Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review: Kat, Incorrigible

Kat, Incorrigible
By Stephanie Burgis
Publication date: April 5, 2011

My review:

Twelve year old Katherine Stephenson is often a source of consternation to her family and she is viewed by them as a troublemaker. She means well but she gets in quite a few accidental scrapes. Now with her eldest sister Elissa being pushed towards marriage to an unpleasant man to save the family's fortunes, Kat decides it is up to her to save her sister from a fate worse than death. Kat may be the youngest in the family but she has inherited her mother's magical abilities as a Guardian, a secret that could have disastrous consequences if the wrong person found out. With the other members of her mother's former Order on her heels and a dastardly villain determined to have Elissa for his own nefarious purposes, Kat has to think quickly and use all her skills if she is to save the day.

Kat, Incorrigible (published as A Most Improper Magick in the UK) is the first in a new MG series set in Regency England. It is a humorous adventure with a plucky heroine. Kat causes accidental mayhem wherever she goes but she isn't a brat. There were a few times when I found Kat's stubbornness to be annoying, particularly in her refusal to listen to Mr. Gregson, her would-be magic tutor. I still liked her character though. She is devoted to her sisters and she is determined to help her family even when they don't want her assistance! Both Elissa and Angeline had good qualities as well but I preferred Angeline's fiery strength to Elissa's passive acceptance of her fate (guided as it is by her frequent reading of gothic romance). The villain of the book is Sir Neville Collingwood and he is a suitably creepy and formidable opponent for Kat.

I enjoyed reading about Kat's antics and even laughed out loud at times. She is a fun character to read about and I look forward to following her adventures as the series continues. Although this is a middle grade novel, I think it would appeal to young teens as well, particularly those who enjoy the works of Jessica Day George and Gail Carson Levine.

Readalikes: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George, Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle

Note: I received an e-ARC of this title as part of Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab program in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (47)

"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.

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
Publication date: April 26, 2011 


Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny's backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end. Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he's found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.

I thought 13 Little Blue Envelopes was fantastic so I was excited to find out there is a sequel. I can't wait to follow Ginny's adventures this time around too.

The Orchard by Jeffrey Stepakoff
Publication date: July 5, 2011


Grace Lyndon is a rising ingenue in the world of perfumes and flavors; a stiletto-wearing, work-a-holic in Atlanta, she develops aromas and tastes to enthrall the senses. Dylan Jackson is a widowed single father whose heart and hands have been calloused in the fields of his North Georgia apple farm. When Grace happens to taste an apple picked from Dylan’s trees, it changes both their lives forever. Determined to track down the apple’s origin, Grace sets off in the middle of the night where she finds not only a beautiful mountain orchard in the clouds, but the mysterious man who owns it. In Stepakoff’s heartbreaking eloquence, their sudden yet undeniable attraction is threatened—leaving readers with a momentous finale that proves Jeffrey Stepakoff is a master craftsman of the heart.

I loved Jeffrey Stepakoff's previous novel, Fireworks Over Toccoa, and I can't wait to read this one. If you are a fan of Nicholas Sparks or Southern romance, you should give Jeffrey Stepakoff's books a try.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Top Ten Authors That Deserve More Recognition

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. There is a new subject each week and this week's topic is top ten authors that deserve more recognition.

At first I thought I'd have a hard time creating this list but then I found that I had to trim it down to ten!

My list of authors includes some less familiar authors and some names that are known but I just want to highlight them anyway because I hope to encourage readers to give them a try.

1. Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell is the author of Cranford, North and South, and Wives and Daughters, among others. She was a friend of Charles Dickens and the first biographer of Charlotte Bronte. While the works I mention have been turned into films by BBC (the image above is from North and South), her books still do not have the recognition of Dickens, Bronte, or Jane Austen. If you are new to Gaskell, I'd recommend starting with North and South. It would appeal to both fans of Dickens (for the social commentary) and Austen (for the romance between the heroine Margaret Hale and John Thornton).

2. Gail Carriger

While Gail's Parasol Protectorate novels (Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, and the upcoming Heartless) are growing in popularity, I think she still deserves more recognition. Her books are entertaining and feature a delightful blend of humor, romance, and mystery. This is a good introduction to steampunk for those who are unfamiliar with it. Plus there are nattily dressed vampires and brawny werewolves, and an umbrella wielding intelligent heroine who is one of a kind. I consider these books to be vastly superior to the more popular Sookie Stackhouse. Have I convinced you to try her books yet? You can listen to a sample of the excellent Soulless audiobook at Audible.

3. Sarah Pekkanen

Sarah Pekkanen made her debut last year with The Opposite of Me. I am currently reading her latest book, Skipping a Beat, which takes a look at what happens when people change inside a marriage. Sarah is a talented new writer of women's fiction. Even Oprah agrees as Skipping a Beat is an April pick for O Magazine! Sarah's books would likely appeal to fans of Claire Cook and Cecelia Ahern.

4. Susanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley is an author that is new to me. I believe she is more popular in Britain and her native Canada. I read and loved The Winter Sea and have since picked up two of her earlier works, Mariana and The Shadowy Horses. I believe she deserves more recognition as a writer of historical fiction with romantic elements. I think Susanna's writing would appeal to fans of Diana Gabaldon because of the combination of historical fiction, elements of fantasy, and romance as well as the Scottish setting used for a number of the books. You can read chapter one here.

5. Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Shilpi Somaya Gowda has written only one novel so far but Secret Daughter blew me away. This is a moving story about two mothers living worlds apart and the daughter who is connected to both of them. From the slums of Mumbai to the struggles of marriage and adoption, Secret Daughter takes readers on an emotional and unforgettable journey. Secret Daughter received excellent reviews from publications as diverse as Booklist and Romantic Times. This would make a great book club pick too and it is now available in paperback. Check out my review of Secret Daughter. I can't wait to see what Shilpi writes next.

6. Cindy Pon

You may be more familiar with author Cindy Pon now but her name is still not as widely recognizable among the YA readership as it should be. Cindy made her debut with the critically acclaimed Silver Phoenix though sadly some bookstores did not choose to carry the book. Now it has been reissued with a more YA friendly cover and the excellent sequel, Fury of the Phoenix, is also available. Hopefully more readers will be introduced to Cindy's books. She deserves more recognition for her excellent writing and for her Asian heroine, Ai Ling. Along with Malinda Lo, Cindy is now one of a growing number of talented Asian YA authors and I hope to see many more! You can read my reviews of Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix and don't forget to visit Diversity in YA, a fantastic website put together by Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo.

7. Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin burst onto the Christian fiction scene last year with her debut, A Distant Melody, part of her Wings of Glory trilogy set during World War II. Sarah's historical fiction series features realistic and flawed characters, romance, historical detail, and edge of your seat adventure. She also does an excellent job of writing male characters that feel very real, something that you don't often find in Christian fiction. I think she deserves more recognition both for her relatable characters and the level of detail she brings to her historical fiction. Sarah's books would appeal to fans of Bodie Thoene's Zion Covenant and Zion Chronicles series. I would even suggest it to male readers of Christian fiction. I reviewed A Distant Melody and A Memory Between Us and I can't wait to read the final book, Blue Skies Tomorrow. If you like Christian fiction and are looking for characters who aren't beautiful or perfect, try the Wings of Glory series. You won't be disappointed!

8. Y.S. Lee

 A Spy in the House, is the first in Ying Lee's Agency series about teenage Mary Quinn who escapes the noose to become a trained female spy in Victorian London. In addition to being a fantastic YA historical mystery series, the books also feature an intelligent protagonist who happens to be POC! There is also romance, humor, historical detail, and plenty of adventure. Have I sold you on the books yet? If not, read my review of A Spy in the House, then go to your local library and find out for yourself why Y.S. Lee deserves more recognition!

9. Sarwat Chadda

Sarwat Chadda's YA novels, Devil's Kiss and Dark Goddess, feature a strong female heroine who just happens to be POC. Bilquis Sangreal, better known as Billi, is only fifteen but she is a member of the Knights Templar. She fights against evil creatures like ghuls (vampires) and demons. I think he deserves more recognition for writing action packed stories that have depth and flawed characters. In addition, he is one of the few South Asian writers of YA out there (along with Mitali Perkins and Anjali Banerjee). His new series will feature Indian mythology and involve crossover from Billi's world. I can't wait to read about Ash Mistry's adventures too. I would suggest Sarwat Chadda's books to fans of Sarah Rees Brennan and Lili St. Crow. You can find out more about Sarwat Chadda and his books on his website (he has a great sense of humor!). Still not sure if these books are for you? Read my reviews of Devil's Kiss and Dark Goddess.

10. Lawrence Hill

I was introduced to Lawrence Hill's writing by my cousin's wife Loria who kindly loaned me her copy of The Book of Negroes (published as Someone Knows My Name here in the States). Lawrence Hill is a Canadian author which could be why I was unfamiliar with his work. Someone Knows My Name is a powerful and moving story about a young woman's journey from slavery to freedom during the late 18th and early 19th century. This is one of those books that I truly believe everyone should read and it is based on historical fact. It is well written and filled with historical detail but it packs an emotional punch. Aminata Diallo is truly an unforgettable heroine. You can read my review of Someone Knows My Name. Please check out this amazing book!

What do you think of my list? Did you find some authors that are new to you? If you do decide to try any of these authors, please let me know what you think! As always, these are my opinions. If you are uncertain that you will like a book, I strongly recommend that you try to obtain it from your library or through interlibrary loan so that you don't end up with a book that you don't like!

Teaser Tuesdays (43)

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:

"Why was Michael looking at me so adoringly? Was he putting on a show for the nurse in case she talked to the press? I felt wooden and self-conscious, like I was on a movie set and the cameras were rolling but no one had given me my lines. How was I supposed to act?"

Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen
p. 27

Description from Goodreads:

Julia and Michael meet in high school in their small, poverty-stricken West Virginia hometown. Both products of difficult childhoods -- Julia’s father is a compulsive gambler and Michael’s mother abandoned his family when he was a young boy – they find a sense of safety and mutual understanding in each other. Shortly after graduation they flee West Virginia to start afresh. Now thirty-somethings, they are living a rarified life in their multi-million-dollar,Washington D.C. home. From the outside it all looks perfect – Julia has become a highly sought-after party planner, while Michael has launched a wildly successful flavored water company that he sold for $70 million.

But one day Michael stands up at the head of the table in his company's boardroom -- then silently crashes to the floor. More than four minutes later, a portable defibrillator manages to jump-start his heart. Yet what happened to Michael during those lost minutes forever changes him. Money is meaningless to him now - and he wants to give it all away to charity. A prenuptial agreement that Julia insisted upon back when Michael's company was still struggling means she has no claim to his fortune, and now she must decide: should she walk away from the man she once adored, but who truthfully became a stranger to her long before his near-death experience - or should she give in to her husband's pleas for a second chance and a promise of a poorer but happier life?
I've only read a few chapters but I love this book so far, which is no surprise given how much I enjoyed The Opposite of Me.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Exciting Book News!

Break out your teacups and celebrate! Gail Carriger, author of the Parasol Protectorate series, has announced on her blog that her next project is a series of YA books. The four books in the Finishing School series are sort of a prequel series to the Parasol Protectorate (they take place 25 years before Soulless). I am so excited and thrilled that Gail will be writing YA books! I love the Parasol Protectorate books and I'm sure this series will be equally fantastic. Soulless won an Alex Award for its crossover appeal to teens.You can find out more about the new series on Gail's blog.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (58)

It's Monday What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. 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 didn't get much reading done this week but I did try! I am still behind on reviews but hopefully I'll get caught up this week. I have the day off on Friday so I might devote some time to that.

Favorite book I read this week: Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Books finished:

Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis

This was a cute middle grade book with a spunky young heroine, magic, humor and it's set in Regency England. My review will be up later this week.

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I've read some mixed reviews of this one but I really liked this take on the werewolf myth and the pack dynamics. I can't wait to read the sequel, Trial By Fire.

Books reviewed:

Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell

One of my favorite books of the year so far. A fantastic YA coming-of-age tale.

Pemberley Ranch by Jack Caldwell

Pride and Prejudice in post-Civil War Texas!

Currently reading:

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

I'm reading an e-ARC of this for NetGalley which means I can only read it on my laptop. I will hopefully finish it before the time runs out!

What I plan to read next:

Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

I loved The Opposite of Me so I am hopeful that I will love this one too. I like that this book is about a married couple and the ups and downs of married life.

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

I've read some rave reviews of Tyger Tyger so I am looking forward to finally starting this one.

Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Grave was a fantastic historical mystery and I hope this sequel will live up to it.

Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman

This sounds like a fun retelling of Twelfth Night. The premise reminds me a lot of the Amanda Bynes movie She's The Man, which I thought was really cute.

What does your reading week look like?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In My Mailbox (50)

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.

I didn't do an IMM post last week so this is two weeks worth of books/e-books. I was a greedy little book piggie when I went to the library and although a couple of these were requests that finally came in, I also grabbed some off the shelves-even though I've got stacks at home. *Hiding my face in shame*

Books I'm most excited about: Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney, Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury, and Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn

For review:

Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

These are all e-ARCs, courtesy of Simon and Schuster Galley Grab.


Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney

I won this at La Femme Readers and I can't wait to read it. Thanks, Eleni!

Between Sisters by Kristin Hannah

I've been wanting to try Kristin Hannah's books and I won this one at a library conference

From the library:

Clarity by Kim Harrington

Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane

Haunting Jasmine by Anjali Banerjee

A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent

I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: Pemberley Ranch

Pemberley Ranch
By Jack Caldwell
Publication date: November 22, 2010

My review:

This retelling of Pride and Prejudice is set in post-Civl War Texas. The Bennet family leaves Meryton, Ohio to run a ranch in Texas. Beth Bennet is less than thrilled with her dad's decision to move the family to the South. She feels that it is a betrayal of her brother who died during the war. When the Bennets arrive in Rosings, Texas they are met with surprising civility and welcome from most people. Unlike Beth, her older sister Jane has no problem settling in and she captures the heart of the local doctor, Charles Bingley. Beth is still unforgiving of Southerners though she does befriend Charlotte Lucas, the daughter of the town sheriff. When she meets her future brother-in-law Bingley's best friend, Will Darcy, Beth feels instant dislike for the wealthy rancher whose land borders their own. Instead she prefers the company of charming fellow Northerner George Whitehead. Whitehead seems to have brilliant plans for the growth of Rosings but all is not as it seems. As the Bennets find themselves caught in the middle of a land war however, Beth finds that she must rely on Will Darcy's help.

Pemberley Ranch is a creative reimagining of Pride and Prejudice that stays true to the spirit of the original while at the same time bringing something new to the story. Beth is a spunky heroine with flaws that are more apparent than her namesake from P&P. Beth's unwillingness to let go of her hate and her prejudice toward Southerners keep her from growing as a person and healing from the loss of her brother. I thought the author did an excellent job with developing her character and portraying the changes Beth goes through over the course of the book. Unlike P&P, the reader is given insight into the mind of Mr. Darcy. Will has his own ghosts to deal with from his years as a Confederate office and personal losses. I found both characters to be likeable and I enjoyed the fact that they were not carbon copies of the original Jane Austen characters.

In addition to the main characters from Pride and Prejudice, other Jane Austen characters like Henry Tilney, Mr. Elton, and the Knightly brothers make an appearance. It was fun to find the literary nods sprinkled through the book. It is obvious that the author has a good deal of respect for Jane Austen. I also enjoyed the historical information about the war. There are even footnotes to add to the reader's experience.

There are a couple of parts in the story that I wish hadn't been there because they made me like Will less. At one point he spies on the heroine while she goes skinny dipping and at another point, he has a very vivid dream about her that I thought portrayed his interest in Beth as no more than lust and showed her behaving out of character. Thankfully it turned out be just a "dirty" dream of Will's rather than reality but it pulls the reader out of the story and the effect is jarring. For the most part, I liked the changes to the story. I found some of the characters to be more likeable because of it. I especially liked the change to Charlotte Lucas's storyline. The setting was also incredibly appealing and the nail biting showdown at the end had me flipping the pages.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Pemberley Ranch. It combines historical fiction, western fiction, and romance very successfully with the original story. I hope that Jack Caldwell will write more Jane Austen inspired fiction. I would certainly read it! I consider Pemberley Ranch to be one of the best retellings of Pride and Prejudice I've read. I suggest this to fans of historical romance and western fiction and to those who enjoy retellings of Jane Austen's work.

Readalikes: The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview, The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough, An Accomplished Woman by Jude Morgan, Ransom My Heart by Meg Cabot

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (46)

"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:

Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh
Publication date: January 24, 2012

While Varen remains a prisoner in the dream-world, Isobel is haunted by his memory. He appears to her in her dreams and soon, even in her waking life. But is she just imagining it? Isobel knows she must find a way back to Varen. She makes plans to go to Baltimore. There, she confronts the figure known throughout the world as the Poe Toaster—the same dark man who once appeared to Isobel in her dreams, calling himself "Reynolds."

Isobel succeeds in interrupting the Toaster's ritual and, in doing so, discovers a way to return to the dream-world. Soon, she finds herself swept up in a realm which not only holds remnants of Poe's presence, but has also now taken on the characteristics of Varen's innermost self. It is a dark world comprised of fear, terror, and anger. When Isobel once more encounters Varen, she finds him changed. With his mind poisoned by the dream world, he becomes a malevolent force, bent on destroying all—even himself. Now Isobel must face a new adversary, one who also happens to be her greatest love. 

I thought Nevermore was a creative and fantastic debut novel so I was excited to hear about the sequel even though there is a long wait before it will be published.

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Publication date: October 18, 2011
Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strangeand impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena’s Claiming. Even Lena’s family of powerful Supernaturals is affected – and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What – or who – will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin? For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He’s being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn’t by Lena – and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself – forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn’t know why, and most days he’s too afraid to ask. Sometimes there isn’t just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there’s no going back. And this time there won’t be a happy ending.

I just love this series and I was thrilled to see the cover and synopsis for Beautiful Chaos. Wish we didn't have to wait till October to find out what happens next!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review: Ten Miles Past Normal

Ten Miles Past Normal
By Frances O'Roark Dowell
Publication date: March 22, 2011

My review:

Janie Gorman's freshman year is on a roll-in a bad direction. It isn't her fault that she accidentally stepped in goat dung on the way to school or that she is called Skunk Girl by her classmates. It is her fault that her parents decided to move to a farm when she was nine since she persuaded them that it was a fantastic idea and reminded them of their own wishes to live in the country. When she was nine it was cool to live on a farm and raise goats and other animals. As a teen, not so much, especially because of the smells associated with said farm and the embarrassing incidents at school. Janie's parents and sister love life on the farm and her mom even blogs about it but all Janie wants is to be accepted by her classmates and be like everyone else. Through a class project and joining the Jam Band however, Janie may discover that being "normal" is overrated.

Janie is funny and honest about her feelings. Her desire to fit in at school is something that many teens can relate to, especially starting high school and finding yourself separated from friends. When Janie is being true to herself, it is clear that she isn't meant to be like everyone else. Those moments when she isn't afraid to be different are some of the best in the book, like when she agrees to learn to play the bass for Jam Band even though Sarah doesn't approve.

This book is definitely more character driven than plot driven. There are plenty of fantastic characters in addition to Janie. My favorites are Monster Monroe, Mr. Pritchard, and Emma Lyman. Monster is unafraid of being himself. He has been different from birth due to his unconventional upbringing (his messed up parents really did name him Monster) and his size. His friendship with Janie is really sweet and he is a great influence on her. Mr. Pritchard doesn't have a lot of page time but he has an inspiring story to tell about his involvement in the Civil Rights movement. Emma is Sarah's "wild" older sister and Janie and Sarah look up to her because they think she is cool . As Janie gets to know the real Emma, she finds out that Emma has depth and is more than just a "wild child". Janie also realizes that she needs to step out from Sarah's shadow. The discoveries that Janie makes about these and other characters help her to develop as a person.

In addition to the characters I also loved that the book presented parents in a positive way. Janie may not have felt the same way about the farm that her mom did and there was some distance in their relationship at the beginning do to that but as Janie matures, she comes to understand her mom better. There are also some positive messages about being true to who you are and doing what you can to make a difference in your world. Ten Miles Past Normal is a coming of age story with a delightful heroine. I would suggest this to fans of Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen and Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern.

Readalikes: Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern, Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker

Note: I received an e-ARC of this title through Simon & Schuster Galley Grab in exchange for an honest review

Monday, March 21, 2011

Huntress Winner!

The winner of my Huntress giveaway is Erin L.! Sorry for the delay in announcing the winner. Thanks to everyone who entered and thank you to Little, Brown for sending me an extra ARC of Huntress so I could have this giveaway.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (57)

It's Monday What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. 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 went to Fort Wayne this weekend and spent time with my sister. We did some major shopping (I'm pretty sure I spent most of my tax return already!) and I had a great time. I took three books with me but I didn't get much reading done.

I am still trying to catch up on my reading and reviews. I have overdue books (big surprise!) and books received for review that I need to read before they are released. I also planned to review every book I read this year, a plan I am rethinking more and more. When did reading become so stressful?

Books finished:

Out for Blood by Alyxandra Harvey

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Books reviewed:

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Currently reading:

Huntress by Malinda Lo

What I plan to read next:

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Bloody Valentine by Melissa de la Cruz

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

What does your reading week look like?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Review: The Dark and Hollow Places

The Dark and Hollow Places
By Carrie Ryan
Publication date: March 22, 2011

My review:

Since leaving her twin sister Abigail behind when she and Elias got lost in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, Annah has had to live with the guilt. Her life has been difficult in the Dark City but with her best friend Elias there it was more bearable. After he leaves to join the Recruiters in an effort to make a better life for them,  it becomes harder for Annah to go on. She feels that Elias has walked away from her just like she walked away from Abigail when they were little. Then the unbelievable happens and Annah sees a girl who looks just like her (minus Annah's disfiguring scars). Could it be Abigail? Before Annah can find out however, the girl is captured by the Recruiters. With the help of a new acquaintance, Catcher, Annah plans to rescue Abigail even as a horde of Unconsecrated moves toward the Dark City.

This third and final book in the series features characters from The Dead Tossed Waves and introduces us to the new character, Annah. She is a very different protagonist from Gabry, the main character of The Dead Tossed Waves, because of how their life experiences have shaped them. Annah is both brave and vulnerable. She has insecurities about her disfigured appearance and she also has abandonment issues to deal with. At the same time she knows how to defend herself and survive on her own. When she first meets Catcher it is hard for her to trust him. She is used to looking out for herself and having to trust him is a difficult thing for her. Annah has some pain from Elias's betrayal years before and it is made worse with the return of Elias and her twin. As Annah gets to know her sister though, there are some touching moments of healing.

Catcher also has some issues to deal with such as his fears of others becoming infected. Although I didn't like all of the decisions Catcher made over the course of the book, I still liked him as a character. The one returning character I had issues with was Elias. Seeing him through Annah's eyes rather than Gabry's made me not like him very much partly because of his past treatment of her. He refuses to see the consequences of the decision he made at the beginning of the book until it is almost too late.

The Dark and Hollow Places is a good finale to this series. True to its title, this is a very dark book. In a way, its tone is reminiscent of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. There is a stronger sense of hopelessness and the characters are forced to ask themselves hard questions about right and wrong. Life isn't just black and white, there are shades of gray. Even as the trilogy draws to a close, Carrie Ryan leaves us with no easy answers for the future of the world she created. The message seems to be that you just go on and do what you need to do to survive and at the end of the day, there is a glimmer of hope for brighter days ahead.

Readalikes: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Note: I read an ARC of this book as part of an ARC tour courtesy of Banned Book Tours