June 28, 2011

Review of Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant

"Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant"
Mark Jeffrey

Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant 

Pub. Date: April 26th, 2011
Pages: 304
Publisher: HarperCollins

Synopsis: Max Quick is a pickpocket, a vagabond, an orphan, and a thief. Even so, nothing about him seems particularly special . . . until one day when time mysteriously stops. Suddenly, nearly everyone in the world is frozen in time—except for Max. 

Now Max must journey across America to find the source of the Time-stop. Along the way, he meets others who aren't suspended in time, like Casey, a girl who's never been on her own until now. Together, as they search for the cause of this disaster, Max and his companions encounter ancient mysteries, magic books, and clues to the riddle of stopped time. But relentless and mysterious villains are hot on Max's heels and will do everything in their power to prevent Max from ending the Time-stop. And the closer Max gets to the answers, the more it seems that his own true identity is not what he once believed. 

Racing against a clock that no longer ticks, Max must embrace his past to save his future—and the world—from being altered forever.

"Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant" was a  fast paced read with lots of action.  I was hooked on this book after the first chapter and I had to find out what was going on.  Why was time stopped and why weren't Max and Casey affected?!  As I got more and more into the book, I just HAD to know why Max was missing his memory and who he really was.  If these mysteries aren't enough, there are many more that pop up throughout the book to keep your interest peaked. I would go into more details, but I HATE spoilers in reviews!

Even though the book was fast paced, I wish there had been more character development.  I wish Max's quest to find himself had been more of a driving force in this book.  There are moments where Max's identity is a top priority, but they are fleeting.  It almost feels like there are just too many mysteries happening in one book.  This is good for keeping the reader interested, but I like to be a little more connected with my characters.  This book almost felt like a complete series, or at least 2/3 of one, because of all the different mysteries that were solved and the number of villains- it kind of reminds me of Spider-Man 3.  

"Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant" is a combination of sci-fi and adventure that will have readers hooked from start to finish.  Fans of Percy Jackson will enjoy Max's quest to learn the mysteries of the Time Pocket as well as his own identity.  This book is probably best suited for reluctant readers or readers who enjoy non-stop action, but I think most readers will enjoy "Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant".

*I did receive a free ARC of this book for review.

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June 21, 2011

Review of "Blood Magic"

"Blood Magic"
Tessa Gratton

Blood Magic (The Blood Journals) 

Pub. Date: May 24th, 2011
Pages: 405
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Synopsis: It starts off simply.

Draw a circle ... place a dead leaf in the center ... sprinkle some salt ... recite a little Latin ... add a drop of blood ...

Maybe that last part isn't exactly simple. Yet somehow it feels right to Silla Kennicott. And nothing in her life has felt remotely right since her parents' horrific deaths. She's willing to do anything to uncover the truth about her family—even try a few spells from the mysterious book that arrived on her doorstep ... and spill some blood.

The book isn't the only recent arrival in Silla's life. There's Nick Pardee, the new guy next door who may have seen Silla casting a spell. She's not sure what he saw and is afraid to find out. But as they spend more time together, Silla realizes this may not be Nick's first encounter with Blood Magic. Brought together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick can't deny their attraction. And they can't ignore the dark presence lurking nearby—waiting to reclaim the book and all its power.

I had high expectations for "Blood Magic", but sadly it did not live up to them.  I almost stopped reading this book multiple times, but then something would happen that kept me reading and I kept hoping it would get better.  I have to say the last 100 pages were pretty decent, but the pace was just too slow through the rest of the book.  There was too much switching between Nick and Silla's Point of view.  I think I would have liked this book better if it had been strictly told by Silla, I was not a huge fan of Nick as a character and his narration didn't help.  Nick may have been nice and patient with Silla, but he was an a-hole to everyone else.  If the duel narration didn't slow the book down enough, there were plenty of flashbacks and old journal entries to break us out of the immediate story.  Yes I did actually enjoy the journal entries at first, but after a while it just felt like the book wasn't going anywhere.  On top of that, I didn't really fear for the characters lives when they were "in danger" because there was so little action. 

What did I like about this book?  I liked Silla as a character; she was strong and I liked how she used masks to cope.  I liked the Gothic elements at first, but that only kept me interested for the first 200 pages.  The same goes for the use of blood.  I like how the book dealt with the dangers of too much power, it gave the book more depth than just a paranormal romance.  I am wondering if my problem with this book was that there was so much going on, but the plot didn't move forward.  It almost seemed like there were just too many elements forced into this book. 

There are a lot of great reviews of "Blood Magic" out there, but I just struggled through the first 300 pages of this book.  Maybe my expectations were too high, it is a possibility.  If you are really looking forward to this book, then give it a go.  I am definitely not continuing with the rest of this series.  I felt satisfied with the end of the book.  There is one question that remains unanswered, but I don't feel compelled to read anymore.  If you agree or totally disagree with my review, feel free to comment.

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June 20, 2011

Review "The Maze Runner"

"The Maze Runner"
James Dashner 
The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 1) 

Pub. Date: October 6, 2009
Pages: 279
Publisher: Delacorte Press for Young Readers

Synopsis:  Imagine waking up one day in total darkness, unsure of where you are and unable to remember anything about yourself except your first name. You're in a bizarre place devoid of adults called the Glade. The Glade is an enclosed structure with a jail, a graveyard, a slaughterhouse, living quarters, and gardens. And no way out. Outside the Glade is the Maze, and every day some of the kids -- the Runners -- venture into the labyrinth, trying to map the ever-changing pattern of walls in an attempt to find an exit from this hellish place. So far, no one has figured it out. And not all of the Runners return from their daily exertions, victims of the maniacal Grievers, part animal, part mechanical killing machines.

Thomas is the newest arrival to the Glade in this Truman-meets-Lord of the Flies tale. A motley crew of half a dozen kids is all he has to guide him in this strange world. As soon as he arrives, unusual things begin to happen, and the others grow suspicious of him. Though the Maze seems somehow familiar to Thomas, he's unable to make sense of the place, despite his extraordinary abilities as a Runner. What is this place, and does Thomas hold the key to finding a way out?

In The Maze Runner, Dashner has crafted a creative and engaging novel that's both mysterious and thought provoking.

I don't know why it took me so long to read this book... I have only heard wonderful things about "The Maze Runner", but somehow I kept overlooking it.  Thank goodness I randomly requested the audio book from the library because this is a must read for fans of "The Hunger Games".  "The Maze Runner" wasn't as good as HG, but I really don't expect many books to be able to compete with its sheer awesomeness.  From the very beginning of the book I felt just as lost as the main character, Thomas, and I was hooked.  I LOVED how none of the characters in The Glade really know what is going on- some of them have theories, but that's all they are. 

There wasn't a ton of character development, but everyone was very realistic.   I really liked how everyone had their own way of coping with being in The Glade, some characters handled the situation better than others, but I would probably be a crazy, mess if I was in their situation.  I loved how Dashner showed the characters' reactions to change.  People don't like change in life as it is, in such a high stress environment it isn't surprising how some of the characters react to some of the changes Thomas's arrival brings.  This book is violent, but I didn't think it was over done.  The violence is used to show how terrifying The Glade is.

If you like adventure and mystery then "the Maze Runner" is a must read.  The ending is fantastic and there are plenty of questions left to keep you wanting more.  “The Scorch Trials”, the second book, is available now, and the last book, “The Death Cure” is coming out in October.  Now is a great time to start this series!

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June 14, 2011

"Ruby Red" Winner!

Congrats to Samantha for winning "Ruby Red"!  
Thanks everyone for entering!  I know it was super quick.

June 10, 2011

Review of "The Deathday Letter"

"The Deathday Letter"
Shuan David Hutchinson

The Deathday Letter 

Pub. Date: June 15th, 2010
Pages: 240
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Synopsis:  The clock is ticking? 

Ollie can't be bothered to care about anything but girls until he gets his Deathday 

Letter and learns he's going to die in twenty-four hours. Bummer. 

Ollie does what he does best: nothing. Then his best friend convinces him to live a little, and go after Ronnie, the girl who recently trampled his about-to-expire heart. Ollie turns to carloads of pudding and over-the-top declarations, but even playing the death card doesn't work. All he wants is to set things right with the girl of his dreams. It's now or never?

I had high hopes for this book, I just thought the synopsis sounded AMAZING, but this book just did not live up to my expectations.  I did enjoy this book, but I really thought the focus of the book would be completely different.  I was hoping the book would focus a bit more on the Deathday Letters, but I was disappointed.  I really liked the idea of knowing when a person would die; this ensured you did everything you could to bring closure to yourself and your friends.  Overall, I did think Ollie took advantage of his last day, but there were parts of his experience that were just a major let down.  I don't want to say what they were because that may be a bit of a spoiler, but you would be able to figure this out if you read the book.  I guess the story flowed more realistically without exploring the Deathday Letters, but it just left the book feeling a bit flat for me.

Part of my problem with this book is that Ollie came off as kind of a jerk to me.  I did not hate him, but there were times where he was really hard to like.  He is probably a realistic portrayal of a teenage boy, but as a female I kind of wanted to slap him a lot of the time.  At the same time, Ronnie was kind of a pain in the butt.  The only character I really liked was Ollie's best friend, Shane.  He is a great balance for Ollie and without him the book may have completely flopped.

I will say that I absolutely loved the ending, which still seems weird, but it just was perfect.  I understood Ollie and Ronnie's relationship better so their fighting made a lot more sense.  I just wish this had been addressed sooner because I was getting very annoyed with the pair.  So in short, this book was good, but not great.  I think this is a book that might resonate more when guys, they might appreciate Ollie's humor more than I did.  The biggest problem for me was that I expected this book to be different.  I thought it was going to be more serious with less one-liners, but some people may enjoy the tone of "The Deathday Letter".

June 9, 2011

Super Short Contest for "Ruby Red"!

Ruby Red (Ruby Red - Trilogy)
I know this is a very quick contest, but I just got the go ahead to run it!  You have until 11:59 PM EST Monday June 13th to enter.  All you have to do is reply to this post with your e-mail and you will be entered!  I am adding the stipulation that you must respond with your mailing information 24 hours after receiving an e-mail from me so that I can get your information to the publisher.  If you don't get back to me then I will contact a new winner.  This contest is restricted to mailing addresses in the US and Canada.  As always, you must be at least 13 years old to enter.
I know this is SUPER fast, but I couldn't pass this contest by.  Good luck everyone! 
Here is a link to my contest policies, but I believe all the important stuff is covered above.

June 8, 2011

Trailer for "Ruby Red" by Kerstin Gier

Ruby Red (Ruby Red - Trilogy) 
I just saw the trailer for "Ruby Red" and thought you all might enjoy it!  I LOVE the cover of the book and have heard great things!