Thursday, February 28, 2013

First Frost

Author:  Jennifer Estep
Series:  Mythos Academy 0.5
Publisher:  Kensington Publishing Corp.
Year: 2011
Pages:  27

Goodreads Summary:
I am Gwen Frost, and I have a Gypsy gift.  It's called psychometry - that's a fancy way of saying that I see images in my head and get flashes of other people's memories off almost everything I touch, even guys. 
My gift makes me kind of nosy. Okay, okay, maybe a lot nosy--to the point of obsession sometimes. I want to know everything about everyone around me. But even I don't want to know the secrets my friend Paige is hiding or the terrible loss that will send me to a new school - Mythos Academy, where the teachers aren't preparing us for the SATs, but to battle Reapers of Chaos.  Now I have no friends and no idea how my gift fits in with all these warrior whiz kids.  The only thing I do know is that my life is never, ever going to be the same.  .  .

This novella was fun and good but it felt more like a collection of cut scenes from the first book. We see Gwen first learning about Mythos and her orientation for the school and first encounter with Logan but I learn anything I didn't already know. Still it's a short read and worth the amount it takes to read it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Author:  Georgette Heyer
Publisher:  Naxos Audiobooks
Year:  2009
Narrator:  Richard Armitage

Audible Synposis:
When Sylvester, the Duke of Salford, first meets Phoebe Marlow, he finds her dull and insipid. She finds him insufferably arrogant. But when a series of unforeseen events leads them to be stranded together in a lonely country inn, they are both forced to reassess their hastily formed opinions, and begin a new-found liking and respect for each other.Sylvester calls to mind the satirical genius of a Jane Austen novel and is adored for its wit and a fast-paced plot, which ranges across a myriad of settings.

OK, I admit it. I bought this audiobook solely because it is narrated by Richard Armitage. I just had to find out if he was a good narrator. And he was very good. Not as great as Colin Firth who hit everything spot on (and who is my favorite actor narrator) but Armitage was pretty darn close. My only complaint with Armitage was that all the older ladies sounded like they were on their deathbeds and I could never tell if they were about to die or not.

As for the story itself, it was pretty good too. For years people have been telling me that I need to read Georgette Heyer but she's one of those writers that I just hadn't got around to yet. This story in particular is a regency romance but it is a lot like Pride & Prejudice. It had the same feel to it. The main girl disliked the guy because he was arrogant and the guy disliked the girl for the same reasons Mr. Darcy disliked Elizabeth Bennett. It was quick witted and hilarious. I will definitely be picking up more of her stories.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Fire Chronicle

Author:  John Stephens
Series:  The Books of Beginning, Book 2
Publisher:  Listening Library
Narrator:  Jim Dale
Year: 2012

Goodreads Summary:
After the tumultuous events of last winter, Kate, Michael, and Emma long to continue the hunt for their missing parents. But they themselves are now in great danger, and so the wizard Stanislaus Pym hides the children at the Edgar Allan Poe Home for Hopeless and Incorrigible Orphans. There, he says, they will be safe. How wrong he is. 
The children are soon discovered by their enemies, and a frantic chase sends Kate a hundred years into the past, to a perilous, enchanted New York City. Searching for a way back to her brother and sister, she meets a mysterious boy whose fate is intricately—and dangerously—tied to her own.
Meanwhile, Michael and Emma have set off to find the second of the Books of Beginning. A series of clues leads them into a hidden world where they must brave harsh polar storms, track down an ancient order of warriors, and confront terrible monsters. Will Michael and Emma find the legendary book of fire—and master its powers—before Kate is lost to them forever? 
Exciting, suspenseful, and brimming with humor and heart, the next installment of the bestselling Books of Beginning trilogy will lead Kate, Michael, and Emma closer to their family—and to the magic that could save, or destroy, them all.

I've had this audiobook for a while and just hadn't got to it because I got distracted by the Night Huntress series and had to listen to all of those. It took me an hour or so to get back into the feel of this series but once I did, I was not going anywhere. I like the way that Stephens builds a story and tells it. He takes the time to develop his characters and let them grow. He shows them dealing with the consequences of their prior actions. He's also inventive with his words and funny . But it's not the kind of funny where he's telling sarcastic jokes and expecting you to laugh. It's just little things thrown in that are funny - like the Edgar Allan Poe Home for Hopeless and Incorrigible Orphans. That's a great and funny name.

This audiobook is narrated by the great Jim Dale. Again, he is almost flawless. The only complaint I have about Jim Dale's narration is I hear Hermoine and Dumbledore when I listen to him. That's not his fault. He just does wonderful and memorable voices.

If you like middle grade fantasies, you should definitely pick up these books.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Dark

Author:  Heather Self
Series:  The Portal Trilogy (A Kin Series Novella)
Publisher:  Self
Year: 2012
Pages:  145

Goodreads Summary:
Mary Anne Moore doesn't know what she is. She can’t explain why she has lived so long. 
Or why she never gets sick. 
Or why the dreams she has come true. 
She has hidden herself as a lowly servant to the households of Dublin's English elite for decades, until the night that changes her life. Now her sole purpose is the child she never expected to have. She will do anything in her power to keep the black-eyed monsters from discovering him and turning him into one of them.
For Kieran Moore, the dark is an ever-present parasite, waiting to devour his humanity. His mother’s love and the girl in his dreams has kept it at bay for years, but the more time that passes—the longer he has to wait for her—the more it grows. When tragedy strikes, it is all he can do to keep from being consumed by the darkness that infects him. He must continue to hold on to the hope of peace her presence will bring him, because it’s not just his fate on the line, but that of the entire world.

I try to read all the novellas that go along with any of the book series that I'm reading but in most cases, the novellas just lack the punch that the regular series books have. But this novella is one of the exceptions to that. It was a well put together story and tightly written. It did a great job of filling in some of the blanks of Kieran's life and explaining why Brennan trusted him so much in The One.  Also, after I finished The One, I was pretty sure that I knew which guy I wanted Evy to end up with but now, I'm not so sure. This novella is a must read.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Devil to Pay

Author:  Jeaniene Frost
Series:  Night Huntress, Book 3.5
Publisher:  Avon
Pages:  100

Goodreads Description:
Blake Turner had it all—until a demon decided to take residence in his soul. Plagued with constant black outs and a trail of dead bodies in his wake, Blake thinks vampire Elise is his best chance at ending the nightmare. It’s just too bad he’s fallen in love with the gorgeous vamp right before he has to die… Featuring characters from New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress world. (Originally appeared in Four Dukes and a Devil anthology)

This was a fun novella. I wanted more of Blake and Elise. I wanted to know more about Elise especially and how she became who she was. These are terrific characters. I loved their story and hope they show up again in the Night Huntress books. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Richard Castle's Storm Season

Authors:  Brian Michael Bendis and Kelly Sue Deconnick
Illustrator: Emanuela Lupacchino
Series:  Derrick Storm, Book 2
Year:  2012
PubliIsher:  Marvel
Pages: 112

Goodreads Description:

The sequel to the critically acclaimed, best-selling graphic novel Richard Castle's Deadly Storm! In this "adaptation" of Derrick Storm's second novel, the private investigator is hired to bug the hotel suite of an African head of state - but what should have been a routine mission quickly spirals out of control when Storm overhears a woman's terrifying scream on the wire. Plagued by the victim's helpless cry, Storm - despite an ominous warning - investigates. Soon, he'll discover an international conspiracy reaching further than he ever imagined - and perhaps the truth about Clara Strike, a CIA agent the world thinks is dead! Richard Castle's Storm Season reunites the lauded writing duo of Brian Michael Bendis and Kelly Sue DeConnick (Richard Castle's Deadly Storm) for their second Castle story, and the dynamic artwork of rising star Emanuela Lupacchino (X-Factor) brings the world of Derrick Storm to life like never before.

I liked this one better than the first graphic novel. I appreciated the way the authors built on the Storm character and the events from the first book and added in some mystery. There's still all the witty dialogue and snarkiness from the first book and I could still feel the Castle/Fillion character bleeding into Derrick Storm.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Richard Castle's Deadly Storm

Series:  Derrick Storm, Book 1

Author:  Brian Michael Bendis and Kelly Sue Deconnick
Illustrator:  Lan Medina
Publisher:  Marvel
Year:  2011
Pages:  128

Goodreads Description:

CASTLE fans rejoice! For the first time anywhere, CASTLE's titular hero Derrick Storm comes to life in the pages of this all-new graphic novel. This "adaptation" of Derrick Storm's first novel adventure takes our hero from the gritty world of the private eye all the way to the globe-hopping intrigue of the CIA. Eisner Award-winning Marvel Architect Brian Bendis and red hot Osborn writer Kelly Sue DeConnick worked closely with CASTLE creator Andrew Marlowe to create the one thing millions of CASTLE fans have been asking for: Their first real Derrick Storm adventure. A wall-to-wall, gritty, witty, globe-hopping detective thrill ride for fans of the hit TV show starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, as well as fans of darn good comic books.

This graphic novel was pretty fun. For those who don't know, the graphic novel is an adaptation of the books written by the author on the TV show Castle. I could 100% hear the Nathan Fillion character in Derrick Storm. And all the humor and snarkiness from the TV show could be heard in the lines of the graphic novel. The story itself was a bit unbelievable but I think that's the way the Derrick Storm novels are supposed to be. You know over the top and too much. But there were a couple of turns in this story that I didn't expect. Some questions left unanswered that I think could really build up to a good continuing storyline - - especially the one involving Storm's father. There's so much more going on with him. I can just feel it.

If you're a fan of Castle, I say give these graphic novels a try. You'll enjoy them.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Eona: The Last Dragoneye

Author:  Allison Goodman
Series:  Eon, Book 2
Year:  2011
Publisher:  Brilliance Audio
Narrator:  Nancy Wu

Goodreads Description:

Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon's army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona's power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled "Emperor" Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power - and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans. . . .

Eona, with its pulse-pounding drama and romance, its unforgettable fight scenes, and its surprises, is the conclusion to an epic only Alison Goodman could create.

Alright, so I loved Eona. It had been a while since I'd read Eon but it didn't take long for me to get back into the story and remember who was who and what was going on. I was completely sucked into the triangle between Eona, Kygo and Ido. I felt Eona's confusion over what she should do but this was also the one thing that I disliked. To me, Eona was always so undecided and I just wished she'd hurry up and make up her mind. But, the awesomeness of the story overrode that problem. It's a completely unique fantasy set in a different land. The magic is awe-inspiring and the characters are all terrific and well-developed. I mean, I was even feeling the bad guy (Ido not Sethon). 

Nancy Wu does a wonderful job narrating this story. It's a long listen but I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The One

Author:  Heather Self
Series:  The Portal Trilogy, Book 1
Year: 2012
Publisher:  Self
Pages:  274

Goodreads Description:
Stranded on Earth two thousand years they’ve waited for the arrival of the One: some to save her, others to kill her. With her birth, the ancient prophecy could at last be fulfilled and the doorway between the worlds would open. Those who know the prophecy believe this event occurred almost eighteen years ago, and now, they’ll stop at nothing to find her.
Seventeen-year-old Eveline has lived her entire life on the move and she hates it. She knows her parents believe she’s the One, and they’ve done whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of those who want her dead. But Eveline isn’t fully convinced that her parents’ beliefs match her own. What she does believe is that Leadville, Colorado may be the chance she’s been waiting for. The chance to be somewhere safe. The chance for her to make friends and have fun. The chance to finally date a guy. The chance to be a normal girl, at least as normal as possible for someone not human.

I picked this book up at the Decatur Book Festival last year. I really loved the cover but for some reason, I totally missed what this book was about. I though it was going to be a dystopia novel.  Not in the least. BUT I absolutely loved it. It is a terrific fantasy novel. I loved the characters, the myth and lore, the mysteriousness about just who Evy is. Oh and let's not forget about all the totally hot guys. I think I know which guy I want Evy to end up with but I could probably be persuaded. For once I really didn't mind the triangle. The characters and the story are just so well written and well done that the triangle works. 

On another note, this was just about the best edited book I've ever seen from a self-published author. The cover's beautiful. The author has done a wonderful job with this book all the way around and I can't wait to read the next book in the series. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Future of Us

Authors:  Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Year: 2011
Publisher:  Razor Bill
Pages: 356

Goodreads Description:
It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.
By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.

I enjoyed this story but I have to admit to being a little bit disappointed. I enjoyed 13 Reasons Why so very much and it was such a heart-wrenching story that this lighter book was somewhat of a let down. Don't get me wrong, The Future of Us was a good story - I just expected more from Jay Asher. I didn't particularly like Emma as a character. I thought she was pretty selfish in her determination to control her future. On the other hand, I  loved Josh. I did like  the way the book makes fun of our society's addiction to Facebook and obsession with sharing the most inane (and personal) thoughts with the great void of the Internet. I recommend reading this book - just don't expect the same intensity as 13 Reasons Why.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Touch of Frost

Author:  Jennifer Estep
Series:  Mythos Academy, Book 1
Year:  2011
Publisher:  K-Teen
Pages: 350

Goodreads Description:

My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy; a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest. But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why; especially since I should have been the one who died.

I've been meaning to read this book for a while. I'm glad I finally got around to it. It was a fun kick off to the series. Estep does a good job of developing her world and setting the stage for future novels. It's kind of humorous because it feels a bit like Percy Jackson for older kids. There are all these descendants from Greek mythology that are at a boarding school and preparing for a life of fighting. A new kid thrown into the lifestyle that doesn't understand why she's there or her powers. Gwen is a good heroine and I found myself really pulling for her. I can't wait to see how Estep develops the storyline and brings Gwen along. I also appreciated that Estep didn't jump right into the romantic relationship with Gwen and Logan (or anybody for that matter). She seems to be comfortable with taking her time and that'll be the best way to tell the story. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Author: Stephanie Perkins
Year: 2011
Publisher: Dutton Books
Pages: 338

Goodreads Description:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit--more sparkly, more fun, more wild--the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket--a gifted inventor--steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

So now I've read two Stephanie Perkins books and I absolutely loved both of them. I think that she's one of those authors who I am going to read everything she ever writes. I realize that they're just cute little romance stories but they're so good. The heroines are lovable and relatable and the guys are just perfect. I fell in love with Cricket while reading this story. He was everything I would want in a guy. On top of that, Anna and St. Clair were in the story! It was so great getting to see more of those two characters and seeing them doing well and prospering in San Francisco. Truth be told, I wouldn't mind a sequel or a just a little novella telling me more about Anna and St. Clair and their life post Anna and the French Kiss. But back to Lola and the Boy Next Door, I loved it. It didn't touch all the same chords that Anna did but it was great and it hit a couple of different chords with me. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour

Author:  Morgan Matson
Year: 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages:  343

Goodreads Summary:
Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn’t seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she’s coming to terms with her father’s death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road--diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.

What a fun book! First off, the romance was cute and fun and not heavy. But Amy was the real story. I loved watching her deal with her father's death and come to terms with her guilt. She grew into an adult in this story and it was so well told. I loved the extras where we were shown pieces of her travel journey. That just made the story so much more complete and cute and fun. Roger was sweet and gentle and had his own hurdles to cross on the trip. It was cleansing for both of them.

What totally surprised me is that I found myself marking quotes in this book. I didn't expect that from such a light read. But there were parts that were incredibly profound.

I highly recommend this quick read. It might even be worth a reread or two. And I so want to do myself one of those road trip journals.