

of course, with this award comes responsibilities (yes i just totally made that sound more impressive and serious than it really is...)

these rules are as follows:

1. thank the person who gave you the award and link back to him/her
2. share 7 things about yourself
3. pass the award along to 15 other bloggers whom you have recently discovered and who you think are great
4. contact the bloggers you have chosen and let them know about the award

simple, right?

here's seven things about me:
  1. i love pumpkin pie.
  2. i learned to read when i was three.
  3. i own about 800 books.
  4. i love to take pictures but hate pictures of ME.
  5. i recently discovered and fell in love with the game Catch Phrase.
  6. my favorite color is lilac (but i love all shades of purple).
  7. i have only 5 more days of my winter break left :(
AAAAND, the 15 bloggers i have chosen to pass the award on to are:

  1. La Femme Readers
  2. Nikki Katz
  3. Writer's Ally -> sa larsen
  4. Darlyn & Books
  5. Book Whisper
  6. Books over Boys
  7. Confessions of a Bookaholic
  8. I'd so rather be reading
  9. Young Adult Literature Lover
  10. Words on Paper
  11. Notes from and Aspiring Writer
  12. Luv Series Books
  13. Literary Rambles
  14. Kiwi's Life
  15. Literary Explorations
congrats and enjoy, everyone!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rise of the Renegade X review!

Rise of the Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell

normally, this is where i'd post the "official" summary. however, i thought that the summary i found on Goodreads contained WAY too many spoilers. instead, i shall endeavor to write my own...

His sixteenth birthday. This is the moment that Damien Locke has been waiting for his entire life. It's when he will get the "V" on his thumb that marks him as a supervillian. It's the age when he can finally apply to the supervillian university and start his real training. It's the moment when hundreds of people in the city are watching him.

Except suddenly nothing's going according to plan. When the "X" appears on his thumb instead of the much-anticipated "V", Damien has to figure out what went wrong. He has to uncover his mother's shocking secret. And then he has to put everything right by proving once and for all that he is worthy of becoming a super
villian, not--heaven forbid--a superhero.

my thoughts:

first of all, don't you just love the title? i know it doesn't really have anything to do with anything, but this book has serious cover appeal.

but i digress.

this book started out a little slow (something that been happening a lot recently for some reason) but once it picked up, it was addictive. i really did not want to put the book down. Rise of the Renegade X is so different from the typical YA book--i had no idea what to expect, and the author kept delivering new surprises, twists, and turns. it was a fun, fast-paced ride.

at first, some of the characters almost felt a little cliche, but after the story picked up, they started to make their own paths and become more interesting. the characters now feel much more real to me than many YA characters (perhaps this is because none of them fell in love with a vampire/fairy/werewolf/angel/two-guys-at-the-same-time?) they provided a very refreshing break from some of the over-done plot elements in YA lit. AND Rise of the Renegade X actually had a conclusion! amazing! i was afraid that YA lit had become a solely series-based market full of books that leave me hanging....

i would definitely recommend this book (however, if it was a movie, it would have a PG13 rating for references to sexual content, so use discretion with younger readers). i can't wait to see more from this author!

my rating: 4.6

and...another challenge!

aaaand here's my sign-up post for the fourth challenge i'm entering this year:

2011 Fantasy Reading Challenge

i'm choosing the Obsessed size (read 20 books)

  1. Rise of the Renegade X
  2. Firelight
  3. Perchance to Dream
  4. Hush, Hush
  5. Mistwood
  6. Leviathan
  7. Crescendo
  8. Halo
  9. Glimmerglass
  10. Sweep Vol. 1
  11. Midnighters: The Secret Hour
  12. Eon
  13. Howl's Moving Castle
  14. Unearthly
  15. Shadow Kiss
  16. The Clearing
  17. City of Fallen Angels
  18. Tiger's Curse
  19. The Fellowship of the Ring
  20. Divergent
List officially completed May 16th!

some more challenges....

hey all! i've scrounged up some more interesting book challenges for 2011. here's one of them:

Into the Old World Challenge

i have to read 12 books in 2011 that were published before 2009. my (incomplete) list is below:

  1. A Study in Scarlet
  2. Sign of the Four
  3. Aurelia
  4. The Choice
  5. Sweep Vol. 1
  6. That Summer
  7. Midnighters: The Secret Hour
  8. Howl's Moving Castle
  9. Eon
  10. Never Eat Alone
  11. The Fellowship of the Ring
  12. Ella Enchanted
  13. To Kill a Mockingbird
Challenge completed May 18th.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Clockwork Angel

i now know. Cassandra Clare is the best YA author there is. i used to debate the fact (as if reading her Mortal Instruments series wasn't enough to decide me), but now that i have read Clockwork Angel, i must bow to her literary genius (in my opinion, this seductive read should have won Favorite Read of 2010, but i guess not everyone agrees with me).

bottom line: Ms. Clare is incapable of writing a book that i do not swoon over.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
synopsis from B&N (warning: does contain some mild spoilers. i would recommend merely scanning it to pique your interest)

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

my thoughts:

this book was AMAZING (as are the rest of Cassandra Clare's books). as with City of Bones, it took perhaps 50 pages for me to really get immersed in the story, but once i did, i was hooked.

it was similar to the Mortal Instruments books, but Clockwork Angel offered a fresh cast, new setting (including a different time period since this is the PREQUEL to the Mortal Instruments books), and completely original plot. it was the best of Cassandra Clare with a new face. what more could a fan ask for?

i found myself just as torn as Tessa between the two love interests, Will and James. this was important for making the "love triangle" viable because, of course, love triangle are a much-overdone element in YA lit right now and they hardly ever fail to frustrate me. JUST PICK A GUY AND STOP TORMENTING EVERYONE!!! uh *cough* did i just say that out loud? anyway, when the decision is obvious, i get angry with the vapid and indecisive MC for procrastinating. at least Tessa had adequate reason to do so.

i am hopelessly addicted to Cassandra Clare's books. if you haven't yet, i would highly recommend reading the Immortal Instruments series and THEN reading Clockwork Angel. although, i do have one disclaimer: Clockwork Angel left me hanging at the most painfully exciting part--so if you have the self-restraint, you might want to wait to read it until the sequel is out.

it is because of my extreme impatience due to the unfortunately-timed ending that i must mark Clockwork Angel down slightly:

my rating: 4.9/5.0

of course, if i somehow got a sneak peek at the next book (read: an entire ARC) i would definitely add on the missing 0.1 to that rating.
no? oh well, a girl can dream....

Thursday, January 6, 2011

check out the prizes at Blogalicious is hosting a two-year blogoversary giveaway, and the prizes, which include THIS, (hint, hint, it's a NookColor) are AWESOME! i highly recommend checking it out!

Perchance to Dream review

Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev (blurb from Goodreads)

From the critically acclaimed author of Eyes Like Stars

We are such stuff as dreams are made on.

Act Two, Scene One

Growing up in the enchanted Thèâtre Illuminata, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith learned everything about every play ever written. She knew the Players and their parts, but she didn’t know that she, too, had magic. Now, she is the Mistress of Revels, the Teller of Tales, and determined to follow her stars. She is ready for the outside world.


But the outside world soon proves more topsy-turvy than any stage production. Bertie can make things happen by writing them, but outside the protective walls of the Thèâtre, nothing goes as planned. And her magic cannot help her make a decision between—

Nate: Her suave and swashbuckling pirate, now in mortal peril.

Ariel: A brooding, yet seductive, air spirit whose true motives remain unclear.

When Nate is kidnapped and taken prisoner by the Sea Goddess, only Bertie can free him. She and her fairy sidekicks embark on a journey aboard the Thèâtre’s caravan, using Bertie’s word magic to guide them. Along the way, they collect a sneak-thief, who has in his possession something most valuable, and meet The Mysterious Stranger, Bertie’s father—and the creator of the scrimshaw medallion. Bertie’s dreams are haunted by Nate, whose love for Bertie is keeping him alive, but in the daytime, it’s Ariel who is tantalizingly close, and the one she is falling for. Who does Bertie love the most? And will her magic be powerful enough to save her once she enters the Sea Goddess’s lair?

Once again, LISA MANTCHEV has spun a tale like no other—full of romance, magic, adventure, and fairies, too—that readers won’t want to put down, even after the curtain has closed.

My review:

I was so excited to read this. I LOVED Eyes Like Stars, and I had high expectations for the sequel. I read it yesterday, and all I can think is "what just happened??"

I hate to admit that this book didn't live up to my expectations. I don't like to give an author a negative review, especially when I've liked their writing in the past, but half the time, I couldn't figure out what in the world was happening! In my opinion, the action in a well-written book shouldn't be difficult to follow if you've been paying attention, and creativity does not involve strange, abstract action. When I could follow what was happening, I enjoyed the book. When I couldn't, I just tried to get through to a part that made sense. Unfortunately, I have to say that my overall impression of this book was that it fell short. It seemed like the author was rushed and was trying too hard.

My rating: 3.0

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

a typical day in my house....

A scene greets my gaze as I bound down the stairs:

My mom and my dog ‘cross the room.

The first is quite mad and is standing stock still,

The second prepares for her tomb.

I watch the scene slowly unfold with the air,

Of a duel ‘tween two favorite champs,

And I think to myself as I stare at my dog,

“She hasn’t got a biggeting chance.”

My mom flings her arm towards the dog-darning proof:

Two socks and a much-chewed-up shoe,

And she says in a voice that thunders with fury,

“That’s IT! Dog, I’m all done with you!”

I leap to Dog’s aid and drag her away,

Her tail alive with new spite,

As she barely escapes from the murderous wrath,

That ought to have made her contrite.

My mom fumes at me now instead of the dog,

And I listen with head rightly bent.

Her reprimand’s tough but I hold on until,

Her bitter cold fury is spent.

Later that day I walk down the stairs,

Ending my coward’s retreat,

And I see on the couch in a rock-solid sleep,

My mom with the dog at her feet.

should make a good Mother's Day Present, don't you think?

Monday, January 3, 2011

100 Books in 2011

it's that time again...time to sign up for challenges that will last throughout 2011!

i have begun signing up, and one challenge that i'm very excited about (i did it in 2010) is the 100+ book challenge. if you're interested, please head over to Home Girl's Book Blog for more info!

the books i will be reading this year will be listed can check back all year to keep an eye on my progress! (but i won't be offended if you don't..;) )

  1. Rise of the Renegade X
  2. Firelight
  3. Perchance to Dream
  4. Hush, Hush
  5. A Study in Scarlet (Arthur Conan Doyle)
  6. Sign of the Four (Arthur Conan Doyle)
  7. The Choice
  8. Mistwood
  9. Aurelia
  10. Leviathan
  11. Halo
  12. Delirium
  13. Crescendo
  14. Glimmerglass
  15. That Summer
  16. Rules of Attraction
  17. Sweep Vol. 1
  18. Change of Heart
  19. Midnighters: The Secret Hour
  20. Never Eat Alone
  21. Eon
  22. Howl's Moving Castle
  23. The Half-Life of Planets
  24. Bright Young Things
  25. White Cat
  26. Shadow Kiss
  27. Jellicoe Road
  28. The Ivy
  29. Tell Me a Secret
  30. Scent of the Missing
  31. The Clearing
  32. City of Fallen Angels
  33. Unearthly
  34. The Dark and Hollow Places
  35. Tiger's Curse
  36. What Happened to Goodbye
  37. The Fellowship of the Ring
  38. Divergent
  39. Demonglass
  40. Ella Enchanted
  41. To Kill A Mockingbird
  42. Water Song
  43. Alice in the Country of Hearts Vol. 1
  44. User Unfriendly
  45. Uglies
  46. Pretties
  47. Specials
  48. Extras
  49. I Capture the Castle
  50. A Countess Below Stairs
  51. The Sky is Everywhere
  52. Academy 7
  53. The Magicians' Guild
  54. The Novice
  55. The High Lord
  56. Crown Duel
  57. Court Duel
  58. Twisted
  59. Inda
  60. Between the Lines
  61. A Stranger to Command
  62. A Little Princess
  63. Anne of Green Gables
  64. Pride and Prejudice
  65. Anne of Avonlea
  66. Anne of the Island
  67. The False Princess
  68. Beautiful Disaster
  69. Emma
  70. Minder
  71. Treasure Island
  72. Under the Greenwood Tree
  73. Ariel (The Ariel Saga, Book 1)
  74. Cross My Heart
  75. The Princess Test
  76. My Soul to Lose
  77. The Two Princesses of Bamarre
  78. Hush Money
  79. A Memory of Wind
  80. Wicked Cool
  81. Moon Spell
  82. Wild Montana Sky
  83. Meant to Be
  84. River Cast
  85. Marshal in Petticoats
  86. Blood Solstice
  87. The Cinderella Swap
  88. The Fallen Star
  89. Destiny Binds
  90. Wren Journeymage
  91. Rock and a Hard Place
  92. Hidden Gem
  93. Clarity
  94. Flat-Out Love
  95. LURE
  96. Ordinary Me
  97. Eden
  98. The Summer I Turned Pretty
  99. Dead Beautiful
  100. The Host
  101. Forsaken (Fall of Angels)
  102. Branded (Fall of Angels)
  103. Dragonsong
  104. My Side of the Mountain
  105. The Goose Girl
  106. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  107. Secrets and Shadows
  108. Torment
  109. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  110. Blood Promise
  111. Hattie Big Sky
  112. Water for Elephants
  113. The Gray Wolf Throne
  114. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  115. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  116. Watership Down
  117. The Night Circus
  118. Eona
  119. The Handmaid's Tale
  120. The Kitchen House
  121. Winter Sea
  122. Howl's Moving Castle (audiobook)
  123. The Kitchen House
  124. The Book of Shadows
  125. The Rose Garden
  126. The Help
  127. The Scorpio Races
  128. Divergent (audiobook)
  129. Hidden Gem 2: Diamond in the Rough
  130. The Hunger Games
  131. Catching Fire
  132. Mockingjay
  133. Shatter Me
  134. Eragon
  135. City of Bones
  136. City of Ashes
  137. City of Glass
  138. Eldest
  139. Legend
  140. Wintergirls
  141. Shadowspell
  142. Ender's Game
  143. Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have)
  144. Atlas Shrugged
  145. Matched