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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Goddess Girls by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Titles: Athena the Brain; Persephone the Phony; Aphrodite the Beauty
Authors: Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
ISBNs: 9781416982715; 9781416982722; 9781416982739
Publisher: Aladdin
Page #'s: 160; 137; 156
Source: From my public library

"Athena has always been above average. She's never quite fit in at Triton Junior High, but who would've guessed that Athena is actually a goddess? Principal Zeus's daughter, to be exact. When she's summoned to Mount Olympus Academy, Athena thinks she might actually fit in for the first time in her life. But in some ways, school on Mount Olympus is not that different from down on Earth, and Athena is going to have to deal with the baddest mean girl in history - Medusa!"

"As Persephone's mother encourages her to do, she often 'goes along to get along' instead of doing what she really wants. But then she meets Mount Olympus Academy bad-boy Hades, she finally feels she has found someone with whom she can be herself. He's the first person who actually listens to her, and she finds herself liking him, despite the fact that other goddessgirls think he's bad news. But if he makes her feel so special - and so comfortable - can he really be all that bad?"

"Aphrodite delights in helping mortals in love, but she's pretty annoyed at the constant attention she gets from the godboys at Mount Olympus Academy. When she decides to give Athena a makeover, she's a bit unprepared for the result. She didn't count on all the interest Athena's new look would get. And she certainly never thought she'd find herself jealous of one of her best friends! Will she be able to put the jealousy behind her?"

I don't read children's books. Really, I don't. And that's exactly what these are. But can you blame me? Look at how cute those covers are?! I honestly couldn't resist. And who doesn't love a good story about the gods and goddesses? That was one of my favorite topics in school - the Greeks and their deities.

As I said, these books are written for children. So they've taken the stories of Athena, Persephone, and Aphrodite and turned them on their heads. And put them in a high school situation. It's actually really clever to think of Mount Olympus as a huge school for all the gods and goddesses. They learn about spells, magic, heroes, and more. All the great characters make an appearance at some point, but all of them are high school aged - except for Zeus and the teachers, of course.

The first book, Athena the Brain, sets up the whole Mount Olympus Academy world. It starts with her finding out she is a goddess, along with finding out she actually does have parents. The book does a good job setting everything up and giving you the who's who in the school. It mostly shows Athena learning the ropes - things like, blocking your brainstorms so they don't rain down on earth. This one is a really fun start to this series.

The second book is about Persephone and her finding out who she really is. She's spent so much time pleasing other people, that she doesn't know herself. An instrumental part of her finding herself is meeting and falling for Hades - another god at the high school. You do have to suspend your knowledge of the original story for this one - because you don't have the whole kidnapping thing going on. But it's a cute retelling that children will love. Probably :).

And the third book I read was Aphrodite the Beauty. Her entire life is filled with concerns about looks and love and crushes. Aphrodite's story is the one that feels most like a regular popular high school girl. She gives a friend a makeover and the friend becomes more popular than she is. It's an old story, of course. But in the context of Aphrodite, it was a lot of fun.

I think I would describe this series (or at least the first three books) as an adorable retelling of some ancient stories. They really do pull in all of the elements of the gods - what they eat, what they can do, how they travel and more. These are a neat way of telling the stories to children in a fun and seriously cute package.

Check out the websites of the authors: Suzanne Williams and Joan Holub. I know there are more Goddess Girls books coming out, so I will probably have to read those as well. Too cute to be ignored!
Other Blog Reviews:

Wondrous Reads
I am a Reader, Not a Writer
Zoe's Book Reviews (author interviews)
The Trades
Biblio File

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

Title: Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)
Author: Richelle Mead
ISBN: 9781595143068
Publisher: Razorbill
Page #: 394
Source: My own copy

"Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir's Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardians to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose - for a crime she didn't even commit. She's in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She'll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose's life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back... and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your whole life is about saving others, who will save you?"
First Lines:

"I don't like cages.
I don't even like going to zoos. The first time I went to one, I almost have a claustrophobic attack looking at those poor animals."
Page 11

**I'm not sure if I can review this book without spoilers. So if you don't wanna know what happens, tread carefully. Especially if you haven't read the rest of the books!**

Clearly, I'm a huge Vampire Academy fan. I can pretty well say that it's one of the absolute best vampire series' out there today. Here are some of my other reviews of the books:
Vampire Academy (preblog)
Frostbite (preblog)
Shadow Kiss
Blood Promise
Spirit Bound

These days it's fairly rare for an author to call an ending to their series. Seriously, have you noticed how many are going on forever? But I'm happy that this series is done in six books. Not because I wanted it to be over, but because the story ends so perfectly. (Well, and not to mention the spin off that's coming - which has some of the same characters.)

So, this is the story after Rose has been imprisoned for supposedly killing the Queen. And this is where it gets really spoilery - she gets broken out of the Court and goes on a massive adventure. She's been given instructions by the late queen and has to see them through. During this whole thing, she's still able to see how Lissa is doing through the bond - which gives you a second perspective on the whole story.

Honestly, I think one of the coolest things about this book was the bond being the most important link in finding out what's happening back in Court. It's written really well - almost like the author had intended for the two characters to be apart at some point and this would be the way you'd get both sides of the story.

This series is one of the few that I don't have to backtrack to remember what the last book was about. There are enough hints and stuff dropped so you're really not in the dark at all. And there are times when things are mentioned that I had forgotten, but it just helps make the story richer. I have to say, this author seamlessly pulls in all of these characters from the past books to give them all some sort of closure.

I know a lot of people are interested to find out which guy Rose ended up with. I'm not going to say who (in an attempt to be less spoilery), but I have to say I'm happy about who she chose. And really it wasn't her choosing so much as realizing who she is meant to be with. It was actually pretty hot and steamy for a little while *whew!* :) But the romance aspect was just one of the great things about this book.

There were a few parts of the ending that I wasn't really expecting. But it was nice to see how things were coming together perfectly. I could not have asked for a better ending. I almost cried a little in the end, actually. Ahem. But it was wonderful - and really makes me want to go back and read the whole series together. Something tells me it would be a pretty powerful experience. But I'd never get anything else done if I tried it. These books are "lay awake at night reading" good.

I can't wait to see what this author has in store for the future. I will absolutely be reading any new YA stuff she comes up with. I know she does adult series' as well, but I'm all YA :). Richelle Mead a very talented author and I know we'll see more from her (mostly because a new series has already been announced, Bloodlines). Sounds like a very cool spinoff. Eee!
Other Blog Reviews:

IB Book Blogging
Geeky Blogger's Book Blog
December Series Review
Paranormal Haven
The Compulsive Reader
Lots of other reviews out there, so give them a look.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (43)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

Captured: The Divided Realms (#1)
by Maggie L. Wood
To be released: May 01, 2011

Summary from the publisher:
"Fifteen-year-old Willow Kingswell has been listening to her Nana's tales of faeries and enchanted kingdoms for as long as she can remember. But when she is magically transported to the realm of Mistolear, she is stunned to learn that the stories were true, and that she is actually a princess. Suddenly, Willow has to fit into a royal family she didn't know she had, deal with customs she doesn't understand and sort out her feelings for Brand, the handsome knight who has sworn to protect her.
On top of everything, she may also be the key to saving Mistolear from a terrifying spell. The nefarious faerie prince Nezeral has pitted two kingdoms against each other in a life-or-death chess match, in which people are the game pieces. As a pawn, Willow now glows with the light of the game and must find the courage and cleverness to battle Nezeral before her loved ones fall. Could a meager pawn really be the most powerful piece on the board? Captured is the first book in the thrilling Divided Realms series."

I've only recently seen things about this book and the second one that comes out in the same day. But A. The cover is awesome. And B. I love the whole faerie thing. Kinda sounds a little like the Iron Fey series by Kagawa - the whole being dropped in a new realm where the rules are totally different thing. So I'm really interested to see how this one stacks up!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Darlings are Forever by Melissa Kantor

Title: The Darlings are Forever
Author: Melissa Kantor
ISBN: 9781423123682
Publisher: Hyperion
Page #: 328
Source: ARC from the publisher (Title is just "The Darlings")

Summary (from the back cover of the ARC):
"Jane, Victoria, and Natalya have always been best friends. Together, they're the Darlings. They have matching necklaces, their own table at Ga Ga Noodle, and even a shared motto: May you always do what you're afraid of doing.

When they start freshman year at three different high schools in distant corners of New York City, the Darlings promise that they'll stay as close as ever, no matter what comes between them. But pretty soon, living by their motto and doing scary new things leads to keeping secrets from each other. Now, Jane, Victoria, and Natalya worry they might be losing their best friends. And there's nothing else the Darlings are more afraid of doing."
First Lines:

"The Labor Day sun was scorching, and as Jane waited for the light to change, she could practically hear her dark hair frizzing. It had taken her longer than she'd expected to wrap the boxes, and racing along the few blocks between her house and Ga Ga Noodle, where she was meeting Natalya and Victoria, had made her sweaty."
Page 1

I've read a few things by Melissa Kantor in the past. The only one since the blog is The Amanda Project she did with another author. I remember thinking that this author was good - but not someone that I consider one of my go-to authors. But this book might actually change my opinion on that.

The story is about three girls who are just entering high school - they've been best friends from the beginning. The problem is that they're going to different high schools. Because of this, they start having completely different life experiences and they start to grow apart because of them. It's a fun story about friendship and what keeps it strong through crazy drama.

I was expecting it to be a little along the lines of Gossip Girl - you know, girls in NYC living it up. But really it's a story about friendship and girls making their way in the world. They are also a bit younger with starting HS. It gives them a new view of the world and how things work. I'd love to read more about these three girls and what happens to them in the years after this. (I've heard rumors that this is the start of a series... not proven yet!)

One thing that had me confused every once in a while was the change in perspective in every chapter. The characters were vastly different, so it didn't take me long to get back into whichever girl it was... but it still stopped me every time. I had to think - okay, which one goes to this school? What's she good at again? That was probably the only thing I would wish for to be changed. And it might not have helped that two of the names were very close to each other :)

I loved that each of the girls had a very specific thing she is good at. One is a baker, one is an actress, and one is super-smart. It gives them all a personality to build on - something that doesn't keep them apart or competing. Very cool idea. They've also got different types of relationships building outside of their circle. Seeing how those affect the threesome is a fairly realistic idea of what happens when friendships start to break apart.

I'll definitely be recommending this book to girls who are looking for realistic fiction - especially that middle grade girl. It's a wonderful story and I really hope for a second book to give me more from the characters. Check out the author's website for hopefully more news on that front. Great story and you should definitely give it a try!
Other Blog Reviews:

Candace's Book Blog

I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read
Christi the Teen Librarian
Readergirlz (the cover story)
MARJOLEINBOOKBLOG (interview with the author)

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3)
Author: Julie Kagawa

ISBN: 9780373210183

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Page #: 362

Source: From Netgalley

Summary (From the author's website):

"In less than twenty-four hours I'll be seventeen.

Although, technically, I won't actually be turning seventeen. I've been in the Nevernever too long. When you're in Faery, you don't age. So while a year has passed in the real world, agewise I'm probably only a few days older than when I went in.

In real life, I've changed so much I don't even recognize myself.

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 the conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.

First Lines:

"Eleven years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared. One year ago, on the very same day, my brother was taken from me, as well. But that time, I went into Faery to take him back."
Page 9

I'm a fan of this series... see other reviews:
The Iron King
The Iron Daughter

So, anything I say is completely colored by my love of this story. I'm a huge fan and if you haven't read the other books in this series, I highly recommend them. Luckily, this book is equally as awesome - so do it now!

I've never read an ebook before. I've decided that I may only do that for books I really want to get my hands on. If I was kinda "meh" about a book, I don't think an ebook would be the way to go. But something like this? I'm just glad I could read it early :). Thanks Netgalley!

Okay, so the actual review... I. Loved. It. Seriously. Typically I don't enjoy books that make me cry, but this one was totally because I was so involved in the story and loved the characters so much. The ending was hard to read, but I'm not going to give anything away. I hope :). But it's so beautifully written that I couldn't help but be emotionally moved. How many books can you say that about?

The characters have continued growing from the first book until now. You start out with a girl who is in a typical high school - nothing doing... and then she gets pulled into this world of Faery. It's amazing to watch her grow into the woman she becomes - well, still a teenager... but she's more of a woman than some adults I know. And to watch the relationships with Ash and Puck grow is wonderful. Everything becomes more defined and specific - which I really appreciated.

The worlds that Kagawa has created are just amazingly vivid and magical. There are things about them that make you feel like you're there with the characters. And she does this so seamlessly, you barely even realize it. I suppose that's one of the reasons these books are so hard to put down - you want to get back into that amazing world and live for a bit longer.

You know, this book felt like an ending to a trilogy. Honestly, you could stop reading after this one and you would be none the wiser. Of course, there is more to be had... and why wouldn't you read on?! But this one ties most everything up nicely. You have everyone moving on to the next step in their lives. I, for one, am so ready to find out what happens next!

This probably goes without saying, but I absolutely recommend this series to any lovers of fantasy. Or books. Or life. These books are just that good! No, seriously. Anyone who is into faery stuff or likes the paranormal romances - or really even action (there are battle scenes, people!), I think you would like this one. This book comes out in a few days - the 25th - so, I really suggest you go out and get it. I'll be attempting to get one for my library, for sure.

Can I just say that the teaser in the back of the book for Kagawa's next book (The Iron Knight) made me wish for it right now! Too bad I'm gonna have to wait, but I will absolutely be excited for it. It's also really cool to watch a debut author from just last year come out with three awesome books back to back to back. I'm impressed, really. I'll probably read anything she does in the future, too.

Speaking of the author, go check out her website and her blog and stuff. I look forward to seeing more updates about future titles :).
Other Blog Reviews:

Candace's Book Blog
Geeky Blogger's Book Blog
A Blog About Nothing
Books With Bite
Just Your Typical Book Blog
There are lots of other reviews out there already! They all look positive... which is super awesome!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Darn B&N!

Soo.... Yesterday I wrote my typical "Waiting on Wednesday" post. Nothing to it. They're usually no big deal. Except this time Barnes and Noble lied to me.

I got an email from the author of the book I chose: Zombies Don't Cry - Rusty Fischer. Apparently, the description given on the Barnes and Noble website is completely for another book. Good job, B&N. Lettin' me down again. Just so y'all don't think I'm insane, here's the link to the incorrect information.

Here is the description of the book given to me by the author:
"Maddy Swift is just a normal girl—a high school junior surviving class with her best friend and hoping the yummy new kid, Stamp, will ask her out. When he finally does, her whole life changes.

Sneaking out to meet Stamp at a party one rainy night, Maddy is struck by lightning. After awakening, she feels lucky to be alive. Over time, however, Maddy realizes that she’s become the thing she and everyone else fear most: the living dead.

With no heartbeat and no breath in her lungs, Maddy must learn how to survive as a zombie. Turns out there’s a lot more to it than shuffling around 24/7 growling, “Brains.” Needing an afterlife makeover is only the beginning of her problems. As Barracuda Bay High faces zombie Armageddon, Maddy must summon all of her strength to protect what matters most—just as soon as she figures out exactly what that is..."

Doesn't that sound even better than the blurb I used yesterday!? I think so too. Ps... the author sounds awesome. Here's his blog. Definitely go give it a look-see.

Thanks for catching the massive error!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (42)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

Zombies Don't Cry: a Living Dead Love Story
by Rusty Fischer
To be released: May 01, 2011

Summary from Barnes and Noble:
"Irenee Sabel is a good witch, a sophisticated beauty, a member of Chicago’s old-money elite, and a defender of an ancient code of ethics that prohibits the indiscriminate use of power attached to magical possessions. Responsible for confiscating and destroying hidden relics of the sorcery realm still employed by practitioners of the craft for self-centered reasons, she attends an aging warlock’s gala party to burglarize his safe in search of an item of mystical mayhem. But when undercover agent Jim Tylan interrupts her break-in with an undisclosed search warrant from the Department of Justice and Homeland Security, she finds herself not only launched into an escapade after pieces of a legendary evil object but also thrown together with the agent destined to be her soul mate."

Doesn't this look so awesome?! I'm pretty in love with the cover. Everything says this is for teens, but the description doesn't really say that. So we'll see how it turns out - could be cooler then I think it is! Definitely looking forward to it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ghost Town by Rachel Caine

Title: Ghost Town (Morganville Vampires #9)
Author: Rachel Caine
ISBN: 9780451231611
Publisher: New American Library
Page #: 335
Source: From my public library

**Warning! This summary and possibly review will contain spoilers if you haven't read the rest of the books in this series. So proceed with caution.**

"While developing a new system to maintain the town's defenses, Claire discovers a way to use the vampires' powers to help keep outsiders from spreading news of Morganville's "unique" situation once they've crossed the city limits.

But the new system has an unexpected and possibly deadly consequence: People inside the town start forgetting who and what they are - even the vampires. And when Claire's boyfriend, Shane, and her best friend, Eve, start treating her like a perfect stranger, Claire realizes she has to figure out a way to pull the plug on her experiment - before she forgets how to save herself... and Morganville."
First Lines:

"Oh, this doesn't sound like a good idea," Claire said, looking down at the paper that had been shoved into her hand by a passing student. She paused in the shade of the Science Building porch to read it."
Page 3

I'm a Morganville Vampires fan. Clearly this series started before my blog did... See past reviews:
Glass Houses; The Dead Girls' Dance; Midnight Alley; Feast of Fools
Lord of Misrule
Carpe Corpus
Fade Out
Kiss of Death

I have to say that this book was probably my favorite so far of this series. I'm not sure why. There's something about it that just was perfect for me. I think it might be because the last book was so different and this one pulled you back in to the original plot.

I don't think I can do this without spoilers, so sorry about that...
This book goes back to Claire's story with the crazy vampire Myrnin. Because of things that happened in past books, the controls over the town were left vulnerable. Claire's charge is to fix them - and fast. But once she does, something goes terribly wrong in the town. People begin losing parts of their past. Namely, three years.

This whole concept was really interesting to me. I mean, what would you forget if you lost the last three years of your life? What if you woke up one morning and didn't remember the last few years and the people you met and where you worked and even where you lived? I just loved that idea - and it really got me thinking. So kudos there to the author.

This book did leave you with an ending that felt final enough to not be chomping at the bit for the next book. Though, I'll still be reading it. But the ending is a little harsh - I was expecting part of it, but the other part took me a second to digest. It definitely gives you the tone of the next couple of books. It will be very interesting.

If you haven't read the Morganville books yet, and you're a fan of the whole vampire thing, I really suggest them. I always tell teens that they are a whole different take on the typical vamp story. Not to mention that they've recently re-bound these books into a nice two-books-in-one book. And I've read all nine and I'm still a fan - that's gotta say something about how well these books are written.

Speaking of which, check out Rachel Caine's website to see what's on tap next. I do know there is a tenth book on the way later this year. I'm excited to get my hands on that one.
Other Blog Reviews:

Books Complete Me
So Many Books, So Little Time
Bewitched Bookworms
Buried Under Books
Books With Bite
The Reading date

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Fill-Ins (27)

It's been a while since I've done one of these...
Friday Fill-Ins is a fun meme that's hosted by Janet at the Friday Fill-In blog. Just fill in your answers!

1. Right now I need a shower. Seriously. There was no hot water in the apartment this morning.

2. Gatorade is what's in my glass. (Actually, there's no glass. Can you imagine drinking gatorade in a glass?! That would seem odd to me.)

3. A copy of this letter will be mounted on construction paper and added to the rest being displayed. (Really, that's what I'm doing all day at work. We have a big MLK program tomorrow and kids wrote letters for him.)

4. Soup is best with a spoon. (I'm sure you didn't know that)

5. The best movie I've seen lately is Uhm... Avatar was the last great one I saw. How sad is that?.

6. Blink once for like; blink twice for love.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to traveling to RI, tomorrow my plans include resting and doing a whole lotta nothing and Sunday, I want to celebrate my fiance's gram's birthday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (41)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

The Ghoul Next Door (Monster High #2)
by Lisi Harrison
To be released: April 05, 2011

Summary from Baker and Taylor:
"Cleopatra de Nile:
New pet snake
Has Deuce-the hottest guy in school-wrapped
Herve Leger bandage dress, strappy gold platforms
Cleo was the queen bee of the RADs, the normies, and everyone in between at Merston High. But now it's "Frankie this" and "Melody that" . . . these new girls sure know how to get her lashes in a tangle. When Cleo lands a Golden Teen Vogue photo opp for her friends everything seems to be back on track...until they bail to be in some film . . . Frankie and Melody's film! Can't a royal get some loyal?
Frankie Stein:
Frankie lost her head over Brett once and vows never to do it again. Not that she has a choice. Bekka is clinging to her guy like saran. But when Brett comes up with a plan that could help the RADS live freely, sparks fly. And Bekka will stop at nothing to put out their flames. Even if it means destroying the entire monster community.
The clock is tick-tick-ticking away. Melody has a serious deadline to save her boyfriend, Jackson, from being exposed by the vengeance-seeking Bekka. But Cleo is making it royally difficult for the normie while threatening her acceptance into their exclusive group. A group that melody suspects she has more in common with than she even thought."

Insanely long summary, huh? I loved the first book in this series. I'm super excited for the next one! I know it's gonna be awesome. This author is quickly becoming my go-to for humor/chick lit. Check out the first one - it's worth it.

Crusade by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

Title: Crusade
Author(s): Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
ISBN: 9781416998020
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Page #: 470
Source: From my public library

"For the past two years, Jenn has lived and trained at Spain's Sacred Heart Academy Against the Cursed Ones. She is among the few who have pledged to defend humanity or die trying. But the vampires are gaining power, and the battle has only just begun.

Forced to return home after death takes a member of her family, Jenn discovers that San Francisco is now a vampire strong-hold. As a lone hunter apart from her team, Jenn is isolated - and at risk. She craves the company of her fighting partner, Antonio: his protection, his reassurance, his touch. But a relationship with Antonio comes with its own dangers, and the more they share of themselves, the more Jenn stands to lose.

Then Jenn is betrayed by one who was once bound to protect her, causing her to doubt all she had held as true. To survive, Jenn must find the courage to trust herself - and her heart."
First Lines:

"For thousands of years the Cursed Ones hid in the shadows, fooling mankind into thinking they didn't exist. Then one day they just... stopped. Skeptics turned into believers one fateful dawn. And no one was ever safe again."
Page 3

It's so fun to read books purely because you love the cover. This one absolutely drew me to this book immediately. I think I would have read whatever was in between these covers. Isn't it gorgeous?! Anyway...

There were two major themes throught this book that I seriously couldn't ignore - religion and location, location, location. It's a story about a team of vampire hunters that were trained in Spain (hah!) and one of their members is called away for a family matter. This brings the whole team to a new location and an enemy they had not anticipated. A really awesome premise, huh? I was excited to get something to counteract all of those vampire romances out there - until I realized this book includes vampire romance too. That was unfortunate.

Anyway, the whole religion aspect of this book is super apparent. The hunters are trained by a priest (or, at least, he is their master). There are lots of prayers and such going on all the time. One of the main characters was training in the seminary when he decided to become a hunter. Another is a witch who worships the Goddess. Others explore their religious beliefs because of the death that happens daily around them. It's a pretty constant theme in this book - one that really sets the tone of the book.

One thing I had difficulty with in this story is the jumping around. Sometimes I don't mind it when a book takes you back to another time to show you how the character has grown since such and such a time. But this book jumps characters and time periods. There are six hunters in the group and you get their back story at some point - plus the priest's point of view. There's just a lot of here and there and everywhere.

But, on the other hand, the jumping around does lead you to lots of parts of the world. The story itself takes place mostly in Spain, San Francisco, and New Orleans. But each character takes you somewhere new: Ireland, Japan, and so on. Which is kinda fun. Though with it having jumped from somewhere else, it takes a minute to figure out what's going on. And when you're looking at. There are also lots of languages mixed in, but it's done really well. The author's do a great job of making sure you understand what is being said - and sometimes without actively translating it for you. Very cool.

And this book is loooong. Seriously. I think there are technically three books in one - because you come to a point where it says book one, two, three. This helps break it up a little bit, but it's still a long book. And it's not the only book, I think. I mean, I haven't seen anything about another book in the series, but it certainly leaves you with a lot of questions. There's very little that is resolved in this book.

It's not very often that books for teens have awesome adult characters. Sometimes, I suppose, it happens. But more often than not, the adults are out to get the teens in the story or something. While, yes... there are lots of evil adult characters in this book, there are also the characters of Jenn's grandparents. I would love to have seen more from them - they sounded like amazing people. And that would add an awesome element to the craziness going on in the story. Maybe if there's a next book, there will be more of them.

All in all, I liked this book. There's a lot to it and it's extremely long, but the story is a good one and fits in well with the whole urban fantasy genre. I will be recommending it along - even though it won't need much help with its awesome cover. Fans of the whole vampire thing will probably get into this one as well - even though vampires are being hunted... for the most part. :)

Check out the author's website and hope for info on a second book! Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie.
Other Blog Reviews:

Sara's Urban Fantasy Blog
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
Eve's Fan Garden
The Book Butterfly
Fantastic Book Review
Reading Teen
Ex Libris

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Title: Hunger
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
ISBN: 9780547341248
Publisher: Graphia
Page #: 177
Source: From my public library

"Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she's been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home - her constant battle with hunger and the struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life and to face the horrifying effects of her awesome new power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power - and the courage to fight her own inner demons?"
First Lines:

"Lisabeth Lewis didn't mean to become Famine. She had a love affair with food, and she'd never liked horses (never mind the time she asked for a pony when she was eight; that was just a girl thing)."
Page 1

Very often, I judge books by their covers. I know what people say, but you really can't help it. And what I got from this cover was a lot different from the story inside. Though, it's not a bad thing, just a lot different. This is a story about a girl who unwillingly becomes one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The kicker is that this girl has a huge issue with food - namely that's she's unable to eat anything without her inner voice telling her calorie counts and how worthless she is. Because of this, she attempts to kill herself and Death offers her a way out. And she spends the rest of the book trying to learn how to use her gift and in the end is uses her.

Apparently I don't know very much about the Horsemen. I spent a lot of the book trying to figure out what exactly their role is. I do understand that each of them cause some form of chaos - Pestilence, War, Death, Famine... I get it. But there was never much of an explanation about what their purpose was. Were they working toward a goal? Or just to cause mayhem? I dunno.

I have read a few reviews that discussed that Death's character in this book was really odd. I'll agree to a point - Death is treated as a light character. As in, very snarky, a little crazy, and a bit silly. It's weird, but I picture him as the Doctor from the current Doctor Who (Matt Smith). He seems just a bit too easy for a Death character. But on the other hand, I think he sounds fun. But he probably shouldn't. :)

The other huge thing is the anorexia. I don't have any experience with eating disorders (unless it's eating too much), so I don't know how true to life this is. But in my opinion, I like the way the whole issue was dealt with in this book. And I appreciated the ending - that it wasn't easy or pretty. It felt a lot more real that way. You don't get a whole lot of her friends in this book - even though they play a big part in her life before this story starts.

All in all, I think this book was very interesting, unique, and a bit eye-opening for me. I'm not sure what audience this would be for, though. I would say fantasy lovers, but it's so much more than that. It also doesn't really fit into realistic stuff either. I do think it will be for girls though - it's very girl-issue centric. Oh, and definitely older teens - there are some graphic bits. Well, graphic-gross, so maybe it's okay for younger.

There is another book coming out in April for another of the horsemen. Check out her website for more info.
Other Blog Review:

YA Book Reads
The Book Smugglers
Paperback Dolls
Reading Angel
Book Hooked Blog
Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (40)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

Geek Fantasy Novel
by E. Archer
To be released: April 1, 2011

Summary from Baker and Taylor:
"Be careful what you wish for. Really. Because wishes are bad. Very bad. They can get you trapped in fantasy worlds full of killer bunny rabbits, evil aunts, and bothersome bacteria, for example. Or at least that's Ralph's experience. He's been asked to spend the summer with his strange British relatives at their old manor house in order to set up their Wi-Fi network. But there's much more to it than that, of course. It's just that nobody told Ralph. He's a gamer, sure. But this game is much stranger--and funnier--than anything to be found on his xbox.
He is a geek. This is his story."

You know, this book kinda sounds like an April Fools joke. I mean, it is published that day... but it also sounds hilarious. I love the cover, too. Just super clever. Or perhaps I just love geek stuff. This is one I'll definitely be looking forward too this Spring.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
ISBN: 9780525423270
Publisher: Dutton Books
Page #: 372
Source: My copy

"Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Etienne has it all... including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt."
First Lines:

"Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amelie and Moulin Rouge. The Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, although I have no idea what the function of either actually is."
Page 3

There are times when I don't listen to reviews. I dunno why. I guess sometimes I figure people must be under some voodoo spell about certain books. I was starting to think that about this book until it fell into my lap and I needed something to read on my way home from work. Once I started it, I literally wasn't able to stop.

It has pretty much all of my favorite characteristics of realistic fiction: awesome location, believable characters, perfect romance, real sounding conversations, humor, boarding schools, family drama and so much more. I loved it from page 1. Or, really, page 3 - since that's where it starts :). Ahem, anyway...

Besides all of the characteristics that make this book wonderful, there is something about the writing or the voice that just keeps you hooked. Like, literally... hooked. This was a one day read for me. When I got home from work, I didn't put it down until I was done. Ah-mazing book. There are few realistic books that I do that with. This one absolutely stands apart from all the others.

It's definitely in the romance category, but for some reason it feels like there's so much more to it. I think it's all of the emphasis on the families and friends in their lives. It gives the story more meat and points of interest. Not to mention that I love pretty much all of the characters. The group of friends the author created felt like real people that I would hope to be friends with - though I'm not sure I'd be cool enough.

I have to say that this book also took me back to my semester of study abroad in England. Yes, I realize it's a totally different place, but there's something about the whole living-in-another-country-by-yourself thing is very similar. Even the dorms sounded exactly like what I lived in there. It reminded me of all the great things - the different culture, the different foods, the amazing people... just a really cool aspect to this book.

I've mentioned this before about a totally different book, but I'll say it again: I love it when characters have a very specific hobby or love that has very little to do with the story. In this book, it's Anna's love of film. Yes, she spends a lot of time talking about/going to the theater... but it's not like that sways the story one way or another. It makes her more than just a girl with a crush on a guy. It makes her Anna - a character I'm not going to soon forget.

The cover on this book will make it an easy sell to all of my girls who love romance and realistic fic. Or, at least, easy for me to put it in their hands. I think it's a great story. I wanna say boys will love it too, but I'm not as sure about that. But the characters are so awesome, I can't imagine them not being loved. So, absolutely read this one!

This book was the author's debut and she already has another on the way! I'm so excited and I will absolutely be reading it (come on, September!). No doubt in my mind. Here's her website so you can adequately stalk her.
Other Blog Reviews:

Confessions of a Bookaholic
Imperfection is the New Pink
Novel Novice
Zoe's Book Reviews
There are way too many reviews out there for me to list... but trust me, this book is absolutely worth it. Feel free to get second, third, fourth opinions though :).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fear: Thirteen Stories of Suspense and Horror

Title: Fear: Thirteen Stories of Suspense and Horror
Author: editor, R.L. Stine
ISBN: 9780142417744
Publisher: Speak
Page #: 296

Source: From my public library

"Don't breathe. Don't move. Don't make a sound.
And whatever you do, don't trust a soul.

Because in this thrilling collection of heartstopping original stories, anyone can be a villian, and no one is who - or what - he or she seems. From thirteen masters of adult and young adult thriller writing, including five New York Times bestselling authors, here are stories guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat and up all night.

Stories by:
Jennifer Allison, Heather Brewer, Ryan Brown, Meg Cabot, Alane Ferguson, Heather Graham, Peg Kehret, Tim Maleeny, James Rollins, Walter Sorrells, R.L. Stine, Suzanne Weyn, and F. Paul Wilson."
First Lines:

"JJ stepped back from the steamy dishwater, eyes burning. He used his stained apron to wipe sweat off his forehead. His short, black hair felt wet, as if he'd just stepped from a hot shower."
Page 3, "Welcome to the Club" by R.L. Stine

There are times that short stories books are hard to get through. That's probably because they are easy to put down and get back to later - at least in my experience. But there was something very easy about this group of stories. They had very similiar feel to them - and almost flowed together. Generally I like to go through each story, but there are thirteen of them. So I'll just talk about my faves.

Only a few of the authors were ones I recognized. but some of my favorite ones were from authors unknown to me (not that it makes any difference. I'm just used to reading anthologies of authors I already love). Perhaps they are just outside of the YA realm usually? Anyway...

One that left me wanting more was called Jeeper Peepers by Ryan Brown. The story is about a girl who goes on a babysitting gig to a family living in a backwoods swamp. The boy is blind and sees things he shouldn't in his head. It's a very creepy story - one that makes you check the locks on the windows. But the ending threw me for a loop. I would have loved to read a longer version of the story!

I think my favorite story is called Tagger by James Rollins. It's one that I could honestly see as a long novel and loving the whole thing. It's very focused on Chinese mythology and magic. The main character has inherited the ability to protect places by drawing a specific Chinese symbol on the outside. But she finds out that there is a demon out to destroy her family line. The way she combats that demon is amazing and super creative. Just a wonderful story.

It's no surprise that I loved the story written by Meg Cabot. I love all of her stuff. She writes about a girl who witnesses a robbery and gets kidnapped by the thief. Their town has a vigilante called The Night Hunter who helps her out... and with a little twist. I'm a fan, for sure. :)

Those are just the three that stood out to me, but I really did enjoy the rest of them. There were a few that had very strange endings, but it worked within their specific stories. I would definitely recommend this book to teens looking for horror stories. I think even though it is a short story book that many people will still pick it up (if nothing else, but for R.L. Stine's name on the front). Definitely give this one a try.
Other Blog Reviews:

Australian Literature Review
The Fringe Magazine
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
Books with Bite
Friendly Reader
What I'm Reading...
The Phantom Paragrapher

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Blog Birthday!

Today is the second birthday of The Ninja Librarian! I can't say I'm doing much to celebrate it. While looking through pictures of cupcakes, I seriously thought about getting one myself.

Then I remembered I have to look away because of my wedding in a few months. arg.

But alas! I'm super excited I've lasted at least two years. And I don't see me quitting any time soon. I'm ready to start this new year with a bang and I look forward to another year!

Thanks for reading :).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

YA Historical Fiction Challenge 2011

I've never done a historical fiction challenge, so I figure this year is the perfect time to start! This challenge is hosted by Sab H. at YA Bliss. I look forward to seeing how many I get.

I'm joining at Level 2: Reading 10 YA Historical Fiction novels. Those will be listed here as I read them...

1. The Body at the Tower (The Agency) by Y.S. Lee
2. The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg
3. Vixen (Flappers #1) by Jillian Larkin
4. The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky
5. Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter
6. The Girl in a Steel Corset by Kady Cross

100 Books in a Year Challenge

Last year I did a 100+ books challenge and read 115 - it's time to start it again! Book Chick City is hosting the challenge this year. Definitely go check out her blog to get all of the details. This is the post where I'll be listing all of the books I read this year. Definitely check back often because I'll be adding them all. Here goes...

1. Fear: 13 Stories of Suspence and Horror edited by R.L. Stine
2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
3. Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
4. Crusade by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie
5. Ghost Town (Morganville Vampires #9) by Rachel Caine
6. The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
7. The Darlings are Forever by Melissa Kantor
8. Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6) by Richelle Mead
9. Goddess Girls (1-3) by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams
10. The Agency: The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee
11. Awakened (House of Night #8) by P.C. and Kristin Cast
12. What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Perez
13. Spray by Harry Edge
14. Torment (Fallen #2) by Lauren Kate
15. Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde
16. Flirt Club by Cathleen Daly
17. Angel (Maximum Ride #7) by James Patterson
18. The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg
19. Hexbound (Dark Elite #2) by Chloe Neill
20. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
21. I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan
22. Vixen (The Flappers) by Jillian Larkin
23. Sweet Treats and Secret Crushes by Lisa Greenwald
24. Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
25. Artemis the Brave by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
26. Wake by Lisa McMann
27. The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker
28. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
29. Fade by Lisa McMann
30. The Education of Hailey Kendrick by Eileen Cook
31. Gone by Lisa McMann
32. Mercy by Rebecca Lim
33. The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver
34. Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt... by Crickett Rumley
35. Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
36. Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
37. Matched Ally Condie
38. The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy
39. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
40. The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
41. The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky
42. Bumped by Megan McCafferty
43. The Top of the Feud Chain (Alphas #4) by Lisi Harrison
44. Memento Nora by Angie Smibert
45. Bite Club (Morganville Vampires) by Rachel Caine
46. Human.4 by Mike A. Lancaster
47. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
48. Hades by Alexandra Adornetto
49. Divergent by Veronica Roth
50. Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
51. The Lying Game by Sara Shepard
52. Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
53. My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody
54. Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
55. How to Rock Braces and Glasses by Meg Haston
56. Variant by Robinson Wells
57. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
58. The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
59. Mission (un)Popular by Anna Humphrey
60. XVI by Julia Karr
61. The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
62. Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever. by Caissie St. Onge
63. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
64. Enclave by Ann Aguirre
65. iBoy by Kevin Brooks
66. The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker
67. Chime by Franny Billingsley
68. Geek Fantasy Novel by E. Archer
69. Wildefire by Karsten Knight
70. I Love Him to Pieces (My Boyfriend is a Monster #1) by Evonne Tsang
71. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephenie Perkins
72. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
73. The Ghoul Next Door by Lisi Harrison
74. A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
75. Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowski
76. Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
77. Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter
78. Eve by Anna Carey
79. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
80. Just Your Average Princess by Kristina Springer
81. Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday
82. Crossed by Ally Condie
83. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
84. Playground by 50 Cent
85. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

2011 Debut Author Challenge

It's time to start my second year of the Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren. I'm so excited to do this again - I read some great authors last year that I would have never picked up. Such a great thing. And anyone can join!

Here's a little info from The Story Siren's blog:

  • "The objective of the DAC is to read at least twelve novels from Young Adult or Middle Grade Authors. While twelve is the minimum there is no maximum limit! I encourage readers who can read more than twelve to do so!

  • Anyone can join. You don't have to be a blogger, and you don't have to live in the United States.

  • You do not have to have an blog written in English to participate.

  • Deadline to join is March, 2011. (not 2010 you still have PLENTY of time to sign up!) The challenge runs from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011."

Sounds easy, huh? I promise that it is. I'll be adding my books to this post when I've read them.

1. Flirt Club by Cathleen Daly
2. The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker
3. The Demon Trappers Daughter by Jana Oliver
4. Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt... by Crickett Rumley
5. The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky
6. Memento Nora by Angie Smibert
7. Human.4 by Mike A. Lancaster
8. Divergent by Veronica Roth
9. How to Rock Braces and Glasses by Meg Haston
10. The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
11. XVI by Julia Karr
12. Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever. by Caissie St. Onge
13. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
14. Enclave by Ann Aguirre
15. The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker
16. A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

Reflecting on 2010

Well, let's start with a few of the basics:

In 2010, I read 115 books.
Because of this, I completed the 100+ book challenge hosted by J. Kaye.
To be honest, I'm a little disappointed in this number... it's only one more than last year. But, to be fair, I didn't count many graphic novels that I inhaled in 30 minutes. Anywho...

This was my first year participating in The Story Siren's Debut Author Challenge.
The requirement was to read 12. I read 16. So check mark on that one.
I will definitely be signing up again for 2011.

I also participated in a Chick Lit Reading Challenge hosted by Chick Lit Teens.
This was probably to promote reading chick lit books, but I don't need much help with that. It looks like I ended up reading 23. But I never picked something up because I needed more chick lit. Go figure.

And last, but not least, I entered all my books into an A-Z Challenge.
I did pretty well - except for four letters.... U, X, Y, Z. Shocking, really. No, I'm sure I could have found things starting with these letters, I just didn't go searching them out.
I love lists and memes, so of course I'm filling one out for the end of the year. This one was created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner. The questions are all about the books of 2010, but I'm gonna have to just do the ones I read in 2010 - regardless of when they were published. Fill it out for yourself!:

1. Best book of 2010?
As I'm sure you all do, I have trouble narrowing this down. I'm gonna choose a couple:
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

2. Worst book of 2010?
"Worst" is a harsh word. I'd like to rename this "Books I enjoyed the least." And I feel the need to explain each one...
Things I Know About Love by Kate Le Vann (All good until the ending.)
iDrakula by Bekka Black (Very interesting format, not enough story.)

3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010?
The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones - it was just so different from what I was expecting.
Girl Parts by John M. Cusick - had odd overtones that I could have done without.

4. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010?
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

5. Book you recommended to people most in 2010?
This is a bit of an unfair question. I recommend books for a living. But here are a few I constantly put in people's hands:
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

6. Best series you discovered in 2010?
The Iron Fey (Iron King, Iron Daughter) by Julie Kagawa
The Agency books by Y.S. Lee (only read the first one - mentioned above)

7. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010?
She's been around awhile, but Adele Griffin. Loved her stuff!
Can I mention Carrie Ryan again? I should stop, really.
I'm excited to see what comes from Brenna Yovanoff next (The Replacement)

8. Most hilarious read of 2010?
Monster High by Lisi Harrison
A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker
The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball by Risa Green

9. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010?
Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown
Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

10. Book you most anticipated in 2010?
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (obvs.)
The Julian Game by Adele Griffin (cover!)
Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010?

12. Most memorable character in 2010?
Abbey in The Hollow by Jessica Verday
Frankie Stein in Monster High by Lisi Harrison

13. Most beautifully written book in 2010?
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

14. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010?
Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu
IraqiGirl: Diary of a teenage girl in Iraq (blog/biography)
Blindsided by Priscilla Cummings

15. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read?
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
The Hollow by Jessica Verday
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

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