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Radiance by Alyson Noël

September 14, 2010 2 comments

This was the first ARC I got before the actual publishing date.  I received it about two weeks before it was released on Aug. 31.  I was so excited.

I have already read all of The Immortals, Alyson Noël’s first series.  You can see my review of Dark Flame, the latest in the series, here.

Anyway, I got really excited when I heard that there was going to be a series about Riley, Ever’s younger sister.

Here’s the synopsis from Alyson Noël’s website:

Riley Bloom left her sister, Ever, in the world of the living and crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. Riley and her dog, Buttercup, have been reunited with her parents and are just settling into a nice, relaxing death when she’s summoned before The Council. They let her in on a secret—the afterlife isn’t just an eternity of leisure; Riley has to work. She’s been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a curious boy she can’t quite figure out.

Riley, Bodhi, and Buttercup return to earth for her first assignment, a Radiant Boy who’s been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But he’s never met Riley…

Riley is a great character, especially considering the fact that she’s dead.  When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that Alyson Noël can get you to like a dead girl so much.

Radiance is aimed for a younger audience than The Immortals.  After all, the protagonist is only 12 (although she seems older, most of the time).  Anyway, it’s geared towards middle-schoolers, and is totally appropriate for that age.  It’s interesting, but doesn’t delve into topics that aren’t age-appropriate (such as sex, drinking, drugs, etc.).  And it’s relatively short; less than 200 pages.

While it’s not necessary to have read The Immortals to enjoy Radiance, I would definitely say that it made it a little better for me.  Mostly because I already knew and liked Riley.  But I liked her a lot more after reading this book.

It was really fun to read a book that hadn’t come out yet.  I felt so “in the know.”  It was interesting though, because they make sure you know that the book’s not in its final state and there might be some grammatical errors and blah blah blah.  Well, I noticed a big one right off the bat!

They spelled the author’s name wrong in the page header!  Every single page was like that.  I mean, sheesh, the author’s name is probably the WORST thing for an editor to have missed, don’t you think?  I haven’t seen the final version that’s in stores, but I’m sure it got fixed.

Anyway.

If you’re a fan of The Immortals, or even just a fan of Riley’s (I like her better than her sister, Ever), you’ll like this book.

Four stars for taking a character I already liked and making me like her even more.

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Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

August 24, 2010 1 comment

Linger is the second book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series.  The first book, Shiver was released last year.  I heard about it from my good friend, Jenni Elyse.  This another one of those paranormal/urban fantasy/young adult/romance (PUFYAR, for short I decided) books that are so HUGE right now.

Here’s the blurb from Maggie’s website:

In Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabel, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love—the light and the dark, the warm and the cold—in a way you will never forget.

I don’t want to say too much about this book in case you haven’t read Shiver yet (and I haven’t figured out how to do that cool spoilers thing where you make the text blend in with the background).

The one thing I really want to say about the book is this:  In Shiver, Grace’s parents are totally absentee, couldn’t care less about their daughter, basically adult roommates.  They let her do whatever she wants, expect her to fend for herself, and are rarely home at the same time as her.  Now, in Linger, they’re suddenly in-her-face, high strung, overprotective, and totally forbidding of anything she wants to do– especially be with Sam, the one stable thing in her life? 

I just don’t buy it.  I don’t buy the sudden about-face of her parents.  They lived for sixteen years as one type of parents and then radically change their ways when Grace gets a boyfriend.  I really just can’t believe it.  I had such a hard time believing it that it almost made me angry.

But maybe that’s the point.  Grace doesn’t believe it either, and it makes her mad too.

So maybe Maggie Stiefvater is a genius and got me thinking exactly how she wanted me to.

Who’s to say?

But I really liked Linger.  I thought it was a well-written, well-thought-Shiverout sequel.   was, in itself, a complete story with a definite conclusion, but Linger really explored the ramifications and possible aftermath of the events that took place in Shiver.

That sounds kind of confusing, so I hope you get the gist of what I mean.

Shiver = really good.
Linger = also really good.

So.

If you enjoy a good PUFYAR, this series is for you.  Also, this is one of only two series I’ve read strictly about werewolves.  No vampire, faeries, mermaids, princesses or anything.  The other series is The Dark Divine by Bree Despain, which is also awesome.

Overall, I give Linger four stars for being really good, but not super-amazing-fantastic-bangarang.  (My husband is trying to bring that word back; let me know what you think about it.)

More reviews are hopefully coming soon, but I’m on vacation right now (which is why I missed Fab Five Friday), so…

No promises. 😀

Heist Society by Ally Carter

August 11, 2010 2 comments

I added Heist Society to my TBR list when I saw it on a YA recommendations list somewhere.  I was intrigued by the premise– sort-of a teenage Ocean’s 11 or Italian Job.  I’m a big fan of those movies (and YA, obviously), so I was really looking forward to this book.

Here’s the synopsis from Ally Carter’s website:

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

This was a cute book.  (Wow, that’s such a bland way to start.)  But it is LITERALLY a cute book.  I love the cover and wish I had those sunglasses.

I’ve never read any of Ally Carter’s books before, although her Gallagher Girls series is on my TBR.  I liked the hook at the beginning of the story– the idea of a good girl made to do bad things and who really just wants a normal life.

And of course, there’s a cute boy named Hale (love that name!) who’s rich and protective and thoughtful and blah blah blah teenage romance goodness.

My favorite character in this book though has to be Hale’s butler (I can’t remember his name) or the British twins, Hamish and Angus, who definitely remind me of a non-wizard-version of Fred and George Weasley.

The ending of the book is really well written.  There is a definite sense of closure, but there are enough questions out left out there to possibly answer later.  There is a sequel coming out next year sometime, but this book can stand on its own just fine.

Four stars because I really liked it, but I didn’t luuuurve it.  (Anyone know what book that’s from?)

Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd

July 26, 2010 1 comment

I first heard about this book just from perusing the lists on LibraryThing.  But then, I won it on the Early Reviewers page!  I was so excited 1) because I never win anything, and 2) because I read a lot of Jane Austen “fan fiction”– sequels, rewrites, and the like.  So I fancy myself knowledgeable about this particular genre.

I love the word “fancy” as a verb– it seems so Austen-esque.

By the way, don’t you just fancy the cover?  It’s lovely, I think.

Anyway, here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

“Nobody, I believe, has ever found it possible to like the heroine of Mansfield Park.” –Lionel Trilling

In this ingenious new twist on Mansfield Park, the famously meek Fanny Price–whom Jane Austen’s own mother called “insipid”–has been utterly transformed; she is now a rich heiress who is spoiled, condescending, and generally hated throughout the county. Mary Crawford, on the other hand, is now as good as Fanny is bad, and suffers great indignities at the hands of her vindictive neighbor. It’s only after Fanny is murdered on the grounds of Mansfield Park that Mary comes into her own, teaming-up with a thief-taker from London to solve the crime.

Combining genuine Austen elements—the same characters, and the same episodes, but each with a new twist—with a murder mystery scenario, and complete with romance, intrigue, and crimes of the heart, Murder at Mansfield Park is an irreverant new twist on an old classic.

Austen-lovers have long been debating Fanny Price.  She’s either loved or hated.  Some MP fans love her romanticism and respect her gentility.  Personally, I spent most of the original Mansfield Park want to throttle her and tell her to get up off her rear and take control of her life.

I didn’t like Fanny Price in this book either, but you’re not really supposed to.  She’s the spoiled, horrible, and mean one, while Mary Crawford is the heroine—more closely resembling Elizabeth Bennet than the original cunning, condescending character she’s named after.

I’m usually not a murder mystery reader, but I really enjoyed this one!  And it wasn’t obvious who the killer was.  (Although I must say, I’m not terribly observant when it comes to these things, and I don’t really try to hard to figure it out, either.)  If Jane Austen had written murder mysteries, this book is exactly what it would be like.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for sending me this book.  I really enjoyed it and will be recommending it to all my Jane Austen-loving friends.

I also really enjoyed hearing Lynn Shepherd’s background about the book, which you read here.

Four stars = fabulous fun!  Well-written in Jane Austen’s own style, and much better than the original Mansfield Park.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

July 18, 2010 2 comments

Okay, so there is the website called Gnod.  It’s a site for read-alikes, sort-of.  You put in your favorite author (or band or movie), and it will give you a cloud of authors similar to the one you put in.

That’s how I found Melissa Marr.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

Here’s the blurb from Melissa Marr’s site:

Rule #3: Don’t stare at invisible faeries.

Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty—especially if they learn of her Sight—and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don’t speak to invisible faeries.

Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don’t ever attract their attention.

But it’s too late. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost—regardless of her plans or desires.

Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.

Faerie intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr’s stunning 21st century faery tale.

Okay, so this is a faerie book.  I’ve read a few of those recently– Wings by Aprilynne Pike, the Modern Faerie Tales trilogy by Holly Black (the first book is called Tithe), Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston.  All of which I liked.

I liked this one second best.  I really liked this one– It was unique and interesting with a great cast of believable characters.

Hooray for a heroine who stands up for what she wants!  Aislinn is very real– she isn’t sure how she’s going to make things happen, but she isn’t willing to back down or give up.

(Also, her boyfriend calls her Ash for short, so you know I like that.) 🙂

Speaking of boyfriends, if the bad boy is more your style than the preppy Edward type, look no further than Seth.  He’s devoted, attentive and protective, but he’s also got jet black hair and a LOT of piercings.  Not to mention that he regularly hangs out in a tattoo shop.

So, there’s that.

The bonus about this book is that it was published in 2006, so there are three more books in the series already published, with a fifth one in the works.  So you don’t have to wait to find out what happens next!  The next two are already waiting for me at the library.

Four stars for being the second best faerie YA novel I’ve ever read.  But I’m happy to have another series to sate me for a while.