Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Blogger Hop: Dec 17-20, 2010

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy-for-Books. 
Click the button for rules on how to participate in this fun Book Party!
Book Blogger Hop


This week's question is: 
"What do you consider the most important in a story: the plot or the characters?"

My answer:
I am character-driven, all the way. I prefer a book with amazing, deep, complex, intricate characters and little plot than the other way around. Unfortunately it is hard to find books with those amazing deep characters since synopses only focus on the plot. That's why I always feel like I've found a treasure when I discover a book with great characters. Characters are the heart of any story, and if you don't have heart, then you don't have very much at all.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review: Maximum Ride: School's Out - Forever

Maximum Ride: School's Out - Forever by James Patterson

Published: May 23rd 2006 by Little, Brown and Company Word Count: 73,044
Series: Maximum Ride, book 2
Source: library audiobook (abridged)

My Grade: B+


Synopsis from GoodReads.com: In this stand-alone sequel to The Angel Experiment, bird-kid Max and her flock fly south to reunite with their parents. But their perilous mission runs into stiff winds when they are apprehended by an FBI agent who dispatches them to the worst nightmare destination: school! Max's homework assignment include decoding documents that might have help save the world and protect her from Max II, a clone who knows her every move. Action; suspense; plot surprises: all James Patterson specialties.

I decided to listen to an abridged version of this book just to see what it was like. Several elements led me to this curiosity. First, my grandfather's name is James Patterson and alot of people mistake him for the author. Second, the middle-schoolers I nanny absolutely love the Maximum Ride series and have gobbled up every Maximum-Ride-related book available. I started to read The Angel Experiment (first book in the series), and found it was just too juvenile to hold my interest. But - and I've mentioned this before - while I couldn't seem to be bothered to sit and read The Angle Experiment, I found listening to a recording of School's Out - Forever, quite enjoyable. A fun, clever story to listen to but again, I doubt it would have held my attention if I had had to commit to sitting down and reading it.

The characters are all well developed, each with a qualifying trait that makes them easy to distinguish. The plot keeps moving forward and never drags (this might have been a product of listening to the abridged version, but even so, I found that I missed the omitted parts and could tell there was more that would have added to the story without bogging it down). However, the dialogue is filled with cliches an pithy aphorisms that make the whole thing feel too sleek and commercial. Even the title is corny and over-the-top. While I've never read any of Patterson's novels for adults, I know it is pop-culture candy in the vein of Romantic Comedy movies and easy reading Chick-Lit. With the Maximum Ride series Patterson has produced something not often seen in children's fiction: mass-produced candy-coated adventure for the budding youth. There is a reason why the kids I nanny, who read everything from Moby Dick to Twilight, love this series so much. It's fun. It's light. It's fluffy, and it's feel-good - if insubstantial - entertainment on a level youthful enough to be at their level, but with a plot exciting enough to hold my interest while commuting to their house.

Find it on Amazon: School's Out - Forever (Maximum Ride, Book 2)

Visit the author's website: http://www.jamespatterson.com/books_max.php

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review: Linger

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Published:July 13th 2010 by Scholastic Press
Word Count:91,396
Series: Wolves of Mercy Falls, book 2
Source: library hardcover book

My Grade: A

Synopsis from GoodReads.com: In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

Disclaimer: This review is a bit raw and unfinished because I started writing it a few weeks ago and never finished, and now the book is not as fresh in my mind. Ah well, that's what comes of a super-busy over-stressed crazy Thanksgiving holiday while trying to write grad school applications at the same time. Anyway, here it is....

I love love love the fight Grace and her parents have over her relationship with Sam. It hits it's mark so well and does what it is supposed to. I could really feel the injustice Grace felt at her parent's disapproval of spending time with Sam and the urge to rebel from their unfair treatment. Also, I had read some criticism about the unrealistic nature of the absentee parents in Shiver and I wonder if Maggie took that into consideration by deciding to get the parents more involved in Linger. But I just read on the Mundie Mom's LiveChat with Maggie yesterday that she based the parents on some real families she knew who were like that, and she did that because she wanted there to be a reason why Grace was so independent. I think it's awesome when authors can incorporate real-life situations into their stories. Sometimes, as in this case, real situations seem even stranger or more 'unrealistic' than something completely made-up.

I like how Stiefvater avoids the love triangle temptation (although she hints at it ever so slightly, but maybe that is only a product of Cole's unlikely jealously) and instead widens the scope of her second Mercy Falls book by focusing on the lives of two separate couples. While Isabel and Cole's story is bright, shiny and new and the one most bloggers and fans of the books are talking about, I still saw Sam and Grace's relationship as the main focus of Linger. Then main story arc, the climax, and the open resolution leading to the third book all have to do with what is happening to Grace and Sam. Cole and Isabel only supplement this main storyline. And that's fine. In fact, while Cole is a complex and intriguing new character, I expected his relationship with Isabel to develop more throughout the book, based on the excitement with which others have talked about it. So I guess I was a little underwhelmed at what actually happened with them in the story, but perhaps my expectations were too high. By the end of the book Isabel and Cole are not really a couple. They might not even become one in the next book. I do enjoy the uncertainty of that, and also how their relationship is built on shared pain under a facade of phlegmatic confidence they are both pulling off only by the skin of their teeth.

Find it on Amazon: Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls, Book 2)

Visit the author's website:http://www.maggiestiefvater.com/

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday Nov. 23rd 2010

Hello loyal followers and welcome to anyone stopping by for the first time! I apologize for not updating recently, and I have a few book reviews in the works which will go up shortly, but for now I am having a little fun with Teaser Tuesdays this week! yay!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read


Open to a random page


Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page


BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)


Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:

"The faery smiled, showing her teeth. 'Of course.'

'Are you sure you want to do this?' Grimalkin asked softly. 'Do you know what happens when you give a faery your name?'"

~ p. 197, The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review: Fallen

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Published:December 8th 2009 by Delacorte Press 
Word Count:100,927
Series:
Fallen #1
Source: library audiobook


My Grade: B

Synopsis from GoodReads.com: There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.


This synopsis looks so tediously over-used that at first I passed this book by. I thought it would be all mushy girl-who-can't-help-herself-because-she's-so-in-love-with-Adonis-incarnate (which it is, but I've built up a tolerance for this prevalent premise I suppose).  I just want to know who wrote this synopsis. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame? Come on, even I find that corny, and I like corny. But actually, the book is much more interesting than its synopsis leads us to believe. Christian mythology is a popular topic in the supernatural/paranormal fantasy genre right now, and more specifically, fallen angles. This is only the second book about fallen angles I have read (after Hush, Hush) and it is already feeling old. So I like that this book takes place at a reform school. That was something I didn't expect and I was more interested to find about about Luce's life there because of the unique setting.

I loved the quirky characters, both students and teachers. They all gave a distinct flavor to the tone of the book and I only wished I could have gotten to know more about each of them.

(Most of the rest of what I have to say is criticism, but be assured that I still enjoyed the book greatly!)

What I Didn't Like:

Let's talk about the prologue. It was undoubtedly captivating and definitely supplied that 'hook' you need to get your readers instantly into your book, but it also gave a ton away. Because I had read the prologue, I kept waiting for the idea it proposed to come to fruition in the main body of the novel. I already knew most of what was going on, was able to guess the rest, and fully understood why Luce had strange you-seem-familiar feelings or half-hidden memories she couldn't quite explain. This took me out of the experience a bit, more like watching another person go through something rather than going through it with her, which essentially is why we read books right? So we can vicariously experience what the characters are experiencing? So the prologue ruined that a bit, even though I liked it very much.

Another problem I had with the book is that the prologue sets up an expectation what was not fulfilled by the end. In fact, I felt cheated out of a discovery, having read through the whole book only to discover the situation proposed in the prologue would not be fully explained by the end. I think that's a cop out and a cheap way to prolong the story so it stretches into sequels. The 'revelation' or the thing we get to discover near the end of the book is only the fact that Daniel is a fallen angel, which any reader with a brain will have already known. So no, this is not a satisfactory explanation of the unanswered questions Luce and us readers have. Daniel gives a reason for why he can't explain everything to Luce, but I still don't buy it. Sorry!

The biggest story element that absolutely needed to be explained and wasn't was the deal with the fires. Did Luce somehow start the fires, both times resulting in a boy's death - or did the 'shadows'? Why fire? Is there a special significance to fire? Like, Hellfire, maybe?

I also disliked Penn's death. Not in the sense that I liked the character (which I did, she was my favorite) and was sad to see her go, but in the sense that it didn't feel like she needed to die and was just included for dramatic effect, which didn't quite produce the result it was supposed to.

This sounds so critical but actually I enjoyed reading the book and may even read the second one, if only to find out why Luce and Daniel are star-crossed, which is not explained in this book! Blast!

Visit the author's website: http://laurenkatebooks.net/

Find it on Amazon: Fallen

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Book Blogger Hop: Oct 15-18, 2010

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy-for-Books. 
Click the button for rules on how to participate in this fun Book Party!
 
Book Blogger Hop


This week's question is:
"When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?"

My answer:
I'm like to think that I choose the books I read carefully enough  before I start reading to avoid this problem. This has only happened to me once, and while it was not a horrible book, it was not a YA fantasy and  I thought my time could be better spent on genre-related books. I do not have enough of a presence in the blogosphere yet to be receiving books for review, and while it would be exciting, it also gives me the freedom to review only what I want. 

Another thing to consider is audio books. I listen to a lot of audio books while I'm driving, and for me, it is easier to get through a book I am only marginally interested in when I am simply listening to it. I think for this reason I have skirted around the problem this week's Hop question addresses.

I'm a little late posting this week but if you've found my blog via the Hop, welcome, and thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review: Valiant


Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie by Holly Black

Published: September 26th 2006 by Simon Pulse
Word Count: 63,568
Series: The Modern Faerie Tales, book 2
Source: library audio book

My Grade: B-

Synopsis from GoodReads: When seventeen-year-old Valerie runs away to New York City, she's trying to escape a life that has utterly betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who live in the city's labyrinthine subway system.

But there's something eerily beguiling about Val's new friends. And when one talks Val into tracking down the lair of a mysterious creature with whom they are all involved, Val finds herself torn between her newfound affection for an honorable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming.

Note: This is technically the second book in Black’s series, but can be read as a stand-alone since none of the main characters in the first book, Tithe, appear in Valiant.

This is an urban fantasy about faeries and the unfortunate human teenagers who get caught up in faerie plots.

Valiant didn’t grab me the way it might have been supposed to because I couldn’t connect with the protagonist, Val. Maybe I was a little too straight-laced in high school, but a book about a teenage runaway who shoots up faerie heroine to get high and lives in a smelly rodent-infested abandoned NYC subway station for most of the book just didn’t pique my interest the way another premise might. I can see how it might be appealing to some teenagers, as I know the desire to go out on one’s own and ‘live on the streets’ may seem thrilling or glamorous or just plain adventurous.  I do like how the protagonist’s name casual shifts from Valerie to ‘Prince Valiant’ with her change in environment, signaling to the reader that she is assuming a new identity while keeping the same nickname: Val.

The human character I found most interesting was Luis, and the scene I found most interesting was when Luis told Val about his childhood and his history with the fairies. As you might know if you’ve read my other reviews, I’m a sucker for back-story. That’s the element that pulls me into a book the most.

The love story between Val and Ravus the troll was at first unexpected and then oddly refreshing, as you do not normally find love stories between mortals and what we collectively consider monsters or ugly creatures – trolls being in this category.

The actress who reads the audio book Valiant gives Ravus a very gruff voice. Because of this I didn’t necessarily suspect where his relationship with Val was going.  I think if I had read the book the more conventional way, I would have depicted him in my head as more of a ‘gentle giant’ type, although perhaps hidden behind a wary and rough exterior.

When it was revealed toward the end of the book that the faerie Mabry was a prominent figure in the main mystery the mortal teenagers were trying to figure out, I was a little uninterested because we only see Mabry once before her role in the central storyline is revealed. Because of this, we don’t get to know her very well and thus are disinterested in how she matters to the central action.

Overall, not my cup of tea, but I can see why it’s popular.

Get it on Amazon: Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie

Visit the author's website:
http://www.blackholly.com/

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October "Remember When..." meme

Remember When….
"Remember When..." is a monthly meme that showcases a book I read as a child or young teenager and remember fondly. I'm doing this to highlight some of the great older books out there that perhaps don't get the spotlight in the blogosphere because they were written before it's advent. When most book blogs are reviewing and hyping the newest books on the market, which is great, I would like to take a moment every once in a while to look back on what shaped my reading interests.

If you'd like to participate, just leave a link to your "Remember When..." in the comments section.

So, without further ado, here is my October book selection:

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

I can’t stress enough how amazing this book is. It is a traditional ‘quest’ book, so there is an abundance of landscape descriptions, which readers who are not accustomed to reading lengthy descriptions in today’s books may find a bit tedious. But they are not so bad as to put readers off the book entirely. In fact, the characterization of not only the protagonist and his group of travelers, but of the history of the three counties involved in the story, the religion, and the culture is so rich that you can only suspect what the author might do with it in her subsequent books. Since writing The Thief in 1996 she had completed three more book in this series. The last one came out in April 2010, which I have yet to read and am eagerly anticipating the pleasure!

These books are so full of twists and turns, narrative misdirection, and good old-fashion trickery. Each line of dialogue is so filled with purpose and meaning that you could dive into this series – and indeed this single book – and find as many literary elements as any book studied in a high school English class. Books of this caliber are few and far between, and the majority of popular YA fantasy fiction that is written nowadays as a response to current trends cannot hold a candle to perhaps less popular but higher quality books like The Thief. Back in 1996 it was published without much fanfare but nevertheless holds a loyal niche following. If you have not yet discovered this book, you are in for quite a treasure, and I don’t think anyone can call themselves a connoisseur of YA fantasy fiction without having read The Thief.

visit the author's website: http://meganwhalenturner.org/index.html

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: The Merchant of Death

The Merchant of Death by D.J. McHale

Published:
September 1st 2002 by Aladdin 
Word Count: 117,136
Series: Pendragon, book one
Source: audiobook


My Grade: A

Synopsis from GoodReads: Bobby Pendragon is a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy. He has a family, a home, and even Marley, his beloved dog. But there is something very special about Bobby. 

He is going to save the world. 

And not just Earth as we know it. Bobby is slowly starting to realize that life in the cosmos isn't quite what he thought it was. And before he can object, he is swept off to an alternate dimension known as Denduron, a territory inhabited by strange beings, ruled by a magical tyrant, and plagued by dangerous revolution.
If Bobby wants to see his family again, he's going to have to accept his role as savior, and accept it wholeheartedly. Because, as he is about to discover, Denduron is only the beginning....

This book is great. The premise is unique. The action is compelling while not over-whelming. The storytelling gives you just enough to leave you craving more at each turn. However, this book was written for Middle Grade boys. And as most of you book bloggers out there are not Middle Grade boys, it may not appeal. But for it's target audience I think it was spot on.

The book is told through long letters Bobby writes to his friends. The letter idea works where you'd think it wouldn't. The large chunks of Bobby's first person narrative that switch to Mark and Courtney's third person when they are not reading Bobby's letters actually gives the reader a refreshing change once in a while. It's not distracting because McHale makes it clear that this is Bobby's story, so the parts with Mark and Courtney do not threaten that or bore us by taking us away from the main storyline.

I liked Bobby's character. He felt very real, like how an actual kid would reaction to the situations he was in. McHale does a great job of giving Bobby a very specific and age-appropriate voice. And I would think he would be good at this, seeeing as how McHale was a screenwriter for such TV shows as Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Ghostwritter (among a ton of other things) both of which I absolutely adored as a kid.

I wonder at the name "Press." At first I thought it might be short for something more revealing that would later tell us something about Bobby's mysterious uncle, but that never happened.

A few issues I had with it:

When you see the name "Pendragon" sprawled across the cover of a book in big block letters, what do you immediately think of? I don't know about you, but I think of Arthur Pendragon, Camelot, Merlin, Guinevere, Lancelot, etc. This book, however, had nothing to do with Arthurian legends and that put a big of a sour taste in my mouth. Yes, I know, authors use names from other literary works or from folklore as an allusion to characteristics that name invokes, but the Pendragon name is so unique and so iconic (at least to me) that it is just not believable as anyone else's name. I don't care if your story is amazing enough to be able to support the weight that name holds. But maybe McHale thought using the name was a clever allegory to the fact that Bobby, like Arthur, was a wimpy little boy plucked from seeming obscurity to rescue a whole nation of people. But even I think I'm stretching a bit to make this comparison work, so I don't think that was the case. So sorry, but I think it's a bit presumptuous to use a name like Pendragon and not even acknowledge it's prestigious origins.

There were alot of unanswered questions at the end of this book, and alot that was simply not explained about the nature of travelers, their skills, their origins, their purpose, etc. Also, the "Earth" Bobby and his friends live on is referred to as "Second Earth" throughout the book. I'd liked to have discovered what the deal with that was, and even Bobby wonders what happened to "First Earth." But I as this series has ten books in it, I suppose the author couldn't give away everything in the first book.

If I was a twelve year old boy, I would definitely be excited to read the rest of the books in this series, and I just might recommend it to some young men I know...

Find it on Amazon: The Merchant of Death (Pendragon Series #1)

Visit the author's website: http://djmachalebooks.com/

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Blogger Hop!

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy-for-Books. 
Click the button below for rules on how to participate in this fun Book Party!

Book Blogger Hop

This week's question is:

When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?

My answer:

I'm inconsistent - I know, shameful. Sometimes I wait til I'm done reading, sometimes I jot down thoughts while I'm reading because I'm afraid I'll forget it by the end, especially if the thought has something to do with the beginning. Another thing I do is write down questions about what will happen, or comments on what I think is going to happen. That way I sort of have a 'journal' of my journey through the book, and it gives me a perspective on how I might have seen the book differently in the beginning as opposed to when I've finished it. So for the most part, I write the review as I'm reading. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice

The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice by Ann Finnin
Published: June 1st 2010 by Flux Word Count: 89,175
Series: n/a
Source: library paperback


My Grade: B+

Synopsis from the paperback back cover: Condemned to death by the Holy Office for sorcery, fifteen-year-old Michael de Lorraine is rescued from the flames by Abbot Francis and granted refuge at the Sainte Felice, a Benedictine monastery in fifteenth-century France. Michael learns that this strange and wonderful place, famous for its healing wine, harbors renegade monk-sorcerers, enchanted gargoyles, and a closely guarded secret that could spell violent death for the Abbot.

As the church intensifies its cruel pursuit of Micheal, Abbot Francis and the wizard monks find themselves grave danger. Michael will do anything to protect his mentor, but are his own magical powers great enough to save the monastery from the merciless, bloodthirsty Inquisition?


As urban fantasy is the the craze right now, I think some young readers may see a book about a fifteenth century monastery as backwards and out of touch. As a reader I think you really have to be able to appreciate the historical period in this book to find it interesting, so it may not be for everyone. But for what it was, I enjoyed it. And I think I might have enjoyed it even more if I had read it when I was younger.


The blurb on the back cover of this paperback made me think that the monks at this monastery had found a way to amalgamate the Christian faith and belief in the teachings of the Bible with the magical arts like astrology and medicinal herbs and the like. However, once I started to read, it sounded at first like the monastery was simply a cover for the 'monks' to practice their sorcery unhindered. However at the same time, Abbott Francis says he is truly a monk and that the vows he took mean something. But the confirmation that the monks truly did believe in God and prayer didn't come until late in the book when the reserved Brother John speaks up:

"John turned on all of us with a rare flash of anger in his pale eyes. "Have our hearts become so hardened and so cynical that we so totally discount the power of prayer?" he demanded. "If so, then we are no better than the pompous and hypocritical Church from which we have fled. Which one of us, in his darkest hour, did not raise his voice to heaven and have it answered by the hand of the Almighty, leading us to this door? And now we dare to look down our monkish noses at the sincere prayers of the townspeople who want not their own succor but that of our abbot? We ought to be ashamed."" p. 266

There is significant discussion about the difference between a saint and a sorcerer. Is Abbott Francis one or the other? He certainly started out as a sorcerer, but through his genuine concern and charity for the people of Sainte Felice, has he indeed become a Saint while still practicing magic? Can he be both? I think the point is that it all depends on how you look at it. The term Sacred Magician is also mentioned a few times, and while this title is not fully explained, I think it supposed to encompass both sorcerer and saint.

Michael sums up the happy coexistence of magic and spirituality when he comes to a realization about Abbot Francis here:

"I realized then why they revered him so. It was not just the bleeding statues or the vision of angels. He lifted their spirits and offered them hope for a better life in this world, not just salvation in the next. He had cast a magical spell on them, but it was a spell of comfort and love that enveloped all the bodies packed like herring into the tiny stone church, a spell like a blazing fire warming the hearts and souls of all those who had ventured forth on this bitterly cold midwinter's morning. I found that I too was moved." p. 252

I really like that.

This book comes full circle from Michael being burned at the stake to Francis being brought to the pyre. I appreciate the symmetry of that.


What I didn't like:

Micheal calls the pious townsfolk superstitious on more than one occasion, and I think it's a bit modern for Michael to think of the Christian faith as superstitious nonsense. Absolutely everyone was influenced by the Church back then, and even if he had an aversion to the establishment, I don't think he would have simply swept the whole religion aside as superstition.

After the initial exciting scene that draws you into the book, the story progresses slowly and a bit monotonously for a while. But I suppose it's hard to keep the action up when the setting of your book is a serene monetary. Mealtimes are the markers by which she measures all events that take place, and in fact much of the book takes place at supper and dinner, as that is where the monks primary dialogue lies for the first two-thirds of the book - and the endless and repetitive manner of these mealtimes makes the days seem like they are in an endless loop. I think this also contributes to the strange sense of pacing. The conflict that serves as the climax for the book is not introduced until page 290, and up to that point the pacing is very slow.

This book really hits it's stride in the last third when the conflict that leads to the climax is introduced. This part is so much better than the rest of the book that I would guess Finnin wrote this first, and filled in the rest later with less skilled storytelling. The Cardinal's visit to the monastery especially stood out as feeling labored and filled with unnecessary detail.
 
I've never heard of Flux publishing before, and maybe this is just a fluke, but there are so many typos and mistakes in the text that it does not even seem like it had a final edit before going to press. Dropped prepositions, doubled pronouns and mismatched tense are common throughout the book. These mistakes are prevalent enough to be distracting, but what's worse, is fumbled key plot-points. For example, when the monks perform their first magical summoning in the Tabernacle, they invoke the spirits of the four elements - Air, Fire, Water and Earth - to protect them from evil. But the typo fudges up part of the explanation, listing air twice and earth none. That's a big boo-boo.

Overall I liked it, (even though I know I sound very critical!) but I wanted to delve more into the meat and potatoes of this book: the magic. I wanted more of Antonin's astrology, more of Francis's sorcery past and secrets of the grimoire, more explanation as to why the wine has miraculous healing properties. Just more. There was too much hum-drum and not enough titillating tidbits that would make me want to devour this book.

Get it on Amazon: The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice

Visit the author's website: http://www.fluxnow.com/author.php?author_id=4934

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

 


So I'm a little late for this, but there are still three days left in the week so it's still worth it!

Thanks to Amy et al from the Book Blogger Appreciation Week blog for creating this event!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Remember When.... meme

Remember When….

This is a new occasionally occurring meme I am starting because of my love of nostalgia. Feel free to play along if you like, just leave a link to your "Remember When..." in the comments section.

"Remember When..." will showcase a book that I read as a child or young teenager and remember fondly. I'm doing this to highlight some of the great older books out there that perhaps don't get the spotlight in the blogosphere because they were written before it's advent. When most book blogs are reviewing and hyping the newest books on the market, which is great, I would like to take a moment every once in a while to look back on what shaped my reading interests.

So, without further ado, here is my book selection:



The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli



What a great little book! I can't say that I remember the story line well, but I do remember it very fondly, and that's the point! For some reason I am drawn to books set in monasteries in Medieval times. I don't know why. The book I am currently reading, The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice, made me think of The Door in the Wall because of its similar setting. This is a gem of a book - check it out!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Blogger Hop: Sept 10-13, 2010

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy-for-Books. 
Click the link for rules on how to participate in this fun Book Party!

Book Blogger Hop

This week's question is:

Post a link to a favorite post or book review that you have written in the past three months.

I am linking to my book review on Breath by Donna Jo Napoli. It's the only book I've given an A+ to so far, and I think all this author's books are amazing! She mainly writes novels based on classic fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, The Little Mermaid, and more. Hope you like my review!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Review: Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Published: October 13th 2009 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Word Count: 85,363
Series: n/a

Source: library book, hardcover


My Grade: A-

Synopsis from GoodReads: For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her...until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel. For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

I love the prologue in this book. Very mysterious and intriguing. It hooks you immediately by virtue of it's historical time period, the enigmatic figure involved, and the oath sworn that leaves the reader wondering how it will play into the main thread of the novel.

The opening chapter, however, is another matter. The excitement I received from the short prologue fizzled as I started on chapter one. First off, the setting is a high school biology lesson on the reproductive system. Yawn. Can't authors come up with something a bit different from the worn out 'sex lesson' gag? I mean, come on, it's been done a million times. But, maybe if you're a budding teenager and haven't read a ton of books, this will be a new subject for you. So fine, but it seems worn out to me.

I'm not sure how I feel about this title. It's sort of like Twilight (again) in the sense that it doesn't have anything to do with the book, and just sounds enticing to draw readers in. And I don't normally comment of cover art but man, what a photo! I've seen a lot of bloggers write they picked up this book for the cover alone, and with this one, I really can't blame them.

I really like the relationship between Nora and Vee. It felt like a realistic teenager friendship between two girls. They got pissed at each other, they had each other's backs, they fought about things and they joked about things. However, I would just like to know what sort of name Vee Sky is. Frankly, it sounds kind of like a hooker name. Just sayin'. But another reason why I liked this relationship is because Nora's best friend is a GIRL! Too many YA books I've read lately feature a female protagonist with a male best friend. And honestly how common is that? Not very. So thank you, Ms. Fitzpatrick, for writing this relationship into your book.

I liked the twist at the end. I could see it coming, but not in the exact form it took, so that was nice. But I also feel like it was over too soon and I didn't get enough back-story to feel satisfied with this ending. I hope there will be more back-story in the sequel, Crescendo, as it's one of my favorite parts of a story and I would like to see more of Patch's history.

The main thread of the mythology tying this book together - concerning the Book of Enoch, what happened to other Fallen Angels, etc. - was a bit confusing to me and it made me uncertain of Patch's motives. I think this is because he is debating between two paths he can take and it is unclear at points if he has chosen one path over the other or if he is still considering what to do. I can't explain it much more than that without totally giving everything away. But lets just say the hotel room scene was a little confusing. I had to go back and read the flashback scene with Dabria's 'real' introduction to really understand what was going on, and even then I wasn't sure until later.

Patch was channeling Edward Cullen here. The way he guides Nora through murky waters of concealment, giving her just enough to keep her chomping at the bit. Also the way he almost commands her to do or not do certain things, and she blindly obeys because of her infatuation with him. Oh, and also the fact that she is scared of him yet drawn to him at the same time. Totally Twilight. And of course girls love the bad boy. This is not a judgment, merely an observation.

My favorite quote:

"You're impinging on my private space," I said, inching backward.

Patch gave a barely-there smile. "Impinging? This isn't the SAT, Nora."
(p. 339)

Love it! Mainly because I have gotten similar reactions when using uncommon words in regular speech, and also because I am currently studying for the GREs and trying to memorize loads of vocab words!

Overall, it wasn't what I thought it was going to be, but I wasn't disappointed.

Find it on Amazon: Hush, Hush

Visit the author's website: http://beccafitzpatrick.com/

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