Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Something Strange and Deadly!




Title: 
Something Strange and Deadly
Author: Susan Dennard
Year Published: 2012

Synopsis: There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

Why?: I LOVE a good zombie novel, and this book has gotten such rave reviews that I had to get it! It's been on my wish list for a while based solely on the synopsis, and  I figured now was as good a time as any to start it. I also think that books set in the past in at least semi-familiar settings are really interesting, since it's pretty cool to see how an author's imagination fills in details.

Expectations: I expect a strong female heroine who will go to great lengths to find and rescue her brother. I also expect lots of zombies, and probably a couple of epic scenes where Eleanor has to fight some zombies or some other supernatural force to protect herself and her family.

Judging a book by its cover: The cover has a girl dressed in a gorgeous dress from the 1800s. The tree and  the colors of the sky in the background look very foreboding.The gears make me think that there will be  some sort of steam-punk influence here too. If I saw this in the bookstore, I would definitely pick it up and flip through it.


--Ashley

The Gathering - Review





I couldn't find a good short quote for this review title either :(.

I was actually pleasantly surprised with this book. I had never read anything by Armstrong, and the whole "shape-shifter" thing seems kind of overplayed right now with all of the werewolves everywhere, but I think this was a nice change of pace. Especially since the "skin walkers" don't turn into wolves - they turn into big cats!

As much as I hate when characters close to the protagonist die in books and in movies, I think it really worked well here. While it seemed like something that could be passed off as a freak accident, the mystery that comes out of Serena's death is really interesting. Especially since it's barely touched on in this novel. I feel like Maya has a lot of digging to do in the next two books. 



And speaking of Maya, I thought she was very real and very relateable. Some of her actions and reactions might have been a little off from what I would have expected, but at the same time she's not exactly a normal teenage girl. There are so many internal conflicts going on with her that you can't really expect her to be an average high schooler. Plus, the town she lives in is totally weird. Sure, the residents pass it off as not being so bad, but a medical research town in the literal middle of nowhere just lends itself to being a little... strange. I wonder what secrets they're hiding that they have to be so far removed from society?

Though the setting was mostly in Canada, I kind of wish Armstrong had done a little more world building and some more explanation of things. Like, what is a witch-hunter? Why did the "reporter" want Daniel to research them? What is Daniel's role in all of this? What about Maya, why did her birth parents really give her away? Are there more "skin walkers" around than what we know?

While the pacing wasn't too bad, I felt like the book ends kind of abruptly. It definitely made me want to pick up the next book, The Calling, ASAP! Overall, for having kind of an overplayed plot and  for some minor things that bothered me, I would give The Gathering a 3/5. I would recommend it to fans of supernatural YA, or for someone looking for something similar to the werewolf stories but maybe a little different.

--Ashley

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Men were always quick to believe in the madness of women."

My Pre-Reading
Paul's Review



When I finished reading Eon, I was really excited that there would be a sequel so that we could find out what happens once Eona reveals her true identity and learns that her dragon is the queen of all the dragons. I figured it would mostly be about defeating High Lord Sethon and finding Emperor Kygo. If the book ended after about the first two chapters, I would have been right.

As it was though, Eona was so much more. I loved learning more about the dragons, and their relationship with the Dragoneyes. I thought that the way they were connected with the Earthly realm was so creative, and was not at all what I was expecting. The way Eona handles the information she receives is very commendable, and I was glad she didn't follow Lord Ido's advice regarding her power. I did find myself liking Lord Ido somewhere in the middle of the book, but I wasn't surprised by his actions at the end.

Eona really struggles with who she is and what her responsibilities are supposed to be throughout this novel, and I think Goodman deals with it very well. She has the power to communicate with and control the all-powerful dragons, and yet she still deals with the same issues that most teenage girls deal with. She starts to fall in love with someone who shouldn't love her back, she doesn't know how she should behave, she's lied to nearly everyone and needs them to trust her, and she still has no way to communicate with her dragon without being ambushed. But through all of that, she's still very courageous, quick-witted, and down to earth.

Like Eon, this book has very long chapters. I really think they could have been split up more, but I kind of got used to it by the end. The long chapters caused some of the pacing to be slow at times, and I think some parts were too detailed. Other parts though had the perfect amount of detail and I love how Goodman is able to build the world. The map in the beginning of the book definitely helped with the world building, and I love when maps are included.

For anyone who read Eon, this is a must read! For anyone who hasn't read Eon and enjoys YA fantasy novels, you should go read both Eon and then go read Eona! I think that fans of books like the Graceling series would really enjoy this series as well. I rated this book a 4.5/5. 


--Ashley

Naked Heat - Review





Unrelated to Naked Heat, but this is our 100th post this year! Hooray!

Also, I couldn't find a short enough quote that I liked to use as a title for this post :(

I really enjoyed  this sequel to Heat Wave. I thought it picked up Nikki's story nicely, although I was kind of confused at the beginning about why Nikki and Jameson broke up and had such a bad break-up. But, it kind of gets explained later on. I liked that they work together again though, despite the awkardness. Especially since Jameson is closely linked with the case.

The story was very interesting, and the reveal of who the actual murderer was/who started this mess was done very well. When I thought I had figured it out, Castle throws another wrench into the bucket. Plus, the idea of a gossip columnist being the investigated murder and then being linked to so many other things is something that seems like it really could happen. Stars need to protect their images sometimes, and the people around them will often go to great lengths to help them.

While the plot doesn't really follow the plot of the TV show, I think that the relationship between Nikki and Jameson closely parallels that of Kate Beckett and Richard Castle. Not with the awkward break-up or anything, but the playful banter, how Jameson annoys Nikki, etc. It's really interesting to pick out which characters are who, and to see how close they are to the characters in the TV show.

The pacing wasn't too bad, but there were a couple of sections where it seemed things were dragging or going into way too much detail. But, I did like all of the different ways that Nikki could have been considered to be "naked," and I thought the title was very appropriate for the novel. All said and done though, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who has already read Heat Wave, and I would recommend the series to fans of the TV show Castle or murder mystery novels (or both!). I give Naked Heat a 4/5.


--Ashley

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell Pre Reading

There's less than a week before August, so I am going to try and read this before I start my August pick, The Forsaken



Title: The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell
Author: Chris Colfer
Year Published: 2012

Synopsis: 
Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairytales.

The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about. 

But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought. 

Why?: I unfortunately must admit that I am a big fan of GLEE. Chris Colfer plays the fashionably out Kurt. He is a talented actor and singer. I am hoping he is a talented author. Also, this book incorporates fairytales and I am definitely a sucker for retellings or reimaginings of classic stories. 

Expectations: I am trying to keep my expectations low since this book is targeted at a younger audience than I usually read. I expect to see classic fairy tale characters in interesting settings. I am curious to see if it is at all similar to the Magic Tree House series in which a brother and sister used a book to travel to different time periods and places. 

Judging a book by its cover: I really like this cover. It has a classic element to it. If I saw this on a shelf not knowing it was written by Chris Colfer I would at least pick it up and read the synopsis. But, it does look very young. I have also peaked at the inside map and it makes me very excited to start this.



-PAUL

Paul's Review of Tiger Lily



Here is my video review where I make a Native American Headdress! 






Ashley's Review
My Pre Reading


"Tiger Lily" is a very well written retelling/prequel of the Peter Pan story. It follows Tiger Lily and is narrated by Tinker Bell. Tinker Bell can't talk, but she can feel people around her's feelings. I like that Anderson chose Tinker Bell's perspective. The reader gets to jump around the island of Neverland, seeing the pirates, Tiger Lily's tribe, and the Lost Boys. Anderson writes in storytelling or fairytale style. 


I liked the world of Neverland Anderson recreated. It is more real and not as magical. Fairies and mermaids are present, but they fit well. I also like the way Anderson chose to incorporate the never growing up theme. 


Anderson used all the traditional Peter Pan characters and introduced a few new ones. I liked Tik Tok the most. He is the shaman of the tribe as well as Tiger Lily's father. He dresses in women's clothing and wears his hair like a woman. He is a very interesting character. 


Religion is brought into this book in an interesting way when an Englander washes ashore in Neverland. Tiger Lily's tribe doesn't want to catch the aging disease, but the Englander ends up serving as a missionary. 


The story has an overarching theme of acceptance and self acceptance. It also focuses on differences and the way people see others. 


This is not a fast paced book. But, it does not drag. It has an appropriate pace for the story. 


Finally, a book that is not part of a trilogy! I enjoy following characters through a series, but a standalone novel that has an ending is very nice to read. 


I give this book a 5/5! If you enjoy the Peter Pan story, you should definitely pick this one up!


-PAUL

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars



Title: 
The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Year Published: 2012

Synopsis: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumors in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumors tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and, shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Why?: Paul bought this book, and loved it. I've also heard nothing but good things about it, and have been wanting to read it for quite some time. I haven't read anything that's dealt with a serious topic in quite a while (I think the last one might have been My Sister's Keeper), and I think it will be nice to take a break from typical YA romances.

Expectations: I expect a romance, but I also expect this to be a very touching/sad novel. I'll probably cry.

Judging a book by its cover: The title on the cover looks like it was written on a chalkboard, in a speech bubble. I think maybe school will be important, or maybe they write things on a chalkboard at their support group?


--Ashley

"There is always something to learn, always something that is important to understand."

My Pre-Reading
Paul's Pre-Reading
Paul's Review


Like Paul and his review of Eona, I completely forgot that I hadn't reviewed Insurgent yet! Which is absolutely ridiculous, since...

I LOVED this book! Picking up exactly where Divergent left off was a great decision on Roth's part, and I really liked that there was very little recapping throughout the novel. Especially since Roth published this blog post recapping it for all of us who read Divergent a while back. I thought that it helped maintain the continuity of the series. I also liked that if you read Divergent and then jump right into Insurgent, it doesn't feel like you missed anything between the two novels. 

I definitely enjoyed seeing more of all the factions in Insurgent. I felt that we didn't know much about Amity or Candor, and it was nice to meet more people from those factions and spend more time in them. Plus, all of the factionless. Like Tris and all of her friends, I never realized that there were so many factionless people. It was very interesting to see why people chose to be factionless instead of a part of any one faction, and to see how they survived with almost nothing. They were more of a community than any of the factions pretended to be.

Tris kind of annoyed me in this book though. Yes, I understand you killed one of your friends. But really, please get over it. You're in the middle of a war. You need to be able to deal with that eventually, but just pick up a gun and protect yourself. I think her responses and emotions were very realistic, they just drove me up a wall sometimes. I felt like I wouldn't have been able to put up with her at times.And I also hated that she was always deceiving Four/Tobias. He cares for her and wants her to be safe, but all she does is sneak around behind his back to accomplish her objectives. I know she's doing it to better her world, but it all comes off as very selfish.

Forgiveness is a huge theme throughout this book, and I really liked that everyone manages to get past their problems with each other, large or small, to accomplish their objectives. Plus, Tris comes to learn how many friends she actually has, and how many people really do care about her. And as much as Tris and Four's relationship drove me crazy sometimes, I'm very glad they stay together through everything! I'm interested to see where they will end up, given how this book ended. I'm also interested to see how all of the Divergent people come together to save the world. I hope we get to see even more of them, and that we keep finding out that more and more people are Divergent.

If you read Divergent, Insurgent is a MUST read! And, if you haven't read Divergent, go buy it now and read it. Especially if you're a fan of YA Dystopian novels. You won't be disappointed. 5/5 to this sequel, and I hope the final book in the trilogy maintains the amount of epic contained within the first two novels!

--Ashley

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Paul's Missing Eona Review

I can not believe I did this. Apparently, I completely forgot to write a review for Eona. Now, I read this a few weeks, or maybe even months, ago. I hate when I have these very short and vague reviews, but I feel obligated to write something. I have to thank Ashley for letting me know I forgot to do this. 



Title:
Eona
Author: Alison Goodman
Year Published: 2011

I really enjoyed this book. It has big chapters, like Eon, but I was used to them. It is interesting how Goodman deals with gender. I really Like Lady Dela. I found her relationship very interesting. 

I always enjoy sequels more when the world is so vast and interesting as it is in this duology. I enjoyed seeing new regions that were not in the first book. 

I really enjoyed how the mythology of the Dragons and the Dragoneyes was expanded upon. It was very interesting.

If you read Eon, you MUST read Eona! If you haven't read Eon yet, go pick it up. It's a wonderful story that deals with gender, magic, and epic fantasy!

I give this novel a 5/5.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Sometimes I think that maybe we are just stories."




I love a good fairy-tale retelling, and this was absolutely no exception. In all of the Peter Pan stories, you never really hear much about Tiger Lily. She's just a minor character who may or may not have been important to Peter, and who seems like someone the story could do without. I was so excited to finally see a book about her that told us about her back story and her relationship with Peter.

You might think that having Tiger Lily's story told by an outsider would water it down and make it something less than what it should or could be. However, in this case, I think telling this story from Tinkerbell's point of view was brilliant. I never realized that I never really knew much about Tink either, and Anderson is able to pretty much reconstruct both Tiger Lily and Tinkerbell in such a way that they're both relateable. I love that Tink reveals Tiger Lily's weaknesses as well as her own, and I feel like if Tiger Lily had told us her story we wouldn't have learned as much about her.

It's been a while since I've come across a YA novel where the romance didn't really work out the way you wanted/hoped it would (the last one I can remember was Girl of Fire and Thorns), and I really appreciated that about this book. Everyone knows that Peter eventually ends up with Wendy, but the way that Anderson gets there is both gorgeous and heartbreaking. There were times when I just wanted to wrap Tiger Lily in a hug even though that would be completely against her character. There were also times that I wanted to just slap Wendy and send her back to London (oh wait, that was every time she was there...) with the Englander, who I also didn't like.

I felt that the pacing and the flow of this novel was done very well too. I never felt like things were too rushed or dragging. The only thing I do wish is that some of the characters were a little more developed, or that Tink  had gone further into their minds and hearts.  Tik Tok, for example. I loved the idea of his character - he reminds me of  Lady Dela from Eon: Dragoneye Reborn, and I was really hoping we would get to see more of him and get to know him better.

I would definitely recommend  this book to anyone who loves the original Peter Pan story, and to anyone who knows it and would like to know more about the minor characters. I would also recommend it to anyone familiar with any version of Peter Pan who also enjoys retellings of classic tales. Even though this is technically a YA novel, I think many adults would also get quite a bit out of it and would very much enjoy it.

I would rate Tiger Lily 5/5. It was definitely one of my favorite books  this year, and definitely my favorite summer release so far.


--Ashley

"Some people have lives; some people have music."



When I first heard about Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I didn't really look much into it. I figured the synopsis I had heard from Paul and from reading the back of the book was pretty indicative of what the book would be about. Two boys, both named Will Grayson, who meet and change each other's lives. Simple enough, right?

Well, while that's what happens, it does not even scratch the surface of what the book is actually about. I was not expecting the book to be as gay as it was, and it definitely surprised me. I haven't read anything as gay as this book - not because I have any problem with LGBTQ books, but simply because I have just never read much in that subgenre - and this was quite a dive into that arena. After the initial shock, I really appreciated that though. It's nice to go into something completely unaware sometimes and see how things turn out.

From the first meeting with Tiny, I knew I would like him. While Will Grayson seems to be annoyed with him most of the time, it never comes across as him disliking Tiny. And Tiny is so confident and sure of himself, how could you not like the kid? He's a huge kid who goes by "Tiny," he's a star football player, active in several clubs, writes and directs his own musical, and is extremely gay. And the whole time, I wanted to be his friend.

I also liked Will Grayson. Although he seemed to want to just fade into the crowd, he wasn't really all that unhappy with his life and his friends. Plus, he acts like a realistic high school kid. Not popular, but not without any friends. Just somewhere in the middle, and not too upset about that. His growth over the course of the novel though is really interesting, and I love how he comes to appreciate Tiny and everything else so much more by the end of the novel.

will grayson though, he drove me crazy. I would NOT have wanted to be his friend. I understand being depressed and being on medication and all of the other things wrong with him, but I didn't like his attitude, or how he treats his "friend" or how he doesn't use any capitalization and very little punctuation. He also grows and learns and changes over the course of the novel, but I still was not a fan.

I think I would have liked this book more if will grayson hadn't driven me so crazy. I really liked how being gay in high school was dealt with. I think the juxtaposition of Tiny with will grayson was done well, and the way Tiny brings will out of his shell is incredible. Especially after the whole Maura thing. And I loved how by the end, Tiny finally gets to feel appreciated. Sometimes, I felt the book was more about Tiny than about the Will Graysons.

Having the authors write every other chapters was pretty neat, and reading the interview in the back between them really added to the book. At least I thought so, anyway.

I'm interested in reading more LGBTQ YA novels, especially if I know ahead of time what I'm getting into.

I give this book a 3/5, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA novels about teens growing and maturing.

--Ashley

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Naked Heat


Title: Naked Heat
Author: Richard Castle
Year Published: 2010

Synopsis: Nikki Heat and Jameson Rook are together again in Richard Castle's thrilling follow-up to his New York Times bestseller, Heat Wave.

When New York's most vicious gossip columnist, Cassidy Towne, is found dead, Heat uncovers a gallery of high profile suspects, all with compelling motives for killing the most feared muckraker in Manhattan.

Heat's murder investigation is complicated by her surprise reunion with superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook. In the wake of their recent breakup, Nikki would rather not deal with their raw emotional baggage. But the handsome, wise-cracking Pulitzer Prize-winning writer's personal involvement in the case forces her to team up with Rook anyway. The residue of their unresolved romantic conflict and crackling sexual tension fills the air as Heat and Rook embark on a search for a killer among celebrities and mobsters, singers and hookers, pro athletes and shamed politicians.

This new, explosive case brings on the heat in the glittery world of secrets, cover-ups, and scandals.

Why?: I read  the first book in the Nikki Heat series, and loved it. And, since I love Castle, I wanted to read this book as well!

Expectations: I expect this book to be a good follow-up to Heat Wave, while staying true to the idea of a writer following a detective in New York City and helping her solve a crime. The characters will hopefully still be very similar to the characters in the TV show. While there will definitely be some intriguing crime, I also expect to laugh at Rook's antics and Heat's reactions to them.

Judging a book by its cover: The cover has a woman laying down with a gun. I expect this is Nikki, and that things will be very heated. Maybe Nikki has to don a promiscuous disguise? Or maybe she becomes stripped down emotionally? I'm excited to find out what's in store!


--Ashley

The Gathering



Title: The Gathering
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Year Published: 2011

Synopsis: Maya lives in a small medical-research town on Vancouver Island. How small? You can’t find it on the map. It has less than two-hundred people, and her school has only sixty-eight students—for every grade from kindergarten to twelve.

Now, strange things are happening in this claustrophobic town, and Maya's determined to get to the bottom of them. First, the captain of the swim team drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. A year later, mountain lions start appearing around Maya's home, and they won’t go away. Her best friend, Daniel, starts getting negative vibes from certain people and things. It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret—and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy: Her paw-print birthmark.

Why?: I won the sequel, The Calling, in a HarperTeen tweetstakes. So, naturally, I bought this book so I could understand what was going on in the book I won.

Expectations: I expect an interesting story revolving around Maya's birthmark. Does it mean anything? Or is she just a normal girl with a weird shaped birthmark? Maybe she can speak to big cats since the mountain lions keep showing up.

Judging a book by its cover: The cover has just a girl on the cover. It's mostly blue, and I think that adds a bit of mystery to it. If I saw this in a bookstore, I would probably pick it up.


--Ashley

"A Witch with a weak song is barely a Witch at all."




Having never read anything by Amber Argyle, I wasn't really expecting too much from this book. Don't get me wrong - I was excited to start it just from the synopsis. I love books that present new ways that nature and the elements are controlled, and I was not disappointed here. There may be a few spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution.

I really enjoyed the way that Brusenna grew and matured and changed over the course of the novel. At first, I felt bad for her and definitely wanted to jump into her world and punch all of the people in the market for being mean to her simply because she was a witch. Then, she kind of turned into a brat when her mom had to leave, buy I think it was an understandable and realistic reaction for a girl her age. By the end of Witch Song though, I found myself very much liking the girl Senna had become.

I'm glad that Argyle didn't spend too much time going over the details of Senna's stay at Haven. I think there was just enough detail to get through that time in her life, but not too much that the reader is left bored and stuck in a rut. Actually, I felt that most of the book was like that.

I have a love/hate relationship with authors killing off characters that are clearly very important to the protagonist - I hate that it has to happen but I love when it's done well and the protagonist grows from the experience. Here, I think it was done very well. I was a little disappointed with how it was dealt with and then seemingly forgotten though. Senna's reaction was very believeable, but I have a hard time believeing that everyone else would be as insensitive as they came off, even if it was a logical way to be.

The story progressed well, and most characters were well developed. Having a major antagonist and several minor ones added to the urgency of Senna's quest, and I really enjoyed reading about how the witch hunters were foiled time and time again. Although there were a few parts that were iffy for me, I really enjoyed this book and am very excited for the sequel, Witch Born, to come out soon. I would give this book a 4/5, and would recommend it to YA readers looking for a tale with magic, nature, romance, and adventure.


--Ashley

"A world of nevers under a never sky."






First of all, I apologize for how late this review is. I finished Under the Never Sky way back in June, but just haven't been able to sit down and review it. Until now!

When I first started reading this book, I felt like things were going very slowly. Sure, the book begins with Aria and her friends/acquaintances breaking the rules and entering a forbidden area. But from there, even though some exciting things happen and some not so exciting things that are necessary for the rest of the book to make sense happen, it takes a while to get going. That's not to say I wasn't completely entranced from the beginning - I couldn't put it down!

Then, when the action and adventure and even the romance begin to pick up, I was hooked even more. Aria and Perry go through so much, and both learn things about the world of the other that they seem like totally different people by the end. I loved being able to experience the story from both of their viewpoints, and I think it really helped give the reader a more thorough understanding of what the world is like.

The tech world that Aria knows is fascinating to me. I think it would be so cool to have Realms to visit whenever you want, and be able to experience them almost as if you were there "in the Real." What would it be like to live in two places at once? And besides that, to live for centuries. Would life get boring? Or would it be new every day because of all the Realms?

Then there's Perry's world. A world where Aether can destroy you and everything you love. Where people have resorted to living in tribes, because it's easier to move around and survive that way. And, not only do you have to worry about Aether storms, but you also have to worry about illnesses that can't be cured by your limited resources, cannibalistic tribes coming after you if you wrong them, lack of food, and so many other things. I would not want to live in that, but that just makes me admire Perry so much more.

I hope that Aria tells Perry who she is working for in Through the Ever Night. I don't want their newly developed relationship to have to endure that deception. And I really hope the Still Blue exists and they find it.

I would give this book a 4.5/5 and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of YA dystopian novels with a hint of romance. Especially to fans of books like The Maze Runner trilogy and the Across the Universe trilogy.

--Ashley

Monday, July 16, 2012

Paul's Shadow and Bone Review



Here is my video review where I make recipes that can be found on Leigh Bardugo's website




I'm going to try and do these fun reviews pretty regularly. The goal is to do something interesting that pertains to the novel during each review.


My Pre Reading


I really liked "Shadow and Bone" by Leigh Bardugo. Ravka is a very interesting world with a unique, but Russian influenced, feel. It is inhabited by Grisha, who each have special abilities. Some control the elements.  Others can heal people or stop their hearts. Their leader is The Darkling. 


Bardugo did a good job of making the characters feel real. There were many grey characters and characters with unknown agendas. The minor characters were well rounded. 


The artwork both on the cover and within the book is beautiful. I really like the map. It sets the mood for the novel. The Unsea's volcra illustrations are creepy, but they give a good image to the reader.


I am looking forward to the next book in The Grisha Trilogy, Seige and Storm. I want to see more of The Apparat, David, and Baghra. 


I give this novel a 5/5. If you like Young Adult Fantasy, this is a must read! 


-PAUL

Paul's Pre Reading of Tiger Lily


Title: Tiger Lily
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Year Published: 2012

Synopsis: 15 year old Tiger Lily, proud and fierce, wild and misunderstood, doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland, and immediately falls under his spell. Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, big-hearted but hard to reach, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. 

Soon, she is risking everything - her family, her future - to be with the haunted, hunted, courageous boy who loves her. When - as a punishment for her rebellious ways - she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter. 

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart. 

Why?: This was Ashley's pick for July and I am very excited to read this. I am somewhat familiar with the Peter Pan story, but I have never read the original book. I've seen movie and stage adaptations. I love retellings of familiar stories, especially from minor characters' perspectives.

Expectations: I expect this to be a story full of magic and make believe, but with a harsher touch than the Disney animated movie. I am looking forward to getting to know the character of Tiger Lily. 

Judging a book by its cover: I like the cover. The colors are very warm. It appears to be a fairy with a flower-like dress. Maybe its Tinker Bell?



-PAUL

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Paul's Review of The Fault in Our Stars



Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Year Published: 2012


I really like John Green's writing. This is the first of his novels I have read, but he is a co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson and I thoroughly enjoyed it. John Green's writing feels very realistic and is chocked full of fun references and quirky thoughts. The characters in The Fault in Our Stars are all very real. Most of the characters have cancer and the ways they deal with it are unique and interesting. 


This novel is definitely a sad cancer book, but Green's writing connected me so well with the characters. The novel without an ending within the book that connects the main characters really adds to the story. The novelist in the Netherlands was one of my favorite characters. There are so many thought provoking topics brought up in this book. 


I suggest this book to EVERYONE. I will definitely be purchasing more of John Green's novels. If you are not subscribed to Vlog Brothers on youtube, do it NOW!


I give this book a 5/5!


-PAUL

Paul's Review of Under The Never Sky

This is another book I read while on the boat at the end of last month. It unfortunately won't be as detailed as I want. I will be writing my review for Shadow and Bone as soon as I finish it.





Pre Reading
Ashley's Pre Reading


I really enjoyed this book. It was another dystopian YA novel with a female protagonist, but it was done well. I loved the two worlds Rossi created. There were so many interesting parallels between them. I liked how Aria's world pretty much lived within a virtual reality. It was an interesting commentary on social media, chatrooms, and cell phones. They have access directly from their eyepiece. 


The outside world was also rich, full of people who had to work hard and develop skills to survive. The special abilities were also interesting. 


There were many interesting secondary characters. I am looking forward to seeing them more in the sequels. 


The romance aspect was annoying until the main characters acknowledged it. 


I am looking forward to Through the Ever Night. I give this book a strong 4/5. I recommend it to anyone who likes the dystopian trend in YA. This is a must read!


-PAUL

Paul's Review of The Gates

This was Ashley's October 2011 pick...


Yes, I finally read it. Ashley didn't post about it until the end of November, so I don't feel completely bad. Thankfully, I didn't wait a whole year.


Ashley's Pre Reading
Ashley's Review






Title: The Gates
Author: John Connolly
Year Published: 2009



This book has a similar feel to The Hitchhiker's Guide. It is intelligent, witty, and comical. The footnotes, that can be found throughout the book, at first annoyed me. I felt they took me away from the story, but by the end of the book there are far fewer footnotes and I found myself missing them. 


I am glad I read this in less than two days. I don't know if I would have been able to hold out if I had read just a chapter a day. The first half of the book feels so random. Many different characters are introduced who seem to have no relevance to each other. I enjoyed each of their broad background stories, but it seemed too extensive at the time. By the end of the book, all the pieces come together but it was difficult to get there. 


There was just enough hard science mixed with demonology and fantasy/sci-fi. In my head, the visual for this book resembled a 90s movie with bad special effects. 


My favorite part of the book was the characterization of the nicer demons: Nurd, the one under the bed, and the lake monster. I thought they were interesting and well developed.


I would recommend this book for fans of The Hitchhiker's Guide series to read close to Halloween.I give this novel a 3/5. I don't think I will be looking for the sequel anytime soon.


-PAUL



Monday, July 9, 2012

Eona



Title: 
Eona
Author: Alison Goodman
Year Published: 2011

Synopsis:   Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon's army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona's power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled "Emperor" Sethon.

Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans....

Why?: I read the first book in the duology, Eon: Dragoneye Reborn a while back. I was interested in how the story continues, and have been waiting for Paul to this book so we could finish the series.

Expectations: I expect this book to be more epic than the first. Eona is trying to embrace her womanhood, and I expect her to have some issues dealing with that and trying to overcome everything she was taught. I think there will also be some problems with the dragons, since most of the Dragoneyes are dead. I also expect the story to be wrapped up in this novel, since there aren't any more books in the series. Oh, and long chapters. Even though I hope they aren't as long as they were in Eon, I think they'll still be longer than I like.

Judging a book by its cover: A girl, who I assume to be Eona, stands facing an entire army with just two swords. I feel like there will be an epic battle, and only Eona will be able to fight. Perhaps she can summon her dragon to help her (although it's said that Dragoneyes cannot use their power for war), or maybe she can only use those two swords to fight. Either way, the cover is epic and I expect the story to be epic as well.


--Ashley

Witch Song



Title: 
Witch Song
Author: Amber Argyle
Year Published: 2011

Synopsis: The world is changing.

Once, Witch Song controlled everything from the winds to the shifting of the seasons-but not anymore. All the Witches are gone, taken captive by a traitor. All but Brusenna. As the echo of their songs fades, the traitor grows stronger. Now she is coming for Brusenna.

Her guardian has sworn to protect her, but even he can't stop the Dark Witch. Somehow, Brusenna has to succeed where every other Witch has failed. Find the traitor. Fight her. Defeat her.

Because if Brusenna doesn't, there won't be anything left to save.

Why?: This book was free for Amazon Kindle for a little bit, and I'm always up for reading a free book. It's pretty much a win-win situation. Plus, it sounds very interesting. I'm intrigued by the idea of the seasons and nature being controlled (like in Eon: Dragoneye Reborn), and I don't think this will disappoint.

Expectations: I've never read anything by this author, and I haven't heard much about this book, but I'm expecting a nice story about an inexperienced witch taking on a powerful traitor in an effort to save the world.

Judging a book by its cover: The cover has a girl on it, and not much else. I assume that's supposed to be Brusenna, and that the story will revolve around her.


--Ashley

Ashley's July Book: Tiger Lily



Title:
Tiger Lily
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Year Published: 2012

Synopsis: 15 year old Tiger Lily, proud and fierce, wild and misunderstood, doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland, and immediately falls under his spell. Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, big-hearted but hard to reach, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily.

Soon, she is risking everything - her family, her future - to be with the haunted, hunted, courageous boy who loves her. When - as a punishment for her rebellious ways - she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Why?: I love re-tellings of old stories, and well known stories told from different perspectives or about minor characters rewritten as main characters. I've also always been intrigued by Tiger Lily - why is Peter Pan so attached to her? Who even is she? Where does she come from? I've heard such good reviews about this book that I figured I should give it a shot.

Expectations: I expect this to be different from every story of Peter Pan currently out there. I think Wendy will be present, but only a little bit. I expect, and I hope, that Tiger Lily will be given more depth, and that it will easier to relate to her character than it has been in the current versions of the story of Peter Pan.

Judging a book by its cover: I think this cover is gorgeous. I love that it looks like a fairy (maybe Tinker Bell?), but like a flower at the same time. The orange and black remind me of a tiger lily.


--Ashley

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Paul's July Book: "Shadow and Bone" Pre Reading







TitleShadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Year Published: 2012

Synopsis:  
 Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart. 


Why?: The fantasy aspect of this book attracts me. I have also seen soem good reviews on it. It also has a cover that brings you in. I peaked into the book and the map at the front is also very intresting. The demonlike drawing are kind of creepy. 


Expectations
: I expect this to be a fantasy story with an empowered female lead who has magical abilities. I'm expecting a very interesting world as well. 


Judging a book by its cover
: I really like this cover. There is smoke and what may be antlers or tree branches. The colors are contrasting and the castle tops at the bottom of the cover interest me. 





-PAUL


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

“I think we’re always looking for new pieces.”

My Pre-Reading
Paul's Review



I read this a while ago, and completely forgot to write the review. So, I apologize if it's shorter or not as in depth as normal.

As You Wish is Jackson Pearce's first published novel, and I thought it was a very strong debut with great characters and an interesting plot. I really liked the idea that if you're miserable enough and wish hard enough, a Jinn (basically a genie) will be summoned from another world to grant you three wishes.


I found everything about the Jinn and Caliban to be fascinating, and definitely always wanted to know more. The idea of a perfect city with citizens who never age, and the idea that everything (even down to the colors of the flowers being delivered) has some sort of meaning made me wish that there was actually a real place like Caliban. Or that elements of it were present in this world.

I felt like Pearce really created a complex, real character in Viola. Her problems, her wants, her needs, and everything about her seemed so genuine that I felt like I knew her just bey reading this book. I also really liked the her ex-boyfriend Lawrence was her best friend and her ex only because he was gay. Lawrence really cared for Viola, and it was evident throughout the whole book. Everything he does is to try to keep her together, and even though he can't be the one to put her back together, he wants to find someone who can, or wants her to be able to do it herself.

The relationship between Viola and Jinn is predictable, but I don't think it's forced. It happens gradually, and Jinn is forced to change his whole perspective on life. I really liked that Viola helps Jinn to see things differently, but Jinn also helps Viola to see that she's still whole, even if she doesn't feel like it.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a cute teen romance, or any fan of Jackson Pearce's other works. A strong 4/5 on this one. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more of Pearce's works!


--Ashley