Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book Review: Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Dad? Zombie.
Mom? Long gone.
Me? Well, that's the scary part.

The Real World is a frightening place. Just ask sixteen-year-old orphan Dru Anderson, a tough girl who has taken down her fair share of bad guys. She's armed, dangerous, and ready to kill first and ask questions later. So it's gonna take her a while to figure out who she can trust...

Dru Anderson has been "strange" for as long as she can remember, traveling from town to town with her father to hunt the things that go bump in the night. It's a weird life, but a good one - until it all explodes in an icy, broken-down Dakota town, when a hungry zombie busts through her kitchen door. Alone, terrified, and trapped, Dru's going to need every inch of her wit and training to stay alive. The monsters have decided to hunt back - and this time, Dru's on their menu. Chances of survival? Slim to none.

Have to say, I was a little skeptical at first - Zombies? Monster hunters? My first thought was, darn it, another cheesy horror book. I was so wrong! Not in the least bit typical. Yes there are zombies, as well as other baddies but the story is amazing! Some new twists on old ideas. The action is fast paced with enough real life scenarios to hold your interest. I really liked Dru's inter voice - funny at times, always truthful. She is tough but isn't immune to the things that are happening to her. She's scared but still spunky - she's lonely but determined.
I feel in love with Dru's new found friend Graves. His friendship never wavers even when faced with possible death at the hands of creatures that previously had only existed, for him, in myth and legends. For Dru, battling these horrors are second nature. Her grandmother and father have taught her well. But now, everything has changed. Her grandmother is gone and her father failed. She knows she shouldn't trust anything someone from The Real World tells her, but when the mysterious Christophe appears, she has no choice.

I did not want this book to end! The sequel - Betrayals - is due out in November.
A great YA fantasy, action book - highly recommended.
5 stars.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Book Review: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Sometimes, a girl needs to lose.
If Naomi had picked tails, she would have won the coin toss.
She wouldn't have had to go back for the yearbook camera, and she wouldn't have hit her head on the steps.
She wouldn't have woken up in an ambulance with amnesia.
She certainly would have remembered her boyfriend, Ace. She might even have remembered why she fell in love with him in the first place.
She would understand why her best friend, Will, keeps calling her "Chief". She'd get all his inside jokes, and maybe he wouldn't be so frustrated with her for forgetting things she can't possibly remember.
She'd know about her mom's new family.
She'd know about her dad's fiancee.
She wouldn't have to spend her junior year relearning all the French she supposedly knew already.
She never would have met James, the boy with the questionable past and the even fuzzier future, who tells her he once wanted to kiss her.
She wouldn't have wanted to kiss him back.
But Naomi picked heads.

One little coin flip and her life will never be the same. After a head injury, Naomi must face the fact that 4 years of her life are missing to her. She doesn't remember her best friend, her boyfriend or why her parents are divorced. She can't recall why she was going to drop her photography class or how she came to be so passionate about being the editor of the school yearbook. Life moves on however, and so does Naomi.
I absolutely loved this book. Every character Zevin created was intensely real and completely believable. I felt a connection to Naomi from page one. Hers is a story that could really happen to anyone. One of my favorite characters is Naomi's dad. I feel that a lot of teen books today portray parents in very stereotypical ways. Not so in Memoirs. Naomi's dad felt like a real person to me - one that Naomi could actually relate to. Their relationship is only a small part of the whole story but to me it was important and I was impressed with the way Zevin wrote him.
I don't want to say too much for fear of giving too much away - this is really a story you need to experience for yourself!
I highly recommend this book to YA fiction and / or romance fans - 5 stars.

In My Mailbox - July 26th


In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren :)

My first mailbox post! Woo hoo!
Got some Mooch books, a borrowed book and couldn't resist buying some this week:

From BookMooch:
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Lavine -- I have wanted to read this book for a while now
  • Silver On A Tree by Susan Cooper -- I think I have all the Dark is Rising books now
  • Dragonflight by Anne Mccaffrey -- my first Mccaffrey book to read
  • Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire - if you haven't read anything by Maguire - do it now!
  • The Ghost Belonged to Me by Richard Peck -- one of my favorite youth authors
Borrowed:
  • Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley -- already read this one - my review is right below this post
Bought:
  • Memories of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin -- came across this one in Lost in a Book's Mailbox last week and it sounded so good I got myself one :) A few chapters in and I'm loving it so far
  • Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow -- I can thank The Book Explorer for my purchase of this one :)
  • Hawkes Harbor by S.E. Hinton -- total impulse buy as I was just about to walk out of the book store. I'll let you know how it is as soon as I read it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Book Review: Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

Sometimes high school really is a matter of life and death.
Charlotte Usher feels practically invisible at school, and then one day she really is. Even worse: she's dead. And all because of a guy and a gummy bear.

In this satirical yet heartfelt novel, Tonya Hurley explores the invisibility we all feel at times and the lengths we'll go to be seen.
(back cover)

Charlotte Usher is dead but she isn't taking it very well. She's pissed that a gummy bear did her in and she isn't about to let a little thing like death stand in the way of her getting the perfect Midnight Kiss from her high school crush or winning the respect of Miss Popularity.
I only had one major problem with this book - I could not stand Charlotte! She was selfish, shallow and well, kinda stupid to boot. Surprisingly, this didn't ruin the book for me :)
Through the course of her mandatory attendance Dead Ed with the other Dead Kids, and all the trouble she gets herself into trying to win over her crush Damen, Charlotte meets up with some pretty cool characters. My favorite is Scarlet - the only living person who can see Charlotte.
There were some plot holes to contend with - no mention of Charlotte's family - the fact that there wasn't even 1 person who Charlotte was friendly with before she died - the stereotypical popular girls who in the end, really didn't play all that big a part in the story. I could go on but I don't want to give the wrong idea. I actually really liked this book. A quick read, funny at times, with likable characters (ok, maybe not Charlotte, but I liked everyone else :)
Hurley has written a sequel and I'm curious to see how the story plays out further.
All and all - I give 3 stars.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Book Review: Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

In a land far to the north, there is little to do when the snows fall thick and deep. Perhaps that is why the tales the Lass's older brother tells have always held her spellbound. And when a great white bear makes a proposition - riches for the Lass's family in exchange for a year of her company - she hesitates only for a moment. Yet even as her affection for the bear grows, the horror behind his enchantment becomes known - and the Lass finds herself grappling with her destiny in a place east of the sun and west of the moon, where trolls are known to live and from which humans never return. Based on an old Nordic tale, this wonderfully reimagined story is perfect for fans of Shannon Hale and Robin McKinley. (back cover)

I have to say, it took me a few chapters to really get into this story. It very much has the feel of an old fairy tale. Our protagonist, un-named by her mother at birth, is called Lass by her affectionate older brother Hans Peter. They live together, with the rest of their large family, in the frozen north. On the day the great bear, an isbjorn, comes to take Lass away, the family's fate is sealed. Lass must spend a year and a day in the Ice Palace - full of fantastical creatures and a mystery night time visitor.
There are many layers to this tale and Lass is a wonderfully strong young girl. I really liked this book. A few points did bother me though. The ending was rushed - I loved the time Lass spent in the Palace of Ice and would have liked the telling of her time in the palace east of the sun and west of the moon to have been more detailed. Also, I felt that the troll queen and princess weren't quite as horrible as we were led to believe.
All in all, a great YA fantasy - 3.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, July 17, 2009

Book Review: Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman

Something mysterious is happening in Skeleton Creek. Something scary. Something Sinister.
Ryan came close to it...and nearly died. Now he's trapped in his house. He can't trust anyone - not even himself.
He is forbidden from seeing his best friend, Sarah. So while Ryan is isolated and alone, she plunges back into the mystery, putting her life on the line to get to the truth.
Ryan is desperately trying to write down the full story. And while he does, Sarah takes videos of what she finds, then sends him the links so he can watch.
Together, they discover: The past is dangerous. The present is haunted. And the future is deadly.
Welcome to SKELETON CREEK
Read it. Watch it. Live it.
(back cover)

This book is awesome. This has to be a first. Part written book, part online video content. The book itself reads like a journal. Ryan's journal. He shouldn't be writing, but he can't help it. His best friend Sarah should have left well enough alone after Ryan's accident but she can't stop filming. As Ryan and Sarah communicate via email and Sarah's video postings, it's easy to get caught up in their narrative. Some of the videos are downright scary! And the ending? Ah! I so need to know what happens next! Don't worry though, Carmen has written a sequel : )
I have yet to be disappointed by Carmen and Skeleton Creek is no exception. The story will drag you in - to places you might not want to go - but trust me, you'll be happy you did.
Highly recommended. 5 stars.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North American lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before - and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival aginst humanity and life against love. (dust jacket)

First off - I loved this book! So many many people have been gushing about it that honestly, I was afraid I was going to be a little disappointed. It couldn't be that good, I told myself. I was wrong. Fabulously written, with a plot line that sucks you in from page one. I literally could not put this book down until I was finished with every last fantastic morsel...and then I wanted more! I envy all of you out there who have snagged ARCs of Chasing Fire! There is so much depth to this book -- Primitive living conditions set amongst modern technology; social implications to the indifference to human life; struggle for survival against the ruling class; the power of manipulation; the power of both real and imagined love...I could go on and on but instead I'll say - READ THIS BOOK!
Seriously good - highly recommended - 5 shinning stars

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community.
When Jonas turns twelve, his is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now it's time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no Turning back.
(back cover)

This story really moved me. Set in the possible future, the concept of Sameness is brought to extreme levels. Members of society barely think for themselves. Everyone has a position, with set tasks and actions to preform everyday without question of why. The one exception is The Giver. He is the holder of memories. Memories that include love and family but also pain and war. When Jonas is picked to be the next Giver, time has finally come for change. The ending is purposely ambiguous. Lowry leaves her readers to make their own conclusions.
1994 Newbery Winner. Highly recommended - 5 stars

Friday, July 10, 2009

Book Review: A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger

"In the spring of 1963, the quiet suburb of Belmont, Massachusetts, is rocked by a socking murder that fits the pattern of the infamous Boston Strangler, still at large. Hoping for a break in the case, the police arrest Roy Smith, a black ex-con whom the victim hired to clean her house. Smith is hastily convicted of the murder, but the Strangler's terror continues. And though it all, one man escapes the scrutiny of the police: a carpenter working at the time at the Belmont home of young Sebastian Junger and his parents - a man named Albert DeSalvo, who would eventually confess to the Strangler's horrific crimes. (back cover)
A well told story. Junger does a great job of laying out the facts of not only the Spring 1963 murder of Bessie Goldberg but also the Boston Strangler case. No assumptions are made and when all is said and done, we, as readers, are left with the same questions we started with - Did Roy Smith kill Bessie Goldberg? Was Albert DeSalvo the Boston Strangler? And lastly, on a more personal note for the author - What if Junger's mother hadn't left their Belmont home that Spring day in 1963?
Recommended for True Crime non-fiction fans - 3 1/2 stars

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Book Review: Afraid by Jack Kilborn

"Welcome to Safe Haven, Wisconsin. Miles from everything, with one road in and out, this peaceful town has never needed a full-time police force. Until now... A helicopter has crashed near Safe Haven and unleashed something horrifying. Now this merciless force is about to do what it does best. Isolate. Terrorize. Annihilate. As residents begin dying in a storm of gory violence, Safe Haven's only chance for survival will rest with an aging county sheriff, a firefighter, and a single mom. And each will have this harrowing thought: Maybe death hasn't come to their town by accident..." (back cover)

A true thriller of a book. In one suspenseful night an entire town is virtually destroyed. Told from the point of view of several different characters, including the members of the killing squad, the story progresses along at a good pace. There is no fluff to this story. NOT for the faint of heart! I found the blood and guts of the story so to speak to be very graphic but appropriately so. Kilborn could have very easily taken this story into the realm of sexual sadism which would have ruined it. He choose instead to preserve the horror while avoiding gratuitous sexual devilry. Too many horror stories have gone down that road. Kilborn keeps this story on track. There is never a dull moment. As fantastical as the plot may seem on the surface, Kilborn's writing gets under your skin. You'll find yourself double checking your locks, turning on your lights, hoping morning wasn't so far away. If you're looking for a happy ending, this isn't the book for you. If you're looking for an intense ride of terror, suspense and mayhem, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Afraid.
5 stars - highly recommended.
many thanks to Hachette Book Group for providing me a copy of this book via a member blog win

*also posted at On The Darker Side of Things....

In progress

Still getting my book review blog up and running. I've read a number of great, and not so great books this year and can't wait to get all my reviews out of my head. I've also been fortunate enough to receive some free books and would love to thank the authors and publishers with reviews. Still new to blogging but quickly getting the hang of it :)

BOOK REVIEWED BY AUTHOR

*Very behind in updating! Current up to June 2010*

~A~
Alender, Katie - Bad Girls Don't Die
Armstrong, Kelley - The Summoning
Armstrong, Kelley - The Awakening
Applegate, K.A. - Everworld

~B~
Black, Holly - Tithe
Bradley, Marion Zimmer - The Gratitude of Kings
Brodien-Jones, Christine - The Owl Keeper
Bodeen, S.A. - The Gardener
Brown, Lisa and Adele Griffin - Picture The Dead

~C~
Collins, Suzanne - The Hunger Games
Carman, Patrick - Skeleton Creek
Carman, Patrick - Atherton The Dark Planet
Carman, Patrick - Thirteen Days to Midnight
Cabot, Meg - Jinx
Colfer, Eoin - The Supernaturalist 
Colfer, Eoin - The Wish List 
Colfer, Eoin - Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel 
Crewe, Megan - Give Up The Ghost
Cusick, Richie Tankersley - Teacher's Pet
Colvin, S.R.R. - The Krybosian Stairpath

~D~
De La Cruz, Melissa - Blue Bloods
Dashner, James - The Maze Runner
Davis, Heather - Never Cry Werewolf
Dolamore, Jaclyn - Magic Under Glass
Despain, Bree - The Dark Divine
Dunlap, Susanne - Anastasia's Secret
Doerr, Bonnie J. - Island Sting

~E~

~F~
Farmer, Penelope - Charlotte Sometimes


~G~
George, Jessica Day - Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
Gay, Kelly - The Better Part of Darkness
Gibson, Marley - Ghost Huntress Book 1
Griffin, Adele and Lisa Brown - Picture the Dead

~H~
Hurley, Tonya - Ghostgirl
Howe, Katherine - The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Hawes, Jason and Grant Wilson - Ghost Hunting
Hoffman, Alice - Green Angel 
Harvey, Alyxandra - Hearts at Stake
Harvey, Alyandra - Blood Feud
Haines, Lise - Girl in the Arena
Hinds, Gareth - The Merchant of Venice: The Graphic Novel
Hall, Teri - The Line
Hayter, Rhonda - The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams
Henderson, Jason - Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising
Hawkins, Rachel - Hex Hall
Hopcus, Anastasia - Shadow Hills

~I~

~J~
Junger, Sebastian - A Death in Belmont
Jones, Carrie - Need
Jones, Carrie - Captivate

~K~
Kilborn, Jack - Afraid
Klavan, Andrew - The Last Thing I Remember
Kagawa, Julie - The Iron King
Kagawa, Julie - The Iron Daughter
Kizer, Amber - Meridian
Keswick, Kitty - Freaksville
Kaye, Marilyn - Demon Chick

~L~
Lowry, Lois - The Giver
Larbalestier, Justine - Liar 
Littke, Lael - Prom Dress

~M~
MacCullough, Carolyn - Once a Witch
Marr, Melissa - Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales Vol 1 Sanctuary
Marr, Melissa - Radiant Shadows
McMann, Lisa - Wake
Morris, Paula - Ruined
Mechner, Jordan - Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel
Meyer, Stepheine - The Host
Mitchell, Saundra - Shadowed Summer 
Montgomery, L.M. - Anne Of Green Gables
Mantchev, Lisa - Eyes Like Stars
Mantchev, Lisa - Perchance to Dream
Malley, Gemma - The Returners
Murgia, Jennifer - Angel Star
Martin, Ann M. - Missing Since Monday
McBride, Kristina - The Tension of Opposites

~N~
Nadol, Jen - The Mark

~O~
O'Brien, Robert - The Secret of NIMH
Omololu, C.J. - Dirty Little Secrets

~P~
Peck, Richard - A Season of Gifts
Plum-Ucci, Carol - The Body of Christopher Creed
Pike, Christopher - Remember Me

~Q~

~R~
Ryan, Carrie - The Forest of Hands of Teeth

~S~
St. Crow, Lili - Strange Angels
St. Crow, Lili - Betrayals
Stolarz, Laurie faria - Project 17
Stolarz, Laurie faria - Blue is for Nightmares
Stolaz, Laurie faria - Deadly Little Secret
Shusterman, Neal - Everlost
Selznick, Brian - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Small, David - Stitches 
Sina, A.B. - Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel 
Smith, L.J. - The Secret Circle Vol 1
Shinn, Sharon - Summers at Castle Auburn

~T~
The Harvard Lampoon - Nightlight
Turner, Max - Night Runner

~U~

~V~
Vincent, Rachel - My Soul to Take
Various - Love is Hell

~W~
Werlin, Nancy - Impossible
Wilson, Grant and Jason Hawes - Ghost Hunting
White, Amy Brecount - Forget-Her-Nots

~X~

~Y~
Young, Suzanne - The Naughty List

~Z~
Zevin, Gabrielle - Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
Zevin, Gabrielle - Elsewhere

BOOKS REVIEWED BY TITLE

*Very behind in updating! Current up to May 2010*

~A~
Afraid by Jack Kilborn
A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger
Atherton The Dark Planet by Patrick Carman
A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer
Anastasia's Secret by Susanne Dunlap
Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising by Jason Henderson
Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia

~B~
Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz
Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
Blue is for Nightmares by Laurie faria Stolarz
Betrayals by Lili St. Crow
Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey

~C~
Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer
Captivate by Carrie Jones

~D~
Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolaz
Demon Chick by Marilyn Kaye
Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

~E~
Everlost by Neal Shusterman
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zavin
Everworld by K.A. Applegate

~F~
Freaksville by Kitty Keswick
Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White

~G~
Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley
Ghost Huntress Book 1 by Marley Gibson
Ghost Hunting by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson
Green Angel by Alice Hoffman
Give Up The Ghost by Megan Crewe
Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

~H~
Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

~I~
Impossible by Nancy Werlin
Island Sting by Bonnie J. Doerr

~J~
Jinx by Meg Cabot

~K~

~L~
Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Love is Hell by Various

~M~
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore 
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH 
My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent
Meridian by Amber Kizer
Missing Since Monday by Ann M. Martin

~N~
Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis
Nightlight by The Harvard Lampoon
Need by Carrie Jones
Night Runner by Max Turner

~O~
Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

~P~
Project 17 by Lauri Faria Stolarz
Prom Dress by Lael Littke 
The Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel by Jordan Mechner and A.B.Sina
Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev
Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown

~Q~

~R~
Ruined by Paula Morris
Remember Me by Christopher Pike
Radiant Shadow by Melissa Marr

~S~
Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
Strange Angels by Lili St Crow
Seeking Spirits by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson
Stitches by David Small 
Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell 
Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

~T~
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Tithe by Holly Black
The Physick Book by Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
The Better Park of Darkness by Kelly Gay
The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
The Naughty List by Suzanne Young
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci
The Wish List by Eoin Colfer
The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
The Secret Circle Vol I by L.J. Smith
The Host by Stepheine Meyer 
The Mark - Jen Nadol 
The Merchant of Venice: The Graphic Novel by Gareth Hinds 
The Line by Teri Hall
The Gratitude of Kings by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Last Thing I Remember by Andrew Klavan
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Teacher's Pet by Richie Tankersley
The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams by Rhonda Hayter
Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman
The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien-Jones
The Returners by Gemma Malley
The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen
The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride
The Krybosian Stairpath by S.R.R. Colvin
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

~U~

~V~

~W~
Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales Vol 1 Sanctuary by Melissa Marr
Wake by Lisa McMann

~X~

~Y~

~Z~