Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chime by Franny Billingsley


Chime
by Franny Billingsley
Public Library
361 pages
2011

Book Jacket Summary
Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.

My Thoughts
I love this book! That's it, end of review...
Okay, not really but I am going to gush about how much I enjoyed this book and how I am looking forward to checking out Franny Billingsley other books. Chime has all the characteristics of a book I would love; it is set in a parallel world of the early 1900's, has an engaging main character, great secondary characters, and a romance that builds upon a mutual friendship.
I am going to keep the details minimum because there are revelations that are best left to Briony and I do not want to tell her secrets. Briony is such an engaging main character! She draws you in with her secrets and she keeps you wondering what really happened on key parts of the story. You can guess what they might be but Briony has been worn down by her step-mother into thinking that she was evil and can never be happy again. You can feel Briony's pain and her slowly growing closer to Eldric. She wants to tell him but is afraid to loose her friend with the revelation that she is a witch. Eldric is everything that Briony needs- he pushes her boundaries but also helps her feel safe. He is also not perfect which make me like him so much more!
The secondary characters are amazing! Rose is my favorite with her strange ways. She is Briony's identical twin sister but Rose is not all there due to an accident that Briony might have made happen. Briony takes care of Rose and comforts her when she has one of her melt downs (which is quite often). She has a sense of responsibility toward her that boards on obsessive because she feels so guilty but there is genuine love there.
I would highly recommend this to teens that are looking for a YA Fantasy that has more depth and lyrical quality. I have also heard that the audio book is amazing. I will have to check it out from the library and find out for myself.
Again I say, go read this book! I know it will be a permanent resident in my library!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WOW: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone      
by Laini Taylor
Release Date: Sep 27, 2011

Summary
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.
When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself? 
How could I not want the next book of Laini Taylor, author of the awesome short story collection Lips Touch: Three Times. This looks like it is going to another interesting story from Taylor. Plus the mask on the cover is beautiful!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Zebrafish by Peter M. Reynolds and Fable Vision

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens!

Zebrafish
by Peter M. Reynolds and Fable Vision
Library
128 pages
2010

Book Jacket Summary
Vita decides she wants to form a band, but first she needs members-and they have to learn to play instruments. Vita recruits band members at her school and they decide to put on a concert. When the band learns that fellow member, Tanya, has leukemia, the band decides to change their concert to a fundraiser for cancer research.

My Thoughts
Zebrafish is a cute look into how anyone can make a difference. Vita Escolar is a loner and a misfit but when she starts to learn how to play the guitar she wants to start a band called Zebrafish. Things get a llittle difficult when the only people who audition do not play instruments! Plinko, Jay, Walt, and Tanya all start practicing together. Vita also spends time with her brother, Pablo, in his cancer research lab where he uses Zebrafish to help find a cancer cure. There Vita runs into Tanya who is getting treatments for her leukemia. Vita is inspired byher own personal losses and Tanya that she sets up a benefit to raise money for her brother's research.
This is a cute, though short, graphic novel that is not preachy in the way a lot of books about a character with cancer can portray. Instead Tanya and Vita are real girls who struggle with lonliness and crushes. Although Tanya has cancer she does not want to be defined by her illness. I would recommend this one to tweens who are looking for a good short read. It is not a great graphic novel but it tells a good story, has interesting characters, and good art work. 
Check out the website! You can download Vita's song Make It Better and proceeds from the book go to Children's Hospital Boston.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Clarity by Kim Harrington


Clarity
by Kim Harrington
242 pages
ARC
2011

Book Jacket Summary
When you can see things others can't, where do you look for the truth?
This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.
Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift.
And a curse.
When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case - but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother - who has supernatural gifts of his own - becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

My Thoughts
Clarity "Clare" is an outcast in her small tourist town and cannot wait for her real life to begin in college. She hopes to shed the freaky label but still must endure daily tauntings from the neighborhood bullies and mean girls. When a murder is committed in their sleepy town Clare is called in to help the police find the murderer, unoffically of course. She is teamed with the mayor's son, Justin, her former boyfriend and the police chief, Gabriel, who does not believe in her powers. This love triangle may have some possibility in the next book and is actually one that does not make me want to gag. Actually, this one seems down right good. Justin loves Clare but cheated on her at a party while drunk while Gabriel might just want her to help him with a mystery from his past. I am looking forward to the next installment to find out more about these characters.
Clarity a good book and I am awaiting the publication of the next one. Is it good? Yes. Is it great? No. But I enjoyed the basic plot and Clare was an interesting enough to carry the book. I really hope she is able to make some girlfriends though. There seems to be a lot of guys in the cast and I would love to see her interact with girls her own age. I would recommend it for a time when you have a few hours to kill, like on a train from Rome to Florence. That's what I did at least.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: 7/22-7/25

Book Blogger Hop
As Crazy For Books says:
Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!

This week's question is:
What’s the ONE GENRE that you wish you could get into, but just can’t?

This is actually a hard one because I do love all genres out there! But through my class in Adult Reading Materials I struggled through the Western genre because it has so few female characters that stand out. I don't mind reading a more "male centric" genre but can we have at least one or two females who do more than get captured or become prostitutes?

 If you have any good Westerns to suggest I would love to hear about them! I am trying to be well read in all genres but this one gives me trouble!

Hop On!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt

Mistress of Mellyn
by Victoria Holt

Book Jacket Summary
Mount Mellyn stood as proud and magnificent as she had envisioned...But what about its master--Connan TreMellyn? Was Martha Leigh's new employer as romantic as his name sounded? As she approached the sprawling mansion towering above the cliffs of Cornwall, an odd chill of apprehension overcame her. TreMellyn's young daughter, Alvean, proved as spoiled and difficult as the three governesses before Martha had discovered. But it was the girl's father whose cool, arrogant demeanor unleashed unfamiliar sensations and turmoil--even as whispers of past tragedy and present danger begin to insinuate themselves into Martha's life. Powerless against her growing desire for the enigmatic Connan, she is drawn deeper into family secrets--as passion overpowers reason, sending her head and heart spinning. But though evil lurks in the shadows, so does love--and the freedom to find a golden promise forever...

My Thoughts
Oh, Victoria Holt, how I love thy suspenseful romances! When I was in Middle School I devoured the books by Victoria Holt because they were a suspenseful read that I could go through in an afternoon. I found this one at half price books and realized I never read this one as a tween! I decided to recapture those times and read this on a Saturday afternoon while recovering from my jet lag.
Best decision ever!
Victoria Holt gives you a story about a governess who is brought into a mysterious house with a charge who is difficult and bratty. However, Marty is determined to help Alvean and uses horseback riding to form a strong bond between the two. The house is also interesting and filled with peep holes into different sections of the house. The owner’s former wife also holds a mystery for Marty as she finds clues that points to her not running away but a possibility that she was murdered. Connan TreMellyn is also a mystery that Marty was figure out but this may be a happy ending in the making.
I love books that have governesses figuring out mysteries, falling in love, or just going crazy (Turn of the Screw)! I blame Jane Eyre but there are so many out there that it can become its own genre. This is another good one! I especially liked the subplot with the horseback riding! I really miss the days when I took lessons and it reminded me of how much I loved it! This book has great crossover appeal for tweens and teens who are looking for something slightly different from the norm.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

WOW: This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein
by Kenneth Oppel
Release Date: Aug. 23rd
 
Book Jacket Summary
Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real.

They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only piques Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. With their friend Elizabeth, Henry and Victor immediately set out to find assistance from a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula.

Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrad's life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another.
 
I am looking forward to this one! I really liked Kenneth Oppel's Airborn and I am really interested in reading more books by male authors. This book also take Frankenstein, one of my favorite classics, and gives it a backstory that looks like it would fit right in to the original story. Cannot wait to read it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough


Once a Witch
by Carolyn MacCullough
Public Library
2010
304 pages

Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him.

The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.

My Thoughts
Tamsin is trying to live a normal life in a family of powerful witches. Her grandmother's prophecy of her being the most powerful witch is also weighing her down because she cannot even light a candle with her powers. Actually, she has no power what so ever. She lives in the shadow of her sister, Rowena, a very powerful witch and next in line to take over the coven. When a customer walks into their bookstore asking for help, Tamsin agrees to help him. All she wants to do is prove that she can handle herself without magic. This is where her trouble really begins.
Tamsin is an interesting character who pretends she does not care that her family does not pay attention to her but it cuts her deeply. She tries to live a normal life in her high school dorm with her roommate. When her childhood friend, Gabriel, shows up and keeps her flustered as she tries to track down a special clock. There might be time-travel involved and crazed villians! Two things I love! I really liked this one and hope to get the sequel soon!  The plot, characters, and pacing are excellent and fun!
Plus an awesome website! Gotta love all the information and interactive stuff!

I love multiple covers!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

Nine Coaches Waiting 
by Mary Stewart
Personal Copy
342 pages
 1958

Book Jacket Summary

A governess in a French château encounters an apparent plot against her young charge's life in this unforgettably haunting and beautifully written suspense novel. When lovely Linda Martin first arrives at Château Valmy as an English governess to the nine-year-old Count Philippe de Valmy, the opulence and history surrounding her seems like a wondrous, ecstatic dream. But a palpable terror is crouching in the shadows. Philippe's uncle, Leon de Valmy, is the epitome of charm, yet dynamic and arrogant—his paralysis little hindrance as he moves noiselessly in his wheelchair from room to room. Only his son Raoul, a handsome, sardonic man who drives himself and his car with equally reckless abandon, seems able to stand up to him. To Linda, Raoul is an enigma—though irresistibly attracted to him, she senses some dark twist in his nature. When an accident deep in the woods nearly kills Linda's innocent charge, she begins to wonder if someone has deadly plans for the young count.

My Thoughts
I have a confession... I love suspenseful Gothic romances and Mary Stewart's Nine Coaches Waiting fits that bill! I am in a reading fluff mood because I am finally free from school and tests. All the books I have purchased in the past few months are calling to me and I am reading up a storm. Nine Coaches Waiting is your typical suspenseful romance where the heroine is in danger and not sure if she can trust the man she has fallen in love with.
Linda is this heroine and has become a governess of a nine-year-old boy in the French country side. This boy is the heir to a vast estate and a small fortune but to young to fully inherit. Linda suspects that there is a plot to kill young Phillipe so that others can take charge of the estate. I loved that Linda takes Phillipe under her wing because they were both orphaned at a young age and she understands his quiet ways. Linda is thoughtful and a bit naive but a great narrator that takes in her surroundings. She is brave when it counts and resourceful when on the run.  
Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who likes this genre, especially those who like the romance. It may have been written in the 1950's but it still speaks to a modern audience. Raoul is handsome, charming, and sweeps Linda off her feet. I love these types of books and may have some more coming up!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens!
 
A Tale Dark and Grimm
by Adam Gidwitz
Public Library
2010
256 pages

Book Summary
Reader, beware.
Warlocks with dark spells, hunters with deadly aim, and bakers with ovens retro-fitted for baking children lurk within these pages.
But if you dare,
Follow Hansel and Gretel as they walk out of their own story and into the wilds—where magic, terror, and a little bit of humor shine like white pebbles lighting the way.
Come on in. It may be frightening, and it’s certainly bloody, but, unlike those other fairy tales you know, this one is true.
Once upon a time, you see, fairy tales were awesome.

My Quick Thoughts
This book reminded me of the play Into the Woods, where fairy tale characters interweave into one story. This takes that theme and runs into the dark parts of Grimm, which I love. When I was a tween the grislier the fairy tale the better. I was in love with the original  Little Mermaid, where she walked on daggers with evvery step but danced for the prince she loved.
In this story Hansel and Gretel run away from their first home and into the fairy tale that bares their name. It is dark and twisted path they take but tweens will want to know how Gidwitz will add them into the next tale.
Highly recommed this one to tweens who enjoy the darker versions of fairy tales and can stand a bit of gore.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Vacation

I have been gone for the last week and I thought I would be able to update but with a view like this can you blame me?
I went to Rome, Florence, and Venice! Such a wonderful opportunity to see the world and go to school at the same time. Things should be back to normal on Monday. I was able to read four books during plane and train rides.
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