Sunday, December 26, 2010

Review: Wildwing by Emily Whitman

Overall Impression: ****

Who/What decided me: The ever reliable Story Siren

Short synopsis (Goodreads link): When Addy is swept back in time, she couldn't be happier to leave her miser-able life behind. Now she's mistaken for Lady Matilda, the pampered ward of the king. If Addy can play her part, she'll have glorious gowns, jewels, and something she's always longed for—the respect and admiration of others. But then she meets Will, the falconer's son with sky blue eyes, who unsettles all her plans.
From shipwrecks to castle dungeons, from betrothals to hidden conspiracies, Addy finds herself in a world where she's not the only one with a dangerous secret. When she discovers the truth, Addy must take matters into her own hands. The stakes? Her chance at true love . . . and the life she's meant to live.

My Review: I really like historical romances and this book was no exception! I was able to picture things really well. The scenery, the characters, the situations, the suspense. Once I started reading it was difficult for me to want to do anything else. I read this about 2 days, but only because I couldn't just sit there the whole time and read.

Though I was able to guess fairly accurately how things were going to happen, at one point I didn't know if I was right because I couldn't think of how things were going to work out. It was a nice twist.

Not too much that I didn't like about this book (thus the four stars!). It wasn't something that I will read several times in a year, but I can see myself reading it again and again as time passes. Things could have developed a little better between Addy and Will, but they were sweet enough to be diverting.

Overall, I recommend!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Review: The Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

HAPPY CHRISTMAS everyone! I can't believe another year is almost over! What will 2011 bring? So many possibilities! Well, I hope that everyone is safe these holidays and that you feel the love of family and friends!

I'll do just a little review before I try and enjoy the festivities...I wish I had snow, then it would really feel like Christmas....but sunshine and beach are good enough for now. ; )

Overall Impression: ***

Who/What decided me: Just randomly came across on Goodreads

Short synopsis (Goodreads): When Will and Bet were four, tragic circumstances brought them to the same house, to be raised by a wealthy gentleman as brother and sister. Now sixteen, they’ve both enjoyed a privileged upbringing thus far. But not all is well in their household. Because she’s a girl, Bet’s world is contained within the walls of their grand home, her education limited to the rudiments of reading, writing, arithmetic, and sewing. Will’s world is much larger. He is allowed—forced, in his case—to go to school. Neither is happy.

So Bet comes up with a plan and persuades Will to give it a try: They’ll switch places. She’ll go to school as Will. Will can live as he chooses. But once Bet gets to school, she soon realizes living as a boy is going to be much more difficult than she imagined.

My Review: This was a good read. A bit short, but good. I liked the characters and I’m glad things worked out how they did. I don’t think I could do this myself though, man! Talk about a cramp in the gut every time something could go wrong! The author described things well and the characters were easy to get to know.

My only complaint is that the books is so short! 192 pages? And really, it shouldn’t have ended where it did. You know what is going to happen, but I still would like to read about it. Maybe there is another one coming? Not sure.

Worth a read though, especially considering that it goes by so quickly

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review: A Hat Full of Sky (Tiffany Aching #2) by Terry Prachett

Overall Impression: *** 1/2

Who/What decided me:  My father has always had Terry Prachett books on our bookshelves, but this is only the second work of his that I’ve read (the first being the first in this series, The Wee Free Men, another great read!)

Short synopsis (Goodreads): Something is coming after Tiffany ...
Tiffany Aching is ready to begin her apprenticeship in magic. She expects spells and magic -- not chores and ill-tempered nanny goats! Surely there must be more to witchcraft than this!
What Tiffany doesn't know is that an insidious, disembodied creature is pursuing her. This time, neither Mistress Weatherwax (the greatest witch in the world) nor the fierce, six-inch-high Wee Free Men can protect her. In the end, it will take all of Tiffany's inner strength to save herself ... if it can be done at all.
A Story of Discworld

I literally laughed out-loud quite a few times with this book. LOVE the Scottish accents of the Nac Mac Feegle. Tiffany is a truly exceptional character. I love the VOYA comment on the back of my copy that says “Tiffany is Hermione Granger, Gaiman’s Coraline, and Pullman’s Lyra Belacqua rolled into one.” She really is a better roll model than some other more flighty characters that are in today's literary world. 

Terry Prachett, through the observations of Tiffany, has such a funny way of saying exactly how things are. For example, one of my more favorite parts was when Tiffany was going on a walk and this is how it is described: "Tiffany wasn't very experienced at things like this but, according to the book of fairy tales, the typical food for taking on an adventure was bread and cheese. Hard cheese too." Ha! That is SO true, that's what people always take on adventures and it was hilarious hearing it put like that. Love it!

Also, and I hope I’m not giving too much away here, but Tiffany being a witch isn’t so much about witchcraft and hocus pocus, etc. (although that is all good too, especially when it has to do with two words, specifically Harry and Potter, though not in that particular order…) I think that magic can be a little too dark sometimes, and a little too focused on the super-natural. This magic has to deal with WORK I wish I had Tiffany’s capacity for it. 

Not as fast paced as some books, and not as slow as others, a middling book. But don’t hold it against it. It really is worth a read.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Overall Impression: ****

Who/What decided me: I’ve quite forgotten, unfortunately. I’ve always wanted to read this book though.(I LOVE wax seals, and ‘disreputable’ is a word that holds such promise, don’t you think?)

Short synopsis (Goodreads): 

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14: 
Debate Club. 
Her father’s “bunny rabbit.” 
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school. 

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15: 
A knockout figure. 
A sharp tongue. 
A chip on her shoulder. 
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston. 

Frankie Laundau-Banks. 
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer. 
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society. 
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places. 
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them. 
When she knows Matthew’s lying to her. 
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done. 

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16: 
Possibly a criminal mastermind. 

This is the story of how she got that way.

My Review: Confession, I love all things prep: ivy league schools, prep schools, uniforms, Ralph Lauren, weekends in the Hamptons, you name it. Have I ever really experienced those things, no. That’s why I read books like this. I liked this book A LOT better than I did Prep. I had picked Prep up expecting to read what I had gotten in The Disreputable History, but was sorely disappointed (and a little scandalized). Not until I read The Disreputable History did I finally get what I was hoping to out of a school about boarding schools and those that reside there. Make sense?
Frankie is an amazing character. Truly fantastic! The book opens up with her writing a letter to the headmaster taking blame for all of the things that went wrong. Hilarious! I was grabbed from that moment onward. 

The other characters were good fun as well. This isn’t a cookie-cutter book. Without giving too much away, I really liked how many twists were thrown in. At first, things just seem like they are going to go along just like they do at any other prep school, but this one goes deeper. As you go deeper, you get to know Frankie better and sympathize with her hopes and dreams. Yes, how she carries things out is slightly criminal, but it’s still amusing. I wish that I had enough brains and guts to be as much of a prankster as Frankie is.

The writing style sometimes threw me off. There were some parts that were written in ways that I’m not really used to; it’s hard to explain.  However, this doesn’t really detract from the story, and I was able to get into the flow of things fairly fast.

I hope Lockhart doesn’t stop here and keeps telling us about Frankie’s adventures in Junior and Senior years. I’ll definitely being trying some of her other stuff though, just because she is such a great story teller.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Review: Hearts at Stake (The Drake Chronicles #1) by Alyzandra Harvey

Overall Impression: ***

Who/ What Decided me: Through my meanderings I came across a review on this book here by Black Fingernailed Reviews (awesome name, right?). I still wasn't absolutely convinced but while I was reading up on the book on the Goodreads website I went to the author's bio page. Alyxandra sounded really cool and I wanted to read what someone like her would have written.

Short Synopsis (Goodreads): On Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black—agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family.
Luckily she has her own secret weapon—her human best friend Lucy—who is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life—Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black—in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart.
Even fans of the genre who’ve seen it all will find a fresh read with kick-butt characters and family dynamics that ring true for all brothers and sisters—vampire or otherwise.

My Review: This really was a fun book. I finished it in about a day (it is only 248 pg, but still) and was pleasantly surprised by it. Nothing is really too complicated with the plot, the characters are likable (my favorite to read was Lucy’s perspective. She is very irreverent, and wears glasses, and seems like lots of fun), there’s romance (always a plus), and some action.

I liked the book so much that halfway through I made sure to go online and order the next one (Blood Fued) from my library. Being ridiculous, however, I read the synopsis and discovered that Lucy was not to be a continuing voice (or so it seems)! I’m looking forward to hearing more about the other brothers, but I really felt that there could have been a lot more fleshing out of the story, and I guess some aspects will be continuing on, but I wanted to get to know the characters better. I’m sure they’re not completely out of the picture, but still. However, I will do my best to reserve judgement until reading more in the series. Who knows, maybe more perspectives will round things out better and I'll have more characters to love. That's what I'm hoping.

Also, there was some correlation to the Vampire Academy series, at least in the respects of having an 'almost' vampire with a human friend, protecting that vampire friend and romance with hot guys. I've only read the first in that series, though I do plan on continuing with it. For about the first 10 pages there were flashbacks to VA, but the points of view and the story line eventually diverged enough that I wasn't perpetually comparing them. This book is different enough to like for its own sake.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Musings + Review: A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y.S. Lee

As stated in the title, I shall muse a  moment before I get on with my most recent review.

I don't really have an audience yet, but I am pretending that I do and that you care about what I write. It helps the words to flow better. Course, I sometimes just talk to myself and this can work just as well ("how are you today Celesta 1?" "Very well, and you Celesta 2?"....I'm weird, you have now had fair warning...)

Anyways, I have decided, and you shall soon see the implementations of this decision, that in my posts I need to explain Who/What helped decide me to read a book. As I peruse around the blogosphere I stumble across quite a few interesting blogs. I love how these bloggers do their blogs and hope to one day be as proficient. I value their opinion (though we have yet to become acquainted) and most often their reviews of a book help me decide to read it, or give it another chance. Sometimes, even though a cover is good, or especially when it is not, it is the opinion of someone who has given that book a chance and been rewarded that I need to read about. I want to give credit where it is due in these cases and will try my hardest to keep track of where I gather this very useful information from. This Who/What Decided Me shall be included whenever I did not stumble across the book myself or was skeptical and had to have a second or third opinion in order to take the plunge.

Now that that was unnecessarily explained...

Overall Impression: *** 1/2
Who/What Decided Me: This review on Amazon
Short Synopsis (by goodreads): Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.

Originally, I forget where I heard about this book from, probably just looking around the internet. It sounded interesting, I mean, Victorian London, spying, that type of thing, so I ordered it from my local library. Unfortunately, I had bit off more than I could chew and taken out too many books with too much to do besides. Thus, I didn't have a lot of time and this book was returned unread.

It still lingered on my 'to-read' list on goodreads, however, and one day I read the review mentioned above about how intriguing the opening line was and thought I would give this book another shot. I'm glad I did.

Overall this book was very good, but I must say that I liked the first half better than the second. Mary Quinn is a very likable character, but I felt she was stronger and more memorable in the beginning. That's  not to say she's not awesome all throughout the book, I just liked her better in the beginning.

James is a very likable character and I must say that I like the banter that goes on between him and Mary. I really want him to be in the second book. If there is no communication between these two than I know I won't be nearly as pleased.

The story was fairly good. There was definitely a twist that I should have seen coming, but didn't know how it would work in to things. There was laughter and some sadness, and little bit of frustration, all combining to make a very readable and likable story. I look forward to reading the second book in this series. 

Onward Reading, Ho!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The 2011 Debut Author Challenge!

So, like I've said a few times before, I'm new to blogging (but not reading ;) ). I've been doing research online about starting a book blog. Two blogs that have been Most influential in this process are: Presenting Lenore & The Story Siren.

In the few days that I have been religously studying their blogs (and following the links that they give to others) I have learned SO much! It truly is amazing and I am very grateful.

But I digress....over at the Story Siren she is doing a 2011 Debut Author Challenge! Basically you need to read at least 12 novels from YA or middle-grade authors who are debuting, or publishing a book in that category, for the first time in 2011. I think that this a great way to support new authors and am really looking forward to reading some AWESOME books! Check out the info page here!

I know that there a lot of books that I want to read come 2011, but they are escaping me at the moment, though I have no doubt that I will be able to reach the minimum of 12. Easy.

A list of what I will tentatively read will be posted later, right now...time for bed....or reading. Yes, reading it is!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare

[Here it is! My first EVER book blog review! I've just picked this up as a hobby so by no means do I know what I'm doing yet, but I am dedicated, so please bear with me as I try and get the hang of things :).]

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

Now, on to the review!

To begin with, I have wanted to read this book for a very long time. Look at that cover! Add to that the fact that it is set in Victorian London with steam-punk elements....I'm definitely giving it a shot, and I wasn't disappointed. As my overall impression succinctly states, I was diverted, which is what one expects to be when reading.

The characters were easy to relate to and amusing. The plot kept me guessing and turning the pages, and that's always a good thing. There were some twists that surprised me, but overall it wasn't too complicated. Of course, there are still some loose ends, thus I am looking forward to the second installment. That, however, is not slated to be released until August 2011! (That is one of the things that I dislike about finding a new series, the waiting. I LOVE finding a series that is completed and then I can just read through the hundred and hundreds of glorious pages until satisfied....ah well, patience is not one of my virtues, so waiting helps I suppose). The romance was cute and I am looking forward to seeing how things develop between the characters.

I must admit that I did start Ms. Clare's Mortal Instruments series and only got 3/4 of the way through the first book. I could tell that this book was written by the same person, but this one held my attention better. I will give MI another shot, I suppose, and maybe my original qualms will resolve themselves when I actually finish the book. That usually helps a situation. Plus, that series is much more developed, so I wont have to wait as long! Definitely a plus!

Well, that concludes my first review. I will try to update on Monday's and Friday's, though this week I'm a bit behind. Researching how to do a blog should not take time away from actually doing the blog itself, though I am learning quite a lot of important things.

Lots to read, lots to review, till next time, I bid you Adieu!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Once upon a time....

Once upon a time there was a girl who didn't really read much. Then, one fateful year of elementary school changed the pathway of her life forever (for good or ill has yet to be decided). In that year she joined a reading program at her local library, as well as a Battle of the Books. So incentivised, she began reading and reading and reading (much to the chagrin of her parents and siblings).

It's true, there was a time, outside of my memory, where I didn't like to read. Fifteen years (and a few hundred books) later, I am nowhere close to stopping. Reading opens up doorways to my imagination that I would not have thought of on my own. I mainly read fiction and fantasy novels, but try to temper these with some uplifting educational literature now and again as well.

I am new to blogging, so please bare with me as I figure out my review style as well as the style of my blog. I have quite a few book reviews to catch up on and for the first little while expect some scatterbrained-ness, but eventually I will get things figured out. Reading is a passion of mine after all, so anything related to it should be much easier than cataloging the nocturnal habits of the picnic ant (which I have absolutely no interest in whatsoever...).


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