Monthly Archives: August 2011

“Waiting” on Wednesday: Cold Kiss

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publication date: September 20, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins

It was a beautiful, warm summer day, the day Danny died.

Suddenly Wren was alone and shattered. In a heartbroken fury, armed with dark incantations and a secret power, Wren decides that what she wants—what she must do—is to bring Danny back.

But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy Wren fell in love with. His touch is icy; his skin, smooth and stiff as marble; his chest, cruelly silent when Wren rests her head against it.

Wren must keep Danny a secret, hiding him away, visiting him at night, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school, and Wren realizes that somehow, inexplicably, he can sense the powers that lie within her—and that he knows what she has done. And now Gabriel wants to help make things right.

But Wren alone has to undo what she has wrought—even if it means breaking her heart all over again.

The last time I read anything to do with necromancy and bringing the dead back to life was last year with Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers trilogy. This, however, is quite a different tale. I’m very interested to see where Garvey takes it.

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How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

Publisher: Pocket (February 22, 2011)
Kindle: 384 pages / 629 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Even in Grundy, Alaska, it’s unusual to find a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on your porch. But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham—who has been openly critical of Mo’s ability to adapt to life in Alaska—has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble.

For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it’s love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But Cooper has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he’s worried that he might be the violent canine in question.

If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen, yet Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. Except if he’s not responsible, then who is? And when a werewolf falls head over haunches in love with you, what are you supposed to do anyway? The rules of dating just got a whole lot more complicated. . . .

Review:

An entertaining read, this was my first time reading anything by Molly Harper. Of all the places to move to just to get some distance from your parent, to go from southern USA to Alaska seems extreme. But as Mo elaborates on how her hippie parents are like, Alaska might not be far enough.

Mo is an interesting character who I’d probably get along with. She’s a good person, just looking for the place where she belongs after her tumultuous childhood. New to the small town of Grundy, Alaska, Mo is a novelty that has most bachelors flirting with her as she quickly finds a place for herself in their community.

The only one really against Mo’s move to Grundy is the perpetually grumpy Cooper. (As well as Lynette, who’s dislike comes from the men’s attention on Mo.) Consistently at odds with one another, Mo and Cooper can’t deny the latent attraction at work as well.

The book starts off pretty slowly. But when we finally get to the scene described in the summary, where Mo finds a naked man stuck in a bear trap, the story just takes off.

A quick, fun read, this book isn’t one to pass up.


Abandon by Meg Cabot

Publisher: Point (April 26, 2011)
Kindle: 320 pages / 360 KB
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can’t help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she’s never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she’s moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can’t. Because even here, he finds her. That’s how desperately he wants her back. She knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven, yet she can’t stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

Review:

This was such a great read. However towards the beginning it did require a bit of a push to get into the story. Cabot jumped around in time so much that I nearly got fed up. But I knew it’d make more sense if I just powered through. Luckily my faith was rewarded.

Even when Pierce was so angry with the situation at hand and didn’t like John all that much, I couldn’t help but root for them to be together. There was this pull that Cabot made apparent and irresistible. The plot twists and increasing mysteries only help to keep me drawn in and reading to the end.

What makes this better is that “Abandon” is just the first book. There will be more to expand on the characters and answer the questions left unanswered. This is a great start. Cabot worked magic on this, and I’m excited to see where she takes it. Another book I’d recommend to anyone who’s interested in either YA fantasy books or vague interpretations of Greek mythology.


Angel Burn, by Lee Weatherly

Publisher: Candlewick (May 24, 2011)
Kindle: 464 pages / 801 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Review: Angel Burn actually turned out to be a lot better than I expected it to be. The jacket summary of the book was a little cringe worthy, and it certainly wasn’t a monument of literature, but I found the story and characters to be very engaging. The premise also was very immaginative. As the title suggests, the story is about angels, but in this case, the angels are not heavenly beings sent from God to grant miracles, they are soul sucking fiends from another dimension.

The angels’ world is collapsing, and they have realized the only way to survive is to come to our world and feed off the life force of humans. They can disguise themselves in human form, but when they feed, they become giant, beautiful beings built of light and energy. They latch onto a human’s aura and suck them dry. The humans don’t die instantly, but are left with lasting physical, metal and emotional scarring–they develop cancer, MS, depression, Schizophrenia…the list goes on. The scariest part is that the humans are left feeling nothing but bliss after their encounter. They never make the connection between their future illnesses and the day when they were touched by an Angel. The plague of the angels has become so wide spread that a cult-like church, Church of Angels, has spring up and attracted thousands of devotees nationwide. The members of the church are sick, some of them dying, but they think that the angels are saving them and giving them peace, when actually the angels are destroying them.

Sounds cool right? Indeed. There is a small band of “AKs,” Angel Killers, who know the truth. The travel around the country trying to take down angels when they can. This works okay, but the angels are planning something big. maybe too big for the AKs.

The book is about a young girl named Willow who gets pulled into the thick of it after giving a psychic reading to a highschool friend, Beth. She doesn’t know the truth about the angels, but she sees horrible things in Beth’s future–and that these things are linked with the angels. Beth is considering dropping out and joining the Church of Angels after one feeds on her. willow just wants to go to the church to talk some sense into beth, convince her the angels are bad. It all goes awry, and leaves willow on the run with Alex without even getting a chance to say goodbye to her family.

It’s pretty action packed and engaging story, but it definitely has some faults. Willow is a bit of a Mary Sue, and some of the “reveals” of the story are painfully obvious (I won’t spoil them here!). The love story between Alex/Willow is well done at first but gains so much momentum that it reads like a Melodrama toward the end. However, it is still a very entertaining tale. There is a sequel, Angel Fire, and I found this book to be intriguing enough to pick up the second one.

“Waiting” on Wednesday: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publication date: September 20, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins

From Goodreads:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.


Weekly Geeks: Readers Bill of Rights

1. The right to not read.
2. The right to skip pages.
3. The right to not finish.
4. The right to reread.
5. The right to read anything.
6. The right to escapism
7. The right to read anywhere.
8. The right to browse.
9. The right to read out loud.
10. The right not to defend your tastes.

—Pennac, Daniel, Better Than Life, Coach House Press, 1996.

For my first Weekly Geeks, I’m actually doing last week’s prompt. (It’s not my fault they haven’t put up a new one for this week. … I think.) Anyway, this is an extremely interesting topic. I had not heard of the Readers Bill of Rights before, and they’re certainly fitting. My focus is #6: The right to escapism.

I love to read (obviously). I enjoy seeing where the books take me, and leaving behind my mundane life in favor of quests, dragons and damsels to be rescued (even if they’re vampires needing rescue from were-unicorns).

The first time I was accused of using books as a means of escapism, I was confused. Was there something wrong with wanting to escape a little? To see yourself doing things only possible through the imagination? Especially considering how harmless books are as a means of escapism, there are worse choices. Even as I started to doubt the good of books and escapism, I could never fully avoid them. (My book loving nature is faintly genetic. My mother reads just about anything, and she’s far less picky than I am.) Working now in a book store part time means I’m constantly in contact with people who have that same appreciation for books as I do. And all the writing workshops and lit classes at school means, there’s no chance of staying away from books ever.

Now I’ve come to appreciate escapism. For some it may be negative, but as life gets busier and people continually demand more and more of me, books are a means of relaxation I wouldn’t give up.

(And the friend who initially started it all can’t say anything. She spends all her spare time watching dramas as her means of escape.)


Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Publisher: Harper Collins, Inc. (May 31, 2011)
Kindle: 496 pages / 833 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

Review:

We start off with Helen who isn’t normal, but wants to be. Or so she tells us. Sure, she can lift heavy weights and run distances without tiring, but how strange is that? To the skeptical, it can all be explained with extreme training that happened prior to the reader’s entrance into Helen’s life. But that’s no fun, nor is it supernatural in any way. Solution to that: Helen is a demigod.

I’m not talking Rick Riordan’s half-bloods who get quests from their godly parents and a decrepit oracle. This is about an ancient blood feud and generations of parallels forced onto the younger generation by the Fates.

Enter the Delos family. Before their arrival on the small island Helen lives on, Helen had no idea what she was. All Helen was is a beautiful, extraordinary girl trying desperately to fit in and fade into the background. It’s all for naught as the first thing Helen does is try to kill Lucas, on of the Delos kids. Oh, that blood feud at work again, forcing innocent people into violent rages they don’t understand.

This book started off slowly with Helen’s overly modest nature and need to be normal while inwardly accepting that maybe she isn’t, and it grates on my nerves at first. But with the appearance of Lucas and his family, things start to get interesting. From there the mysteries just keep coming.

As “Starcrossed” is only the first in a trilogy, more questions are brought up than answered. But Angelini wrote the book in such a compelling way that rather than be upset over being so left in the dark, I’m happily anticipating the next book. It’s just so frustratingly wonderful. Or is it wonderfully frustrating? Either way it is an interesting play on Greek mythology, and is definitely a recommended read.


Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

Publisher: Penguin Publishing (March 1, 2011)
Kindle: 430 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she’s seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams.

As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear.

And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia’s not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.

Review:

Such a captivating read. It was maddening, confusing and just … wonderful. The start was a little rocky. Something inside me rebelled against all the restrictions Theia had to deal with.

For the first part, up until I find out what Haden is, the book was very Alice in Wonderland-esque. I felt lost and confused, just following Theia as she searched for answers. Then as some questions get answered, more pop up. Rather than being frustrated, I was intrigued and more drawn into the world Hayes created.

By the end I was happily satisfied by the answers provided and the story’s end. In fact, I was bursting with happy energy of having read such a good book. But, of course, “Falling Under” is just the first book. I look forward to the the next installment, though, and hope it’s just as enthralling.

A recommended read for anyone who doesn’t mind more than a little confusion and a whole lot of romance. It’s a great read for any YA paranormal romance fan.


Un Lun Dun, By China Miéville

Publisher: Del Rey (February 13, 2007)
Kindle: 448 pages / 1504 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

I just finished reading Un Lun Dun, By China Miéville, and I found it to be very much fantastic. It definitely reminded me of the whimsical style of The Phantom Tollbooth, and made me want to pick up that book again.

Un Lun Dun is a story about two cities—London, and its “abcity,” UnLondon—in the midst of a brewing war with a foreboding enemy: The Smog. No, not Smaug, the Dragon. Smog the substance, sentient smoke that can rain down deadly chemicals, raise the dead, and essentially raise holy hell. Two Londoners, unaware of the existence of the abcity, mistakenly stumble into UnLondon and are forced to participate in the battle against Smog. Their coming, apparently, was long foretold in a persnickety old book—who is quite a character—by a group of Prophets. Zanna (short for Susanna) & Deeba must take up arms against the Smog and help the UnLondoners, lest the Smog makes its way across the “odd” and into London itself.

Anyone who read and loved The Phantom Tollbooth will adore this book. I suppose it’s technically a YA or even independent reader story, but it’s an awesome one nonetheless. It’s the kind of book you really just want to lose yourself in. My reading (read: devouring) of this story reminded me of the pull I felt when a new Harry Potter had just come out. It’s the kind of pull you feel when you’re reading in the bathtub and suddenly realized that a few hours have slipped away without you even noticing.

This is the first book I’ve read by Miéville but it will most certainly not be my last—the man seems to have so much fun with words. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi to the storytelling that really ensnared me—the characters were batty and imperfect and wonderful, and the adventure put a really amusing twist on the classic “chosen one” style of fantasy quest story. The chosen one in this novel is referred to as The Shwazzy (think: the French choisir: to choose).

This book is hilarious, sparkling, dry, fanciful, youthful, sad—and at times legitimately terrifying. For instance, one of the creatures the protagonist encounters in UnLondon is called a Black Window—and it is indeed a window spindly spider legs. This in itself isn’t very scary, but each window opens up into a small world, and the spider traps you by making you forget you want to leave. And then you’re gone. Legit terrifying.

I don’t want to give too much away but seriously, how can you go wrong with a story that has Spider windows, predatory giraffes, sentient garbage, ghosts & flying busses? You’re right. You can’t.


“Waiting on” Wednesday: The Shattering

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

The Shattering by Karen Healey

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publication date: September 5, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

From Amazon:

Seventeen-year-old Keri likes to plan for every possibility. She knows what to do if you break an arm, or get caught in an earthquake or fire. But she wasn’t prepared for her brother’s suicide, and his death has left her shattered with grief. When her childhood friend Janna tells her it was murder, not suicide, Keri wants to believe her. After all, Janna’s brother died under similar circumstances years ago, and Janna insists a visiting tourist, Sione, who also lost a brother to apparent suicide that year, has helped her find some answers.

As the three dig deeper, disturbing facts begin to pile up: one boy killed every year; all older brothers; all had spent New Year’s Eve in the idyllic town of Summerton. But when their search for the serial killer takes an unexpected turn, suspicion is cast on those they trust the most.

As secrets shatter around them, can they save the next victim? Or will they become victims themselves?