November 30, 2010

Review of "Three Rivers Rising"

"Three Rivers Rising"
Jame Richards


Pub. Date: April 13, 2010
Pages: 304

Synopsis: Sixteen-Year-Old Celestia spends every summer with her family at the elite resort at Lake Conemaugh, a shimmering Allegheny Mountain reservoir held in place by an earthen dam. Tired of the society crowd, Celestia prefers to swim and fish with Peter, the hotel’s hired boy. It’s a friendship she must keep secret, and when companionship turns to romance, it’s a love that could get Celestia disowned. These affairs of the heart become all the more wrenching on a single, tragic day in May, 1889. After days of heavy rain, the dam fails, unleashing 20 million tons of water onto Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the valley below. The town where Peter lives with his father. The town where Celestia has just arrived to join him. This searing novel in poems explores a cross-class romance—and a tragic event in U. S. history.

"Three Rivers Rising" packs a lot of punch in a small package. The book was written in verse allowing Jame Richards to say a lot using few words. I loved how the book followed multiple characters with completely different backgrounds. It made the book more than just a story of forbidden love; the flood affected people in many different ways and "Three Rivers Rising" did a wonderful job of showing this. There wasn't a ton of character development, but just enough to care about the characters while keeping the book moving at a quick pace. I ended up reading this book in only a few days because it was such a fast read.

The conflicts in Celestia’s family were another part of the plot I really enjoyed. Their story was full of heartbreak, but it was interesting to see their dynamics before and after the flood. They weren't the only family shown in the book, but they were the most developed. Maura, a young mother struggling to raise four young children, is another character I continue to think about after reading this book. Even though her story was only a small piece of a greater plot, she seemed to lose the most out of all the characters. I don't know if everyone will agree with me on this point, but Richards's ending for Maura will stick with me for a long time. It wasn't the ending I expected, but I like that it shined light on something that I didn't expect from the book. Sorry about the super vagueness... but I HATE spoiling anything for readers. You'll just have to read the book for yourself to figure out what I am talking about.

I recommend "Three Rivers Rising" to readers who enjoyed "Out of the Dust" by Karen Hesse and historical fiction. Readers who many not like historical fiction will also be wrapped up in the fast pace of this book, as well as the romance between Celestia and Peter. This is one of the books that has made me so glad I am participating in the 2010 Debut Author Challenge. I never would have picked up this book if it weren't for the challenge and I would have missed out on a great book.

Buy From Amazon
Buy From

November 25, 2010

Review of "Nightshade"

Andrea Cremer


Pub. Date: October 19, 2010
Pages: 453

Synopsis: Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything-- including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

I absolutely loved "Nightshade", it was definitely one of the best books I have read all year. Calla is such a strong character, I couldn't help but admire her. Even though Ren was kind of a womanizer, but he also had a lot more to him than his sex appeal. He was just so charming, but then again so was Shay. Calla's brother and best friend were also fantastic characters... to be honest all the characters were pretty great. Even if I didn't like their personalities, I felt like they added a lot to the book.

I also loved the mythology Cremer created in her story. It was interesting to me that there was this whole other social structure functioning in a world and humans were completely unaware. I also liked the spin on classic werewolves; it seemed to combine them with shape shifters. I hate to say it, but it kind of reminded me of the werewolves in the "Twilight" series. Although there are a lot more politics involved with the packs in Cremer's world.

My favorite part of the book had to be Calla's struggle with personal freedom. I like how this paranormal romance went to another level through the conflicts of civil rights. A lot of the characters were being oppressed, but many of them didn't seem to mind. They may not have even thought about it, or may not have wanted to.

All these elements that Cremer has woven into "Nightshade" make for an amazing series. I can't wait to read "Wolfsbane", the next book in the trilogy. I am glad I won't have to wait a full year for more in the "Nightshade" series. I read on Cremer's website that she is working on a steampunk book that explores what would have happened in the American Revolution never took place... I am pretty psyched about this! If it is anything like "Nightshade" it will be FANTASTIC! Click here for more about "Nightshade" and an excerpt from the book.

Buy From
Buy From

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had some great food and spent time with people they love.
This year I have a lot to be Thankful for. I have a job I love, the best boyfriend ever, a super supportive family, and some wonderful blog followers. Thanks for everyone who followers and/or reads my blog.

November 22, 2010

2010 Debut Author Challenge Update

I just realized I have read 14 books by 2010 debut authors! Yay! I am still planning on reading 4 or 5 more books, but I just can't believe I didn't realize I past the 12... oops! I hope everyone is on track with this challenge.
  1. Hex Hall- Rachel Hawkins
  2. Paranormalcy- Kiersten White
  3. The Iron King- Julie Kagawa
  4. The Body Finder- Kimberly Derting
  5. The Secret Year- Jennifer Hubbard
  6. Nightshade- Andrea Cremer
  7. Bleeding Violet- Dia Reeves
  8. The Replacement- Brenna Yovanoff
  9. The Mark- Jen Nadol
  10. Dirty Little Secrets- C.J. Omololu
  11. A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend- Emily Horner
  12. The Ghost and the Goth- Stacey Kade
  13. Halo- Alexandra Adornetto
  14. A Measure of Disorder- Alan Tucker

November 21, 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge

I am so excited that Kristi (The Story Siren) is hosting another year of the Debut Author Challenge! I read some amazing books in 2010 that I wouldn't have picked up if it hadn't been for the challenge. I recommend everyone join because it really pushes you to read books you may not have picked up on your own. The challenge is pretty easy, just read 12 book in 2011 by debut authors in 2011.
Here is the list of books I plan on reading... I may add titles in the next couple of days:

Across The Universe- Beth Revis
Blood Magic- Tessa Gratton
Between Shade of Gray- Ruta Sepetys
A Touch Mortal- Leah Clifford
Angelfire- Courtney Allison Moulton

For more information about the challenge just click here.

On My Chair

Here are the books I am currently reading, books I have bought, borrowed or have been sent to me, and books I am planning on starting this week (this post was inspired by The Story Siren's In My Mailbox). I am very excited about the books that I bought and borrowed this week.

"Other"Karen Kincy
Pub. Date: July 28th 2010

Synopsis: Feathers unfurl from my skin. My plummet curves into a swoop, and I tuck my talons beneath my body. From girl to great horned owl in about a second. Pretty good, huh?

Gwen Williams is like any other modern teenager with one exception: she's a shapeshifter. Never having known her Pooka-spirit father, Gwen must struggle with the wild, wonderful magic inside of her alone—and in secret. While society may tolerate vampires, centaurs, and "Others" like Gwen, there are plenty of folks in Klikamuks, Washington, who don't care for her kind.

Now there's a new werewolf pack in town, and Others are getting killed, including Gwen's dryad friend. The police are doing zilch. In the midst of terrible loss and danger, Gwen meets a cute Japanese fox spirit who's refreshingly comfortable with his Otherness. Can Gwen find the courage to embrace her true self and find the killer—before she becomes the next victim?

"Chains"Laurie Halse Anderson
Pub. Date: October 21, 2008

Synopsis: If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl?

As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight...for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.

From acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson comes this compelling, impeccably researched novel that shows the lengths we can go to cast off our chains, both physical and spiritual.

"Girl Bomb"
Janice Earlbaum
Pub. Date: March 7, 2006
Synopsis: At fifteen, sick of her unbearable and increasingly dangerous home life, Janice Erlbaum walked out of her family’s Brooklyn apartment and didn’t look back. From her first frightening night at a shelter, Janice knew she was in over her head. She was beaten up, shaken down, and nearly stabbed by a pregnant girl. But it was still better than living at home. As Janice slipped further into street life, she nevertheless attended high school, harbored crushes, and even played the lead in the spring musical. She also roamed the streets, clubs, bars, and parks of New York City with her two best girlfriends, on the prowl for hard drugs and boys on skateboards. Together they scored coke at Danceteria, smoked angel dust in East Village squats, commiserated over their crazy mothers, and slept with one another’s boyfriends on a regular basis.

A wry, mesmerizing portrait of being underprivileged, underage, and underdressed in 1980s New York City, Girlbomb provides an unflinching look at street life, survival sex, female friendships, and first loves.

What is in your "to read" pile?

November 16, 2010

Super Quick Review of "Night World #1-3

"Night World # 1-3"
L.J. Smith


Re-release Date: June 3, 2008
Pages: 752

Synopsis: Vampires, werewolves, witches, shapeshifters -- they live among us without our knowledge. Night World is their secret society, a secret society with very strict rules. And falling in love breaks all the laws of the Night World.

In Secret Vampire, Poppy thought the summer would last forever. Then she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Now Poppy's only hope for survival is James, her friend and secret love. A vampire in the Night World, James can make Poppy immortal. But first they both must risk everything to go against the laws of Night World.

Fugitives from Night World, three vampire sisters leave their isolated home to live among humans in Daughters of Darkness. Their brother, Ash, is sent to bring the girls back, but he falls in love with their beautiful friend.

Two witch cousins fight over their high school crush. It's a battle between black magic and white magic in Spellbinder.

I love L.J. Smith since I was a teen and read a few books in the "Night World" series about 10 years ago or so. I didn't get to read most of the books because the bookstore where I lived stopped carrying most of her books. I was so excited when I found out they were re-releasing L.J. Smith's books. I was worried that I inflated the awesomeness of the "Night World" series and that I would end up being severely disappointed; I am happy to report that this was not the case.

I had trouble putting "Night World" down. I love the paranormal romances in this series, even though they obviously aren't realistic, but I still LOVE the idea of soul mates and how you cannot control whom you fall in love with (no matter how much they repel you). Part of the reason I like this idea of soul mates that you meet and fall in love with spot on is that they can be anyone, even if you are racist you could fall in-love with someone of the race you loath so much. It makes the characters reassess their irrational hatred toward one another. I think this message can transcend from the fantasy idea that vampires can love witches to a real situation where people can love each other no matter what race or religion they belong to. Maybe that seems like a huge leap to some people, but I like to think positive.

These books are fun, fast and I never know what is going to happen next. I loved all 3 books in this collection, but I am not picky about what paranormal being I am reading about. I am definitely planning to read more of the "Night World" series and highly recommend L.J. Smith to anyone who enjoys paranormal romance.

November 15, 2010

Review of "Avalon High"

"Avalon High"
Meg Cabot


Pub. Date:
December 27, 2005

Synopsis: Avalon High, Ellie's new school, is pretty much what she'd expected. There's Lance, the hunky footballer; Jennifer, the cute cheerleader; Marco, the troublemaker. And then there's Will - the most gorgeous guy Ellie's ever met. She can hardly believe he likes HER. When Will says he thinks he's met Ellie before, things start getting a little weird. A feeling that grows as Ellie discovers the strange bonds that entwine Will, Lance, Jen, Marco - and herself. As darkness turns to danger, can Ellie stop the horrific chain of events that is about the engulf them all…

Another win for Meg Cabot! This is my favorite book by the author that I've read so far. You should keep in mind that I've only read a handful of her books; luckily I am working on remedying this tragedy! I just wish I could get my hands on more of her books on CD! I listened to "Avalon High" in my car and at the gym and had serious problems stopping. I loved the spin of the Arthurian legend and how Cabot was able to make it believable (never doubt her power to make a fantastical plot work). You may think that there are no mysteries to this book and that all the characters are what they seem, but Cabot is able to add a few twists that I didn't see coming. I loved all the character. Lance even grew on me. Cabot created a fantastic villain; he/she was complex and embraced his/her evil side. I know that may sound weird, but I feel like villains can fall short sometimes in books.

I absolutely love the balance between humor and conflict that Cabot is able to bring to her books. I also love the fact that I never feel like her books are dragging with wasted space. Her books always seem to be the perfect length to fit exactly what needs to be there, no more, no less. I know this isn't always the easiest part of writing, but as a reader it drives me nuts when I feel like books could easily be sped up. I worry sometimes about authors who write a lot of books because sometimes I feel like they get lazy, but so far I haven't found this with Cabot. I am hoping that she keeps the spark in her writing for many more years to come!

Winner of "Enchanted Ivy" and "Halo"

Congratulations to Lauren M. for winning "Enchanted Ivy" and "Halo"! I sent you an e-mail moments ago! Thanks everyone for entering.

November 13, 2010

Review of "The House of Scorpion"

"The House of Scorpions"
Nancy Farmer


Pub. Date: September 1, 2002

Synopsis: Matt is a clone of El Patrón, a powerful drug lord of the land of Opium, which is located between the United States and Mexico. For six years, he has lived in a tiny cottage in the poppy fields with Celia, a kind and deeply religious servant woman who is charged with his care and safety. He knows little about his existence until he is discovered by a group of children playing in the fields and wonders why he isn't like them. Though Matt has been spared the fate of most clones, who have their intelligence destroyed at birth, the evil inhabitants of El Patrón's empire consider him a "beast" and an "eejit." When El Patrón dies at the age of 146, fourteen-year-old Matt escapes Opium with the help of Celia and Tam Lin, his devoted bodyguard who wants to right his own wrongs. After a near misadventure in his escape, Matt makes his way back home and begins to rid the country of its evils.

"The House of Scorpion" fell a little flat for me. The plot was really interesting, but the characters weren't my favorite. I liked Matt, but I wanted to punch him in the face at certain points throughout the book. I struggled with this book because I understood why the author chose to make his character so hard to like and it worked well with the plot, but I have trouble reading books when I don't like the main character. I actually had trouble liking most of the characters in the book. I would say that I maybe liked half the characters in the book, but the best characters didn't show up until about halfway through.

I like how Farmer explored cloning in "The House of Scorpion". Parts of the book were hard to read because of how the clones were treated. It was also interesting to see how technology was used to enslave both humans and animals in Farmer's world. The Eejits were super creepy, but at the same time I felt terrible for them. It was also hard to read about how orphans were treated in Aztlan and how the government was able to control the ideas of the people. Technology was not the only weapon used as a means of control, drugs and psychology also played a large role in "The House of Scorpion"

The future portrayed in "The House of Scorpion" is terrifying, but at the same time it is not unbelievable. I think I would have liked this book more if I was in a book group and had people to discuss it with, but I kind of just felt frustrated at the characters through most of the story. I love how the book ended, but I had trouble getting through the first two thirds of the book. I guess what it comes down to is that the English major in me really liked the book, but the reader in me thought it moved a bit too slow and struggled with the characters. After even writing this review I feel like I should give the book a better rating, but I can't say I "really liked" the book while reading it. Lots of other people LOVE this book, so if you like sci-fi then this book will probably be right up your alley.

Less than 2 days left!

Less than 2 days left in my contest to win "Enchanted Ivy" and "Halo"! Just click here for contest information. Good luck everyone!

November 10, 2010

Review of "ArchEnemy"

"ArchEnemy": Looking Glass Wars Series #3
Frank Beddor


Pub. Date: October 15, 2009
Pages: 384

Synopsis: The Heart Crystal’s power has been depleted, and Imagination along with it. The people of Wonderland have all lost their creative drive, and most alarmingly, even Queen Alyss is without her powers. There is some comfort in the fact that the vicious Redd Heart seems to be similarly disabled. Amazingly, she is attempting to team up with her enemy, Alyss, in order to reclaim Wonderland from King Arch. Alyss might have no choice but to accept Redd’s overtures, especially when she begins to receive alarming advice from the caterpillar oracles.

Page-turning and complex, this culmination of the Wonderland saga is intensely satisfying.

I am so glad I finally got a chance to read "ArchEnemy" because I was DYING to learn how "The Looking Glass Wars" Series ended. This book seriously kept me guessing, I had a feeling of whom the good and bad guys were, but Frank Beddor kept me on my toes. There were so many twists and turns in this book. I was shocked at the first chapter and was dying to know how Alyss got herself in such a hopeless situation. I kept rewinding the audio book I was listening to in the car to make sure I understood correctly because I just couldn't believe how the book was starting off. It was pretty fantastic.

I was a bit worried I might be let down by this final book in the series, but I wasn't. The book moved fast and characters were constantly surprising me. It was interesting to see Dodgson again and I liked how the book kind of came full circle in that way. I liked seeing the change in Hatter as he tries to take on the role as father; it was kind of amusing at times. Alyss is a strong character from beginning to end and yet her actions were still able to surprise me down to the last page.

To me this book had everything I was looking for in the final book. We spend more with the caterpillars, which was fun, even though they were confusing at times. Part of the ending was a huge surprise while other parts I saw coming. It ended in a satisfying way without over explaining anything. It leaves some room for a spin off series, but I don't know of one in the works. This is probably just wishful thinking on my part. There is of course the "Hatter M" graphic novels spin off, but for some reason that doesn't appeal to me very much. Beddor has created a world that could be delved into deeper and has endless possibilities. I really hope we get another chance to experience his vision of Wonderland. If not, I may just have to pick up the "Hatter M" graphic novels.

November 8, 2010

Review of "Torment"

Lauren Kate


Pub. Date: September 28, 2010
Pages: 464

Synopsis: Hell on earth.

That’s what it’s like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel.
It took them an eternity to find one another, but now he has told her he must go away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts—immortals who want to kill Luce. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky California coast with unusually gifted students: Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans.

At Shoreline, Luce learns what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as windows to her previous lives. Yet the more Luce learns, the more she suspects that Daniel hasn’t told her everything. He’s hiding something—something dangerous.
What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t actually true? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else?

The second novel in the addictive FALLEN series . . . where love never dies.

It took me a little while to get into "Torment", but after about 40 pages or so I was completely hooked! I was very sad that the setting of the story had to change from Sword and Cross to a new school, but Shoreline turned out to be interesting enough. I loved the fact that Luce was infamous at Shoreline because of her and Daniel's epic love story. It was just a nice touch and added conflict to the story. I also liked how I never knew what to expect Daniel or Cam; this book played around with the good vs. evil and blurred the lines making me ding to see where Lauren Kate takes it. Is there really such a huge difference in Kate's world? Is right and wrong always black and white without any grey area?

I was worried that "Torment" would only be about Luce sitting at a school worried about Daniel and questioning their relationship, but luckily this was wrong. The story is about Luce searching for the truth about her relationship with Daniel, but it is also about Luce understanding her past and finding herself. I like how the shadows take on a different role in this book than in "Fallen". Even though Luce was taking unnecessary and dare I say stupid risks to use the power of the shadows to her own end, her experiences with the shadows is what made me fall in love with "Torment".

I was also pretty worried that Penn was a irreplaceable character and that I would spend the entirety of "Torment" missing her, but luckily new characters made the loss of Penn manageable. Shelby is a great character because she is rough around the edges and you never know what will come out of her mouth. Miles is a much more reliable friend and I just couldn't help but like him as the super sweet nice guy. He welcomed Luce to Shoreline on day one and didn't treat her differently because of the rumors about her and Daniel.

I honestly can't wait for the next book "Passion" to come out next summer and not just because "Torment" left on a giant cliffhanger. There are so many unanswered questions and it seems the more answers we get the more questions develop. Lauren Kate has definitely given herself lots to work with in the next two books in the series. I can't wait to see where "Passion" will take our characters!