Monday, July 30, 2012

Soulless: Parasol Protectorate, Book 1

Author: Gail Carriger
Year:  2009
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 365

Alexia Tarabotti lives in a steampunk version of London. She's a spinster with an Italian father (this is bad) and she has no soul. It's a unfortunate condition that she inherited from her father. In Alexia's London, vampires and werewolves and other supernaturals are out in the open. Alexia's "gift" allows her to neutralize a supernatural's affliction i.e. if she touches a vampire, he loses his fangs and becomes human as long as she's touching him. At a dinner party, Alexia accidently kills a vampire. The sullen Lord Maccon (head of BUR and a werewolf) investigates and he and Alexia butt heads.

This was a creative and enjoyable story. Carriger crafts one of the most detailed and believable stumpunk societies that I have come across. I want to visit this world. Alexia is a likable character. I love way she's always thinking about the food being provided at parties and how inquisitive she is about things. The whole story was a bit reminiscent of a Jane Austen story. It had that feel about it - except the romance was steamier.  :)

This book was the perfect way to relax on a weekend afternoon when I didn't want to think too hard about what I was reading.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Under the Never Sky, Book 1

Author:  Veronica Rossi
Year: 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages:  372

Aria lives inside the dome of Reverie protected from the outside world which has become a dangerous place. There are aether storms that fry everything in their paths, dangerous people and animals and strange diseases. Then, one night something happens and Aria is banished from Reverie and left on her own in the outside. There she meets Perry. He's a Savage, a hunter for his tribe and her only hope of survival. Luckily, he needs Aria too as she can help him find redemption with his tribe.

So this was a stay up all night and read book. I couldn't put it down. I didn't want to put it down. I was worried when I started it with all the talk of the Realms which are digital representations of worlds that people inside the domes "live" in and "visit." I was afraid it was going to be like Ready Player One which was one of my favorite books and I knew there was no way Under the Never Sky could live up to that. Fortunately, the book did not take place in the Realms but in the real world. The book had really pacing. Rossi alternates between Aria and Perry's points of view and did a good job of it. I loved getting to see how both of them were thinking and what was motivating them. She also built a very realistic world. I can't wait to see what happens next.

I definitely recommend this book if you like dystopic/post-apocalyptic stories.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Past Perfect

Author:  Leila Sales
Year: 2011
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 306

It's summertime and Chelsea is really looking forward to accomplishing a few things over the summer: spending time with her best friend, Fiona, practicing for their future job as an ice cream connoisseur, earn some money and get over her ex-boyfriend, Ezra. But then Ezra gets a job at Essex Historical Colonial Village where Chelsea works and forgetting him becomes almost impossible. Well, if it wasn't for the extremely cute and likable guy who works across the way at the Civil War reenactment village which happens to be the sworn enemy of Essex. That all leaves Chelsea torn between two impossible choices.

This was a fun, light-hearted romance. I like Chelsea a lot and loved the romance between her and Dan (the Civil War guy) except the romance wasn't as big of a part of the story as you might think it would be. Instead it was more about Chelsea finding herself learning to see things (i.e. the past) in the right light. I loved the way that Leila Sales painted the picture of what it would be like to work at one of the colonial villages and made it seem like the perfect summer job. If you're looking for a cute romance, this is the perfect choice.

Demonglass: Hex Hall, Book 2

Author: Rachel Hawkins
Year: 2011
Publisher: Hyperion New York
Pages: 359

After learning her powers aren't exactly what she thought the were, Sophie Mercer decides to go to London with her father and have the Removal performed to take away her powers. But when she gets to London, Sophie learns that there are other demons out there asides from herself and her father. In fact, it looks like somebody has been raising demons in secret in preparation for a war. On top of that, The Eye is using Sophie's old crush, Archer Cross, to hunt her down. 

I liked this book a lot! It expanded the world from the first book. Sophie got a chance to grow and make decisions (some good, some bad) and she got to build a relationship with her father. She also started learning how to embrace her magic. But I would have liked to have seen more Cal. He sounds like my kind of man.

Now if I can just get lucky and my library have the third book.  :)

American Born Chinese

Author: Gene Luen Yang
Year: 2006
Publisher: First Second
Pages:  233

Jin Wang is a first generation Chinese American boy and at his new school, he's the only Chinese American student. He has problems fitting in with the other students and his peers often lump him in with all Asians and don't recognize the differences. And Jin wants is to fit in and be like everybody else. 

This is a story about finding one's identity and being proud of who you are. Yang weaves within Jin's story two other stories. One is the story of the Monkey King - a Chinese parable. The other is the story of Chin-Kee. Chin-Kee is the stereotypical Chinese person. In the end, the three stories come together beautifully.

I flew threw this graphic novel which is a bit unusual because usually graphic novels still take a little time even though they are quick reads. I thought it was brilliantly written. I loved the way the three stories were brought together because I did wonder for about half the book what they had to do with each other. I felt like more could have been done to help me know Jin Wang and identify with  him more. I felt like the character wasn't developed as much as it could have been. The novel's definitely worth the read. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Obsidian: A Lux Novel, Book 1

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Year: 2011
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Pages: 268

Katy and her mother move to West Virginia for a fresh start after her father's death. Shortly after moving in Katy meets the super gorgeous boy next door, Daemon. Unfortunately, he's also a jerk who dislikes Katy for no apparent reason. Daemon's twin sister, Dee, is his complete opposite. She welcomes Katy and immediately accepts her as a friend. But Katy soon notices that something isn't quite right about Daemon and Dee. Turns out they're aliens.

So I've heard a ton about these books on all the blogs and was really psyched when I saw a copy at my library last week. I wasted no time in getting down to reading it. And I'm a little divided on it. Part of it might be due to all the hype and high praises I've read on it everywhere so there's a good chance I expected way too much from the book. Don't misunderstand me, I enjoyed the book a lot. As a matter of fact, I read the entire thing in one sitting and couldn't bring myself to put it down. It just wasn't as great as I had thought it would be. 

I really liked Katy. She's probably one of my favorite heroines. Not because she's kickass but because she's a lot like me. She seems like one of the most normal heroines I've come across. And I can see how Daemon's going to come around to being a really great hero even though he spent most of this book being a jerk. And all the hotness in the world can't make up for a bad or mean attitude. But I think Daemon was projecting that jerky attitude and his real self is going to be a whole lot more likable. 

Now as the second book isn't available at my library and I am totally strapped for cash, it might be a while before I get to read the second book and find out!

Defending Jacob

Author: William Landay
Year: 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages:  351

Andy Barber is a well-respected assistant district attorney for a small Massachusetts county. The murder of a 14 year old boy shocks the privileged neighborhood that he lives in. But then Andy gets an even bigger shock when his own 14 year old son is charged with the murder. Andy immediately does what most any parent would do - rally to protect to his son despite the incriminating and mounting evidence against him. 

I quit reading legal thrillers a long time ago but I'd heard a lot of good stuff about this one and wanted to check it out. Most of the legal scenes in this book were just so-so but I do think Landay framed the story well and intricately wove the two courtroom cases together. 

What I did find more interesting and thought provoking were the personal ethical dilemmas that Andy Barber faced. First, there was the question of how far would a parent go to protect his child? On top of that, do you face the fact that your child might be guilty and let the legal system do it's thing? Or do you fight for your child's freedom with every breath you have? 

The second ethical dilemma involved a "murder gene." This theory proposes that there are people who are predisposed to committing murder and, thus, they may not be able to prevent their actions. This would make the gene a mitigating factor in the person's defense and perhaps reduce their sentence. A bit of the nature vs. nurture argument. This part of the story was reminiscent of a Jodi Picoult book; however, without all the tears that Picoult invokes. 

Even though I wasn't too keen on all the courtroom stuff, I still think this was a pretty good read.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Vicious Deep

Author: Zoraida Cordova
Year: 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages:  370

Tristan Hart is a high school boy in New York, on the school's swim team, a lifeguard and has no clue that he's also part merman. One day while on lifeguard duty at the beach, he gets swept away in a freak storm. Three days later, he washes up on the beach and doesn't have any recollection as to what happened during those three days except that now he's having nightmares about a sharp-toothed silver mermaid. On top of that, Tristan is having problems with Layla. See, she's been his best friend since they were children but he feels more than friendship for her - a lot more than friendship.

I've never read a mermaid, sorry merfolk, story before and I'm not sure what I think about this one. I think the writing was good and it is definitely not a story or plot that I've read before (as long as you don't count the teenage boy going on a quest story). The Vicious Deep has good supporting characters. I especially liked Layla and Kurt. I'm dying to hear about Kurt's backstory. But Tristan, the main character, fell a little bit flat for me part of the time. Not always, just part of the time. I liked the freshness of the male perspective on romance and love but thought at times it went a little far. Of course, that could be chalked up to immaturity on the character's part and that before the end of the series, he'll grow out of it. 

At any rate, the story interested me enough that I want more. I want to see what happens to Tristan and learn some more about mermaid mythology.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hex Hall, Hex Hall, Book 1

Author: Rachel Hawkins
Year: 2010
Publisher: Hyperion New York
Pages: 323

15 year old Sophie Mercer is a witch but her mom is human and Sophie has never met her witch father. She's also never had any training on how to use her powers. On prom night, Sophie attempts a love spell and it goes way wrong; so, she gets sent off to a boarding school for trouble paranormal children a/k/a a reform school. Shortly after Sophie's arrival, something starts attacking students and the top suspect is Sophie's only friend on campus. Can Sophie figure out what's happening and save her friend?

This was an entertaining book. I enjoy reading about witches (in case you haven't figured that one out). I liked the Harry Potter boarding school feel to the story (although this wasn't near up to J.K. Rowling's standards). I liked all the different creatures/species/magical things living under one roof. Sophie's a likable character. Hawkins also gives us some terrific secondary characters that I can't wait to learn more about in Jenna, Archer, Elodie and Cal. And I can't wait to get Sophie's dad's story. 

This is a fun, entertaining, quick read and the perfect way to relax at the end of a stressful day.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Before I Wake, Soul Screamers, Book 6

Author: Rachel Vincent
Year: 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Narrator:  Amanda Ronconi

After the events of If I Die, Kaylee's life was forever changed. Now Kaylee has to juggle her new life, new job, school and relationships. And wouldn't it just be Kaylee's luck that her first assignment on her new job brings her face to face with someone she thought was gone. 

That's all I'm going to say on the plot of this story. What I will tell you is that I loved it. The tension was so high and I was fearful for the life of my favorite character (Tod). The story had great romance. Somehow Tod always knows the perfect thing to say and is such a romantic. There were times when my heart melted at the words spoken by Tod. 

We also get a lot of Kaylee dealing with inner struggles about her life, death, the way things ended with Nash. She's got a lot of guilt going on and she's trying to make things right but it's not easy for her. I think Vincent does a terrific job of writing Kaylee. She's an honest, caring and smart heroine and somebody that I can relate to. I understand Kaylee's need to take care of her family and friends. 

Amanda Ronconi does a great job narrating this series. I highly recommend it because it's fun, exciting, and romantic.

Shadow of Night: All Souls Trilogy, Book 2

Author: Deborah Harkness
Year: 2012
Publisher: Viking
Pages: 577

Shadow of Night picks up where A Discovery of Witches ended with Diana and Matthew stepping back into Elizabethan England to search for a witch to teach Diana and for the missing Ashmole 782 manuscript. There Matthew and Diana interact with Matthew's friends from the mysterious Shadow of Night group which is a Who's Who list of Elizabethan England. 

Well, I did manage to contain myself and take an entire 2 1/2 days to reach this book instead of reading it in one sitting like I did A Discovery of Witches. I loved this book. I liked the meetings with the historical figures. I thought Harkness did a great job of describing what living in that time period would be like for a modern day girl. Speech, writing and just carrying on a conversation with other people took some getting used to for Diana. Yes, we all know about the dangers of disrupting the space-time continuum and how we must beware of any actions we  make in the past because of how they might disrupt the future but I really don't analyze my books that much. I'm interested in a good story and Harkness provided that. Matthew and Diana's relationship continued to grow stronger. We are introduced to some new characters and still get to see a little bit of what's going on with our old favorites back in the modern timeline.

A funny aside, I was trying to describe this book to a friend of mine and found it almost impossible to classify into a specific genre - there's time travel (fantasy?), romance, historical, paranormal . . . Finally, I told her that it was in the same class as the Outlander books. 

Does anybody know when the third book will be out?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Assassin's Curse

Author:  Cassandra Rose Clarke
Publication Date:  October 2, 2012
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Pages: 188
Source: NetGalley

Ananna is the daughter of a high ranking pirate in the Confederation. Her parents have arranged a marriage for her that will be beneficial to both families; however, at the last minute, Ananna runs away. Unfortunately for her, the jilted groom's family sends an assassin to kill her. In this world, assassins aren't Mission Impossible type people. Instead, they're more grim reaper with lots of magic. But when Ananna unintentionally saves his life, she binds them together in an impossible curse and they're stuck with each other until they can find a cure for the curse. FYI: what happens in the curse is that every time Ananna is in danger, the assassin (whose name is Naji by the way) has to protect her. If he doesn't protect, he experiences unbearable pain that wears away at his magic and his life.

This was an enchanting read. It had that Middle Eastern Aladdin feel but in this case the heroine was the thief pirate. Ananna is kick butt. She doesn't need anybody to take care of her. In fact, she spent was very protective and always trying to take care of the assassin sent to kill her! She is a super strong heroine in the vein of Katniss from The Hunger Games. The story never lagged. Clarke took her time and built up the romance. It was like a slow-kindling fire. 

I do wish Clarke would have given us a little more background on her world and the mythology and origins of it. I'd like to know more about how the pirate rankings work and just how important is Ananna's family in the pirate nobility. Also, where do the assassins come from? What is the Mist? How does the magic work? I'm assuming these are all questions that will be answered in the following books. Unfortunately, it'll be quite a while before I get to read the next book.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Author: Lena Coakley
Year: 2011
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pages:  400

So, I had no clue what this book was about when I picked it up. My sister had seen it at the library and asked me to pick it up when I went back because she thought it looked good. And it is a very pretty book. It's got a nice subtle cover that is amazing in it's quietness. After I got it home, I read the inside flap cover and decided that I had to read this book immediately.

It's a fantasy novel through and through. It follows Ryder - a teenager that lives in the Witchlands. Their village is protected by the witches who live up on the mountain in their covens. The witches protect the village and warn of dangers. But Ryder is convinced that it is all a fake. He thinks that the witches are charlatans and that they are just stealing the villagers food and wealth through their tithes. This belief is reinforced when their village is attacked with no warning from the witches of the dangers.

Then, there's Falpian. He's a Baen and the sworn enemy of Ryder. The two of them stumble upon each other and an unique connection and friendship forms between them.

I LOVED this story. I resented any time that I had to put it down and was so upset when I finished it. I felt like I'd lost two new friends. I thought that Lena Coakley's writing was beautiful and poetic. She did a terrific job writing two different male points of view. The world was nicely developed. She didn't muddle up her story with romance for either one of the guys. It was just a nice development of a friendship and fighting an evil that threatened both of their ways of life. 

My only complaint is that the one time that I would really like for there to be a sequel in the works, I can't find any hint of one. Boo-hoo.

I recommend this book for anyone who likes a good old-fashioned fantasy.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The End of the Affair

Author:  Graham Greene
Narrator: Colin Firth
Publisher: Audible, Inc. (2012 audiobook)

This is the story of an affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah Miles set just after World War II. Their affair ends abruptly during World War II after an explosion in Maurice's apartment. After the war ends, Maurice's path crosses with Sarah's husband, Henry, and the couple is reconnected (of sorts). Maurice ends up hiring a private investigator to follow Sarah and find out what she's currently up to and, if in fact, she's having an affair with someone else. 

I purchased this audiobook from Audible based solely on the fact that Colin Firth was narrating it. What a wonderful narrator he is! I loved every second of listening to it. Firth has perfect inflections and emotions and the book just came alive with his narration. The story ends up becoming an introspection on love, hate, Catholicism and God. There's some pretty heavy stuff there that I don't know for sure that I would have been able to stick through on reading it from an actual book. But with Firth's narration, I was enthralled. I could feel Maurice's emotions - his love, his hate and his anger. 

I highly recommend this audiobook.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wake, Watersong, Book 1

Author: Amanda Hocking
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: 08/07/2012
Source:  ARC from publisher
Pages: 309

Sixteen year old Gemma is beautiful, athletic and lovable. She's also falling in love with the cute, geeky boy next door. Gemma's greatest passion in life, however, is swimming. She hopes to make the Olympic team. Her favorite part of each day is when she goes for her nightly swims at the cove. One night, she joins the three new girls in town, Penn, Thea and Lexi. This trio of girls is smart, beautiful, and all the guys in town fall over them. But Gemma's sister, Harper, doesn't like them and thinks there's something evil about them. When Gemma wakes up on the beach after the party with the girls, she begins to think her sister might be right. She begins changing and becomes more beautiful, a faster swimmer and stronger. 

I thought this book was OK. I wasn't sure where Hocking was going with it. I also had a hard time figuring out who was supposed to be the main character. From the back cover, it should be Gemma but she followed Harper more. Truth be told, I liked Harper better. I thought Gemma was a little selfish. Halfway through the book, I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue the series. But then Harper's relationship with Daniel started getting good and interesting and the story started picking up all the way around. By the end, I wanted more.


Author: Bram Stoker
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Year:  1897
Pages:  427

I'm not going to bother with a description of what this book is about because we all know the story. Dracula is the story that spawned all vampire books. It's been sitting in my TBR stack for years. Every time I picked it up I just kept thinking that it was so long and I wasn't sure what could possibly be said  about a vampire for that long but I finally bit the bullet and read it. I'm glad I did. First off, it wasn't all about Dracula which is what I thought. The hero of the story was actually Van Helsing. He worked with a terrific cast of characters to defeat Dracula. Stoker did a wonderful job of making Dracula very scary. He definitely wasn't a likable character. I couldn't imagine anybody feeling sympathetic towards him. Stoker told the story through diary entries of the different characters that really allowed me to get to know all the characters. My favorite character was definitely Van Helsing who I totally pictured as Hugh Jackman the entire time I was reading Dracula.

This was an A+ book that I can definitely see why so many people have tried to continue the tradition through the years.

Ruby Red, Edelstein Trilogie, Book 1

Author: Kerstin Gier
Year: 2011
Publisher: Square Fish
Pages: 322

Gwen has spent her life believing that the time traveling gene that runs through the female line in her family skipped over her and has been bestowed upon her cousin. So, when Gwen travels back in time, it's a big shock to her. She has no clue what to do, how to act or survive in the past. She gets inducted into the secret society her family belongs to and introduced to her time travel partner, Gideon who is an obnoxious know-it-all. Unfortunately for Gwen, he's also absolutely gorgeous.

I read this book in one sitting. I liked the premise, the time travel and the writing. I did feel like the author spent a lot of time building up the world and up to Gwen's introduction into the society and didn't give me enough actual time travel. I could tell that she was building up for a trilogy all along. I'm not particularly fond of that habit with authors but I'm willing to overlook it here because it was a really good book. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Year: 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Pages:  236

Hedley Sullivan is on her way to London for her father's second wedding to a girl that she's never met and she's not happy about it. She ends up being late to the airport and missing her flight. While waiting for her next flight, she meets Oliver in the waiting room. It turns out that he's got the seat next to her. During the flight, they talk, share things and quite possibly fall in love. The entire story takes place over the course of 24 hours.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun, light-hearted story that was hilarious. The dialogue was sharp and just funny. By the end of the book, I was a little bit in love with Oliver myself and, maybe, just a little bit, believe in love at first sight.

Masquerade, Blue Bloods Book 2

Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: Hyperion New York
Pages 218
Year: 2007

Masquerade begins with Schuyler Van Alan in Italy searching for her grandfather to get his help dealing with the Silver Bloods that are killing Blue Bloods back in New York. When she returns to New York, Schuyler has to prepare for the prestigious Four Hundred Ball - open only to Blue Bloods. And then there's the dealing with Jack and Mimi Force.

I liked this book better than the first one. The author spent a bit of time on the other characters so we got a lot of character development all the way around. I'm not dying to rush out and buy the series or cancel all plans just so I can read these books but I am curious to see how the author develops the characters and where the story goes which is good.

A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4

Author: George R.R. Martin
Year: 2005
Publisher: Bantam Books
Pages:  684

A Feast for Crows continues the battle for the Iron Crown. This was a decent entry into the series but I was kinda of upset that Martin introduced a whole new cast of characters and didn't really tell me anything about what's going on with the millions of characters he'd already given me in the first three books.