Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: Shadowfell

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Neryn has been on the run for several years. Now she has been sold away from her father and must attempt to journey to the mysterious Shadowfell where a group of rebels are working to overthrow their tyrant king. Neryn has a canny gift which allows her to see and hear the Good Folk and that only leaves two options if captured: 1. she is killed to keep her from using her gift or 2. she is forced to use her gift to help King Keldic. During dangerous travels through the land of Alban she is assisted by the Good Folk and is told that she may be the person who will rescue Alban from its dominating king. In order to realize all of her gifts, she must pass a series of tests that only the Good Folk can name.

Shadowfell is a wonderful fantasy novel with a strong female protagonist. The reader will discover insights into Neryn's abilities and wonder along with her if she can trust those she meets along the way. If Goodreads permitted 1/2 stars I would have given this 3.5 stars. I loved the book and look forward to reading the second novel, but I felt some portions of the story were only there to make the book longer.

The second book in the series is called Raven Flight and will be released July 2013:

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: SYLO

SYLO by D.J. MacHale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pemberwick Island is a small community off the coast of Maine. Tucker Pierce is happy there. His family moved there five years earlier and unlike other teens on the island, he has no plans to leave. Then the star football player dies at the end of a game and he needs to step up and be the replacement. A stranger named Feit offers him a nutritional supplement called Ruby and tells Tucker that it will give him strength and speed naturally and legally. Tucker has small problems. Should he take the Ruby, should he pursue Tori as a girlfriend and does he have dreams beyond this sleepy island? All of these small problems evaporate instantly when Pemberwick Island is invaded by SYLO, an unknown branch of the U.S. military. Residents are told they are being quarantined due to a virus, but when Tucker and Quinn hack into the hospital computers they discover there is no virus and both of their parents are involved in some way.

It is now up to Tucker, Quinn and Tori to discover what is happening on their island. Why is the CDC quarantining the island? What is SYLO, and why are they involved? What is this Ruby that Feit is pushing? Is any of this related to the “singing” aircraft that are only seen at night? MacHale creates an adventure story that hints at the end of the world as we know it. Readers will be drawn into the easy life of Tucker and then become quickly drenched in adrenaline as they experience this journey with him. SYLO is the first book in the series, but the unanswered questions only become evident toward the end so the book doesn’t seem like one big set up for the series.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: Shallow Pond

Shallow Pond
Shallow Pond by Alissa Grosso

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shallow Pond is a small town and everyone knows everything about everyone, except the Bunting sisters. They are just weird. The rumor at school is that they are a coven or witches! Before you think this is a supernatural book, it is not. Barbara “Babie” Bunting is the youngest of three sisters. Her parents are both dead and she is being raised by her oldest sister, Annie. Barbara cannot wait to graduate and leave Shallow Pond forever. Her sisters stayed behind and she will not make the same mistake. Babie’s plans to leave start slipping through her fingers when Zach Faraday moves into town. He also is an orphan and no one can deny they have chemistry.

Annie has been sick off and on since winter break but when the girls finally convince her to go to the hospital, she insists on visiting a doctor friend of their father. Babie starts questioning everything: Why is Annie still sick? What killed her mother? Why did Annie and her high school sweetheart breakup. After Babie begins to connect the dots, she realizes her life is crazier than she ever imagined. Shallow Pond is a captivating read that throws questions and possibilities at the reader throughout. Readers will find themselves shaking their proverbial head at some of the character’s actions. I enjoyed the book and did not realize where Grosso was going with the story until it slapped me upside the head. I believe any reader who enjoys books about teen issues will not be disappointed with this book.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: Secret for a Song

Secret for a Song
Secret for a Song by S.K. Falls

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Saylor Grayson likes the attention she gets when she is sick. She likes the attention so much she will literally make herself ill. The therapists call it Munchausen Syndrome. Recently, her parents pulled her out of college and made her move home. Saylor’s therapist encouraged her to volunteer at the local hospital and she sets up and takes down the meeting rooms for different support groups. After she stumbles into an invitation to a support group for terminally ill young adults, she finds herself surrounded by people who are given a lot of attention because of their illnesses.

Drew Dean is the leader of this support group and the relationship quickly moves from casual friendship into a romance. But Saylor has her secret. Everyone in the group believes she has Multiple Sclerosis (not Munchausen Syndrome). She is torn between telling Drew and group the truth (and possibly loosing these friendships) and continuing the lie. She hasn’t had a friend since she was a child and doesn’t want to jeopardize these relationships. Secret for a Song is well written and lets the reader understand the inner thoughts of a person with Munchausen Syndrome. Readers will learn to love the new friends along with Saylor and cheer her along with her own discoveries. Falls has a gift for taking many complicated medical issues and working them into a believable story. Any reader looking for a heartfelt realistic fiction book will find a winner with Secret for a Song.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review: Impostor

Impostor by Susanne Winnacker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tessa is human, but she has the ability to take the shape and appearance of anyone she touches. She is a Variant and there are others like her, but with different abilities. She has spent the past 2 years training with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities and misses the family that wants nothing to do with her. Although she is training with this secret section of the FBI, she still has normal teenage angst. She’s been crushing on another Variant since they met; she is unhappy with her body and wonders if there is more to life than the FEA.

After a serial killer inadvertently leaves a victim alive, Tessa is given her first mission. She will take the shape of Madison (she is expected to die) and be part of the investigation into these murders. It is believed that the murderer is a Variant. Although she is nervous about her first mission, she is excited to have the chance to be a normal teen girl. Can she pass for Madison? Will she be able to complete the mission without forming emotional attachments? Impostor is a murder mystery with a supernatural twist. Winnacker leave clues throughout the story, but the characters and the readers are constantly second guessing who they think the killer is. I enjoyed the teen romance issues sprinkled throughout because it reminds the reader that Tessa is a teen girl first and a Variant second. I will happily be waiting for the next book in the series.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review: Dark Child

Dark Child
Dark Child by Adina West

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kat Chanter is from a small town. She knows she wants more from her life, but isn’t sure when or how it will take place. Control of her destiny is lost when she decides to test her own blood after a fainting spell. She learns that her blood cells are not normal. To make matters worse, her supervisor takes an interest in the sample and reports it to the main research facility. She is offered a promotion and moves to New York City. She finds the perfect apartment and begins her job. She has many questions: Why can’t anyone else notice her building? How is it possible she never runs into any of her neighbors? Why is she craving meat? What is with the vivid dreams?

Some of her questions are answered when she meets Char, but many more arise as she tumbles into a dark world and discovers that she inherited many unusual traits from the father she never knew. Dark Child was originally released as a serial eBook and is now available as an omnibus. Witches, blood drinkers, shape shifters and egocentric control freaks are everywhere. Many believe she is the dark child the prophecy speaks about and they are willing to give their lives to protect her and assist her in any tasks she has. West takes many supernatural creatures and ancient folklore and weaves a new story with a fresh spin. Although there are a few sections that I felt the vocabulary was intentionally contrived, the added depth of these words was a nice variation in an otherwise easy and enjoyable read. I look forward to the story continuing as many threads were left unanswered.

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Review: The Testing

The Testing
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cia Vale has worked hard. As the youngest graduate in her class, she hopes to be chosen for the Testing to determine if she has what it takes to go to University and be a future leader of the United Commonwealth. Her father is a University graduate, so she knows it is a possibility. When she discovers that three classmates and she have been chosen for the Testing, she is overjoyed and apprehensive. She has never been away from her family. Before she leaves for her Testing, her father hints at a darker side of the Testing and advises her to trust no one.

Did he really mean no one? Cia decides to trust Tomas, a close friend and classmate. But how much can she trust him? Can she tell him everything, or must she hide things even from him. The Testing takes place in a post-apocalyptic world reminiscent of The Hunger Games. Although the candidates are not chosen at random (they are the top of the graduating class), Testing candidates must complete four tests and an interview to determine which 20 will go to University. Charbonneau builds a society quickly and smoothly and readers will quickly find that they want Cia to succeed. Will Cia be able to complete all four tests? Can she keep the values she was raised with throughout the process? Can she trust Tomas or anyone else?

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