Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review: Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel 
By Cassandra Clare
Publication date: August 31, 2010

My review:

Tessa Gray arrives in London expecting to meet her brother Nicholas at the docks. Instead the Dark Sisters are waiting for her with a note from Nicholas saying that he can trust them to look after her. The Dark Sisters however have other plans for Tessa and she finds herself their captive. They claim that she has special powers and they train her against her will to use these powers to change shape at will. Tessa finds out that the Dark Sisters plan to hand her over to their master, The Magister, but she escapes with the help of Shadowhunter Will Herondale. Will takes her to the Institute, where she is protected by the Shadowhunters while they try to stop the Magister and find her brother.

Clockwork Angel is set in the same world as the Mortal Instruments series but in Victorian England rather than modern day New York and featuring a steampunk twist. I was worried that the characters in this series would be exactly like those in The Mortal Instruments but that was not the case. Tessa Gray is distinctly different from Clary Fray, the heroine of City of Bones, etc. Tessa is a Downworlder who had no idea that she was anything other than an ordinary human until she crossed paths with the Dark Sisters. Tessa’s perspective allows readers new to Cassandra Clare’s fictional world to understand the key players. I found Tessa to be a relatable character. She is someone who has survived painful loss and she may not be a warrior but she has her own unique strengths. It is fascinating to read about her abilities and try to figure out the mystery surrounding who she is. The two main Shadowhunter characters are Will and Jem. They are a contrast to each other and both are potential love interests for Tessa although it seems obvious that she will end up with Will. Will is cocky and adventurous but he has a troubled past. Jem is more sensitive and he appears to have a physical illness as well as serious secrets of his own.

While Tessa and Will have great chemistry, their romance lacks some of the intensity that was present between Clary and Jace in The Mortal Instruments. I found that to be refreshing and I felt that it reflected the Victorian time period. I enjoyed the romance but I equally loved the mystery. I did not figure out some of the big revelations so I found myself pleasantly surprised. The ending left me eager for the next book. Clockwork Angel is the excellent first book in what is sure to be an entertaining and well planned series. It more than measures up to The Mortal Instruments although it has a different feel to it. Fans of The Mortal Instruments will be glad to be back in the world of the Shadowhunters and new readers will find it a great introduction to Cassandra Clare’s series of fantasy novels. I would also suggest this to fans of Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series and to those who enjoy the blend of paranormal and historical fiction.

Readalikes: The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger, Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle, The Agency series by Y.S. Lee (not paranormal but a YA mystery set in Victorian England)

Thanks to Around the World Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (25)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm waiting on:

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg
Publication date: January 1, 2011

Description from Goodreads:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single guy in his spring semester at Pemberly Academy must be in want of a prom date. After winter break, the girls at very prestigious, very wealthy, girls-only Longbourn Academy are suddenly obsessed with the prom, which they share with the nearby, equally elitist, all-boys Pemberly school. Lizzie Bennett, who attends Longbourn on scholarship, isn't exactly interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be - especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London. Lizzie is happy about her friend's burgeoning romance, but less than impressed by Will Darcy, Charles's friend, who's as snobby and pretentious as his friend is nice. He doesn't seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it's because her family doesn't have money. It doesn't help that Charles doesn't seem to be asking Jane to be his prom date, or that Lizzie meets George Wickham, who tells her that Will Darcy sabotaged his scholarship at Pemberly. Clearly Will Darcy is a pompous jerk who looks down on the middle class--so imagine Lizzie's surprise when he asks her to the prom! Will Lizzie's prejudice and Will's pride keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making? From Elizabeth Eulberg comes a very funny, completely stylish prom-season delight of Jane Austen proportions.

I loved Elizabeth Eulberg's debut novel, The Lonely Hearts Club and I have a feeling I will enjoy this modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice

What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: The Juliet Club

The Juliet Club
By Suzanne Harper
Publication date: 2008

My review:

After her boyfriend dumps her, Kate swears off love for good against the advice of her friends. When she wins a spot at a summer Shakespeare seminar in Italy, Kate accompanies her dad who will also be teaching at the seminar. The class will be studying Romeo and Juliet, answering letters written to Juliet, and putting on scenes from the play. Kate is cast as Juliet and Romeo is played by the flirty Giacomo, an attractive Italian boy she can’t stand. They trade delicious barbs and when Kate overhears the plot of others in the class to get them to fall in love she and Giacomo play along, pretending to like each other. Can practical Kate survive the summer in Italy without falling in love while studying Shakespeare’s most romantic play?

Kate and Giacomo share good chemistry as the lead couple. They are not star crossed lovers like Romeo and Juliet. Instead, they are more like Beatrice and Benedick, a quarrelling couple from Much Ado About Nothing, one of Shakespeare’s comedies. The side characters are entertaining, particularly Sylvia, a sullen Italian teen and Benno, Giacomo’s comedic sidekick. I loved how the book echoes the format of Shakespeare’s plays as well. The Juliet Club is a fun little book and it reads like a love letter to Shakespeare. There are references to several of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets but you don’t have to be familiar with the plays to enjoy the book. If you are looking for a lighthearted summer romance, give The Juliet Club a try.

Readalikes: Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors, A Field Guide for Heartbreakers by Kristen Tracy, The Espressologist by Kristina Springer, Pretty Face by Mary Hogan

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's Monday What Are You Reading (33)

It's Monday What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books. I always enjoy seeing what other people have read and reviewed over the past week. It is also a great way to find new books to add to that ever-growing TBR list!

I am still without Internet access at home and my computer crashed last weekend. Thankfully it is now up and running and I am hopeful that I will soon have the Internet set up. Needless to say I was only able to post one review last week.

Books finished:

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
Juliet by Anne Fortier

Books reviewed:

Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill

Currently reading:

A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin

What I plan to read next:

Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman

Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty by Jody Gehrman

What does your reading week look like?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In My Mailbox (31)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren to share what books you received for review, purchased, or checked out from the library during the past week. 

From the library:

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

The Gathering Storm by Bodie Thoene

What did you get this week?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: Someone Knows My Name

Someone Knows My Name/The Book of Negroes
By Lawrence Hill
Publication date: 2007

My review:

Aminata Diallo is kidnapped by slavers at the age of eleven and taken on a terrible trip overseas to the Carolinas where she is sold to the owner of an indigo plantation. She is later sold again to a Jewish indigo inspector. Eventually Aminata escapes and is given the chance to work for the British, recording names in their Book of Negroes, a list of slaves who are freed by the British for their service during the war. Someone Knows My Name tells the story of a courageous and intelligent woman who never gives up on her dream of freedom and returning to her homeland.

Aminata is a fantastic character. She suffers so much but she is brave and resilient. I loved her determination and strength and how education was so important to her. It was particularly hard to read about the horrors of the crossing in the slave ship, to imagine what it would be like to be ripped from your home and to survive that ship and then be sold into slavery. Reading about these events through the eyes of a child made a powerful impact.

There is a lot of historical detail in the novel from the depictions of slavery to the making of indigo dye. Real historical figures like William Wilberforce add to the narrative. The abolition movement and the various arguments and setbacks are also discussed. The Book of Negroes was a real historical document that listed the names of freed Loyalist slaves who were given transportation to Canada. The colonies of freed slaves described in the book were also real. The novel is published in Canada as The Book of Negroes and later published in the U.S. as Someone Knows My Name. It is a well written and incredibly moving novel and Aminata is an unforgettable heroine.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays (26)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at 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 and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teasers this week:

"Just then did the lid of the coffin swing open, and its tenant-a young woman whose wild hair and flaming eyes made her look like an angel of vengeance-sat up with all signs of consternation. The mere sight of her was enough to make the bandit drop his knife in horror and turn completely ashen."

Juliet by Anne Fortier

I have heard so many fantastic things about this book and so far it is living up to my expectations.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cleopatra's Daughter Giveaway Winner

There were 32 entries in my giveaway of Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran.  The winner, selected by is:

 Beverly at The Wormhole!

Beverly, be sure to check your inbox and reply to me within a week or I will have to select another winner. Thanks to everyone who entered and thank you to Michelle Moran for the opportunity to have this giveaway.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

It's Monday What Are You Reading (32)

It's Monday What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books. I always enjoy seeing what other people have read and reviewed over the past week. It is also a great way to find new books to add to that ever-growing TBR list!

Books finished:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (reread)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (reread)

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (reread)

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper

Books reviewed:

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Sea by Heidi Kling
Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey
Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier
Anahita's Woven Riddle by Meghan Nuttall Sayres

Currently reading:

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin

What I plan to read next:

Juliet by Anne Fortier

Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

Saturday, September 18, 2010

In My Mailbox (30)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren to share what books you received for review, purchased, or checked out from the library during the past week.

This week seems to have a Shakespearean theme with three books inspired by the Bard's plays. I also watched Letters to Juliet this week and I hope to read the nonfiction book soon.

I still don't have Internet access at home which makes blogging kind of difficult. I am currently at the mercy of my library :)

For review:

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Purchased with Amazon gift card:

Juliet by Anne Fortier

I have been waiting and waiting for this one and I hope I won't be disappointed!

From the library:

The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper

Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs

Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman

Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty by Jody Gehrman

What did you get this week? Anything you are excited about?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Retro Review: Anahita's Woven Riddle

Anahita's Woven Riddle
By Meghan Nuttall Sayres
Publication date: 2006

Anahita is a Persian nomad whose father is trying to arrange a marriage for her with the local khan. Anahita has no desire to get married, especially not to the unpleasant khan. Instead, she hopes to learn the craft of dye-making. Anahita begs to be allowed to create a riddle for her potential suitors to solve. She vows that she will marry the person who can solve the riddle woven into her marriage carpet. As word of the riddle contest spreads, many suitors decide to enter the contest including the angry khan, a shepherd, a scholar, and a prince. As Anahita weaves her carpet, her village goes through turmoil. Problems with water rights, war, and changing values threaten their nomadic way of life. Anahita must decide if the price of her riddle contest is worth the cost.

Anahita wants to honor her father while remaining true to her own principles. She is a strong, intelligent, and independent young woman. Throughout the course of the novel she grows up as she realizes the consequences of her decisions and her desire for independence. The other characters are well-developed also; even the khan is a multidimensional character instead of a typical villain.

The novel is filled with interesting facts about Persia and the nomadic life, as well as beautiful Sufi poetry. The imagery, from descriptions of elaborate carpets to Anahita’s favorite scarf, shows the love that the author has for textiles. A glossary in the back includes helpful definitions and pronunciations of Persian words and the appendix provides more information about weaving and Persian history. There is a fairy tale quality to the story which I also enjoyed.  Anahita’s Woven Riddle will appeal to those interested in other cultures.

Readalikes: Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis, Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson, A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce

*Note: I originally read and reviewed this novel in 2007 for a class on YA services and literature.  I updated the review and made slight changes before publishing it here on my blog. I chose to share this review because it was one of my favorite books that I read for the class. The purpose of retro reviews is to bring attention to previously published books that readers may have missed.*

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Review: The Virgin Blue

The Virgin Blue
By Tracy Chevalier
Publication date: 2003

My review:

In 16th century France, Isabelle du Moulin, nicknamed La Rousse for her miraculously red hair, makes the mistake of getting involved with Etienne Tournier. After they marry, she suffers under the thumb of Etienne's family and their superstitions. As Etienne becomes abusive, Isabelle fears for her safety and that of her daughter Marie, whose hair is also starting to turn red like the Virgin Mary. Meanwhile in the present, Ella Turner and her husband Rick have just moved to France. Ella feels at odds because she can't work yet-she is a midwife but has to jump through hoops to be able to practice in France. In the meantime she is taking classes to brush up on her French and she also decides to research her family's history. Ella has begun to have strange recurring dreams involving the color blue and at times has woken up speaking French when she barely knows the language. She believes that finding out about her ancestors will give her peace and help her to feel like she belongs in France. Her quest for information about her family leads her to Jean-Paul, a handsome librarian who constantly challenges Ella. As they work together, she begins to have forbidden feelings for him even as her own marriage is on the rocks. The Virgin Blue tells the story of two women separated by centuries whose lives have surprising similarities.

The main characters, Ella and Isabelle are different yet strong in their own way. Isabelle makes a poor decision where Etienne is concerned and she allows him to bully her but she is protective of her children and she stands up for herself at times. Ella is as a modern character more feisty and upfront about her opinions. I felt that I had a greater understanding of Ella because more time was devoted to her story. I was able to relate more to Ella and her experiences. I liked the descriptions of Ella's life in France as she tries to make friends and deal with the nosy townspeople. I particularly enjoyed reading about Ella’s research and the mystery aspect of the story.

The themes of birth, motherhood, belonging, and belief are woven throughout the novel. Ella is a midwife and Isabelle’s mother was also a midwife. Isabelle was even planning to follow in her mother’s footsteps until Etienne forbade her. Ella and her husband also decide to start a family while in France and there are several pregnant characters introduced. The Virgin Mary is an important figure in the story as the novel starts with the statue of the Virgin Mary being placed in the village square. On this momentous occasion, as the sun hit the statue, it also caused Isabelle’s hair to turn red. Shortly after this, Calvinism comes to Isabelle’s village and the statue of the Virgin Mary is later torn down. From that day forward although Isabelle is known as La Rousse, she covers her hair and the red color is considered a curse. Catholicism, Calvinism, and pagan superstition all influence Isabelle’s life in various ways. For Ella, her struggle with belief is more about allowing herself to believe in her intuition and in the dreams/visions she experiences. I also thought it was interesting that both Ella and Isabelle sought to belong.

While I liked The Virgin Blue, it did have some flaws. Usually if I am reading a book that switches back and forth between modern day and historical time periods I enjoy the historical segments more. In this case I actually preferred reading about Ella's life in modern day France. The historical sections were interesting enough but I didn’t care for some of the mystical elements in the novel. At times the coincidences were just too much. With Isabelle’s story I had a harder time connecting with her because I thought we saw just a small part of her life and then the narrative switched back to Ella. Still, even with the flaws I found the book interesting enough to keep going and I liked the main characters. Overall I thought this was an entertaining if slightly uneven novel.

Readalikes: The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips, Susan Vreeland, Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, Chateau of Echoes by Siri Mitchell

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Review: Prophecy of the Sisters

Prophecy of the Sisters
By Michelle Zink
Publication date: August 2009

My review:

Twins Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just buried their father and now they and their younger brother Henry are alone in the world with only their Aunt Virginia as their guardian. Lia also relies on her relationship with James, the young man hired by her father to organize his library. Lia and Alice have grown apart over the years so when Lia discovers a strange mark growing on her wrist she does not tell her sister. Then James finds a hidden book in her father's library that holds a strange prophecy about twin sisters. Could it have something to do with the mark, Lia's dreams, and Alice's disturbing behavior?

The Prophecy of the Sisters reminded me a lot of Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty. Both books feature paranormal fiction in a historical setting with the female protagonist discovering that her mother had secrets and that she herself has unusual magical abilities. In The Prophecy of the Sisters, each generation in Lia's family, twin girls are born and both girls have a role to play involving souls trying to enter the world. The sisters have varying degrees of magical ability and they travel to the Otherworld using a kind of astral projection. 

Lia is a likeable character who genuinely cares about her family and doing the right thing while Alice is just creepy and selfish. Any scene with Alice in it gave me goosebumps and while Lia still loves her sister I only found Alice to be evil and unredeemable. The romance between Lia and James is only a small part of the story, which I did not mind at all. The mysteries surrounding the prophecy and Lia's part in it were far more important. There is a gothic feel to the writing that I enjoyed. The Prophecy of the Sisters incorporates mystery, magic, and a little bit of romance into a story that is at its heart about family. The ending left me anticipating the sequel, Guardian of the Gate, which I thankfully had on hand. I look forward to seeing how Lia will come to terms her part in the prophecy and her relationship with her sister.

Readalikes: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Monday, September 13, 2010

Review: Blood Feud

Blood Feud
By Alyxandra Harvey
Publication date: June 22, 2010

My review:

In the sequel to Hearts at Stake, we are introduced in more depth to Isabeau St. Croix, a French vampire and Hound who is representing her people at the royal court. The Hounds are often misunderstood among the other vampires because of their use of magic. Logan Drake likes Isabeau from the moment he first sees her but pursuing a relationship seems to be out of the question while they are all in danger from Montmartre and the Hel-Blar. Isabeau is also focused on vengeance against Greyhaven, the vampire who turned her and  left her buried for two hundred years. Logan and Isabeau must work together to stop Greyhaven and Montmartre before they destroy the Drake clan.

In some ways I liked Blood Feud more than Hearts at Stake. I liked how the focus was on just Logan and Isabeau instead of two couples. I also enjoyed reading about the French Revolution through Isabeau's eyes. It added a different dimension to this book. I think that for those who do not enjoy historical fiction the segments set in Isabeau's past might be more tedious to read. I felt that reading about Isabeau's painful past experiences helped me understand her character more. I liked the mythology of the Hounds and their magical abilities. With the first book I thought there was a lot of information to take in but in the second book I think it flowed better.

I still think Lucy is my favorite protagonist from this series but I did like Isabeau as well. She is a tough and loyal young woman who has been through a lot. Even though she is technically a teenager still I did not feel that I was reading about a teen. Logan could be annoying but I liked him despite his weird taste in clothing. I would have to say that I liked Nicholas more. There are so many Drake brothers that it will be interesting to see how the author makes them stand out from each other as the series progresses. At the moment I still have trouble telling them apart.

Something I enjoyed about Hearts at Stake was the snarky humor. Sadly I found that to be missing here. There are some humorous moments in Blood Feud but not many and the book had a more serious feel to it. I have a feeling that I will like Out For Blood a little more. It was still a treat to see some of my favorite characters from the first book here and I did enjoy learning more about the Drakes and their world. Overall I thought Blood Feud was a good paranormal romance but it lacked some of the sparkle found in the series debut.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Review: Sea

By Heidi Kling
Publication date: June 10, 2010

My review:

Sienna "Sea" Jones suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after her mom's plane disappeared over the Indian Ocean. Since that day she has nightmares and her life is lived in fear. For her fifteenth birthday, her dad surprises her with a plane ticket and convinces her to go with him and his team of volunteers to Indonesia to help the kids at an orphanage deal with the aftermath of the tsunami. Sienna grudgingly agrees to go and the experience proves to be lifechanging. At the orphanage, she meets Deni, a young man who lost everything in the tsunami. Sienna is immediately drawn to him and they seem to understand each other's pain. Through her time in Indonesia Sienna begins to heal from the devastating loss of her mom but what will she do when she must leave Deni at the end of the trip?

Sea is far more than a romance. It is a story about loss and hope. At the beginning of the book, Sienna is surly about having to go to Indonesia with Team Hope. She has shut even her friends out of her life to a certain extent. It isn't until she is faced with kids who have lost everything that she begins to realize how much she still has. Deni and the other kids at the pesantren survived unspeakable horror and the descriptions of this very real tragedy were moving.  I liked how art was used in the novel to help the young girls relate their experiences and share their feelings.

Sienna is a relatable character. I thought her feelings were portrayed realistically throughout the book, from her grief over her mom to her fear and her anger at her father. I really felt for Deni and the other Indonesian characters. Deni is a fantastic guy and the romance between Deni and Sienna is sweet. Spider, Sienna's other love interest, is also a likeable guy but I felt that we didn't really get to know him as well. I liked the moments of humor as Sienna adapts to life in Indonesia and I loved learning about the culture.

The tsunami affected so many people around the world and seeing that devastating disaster through the eyes of young people was particularly gut wrenching. There is a message of hope though that I found to be inspiring and uplifting. Even in the midst of the tragedy there were miraculous stories of survival and courage. Sea is one of my favorite YA reads of the year. It stands out to me because of the subject matter and the way in which it was written. Heidi Kling's debut novel proves that she is an author to watch.

Readalikes:  Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Review: Nightshade

By Andrea Cremer
Publication date: October 19, 2010

My review:

As a future Alpha female of her own wolf pack, Calla has always been obedient to the rules put in place by the Keepers but then she saves the life of Shay, a human boy. Calla is torn between her duty to marry Renier Laroche and lead the new pack and her growing love for Shay. Calla soon finds that Shay is no ordinary teen when his life is endangered. Together they try to solve a prophecy while time is running out for their relationship.

At first, I thought Nightshade was going to be just like Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause. There are some similarities between the stories with female wolf protagonists coming to the aid of human boys, the "arranged marriage" to another alpha wolf, and pack dynamics. Nightshade adds a new dimension to this plot with the concept that the wolves, known as Guardians, serve Keepers, who are witches. The Keepers are supposed to keep the world in balance and the Guardians act as protectors. The "villains" of the story are Searchers, who separated from the Keepers long ago in a rebellion called the Witches' War. The idea of a school where there are humans, Guardians, and Keepers was interesting. In some ways Nightshade is original. In other ways it is not because it seems to follow the typical paranormal romance plot with the love triangle aspect.

I liked Calla as a protagonist. She is a strong leader and she cares about her packmates but she is also uncertain. At the beginning she is too willing to go along with what is expected of her even if it isn't what she wants. This changes throughout the book. I think she improves through her relationship with Shay. Unfortunately while Calla is drawn to Shay she is also experiencing a strong attraction to Ren. Ren is known to be a player even though he is meant to marry Calla. He has a bad reputation as a ladies' man at her school and among the packs. At the same time he appears to care deeply about Calla and he has a difficult home situation. Part of the time I liked Ren and part of the time he really irritated me. My main issue with the book was not so much the use of the love triangle which is a staple of this genre but the difficulty I had with Calla's behavior towards Ren and Shay. I didn't like how Calla handled things with Ren even though they are in a way "engaged". Since she is supposedly falling for Shay it was strange that she reacted to Ren the way she did. I liked Shay but at first he was not a very exciting male protagonist and I actually preferred Ren. Thankfully Shay became more interesting as the book progressed and he has potential to be a "scene stealer" the way Ren is.

Nightshade is a YA paranormal romance that would likely appeal to fans of Blood and Chocolate as well as the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. Calla is not unlike Rose Hathaway and the concept of wolf Guardians is in some ways similar to the dhampir Guardians from Mead's series. While the YA book market is overflowing with paranormal romance, I think Andrea Cremer is attempting to do something unique with this series. Whether or not she will succeed remains to be seen. I liked the backstory she created with the Keepers and even the side characters like Calla's brother Ansel are interesting to read about. Nightshade ends with a cliffhanger that will leave readers anxious for book two, Wolfsbane. I know I will definitely be reading the sequel when it is released next year.

Readalikes: Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause, the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey, the Drake Chronicles by Alyxandra Harvey

I read this book as part of a blog tour, courtesy of Star Book Tours.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (24)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week, I am waiting on:
Out for Blood by Alyxandra Harvey
Publication date: December 21, 2010 (US), November 1, 2010 (UK)

The third book in the Drake Chronicles focuses on older brother Quinn Drake and Hunter Wild, a student at the Helios-Ra Academy.

From Goodreads:

Hunter Wild is the youngest in a long line of elite vampire hunters, a legacy that is both a blessing and a curse at the secret Helios-Ra Academy, where she excels at just about everything. Thanks to her friendship with Kieran Black, Hunter receives a special invitation to attend the coronation of Helena Drake, and for the first time, she sees the difference between vampires that must be hunted and vampires that can become friends—or even more. When students at the academy fall victim to a mysterious illness, Hunter suspects they are under attack from within. She will need someone she can trust to help her save the future of Helios-Ra . . . help that shockingly comes in the form of Quinn Drake, a drop-dead gorgeous vampire. Who said senior year would be easy?

You can read chapter one at Bloomsbury Children's Books. I think this promises to be another fun paranormal romance from Alyxandra Harvey.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review: Low Red Moon

Low Red Moon
By Ivy Devlin
Publication date: September 14, 2010

My review:

This modern retelling of Little Red Riding Hood tells the story of Avery Hood who witnessed the brutal murder of her parents but can't remember what happened. When she meets Ben, the new student at her school, he seems to understand her and they connect in unexpected ways. Then Avery finds out Ben's secret and she fears that he may be involved in her parents' deaths.  

Avery's family issues and the unusual way she grew up in the woods added some depth to the story. Her grief over the loss of her parents, her home, and the refuge of the woods felt very real to me. The romance between Ben and Avery develops very quickly but their intense bond is explained later in the book. I think there is a lot more to Ben's story so hopefully that will be explored in the next book. One of my favorite characters is Avery's grandmother. She is quirky, fiercely protective of Avery, and she does her best to be there for her granddaughter even though things are strained between them. I liked how the dynamics of her relationship to Avery and her late son were explored. The woods were also a character in the novel and they definitely added a presence of mystery to the story.

Low Red Moon was not quite what I expected. It is not a strict retelling of Little Red Riding Hood but I liked the twist on the original story. I also liked the suspense plotline though I did figure out who the killer was early in the book. This is the second retelling of Little Red Riding Hood to be published this year. I think the wolf lore and the romance would appeal to fans of Maggie Stiefvater. Ivy Devlin is the psuedonym of a well known YA author making her foray into the paranormal genre. I am looking forward to her next book.

Readalikes: The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater, Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguie, 13 to Life by Shannon Delany

I received a copy of this ARC for review as part of an ARC Tour from Star Book Tours

Monday, September 6, 2010

It's Monday What Are You Reading (31)

It's Monday What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books. I always enjoy seeing what other people have read and reviewed over the past week. It is also a great way to find new books to add to that ever-growing TBR list!

My move went smoothly but I didn't have much time for reading with all the last minute packing I did last week! I also don't have the Internet set up at my apartment yet so I haven't done much blogging either. I did have some blog posts scheduled before the move. Currently I am at my parents' house so I'm happily attached to the computer again. They'll probably think I came home to use their Internet instead of spending time with them :)

Books finished:
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Books reviewed:
Love's First Light by Jamie Carie
Currently reading:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I am enjoying rereading this book but I am impatient to read Mockingjay. My sister just finished it and said it was fantastic and that I'd love it.
What I plan to read next:
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin
My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares
My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

Saturday, September 4, 2010

In My Mailbox (29)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren to share what books you received for review, purchased, or checked out from the library during the past week.

This was a rare week because I didn't check out any library books due to my upcoming move. I was excited to receive two great books for review though.

For review:
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
(Courtesy of Star Book Tours)
A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin
(Courtesy of LitFuse)