Saturday, August 31, 2013

Review: Unthinkable

Unthinkable by Nancy Werlin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four hundred years ago, Fenella was to become the first Scarborough girl to be cursed and trapped in Faerie. For generations, her female decedents tried to break the same curse and now that Lucy has done the impossible and broken the curse, Fenella wants to know why she is still stuck in Faerie. She makes a new deal with the faerie queen. If she can complete three acts of destruction, then she will finally be free and be able to die. Unfortunately, after she agrees to the new deal she learns that the acts of destruction must be aimed at her family in order to count. If she fails, it will also affect all of the Scarborough girls.

Unthinkable is not only a great sequel to Impossible, it is also a companion story to Extraordinary. The tie in between the novels is accomplished seamlessly. Readers of Extraordinary will delight in the underlying meaning of certain references, but these references will not deter from the story if the reader has only read Impossible. Werlin shows the reader why the original Scarborough curse occurred and takes the tale to a whole new level. Fenella failed the first time and cursed her family for generations. Will she find the strength within herself to succeed in this second challenge? I highly recommend this novel to readers of faerie fantasies and fairy tale retellings.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: Rose Under Fire

Rose Under Fire
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rose Justice is an American pilot who loves to fly. While she was delivering a plane from Paris to England for the Allied Forces, she is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück with French prisoners. Although she finds this women’s concentration camp terrible in the extreme, she discovers loyalty and family with her fellow prisoners. Rose Under Fire is another World War II novel covering an all too possible story of women showing strength. This companion story to Code Name Verity occurs several months after the first book’s conclusion. Although these books are connected, the first book is not needed to understand the second.

I really struggled with this book. I enjoyed the format and the story as a whole, but through correspondence early in the book, the reader is told the outcome of Rose so that the only question is how. Rose Under Fire is great in the fact that it is historical fiction with a female main character during war time, but the book as a whole felt too formulistic and I can see young readers not giving it the effort to finish. I will recommend the book to those who enjoy this genre, but will not want this to be an introduction for exploring readers.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Review: Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy

Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy
Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Cold War is still raging as Marina trains to become a ballerina in the Soviet Union. She knows it is possible, because her mother, Sveta, is the Soviet Union’s prima ballerina. Unfortunately, her mother has the gift of sight and when she attempts to expose a terrible state secret she disappears. Marina and her father flee to Brooklyn and she wants to reestablish herself as a ballerina by attending Juilliard. She is assigned a partner named Sergei, and her father believes he will be their contact in regards to the secret his wife shared with him.

But Marina also has the gift of sight and after “seeing” her father’s murder she must come to terms with the fact that leaving the Soviet Union does not make you automatically safe. Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy is full of espionage and intrigue. Marina is thrown into the rolls of traitor and spy due to the actions of her parents, and she must unravel the secrets they have hidden even from her in order to save herself and hopefully her parents. Kiem takes the 1980’s Cold War era with the advancing technology and brings it to readers in the 21st century. Many young readers only know of the USSR from history books and what better way to learn many common actions then through a fictional story of espionage. After reading Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy, I see many people picking up additional spy novels to devoir.

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Review: The Waking Dark

The Waking Dark
The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It all happened on one day in the small town of Oleander Kansas. Twelve people are dead. Seven were murdered and five of the murderers committed suicide after, but one of the killers did not die. She remembers before and after, but the actual act is a blank segment of her memory. The town does not know what caused the townspeople to become murderous, but they know they must move on. Nearly a year later a storm tears through Oleander and the killing begins again. As the madness overtakes the people, there are five survivors of the first killing day who believe they may be able to stop everyone from destroying themselves.

This group of young people has very little in common, except the wish to live and the hope to save the people of their town. Can they discover the cause of these killing urges? Are they immune to these feelings or must they also fight the killer inside them? The Waking Dark will cause the reader to question what lies buried in their subconscious. Is there a dark side to everyone? Can it be triggered? Wasserman takes the reader on a trip of terror with this group of unlikely heroes. This read make hearts beat faster and eyes fly along the words quickly. Readers will be pulled in from the start and push on to know the secrets of this small town and the fate of its inhabitants.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: Fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cath loves everything about Simon Snow. She’s read all the books, seen all the movies, hangs out in Simon Snow forums and writes fan fiction. She started writing fan fiction with her twin sister, Wren, and has 20,000 daily hits on posts. Cath and Wren are leaving for college and Wren doesn’t want to be roommates, she wants to start a life of her own. Now Cath has a stranger for a roommate, a writing partner who is only interested in Cath’s words and a writing professor that does not want Cath to write fan fiction. As her life appears to be falling apart, she begins to wonder if writing is for her. She can’t write her own stories and if that is what it takes to become a writer, she questions whether she has what it takes.

Fangirl is a coming of age story with a magical world inside. Interspersed throughout this book are excerpts from the Simon Snow series and passages from Cath’s fan fiction. Readers will enjoy reading the stories within the story as they travel with Cath on a journey of self-discovery. How with Cath survive without her built in best friend, Wren? Is she ready to write her own stories? Can she move past Simon Snow? Rowell mixes writing styles in such a way to keep the book edgy, but not in a way to make it confusing. Fangirl is a satisfying standalone title that will make readers of multiple genres excited.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: More Than This

More Than This
More Than This by Patrick Ness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The sea is cold and rough, but Seth is just a boy and it breaks him. After, he wakes up in his own hell. Somehow he arrives in his English childhood home and is naked, thirsty and tired. Although he is alive, he is alone. Everything appears as if it has been abandoned for years, but Seth does not know how or why. As if this hell is not strange enough, his dreams are haunted by memories of his life and he begins to wonder if they are trying to tell him something. As Seth explores the area round him and continues to blame himself for terrible things that occurred in his life, he hopes to find answers and maybe even people in this isolated world he has found himself in.

More Than This is about more than death and afterlife. It is about friendship, family, accountability and forgiveness. Seth has been blamed for the unexplainable tragedy the family endured 8 years ago. Because he failed his family in such a serious way, he looks for more in the relationships around him. Ness explores the actions of life and pushes them into a parallel life. The philosophical discussions in Seth’s head, his dreams and with those around him cause the reader to question what really happened and what will happen as the story progresses. I had found the story extremely intriguing and consumed the entire book in one day. I alternated between having the Kindle app read it to me while doing house work and taking breaks on the couch to read. If the voiceover option was not available, I probably would have been a couch bum all day. Although I don’t see any information about this being a series, the ending does leave an opening for Ness to continue this story for a few books more.

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review: Little Red Lies

Little Red Lies
Little Red Lies by Julie Johnston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rachel is trying to define herself outside of her family. She joins the drama club to explore her creative side and begins to wear a lipstick called “Little Red Lies” to express herself with her appearance. Her brother has recently returned from war, and his withdrawal from those around him becomes more apparent as he is diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Rachel’s life is further stretched when her mother unexpectedly announces that she is pregnant and a teacher offers friendship that hints at becoming more.

Little Red Lies explores the lies that we tell ourselves and others when all we want is to please those around us. Many people have trouble telling others no and they don’t want to disappoint those around them. During a time when secrets were kept at home and even then some things were not talked about, Johnston delves into the thoughts and fears of an impressionable young lady and helps the reader question their own conscious. How would you react to family members suffering from depression? Would you ask questions when you know friends and family are keeping secrets? Little Red Lies is not a page turner and will not be a perfect read for everyone, but for those readers who want a realistic fiction book; this will be a satisfying option.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: Crown of Midnight

Crown of Midnight
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After many hard trials including a year of slave labor in Endovier and fighting many skilled assassins, Celaena has earned the right to become the king's personal assassin. What the king doesn't know is that Celaena is not loyal to him. She pretends to kill his enemies, but is really assisting them in fleeing for their lives. Her newest task will push her in new frightening directions and force her to question the loyalty and motives of those closest to her.

Crown of Midnight picks up shortly after the conclusion of the previous book and readers are quickly enveloped in Celaena's plight. Will her heart choose which man it prefers? Can she keep her hidden agenda secret? Who can she trust with her secrets? Maas does not disappoint readers who fell in love with the characters in Throne of Glass and this action packed story with new layers of intrigue will delight these returning readers. As I came to the conclusion of this book I was staring at the last page going "OMG, OMG,OMG!"

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Review: The Infinite Moment of Us

The Infinite Moment of Us
The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wren's school career is coming to an end. She is graduating from high school and will be leaving the country to volunteer in Guatemala for a year. Although she is scared about what lays ahead, she is more scared about telling her parents. See ... Wren has always tried to please her parents. Even if it meant she did things she didn't want to do. Then, Charlie and Wren connect on the last day of school and neither one knows what to expect.

The Infinite Moment of Us is about summer romance, going against the grain and learning about oneself through the eyes of others. Myracle takes the time to develop this tender relationship and brings the reader along on this private first love trip. I normally don't have an issue with sex in young adult books, but I feel some of the sexual descriptions were just overly descriptive. I'm sure many readers will not have an issue with this (if not actually enjoy the book more because of it), but it made me cringe whenever Wren and Charlie were having an intimate moment. Although I recommend this book, it should not be moved to the top of readers TBR pile.

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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Review: Gated

Gated by Amy Christine Parker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lyla Hamilton has experienced a lot. When she was a small child her sister was kidnapped from in front of their home and was never found. A few weeks later, the World Trade Center attacks occurred. Her parents, but especially her mother, were scared and worried. Enter Pioneer … He has been given visions from the Brethren and convinces Lyla’s parents that they are one of the Chosen. The family sells everything they have and move to a rural area with other families to build the Silo, an underground bunker intended to survive the coming apocalypse. Fast forward 10 years. Lyla is struggling with the idea of shooting to kill in case of an attack. Pioneer has always told them that when the end of days occurs many people will realize the Chosen have resources and will try and take them.

Of course a pre-apocalyptic book would be no good without a confused protagonist. Enter a boy from town that causes her to doubt what she has been taught and encourages her to question what Pioneer has told her and the families in the compound. Gated takes an inside look into what and how a cult may begin. Outsiders always say “I would never be taken in by a crackpot like that,” but we can never know until we are put in that situation. Cults begin slowly, and what if scared parents took impressionable children with them and raised the children to know no difference. Parker shows the reader that not everything is black and white. Also, thinking and processing can be different inside the gates. Readers have outside knowledge of what has really occurred during the 10 years the Silo was being prepared, but the characters are in the dark and are fully trusting Pioneer for all of their information. Will Lyla take her questions to the group? How with the group react? What would you do if you found out everything you thought was true was just a warped version of reality? I recommend this book to readers looking for a captivating stand-alone novel.

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