Saturday, January 28, 2012

5. Summer's Crossing

Book #5: Summer's Crossing
Author: Julie Kagawa
Published: June 1, 2011
Format: ebook, 72 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

A Midsummer's Nightmare? Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Summer Court prankster, King Oberon's right hand, bane of many a faery queen's existence—and secret friend to Prince Ash of the Winter Court. Until one girl's death came between them, and another girl stole both their hearts.

Now Ash has granted one favor too many and someone's come to collect, forcing the prince to a place he cannot go without Puck's help—into the heart of the Summer Court. And Puck faces the ultimate choice—betray Ash and possibly win the girl they both love, or help his former friend turned bitter enemy pull off a deception that no true faery prankster could possibly resist.

I love side books in series. I love the short, mini stories that tie with the main series but give you a whole new look on the series as a whole. They are usually narrated by a character that you want to know more about and it's exciting to enter the world through their eyes. Take this one, Puck narrates this novella, and we get a whole new perceptive of Meaghan's story. I enjoy Puck, he's the comic relief in the series and he has a good heart. We know that he loves Meaghan, but we also know that he's not going to get her in the end. It will always be Ash who gets her heart. So this novella gives us a look into Puck's head. Ash and him go on a small journey to claim something for someone and it reminds them both of their old days together. The friendship between Puck and Ash is too beleiveable. They will defy odds and rules to be friends, but as soon as a girl gets involved, all of that no longer matters. The two fey have the exact same taste in women, but Ash always wins.

It would be hard to be Puck, seeing Ash with the girl he loves all the time, but somehow he does it. It takes a strong man to back down for love, and even help with the journey to get Ash back to the girl. Their friendship is tested countless times, and it will be tested even more before this journey is over. After reading this short chapter of the series, I can't to start reading the final chapter, The Iron Knight. For me, I'm glad it's written in Ash's voice, just as I'm glad this was written through Puck's. It has given me a new love for this series, a love that Meaghan just couldn't give me.

"I would be more than her guardian and her champion and the jester who made her laugh. I would be her everything, if I could."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Through The Looking Glass

So I'd say I'm off to a good start here with my 50 Book Pledge. My goal is to finish at least one more book this month, which I'm sure I can do!

Here are some titles that I'm really looking forward to this year that will definitely be on my list of books to read:

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent
Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Bewitching by Alex Flinn
Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready
The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore

I'm alway looking for recommendations to add to my list, so feel free to drop me a line!

4. Beauty Queens

Book #4: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Published: May 4, 2011
Pages: 396
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

A Note From Our Sponsor

Well it’s been a wild ride hasn’t it? I don’t want to alarm you, and I can’t guarantee that everyone is safe and sound now, but I’d like to take a minute to let you know that The Corporation had no part in this matter as much as “they” would let you otherwise believe. It is not our fault that a plane holding all 50 contestants of The Miss Teen Dream Beauty Pageant crashed onto a deserted island. It is not our fault that we could not get there to rescue them. It is not our fault that being on this island may have liberated these girls. This island may or may not have taught them to be self sufficient, mean you this was with much help from Corporation products such as Lady ‘Stache Off and no doubt with a little help of The Miss Teen Dream Pageant morals as well.

There’s no way past it. These girls are brave. They learn to fish, built huts, find fresh drinking water, all the while wearing torn pageant dresses and sashes. These are Miss Teem Dreamers and The Corporation recognizes that. That may or may not be why we thought them a threat. Oh, I’m getting off track here. Where was i?

The Corporation did not plan for the girls to stay very long. We had it all set up, but damn are these girls smarter than they look. They are outspoken, quick thinkers and they sure know how to use those pageant moves as weapons. Especially that Miss Texas, now she’s a pure bred. There’s no stopping her once she’s put her mind to something. And Miss Nebraska sure won’t take anybody’s crap. Most of these girls seem like your typical, clean cut beauty queens. Well think again viewers. There is more to these girls that meets the eye. Once again, The Corporation feels like we could have done more to help these girls, maybe get them off that island before they started to become, well, independent and thinkers. You can’t let a woman think too much, or else this happens.

Let’s just all pretend none of this happened. Let’s go back to thinking great things about The Miss Teen Dream Pageant and all the wonderful Corporation aspects it stands for. We do not condone this behavior, but let me just leave you with this final message from The Corporation:

Never leave fresh, smart girls alone together on an island. Because they will get angry when they find out what you plan on doing and they will in fact seek revenge. And these girls are pretty resourceful, so they will win.

“Maybe girls need an island to find themselves. Maybe they need a place where no one’s watching them so they can be who they really are.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

3. The Juliet Spell

Book #2: The Juliet Spell
Author: Douglas Rees
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Pages: 304
3 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

I wanted the role of Juliet more than anything. I studied hard. I gave a great reading for it—even with Bobby checking me out the whole time. I deserved the part.

I didn't get it. So I decided to level the playing field, though I actually might have leveled the whole play. You see, since there aren't any Success in Getting to Be Juliet in Your High School Play spells, I thought I'd cast the next best—a Fame spell. Good idea, right?

Yeah. Instead of bringing me a little fame, it brought me someone a little famous. Shakespeare. Well, Edmund Shakespeare. William's younger brother.

Good thing he's sweet and enthusiastic about helping me with the play...and—ahem—maybe a little bit hot. But he's from the past. Waypast. Cars amaze him—cars! And cell phones? Ugh.

Still, there's something about him that's making my eyes go star-crossed....

I really like Shakespeare. In Grade 9, we read Romeo and Juliet and I fell in love. I couldn't wait to get to English class and read it. I'm still the same. I enjoy any movie based on his plays and I will pick up any book with the mere mention of his name. That's what drew me to The Juliet Spell. It involves my favourite play and even Shakespeare himself. My exceptions were a little high I guess because it wasn't quite what I thought it would be. The concept was there: girl wants to be Juliet, girl casts a spell, girl gets Shakespeare's brother from the 1500s and falls in love with him. The problem was that I was never rooting for Miranda and Edmund. I didn't see the spark that she saw. I didn't think they were connected at all. Maybe the author didn't describe Miranda's feelings well enough or they just weren't believable because I didn't feel any real emotion from either of them. When I think Romeo and Juliet, all I think is passion so feral that they can't live without each other. That is the kind of passion I expected here, seen as Romeo and Juliet played a very important part in the plot.

A lot happens over the course of Miranda getting the role of Juliet and preforming it. There is drama, fights, heartbreak, and sex. There was an awful lot going on around Miranda and it seemed really easy to fake Edmund as someone from this century. The transition for him was funny. Him seeing a cell phone, TV and shower for the first time was pretty entertaining. But after the initial shock, he seems to adapt quite quickly. If I were him, I probably wouldn't want to leave the house. Everything feels a little rushed with no real emotionally connection. I was left wanting to know more about every character in the book and without an emotional bond to any of them. It's a tad disappointing since that is my main focus for reading, especially when the novel is written in first person. I want to feel everything that character is feeling. I want to go into her head and feel her heartbreak, her passion and her excitement when she gets her first kiss. That is what is truly important to me and this novel didn't give me much of that.

The Shakespeare references are a nice touch and it's nice how most of them come from Edmund and William tends to steal them. This makes for a twist on what could have happened four hundred years ago. But alas, I always want more. I'll just keep searching for the book that breaks my heart as much as Romeo and Juliet did.

"I cast a spell to make me Juliet. It worked. But I forgot that Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy. I got what I asked for."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2. The Iron Queen

Book #2: The Iron Queen
Author: Julie Kagawa
Release Date: January 15, 2011
Pages: 358
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.

For as long as I can remember, I've been a fan of fairies. It might have been seeing Tinkerbell in Peter Pan as a child or maybe it was something completely different. Either way, I love them. The love grew in high school when I discovered the amazing artist Amy Brown and fell into her world of fey. The fascination just keeps growing. Now there are books about fairies and they are wonderful. I haven't read them all, but I have read the Wondrous Strange and now most of The Iron Fey series. In the third instalment, we finally get to see Meghan triumphiant. She has journeyed far through the land of Faery since she discovered she was the daughter of Oberon, the Summer King. With the help of some unlikely friends such as a talking cat, Puck from fey legend and a handsome prince, she discovers more about herself and how powerful she really is. The final chapter of her journey really brings it all together.

The plot is detailed and the adventure flows nicely throughout the novel. But after reading three of these books, the plots almost seem too much alike. There is the deed that needs to be done, which is different in each book, but the process of getting there is very much the same. In all, this could have been a shorter series and still had the same impact on me. I found myself pushing to get through the second book and was happy when the third seemed to draw in my attention more. The parts of these stories that kept me going were really just two characters: Ash, the Winter Prince, and Grimalkin, the talking cat. Ash was mysterious and sad and I know there is much more to find out about him. Thankfully he has his own book, The Iron Knight, which I plan to read shortly. And the cat, oh the cat! He was snarky and unpredictable and he always showed up exactly when they needed him. I especially like how he answered every question posed to him with "I am a cat." He was brilliant and stole the show for me.

Meghan Chase was a strong herione. She was brave and journeyed into an unknown world to save her family and would do anything for her friends. She lacked something though, I can't put my finger on it, but she didn't draw me in like most heroines do. That's an important part for me, especially when she is the narrator. I'm excited to read Ash's story so I can have closure with these characters. There are still many things left unanswered at the end of this book, and I hope they will be answered for me soon.

"I wished that, for once, faery tales – real faery tales, not Disney fairy tales – would have a happy ending."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

1. Never To Sleep

Book #1: Never To Sleep by Rachel Vincent: A Soul Screamers Novella
Release Date: January 1, 2012
Format: EBook
5 Gold Stars

(Summary from Goodreads)

Don't Close Your Eyes.

Sophie Cavanaugh is not going to let her freak of a cousin's strange psychiatric condition ruin high school for them both. Not after all the work she's put into cultivating the right look, and friends, and reputation. But then, Sophie sees something so frightening she lets out a blood-curdling scream—and finds herself stuck in a bizarre parallel world where nothing is safe and deadly creatures lurk just out of sight, waiting for her to close her eyes and sleep...forever.

Could this world be real? Or does insanity run in the family...?

Rachel Vincent never disappoints. In every Soul Screamer novel, she plunges deeper and deeper into the scary, gruesome world that is the Netherworld. Each novel shows us more of this strange world full of monsters, hellions and other things that go bump in the night. The series revolves around your not-so-average teenage girl Kaylee Cavanaugh, who discovers she is actually a bean sidhe (or a banshee) and sings for the souls of those who die around her. And death follows her everywhere. This novella though, takes a nice twist from Kaylee's hectic life. As with Vincent's last novella, Reaper, this one takes us into the mind of another character so we can understand everyone as well as we understand Kaylee.

This novella takes us into the mind of Kaylee's bitchy, stuck up, self obsessed cousin Sophie. Little Miss Popular who thinks her cousin is out to sabotage her perfect life with unstabiltiy. Sophie is about to figure out why Kaylee acts so strange and maybe even find a love interest while she's at it.

Let's face it, anyone who has read these books doesn't like Sophie. We aren't supposed to like Sophie. We love Kaylee and Sophie does everything she can to ruin Kaylee's life. But when Sophie gets sucked into a world that Kaylee knows all too well, her stubbornness and princess like behaviour may just sizzle a little. Sophie proves herself to me in this book. She proves that her and Kaylee have a lot more in common than they think. Sophie is brave, smart, and not willing to give up until she gets back home. Her character grows throughout the short 80 pages and I'm glad for it.

As always, Vincent describes the Netherworld in great detail. I can picture the Crimson Creeper slithering along the floor and I hear the scratching of the creatures as they follow Sophie. It is certainly a world I would never want to accidentally fall into. Sophie does a damn good job at keeping her cool and concentrating on getting out of there.

This story is a bridge between two books, If I Die and Before I Wake (which will be released in July) so we know it will be important come the next chapter of this story. I'm eager to know what's in store for Sophie in the future, after everything that's happened to her in Never To Sleep. Her eyes have been opened to a world that we're all familiar with, but is brand new to her. This book has only made me more eager to get my hands on Before I Wake. I can't wait to see what other tricks Vincent has up her sleeves.

"He was beyond gorgeous. But Eastlake High was full of pretty people who acted like total freaks. I blame the local water supply. Which was why I drank bottled water."

Friday, January 6, 2012

So it begins...

I am going to read 50 books this year. Last year I ended at 38, which I think is a damn good number considering I started my pledge a little late. This year, my 50 Book Pledge is set up and ready to go. I'm already halfway through my first book. My goal to go along with this goal, will be to write a review for each book I read. As a writer, I like to find things to write about and I'm not sure why I never thought to write book reviews. There are a few book I read last year that I'd love to write reviews for, so those will probably end up here as well. Pretty much - I want to write and since I'm reading so much, I should bring them together.

I haven't made a list of the 50 books I plan to read yet, and I probably won't. I'm the kind of person that just goes to the book store and grabs something new, most of the time it's something I've never even heard of from an author I've never heard of. I'm not normally disappointed either. Last year I read some incredible books. The Hunger Games started my kick on dystopian Young Adult novels and I haven't looked back. Most of the books I've been reading are Young Adult, which is good since the novel I'm writing also falls into that genre. There are other books that hold special places in my heart as well. The Lord Of The Rings will always be one of my favourites. I read it in high school and loved it! I was pretty obsessed around the time the movies came out as well. I've read a lot of books by Nicholas Sparks and Sophie Kinsella and am also a big fan of the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent.

There are still a lot of books out there to read and I can't wait to explore the unknown worlds that authors will be bound to take me to. Before I go, here's a few of the books I read last year that really stuck out to me. Any recommendations are also very, very welcome!

My Soul To Steal
The Forest of Hands and Teeth
The Dead-tossed waves
The Dark and Hollow Places
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
I Am Number Four
If I Die
The Power Of Six
Looking For Alaska

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