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Friday, February 28, 2014

Panic by Lauren Oliver

3.5 stars
A quick, suspenseful read. It all seemed believable. That there would be kids out there willing to risk their lives for a little bit of cash - ok, a lot of cash. The portrayal of a poor, depressed town was well done. It really added to the story and made the sense of urgency all the more real for the characters. There was a scene near the end that hinted at one of the characters having OCD. That wasn't ever addressed or even hinted at in the beginning. I was just curious why it was stuck in there. The ending was satisfying like a cool glass of iced tea on a hot summer day. I love when the reader gets a glimpse of normal life after the panic inducing elements of the majority of the story. And since I said panic, I would be very curious to know just how many times the word panic/panicked was used in this book. I bet it's a lot.

There was some curse words including a few f bombs.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer Nielsen

I heart Jaron. He is simply one of the most clever characters ever. His wit and panache are only equal to his skills of strategy and psychology. Jennifer Nielsen managed to write three books that kept my interest for every single page. There was a moment where it was a little obvious what must happen, but I was glad that it happened. I love how Jaron plays games with his enemies. His taunts are always perfectly aimed to inflict damage.

I feel that the characters Nielsen create are incredibly believable, flawed and mufti-faceted. Nothing is every straight forward in Jaron's world. This is a strong study in strong characters who display a surprising amount of vulnerability. Even the secondary characters are fleshed out having their own foibles and quirks.

I would not hesitate in the least to put this series into the hands of any children that cross my path (or teens for that matter either). I am buying the first book for my nephew for his birthday. When he showed me he was reading The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, I just knew he would love this series too.

This series is definitely one that I will come back to and read again and again. There are few books or series that I will re-read, but this one will go on the shelf next to Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Can't wait to see what Jennifer Nielsen has planned next

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mistwalker by Saundra Mitchell

The amazing atmosphere of this book added such strength to the story. It is well wrought and beautifully written. I loved that Willa knew her place was to stay home. This is so rarely the case with YA protagonists. The trope is usually a character who desperately wants out of the town they live in. This was a welcome breath of fresh air.

Certain passages were so poetic that you needed to stop and roll them around on your tongue to fully appreciate them. I am definitely wanting to read more from Saundra Mitchell. I appreciated the use of italics and how they played into the end of the novel. The world building was truly some of the best that I have read. I felt like I was in Maine even though I have never been there before.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas

At times this book was maddeningly slow, and then it would just skip over several weeks at at time. It was, however, one of the best characters that I have read. I loved Celeana and thought she was a great example of equal parts strong and vulnerability. The journey that she takes is far from over, and I can't wait to start Crown of Midnight.

Crown of Midnight by Sarah Maas

This book surpassed the first one by a country mile. I like that Sarah Maas is not afraid to let her characters be a confused gray rather than everything being black and white. Cealena is one tough woman ready to do what needs to be done. Some could say she was cold and calculating, but I prefer to think of it as acting logical. If she were a male character, people would say that she is strong and good leadership material. I fear though that since she is female, people will see her as heartless and cruel. Maas does a great job of allowing her character to be ruthless and likeable at the same time.

Be forewarned - this was a very violent book, and a good portion of that violence is committed by the protagonist. I feel that the strength of the novel lies within its no holds barred approach to the violence. It is not a pretty world that Cealena lives in. There will be times when the only recourse is violent action. Cealena's directive is first to survive, and as such she needs to stay alive by any means possible. I did not mind the violence, rather found it a welcome relief to the sort of girls who let the villain live in a moment of compassion, and then a few chapters later have to deal with the same villain again. Cealena is tough. She is hard. She is ruthless. But those only make me love her more.

I am very much looking forward to the next book, and the series is strong enough to warrant buying it on its release day. Actually, I don't think I have a choice since my daughter will make sure that I pre-order it.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

I really loved The Shadow Society, but this book is so much beyond that one that I can't express my delight. I started with the short story Bridge of Snow which can be found for free here It was masterful and begs for more. The full length novel did not disappoint. The story was so well put together from beginning to end. The world building was phenomenal and intricate. The characters were some of the best that I have read in YA fiction. I found my loyalties divided so much in the book. I realized that if I routed for Arin then Kestrel would suffer, and vice versa if I routed for Kestrel. I never could make up my mind which one I wanted to triumph. Also, I would like to point out that this was a great romance. There was no insta-love or repeated paragraphs telling me, the reader, how hot the other one was. It was sweet and slow and very satisfying.
I desperately want the next book, and I am very sad to think that I have to wait a year before I can find out what happens. But I am very happy that I have found a new author that I can rave about.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

A definite page turner, but there were several things that kept me from enjoying this book to its fullest. There was excessive language and a sex scene. I suppose I am a prude because I really don't enjoy reading books with that kind of content. I was already half way into it when I realized. It was a good enough book that I wanted to see where it would lead. I loved the alternate history story line and felt that Fama did a great job of selling the Day/Night distinctions. Our society is already as fractured as this, but it is along class lines. The poor can no sooner associate with that upper 1% than the Day and Night crowds come together. And just like this book, the governing bodies force everyone into their respective roles and expect everyone to not rock the boat. Fama really highlights and discerns what is wrong in society and makes it into Sol's struggle.

With the way this book ended, I am assuming that there will be a sequel. If not, then it was truly a brilliant way to end. The reader gets to make their own conclusion, but I feel there is more to tell about Sol and D'arcy. I hope we will get to see more Jean because he was truly a fascinating character.

The plot was intricate and well put together. Just when you think the book is headed one way, it veers off to another path. I did feel that the latter end of the middle half bogged down. Otherwise, it was all action.

If you are a fan of alternate fiction, this will definitely be one that you want to pick up.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

4.5 stars
I absolutely adored this book. Every word built the story in evocative and beautiful ways. But... it is not in any way a YA book. Not that there is objectionable things - there wasn't. Sedgwick uses his words to describe rather than relying on obscenities (which I greatly appreciate). There was no sex - true love lasting for centuries, yes. I just can't understand why it was labeled as YA. I know that Sedgwick has written YA novels in the past, but that shouldn't mean an automatic label.

It is beautiful, classic and touching - something that should be savored. It is a quick read, but I found myself slowing down to enjoy certain passages and to make the experience last longer. I haven't read any other books by Sedgwick, but I will certainly be bumping up his other novels in my TBR list. I am not one for re-reading books very often, but this book is one that I look forward to reading again.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Avalon by Mindee Arnett

4.5 stars
I loved Firefly so when I saw the comparisons I was apprehensive. It was definitely good and better than some other space novels that I have come across. I really grew to love Jeth which was a surprise because I typically gravitate toward female protagonists. He was a great, compelling character that you felt very connected to. Mindee Arnett is mad wicked at writing villains. Not one but two that you just despised and booed whenever them came onto the page. And the ending? I just loved the ending! I don't want to give anything away so I won't say what I loved about it. I am on pins and needles waiting for the next book and will be first in line to get it.

There is a fair amount of violence and a few colorful words, but nothing egregious.