Thursday, September 29, 2011

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler



* * *


Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."

"Okay."

"Promise me? Promise you won't say anything?"

"Don't worry." I laughed. "It's our secret, right?"






According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie---she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.



Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.



Frankie and Anna head to California with Frankie’s parents for a 3 week long beach vacation. Frankie’s family takes this trip every year but this is the first year they have gone without Matt – the brother/son/boyfriend that died the previous year. They hope that bringing Anna will dull the pain that will come with taking this trip without him. What no one knows is that Anna and Matt were secretly seeing each other the summer he unexpectedly died. Anna has never told anyone about their relationship. So while she comforts her best friend (Matt’s sister) over her loss, Anna is secretly grieving for the only boy she has loved.

Before they leave for Zanzibar, Frankie suggests that they try to meet a new boy every day they are on vacation. That way they may increase their chance of a summer romance AND increase Anna’s chances of losing her virginity. To make Frankie happy, Anna reluctantly agrees to the plan. Once there, they begin their search and on the way, learn to deal with both their own and each other’s grief.

The grief felt in this book is very real. Between Anna, Frankie and Frankie’s parents you learn how irreparably their lives have changed after the loss of Matt. It is truly heartbreaking to watch them struggle through their grief and to see the damage their grief causes each other. There were definitely times when I was tearing up. Particularly for the parents. Being a mother, I of course identified with the parents’ grief more than anything.

Unfortunately, the romance between Anna and Matt in this book left me sad and depressed – and not just because he died. The author tries to make Matt sound like this amazing brother and boyfriend. And maybe he was. But I personally couldn’t get past the fact that he insisted on keeping their relationship a secret. Here is this young 15 year old girl with an older boyfriend who is heading off to college and he doesn’t want to tell anyone? His reasoning that he didn’t want to hurt his sister was weak in my eyes and rung more than a little untrue. I know the words in the book show his intentions to be honest but I also know from personal experience that keeping secrets like this are a horrible start to a relationship. Granted I guess this is the impetus of many of the issues Anna faces in this book so maybe that was Ockler’s intent?

And then there is the quest for summer romance and loss of virginity. I understand that people deal with grief in different ways. This wouldn’t be the first story (true or fictional) where someone uses sex as a way to deal with their grief. Regardless, I personally would prefer to read a book where a girl has self-respect and doesn’t see her virginity as something to just throw away. This story line greatly affected my opinion of this book and in turn the final rating.

In the end, I am giving this book 3 stars because it is well written and emotionally moving at times.

As a side note, if you want to read a book about teens/young adults dealing with grief I would recommend If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman. And if you want to read a book that is open and honest about teen sex, I would recommend Forever by Judy Blume. Forever may have been published over 35 years ago but it still rings true today.

~Nat


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Juliet Spell by Douglas Rees



From Goodreads:

I’m Juliet.

At least, I wanted to be.

So I did something stupid to make it happen.

Well, stupid and wonderful.

I wanted the role of Juliet more than anything. I studied hard. I gave a great reading for it—even with Bobby checking me out the whole time. I deserved the part.

I didn’t get it. So I decided to level the playing field, though I actually might have leveled the whole play. You see, since there aren’t any Success in Getting to Be Juliet in Your High School Play spells, I thought I’d cast the next best—a Fame spell. Good idea, right?

Yeah. Instead of bringing me a little fame, it brought me someone a little famous. Shakespeare. Well, Edmund Shakespeare. William’s younger brother.

Good thing he’s sweet and enthusiastic about helping me with the play...and—ahem—maybe a little bit hot. But he’s from the past. Way past. Cars amaze him—cars! And cell phones? Ugh.

Still, there’s something about him that’s making my eyes go star-crossed....

Will Romeo steal her heart before time steals him away?


I was torn between giving this book a 2.5 or 3 star rating. I wanted to love this book, really I did. It is such an interesting concept - time travelling Shakespeare? Awesome! William Shakespeare trying to figure out cars, tv and cell phones? Hilarious! Shakespeare skulking around a modern day production of Romeo & Juliet? Too funny! The problem was I really think this book could have been more. There was a lot of missed comedy between Will and his brother Edmund, who were by far the best characters in the book. The story seemed a little rushed, so I felt there was not enough development of some of the supporting characters, which would have been fun.

However, the part of the book I had the hardest time with was the believability of some characters, especially Miri’s parents. I could not suspend reality to believe that Miri’s Mom would just accept that Miri had some guy living with them that she accidentally conjured while performing a spell to make her Juliet in a play. Her Mom did not even question the story and seemingly had no problem with this boy moving into their house or the fact that the two became involved while living together. And then, when Miri’s Dad calls, he just accepts it too! I don’t know about you guys, but when I was a teenager (you know, last year), there is no way my parents would have bought that story without question, yelling and lectures on the idiocy of playing with things you did not understand.

All of that being said, I really did enjoy the book, I just did not love it and I really wanted to love it. In the end, after deliberating on it for a few days, I am going with 3 stars.

We received The Juliet Spell as an ARC from NetGalley.  HarlequinTeen releases this title TODAY, September 27, 2011!

~Shel




Greek Week Update!

We are hard at work attempting to bring you fun and frivolity for our Greek Week celebration next week.  Just to give you an update (these are subject to change, but this is our tentative schedule):

October 3, 2011:
Interview with Jennifer Estep!  We are so excited to have our first author interview.  Jennifer's book Touch of Frost features students from Mythos Academy (lots of fun spin on all types of mythology, not just Greek).  Shel's review of the book and Jennifer's interview will kick off our Greek Week!

October 4, 2011:
The much anticipated release date of Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan.  To celebrate, Nat will review The Lost Hero and I am sure there will be plenty of general giddiness over the release of Son of Neptune.

October 5, 2011:
Shel reviews Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini. This was one of her favorites of 2011, so far.

October 6, 2011:
The Furies themselves agreed to an interview!  I know, I know.  I am nervous too.  We will post our review of Fury by Elizabeth Miles and celebrate her take on the Greek scorekeepers. 

October 7, 2011:
Sweet Venom and the Oh.My.Gods. series by Tera Lynn Childs take center stage on Friday.  We were lucky enough to meet Tera recently and are super excited to have her come play with us on the blog! 

October 8, 2011:
We will post our review of The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter and discuss her very unique take on the Greek gods and mythology.

October 9, 2011:
We are still working out the details for how to end our Greek Week celebration, but I am sure we will come up with something ridiculous and fun!

Oh and did I forget to mention you should check back for information on giveaways during Greek Week?  Oh, my bad...

Get your togas and ambrosia ready people!  See you next week!

~Shel

** It is entirely possible that I forgot a fun Greek/mythology inspired series and if I did - please tell me.  I do not want to leave anyone out.  AND if it is a book I have yet to discover, I definitely want to check it out!  You can comment here or send an email to bibliojunkies @ gmail.com

Monday, September 26, 2011

Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday



****

From HarperTeen:

First I find out that my boyfriend is cheating on me. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And now he’s depending on me to clear his name. Seriously?

As much as I wouldn’t mind watching him squirm, I know that he’s innocent. So I’m brushing off my previously untapped detective skills and getting down to business. But I keep tripping over dead bodies and I’m still no closer to figuring out who did it. And what’s worse: all signs seem to point to me as the killer’s next victim.

I really need to pick a better boyfriend next time.

I have to preface this review by saying that I have been a huge fan of Gemma’s since I discovered Spying in Heels back in 2006. Needless to say, I was giddy to find out that Gemma was making a foray into the wonderful world of Young Adult. Then I got an ARC and did a little happy dance (be thankful you didn't have to see that!)

Reading Deadly Cool reminded me how much I love a good mystery. I have been reading so many paranormals lately, that I had forgotten. The mystery was fun and I enjoyed getting to know the characters.  Hartley plays the typical teen caught up in something beyond her control. Her best-friend Sam is Hartley’s partner-in-crime (and crime solving) and comic relief, especially in her struggle not to swear. And, I admit that I am crushing a little on Chase, the resident smart-ass (there's a scene with a strip-tease!). The cast of characters could use a little more depth, but I suspect that will come in future installments.

Deadly Cool is light-hearted mystery and fast-paced fun expertly blended. Anyone who enjoys contemporary mysteries will enjoy it.  Deadly Cool releases on October 11, 2011 - Definitely check it out.

~Shel












A Peek In The Biblio-Bin - #3

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.

This week Nat is giving you a peek into her section of the Biblio-Bin.


Every other day, Kali D'Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She attends pep rallies. She's human.
And then every day in between...She's something else entirely.

Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.

When Kali notices a mark on the lower back of a popular girl at school, she knows instantly that the girl is marked for death by one of these creatures. Kali has twenty-four hours to save her and, unfortunately, she'll have to do it as a human. With the help of a few new friends, Kali takes a risk that her human body might not survive...and learns the secrets of her mysterious condition in the process.


SHAKESPEARE SHAPIRO HAS ALWAYS hated his name. His parents bestowed it on him as some kind of sick joke when he was born, and his life has gone downhill from there, one embarrassing incident after another. Entering his senior year of high school, Shakespeare has never had a girlfriend, his younger brother is cooler than he is, and his best friend's favorite topic of conversation is his bowel movements.

But Shakespeare will have the last laugh. He is chronicling every mortifying detail in his memoir, the writing project each senior at Shakespeare's high school must complete. And he is doing it brilliantly. And, just maybe, a prize-winning memoir will bring him respect, admiration, and a girlfriend . . . or at least a prom date.


Benson Fisher thought a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.
He was wrong.

Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.

Where breaking the rules equals death.

But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.



Comment and let us know what reads you are looking forward to this week!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Greek Week - October 3-9!

Guys, we are totally cooking up some fun for our Greek Week coming October 3-9!  We will have interviews, reviews, contests and any other silliness we can come up with! 

We will have reviews of some of our favorite books featuring Greek mythology, gods, monsters and mayhem, including:

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Fury by Elizabeth Miles

And more! 

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer Book Trailer


Shel and I have discussed book trailers a number of times.  She hates them.  Mostly because she hates any kind of spoiler (knowing that the word "and" is in a book is a spoiler to her - she is so going kick my butt for saying that).  I am not a big fan either.  Spoilers don't bother me too much.  For me, there is something about book trailers that always feels wrong.  No offense to the awesome actors and videogrophers that make these videos.  I don't know what it is.  Maybe I am just too used to the gloss of Hollywood.  Which really is an unfair comparison as a trailer for a book is always going to be considerably different than a trailer for a movie.  Well whatever it is, the trailer for Michelle Hodkins' The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer has taken me by complete surprise.  It is FRAKKIN' AWESOME.  Seriously.  5*'s to the trailer alone.  And I haven't even read the book...yet.  It will be released next week and I will be picking it up as soon as I can.  So check it out and tell us what you think of this trailer and book trailers in general.



Friday, September 23, 2011

Geek Girl* by Cindy Bennett

* * * *

“Think I can turn that boy bad?”
High school junior Jen inadvertently turns her life upside down when, out of boredom, she makes a bet that she can turn school geek Trevor into someone bad, someone like her. His complete opposite in every way, the sarcastic goth-girl tries pulling him into her world of partying. Instead she finds herself sucked into Trevor’s world of sci-fi movies, charity work and even – ugh! – bowling.
If that weren’t bad enough, she desperately wants to become a permanent part of the foster family she currently lives with, even if it means having a cheerleader for a sister. What’s up with that?
But Jen must come to terms with her past, including her now-dead abusive father and her imprisoned mother. Jen’s journey will lead her to discover the true meaning of friendship. family, forgiveness, and above all, love.


Jennifer Jones is the stereotypical Goth girl. Funky dark hair, dark clothing adorned with leather and chains, and dark over the top makeup. Trevor Hoffman is a geek. A somewhat popular boy with buttoned to the top shirts and perfect posture and manners. Jen decides it will be fun to bring Trevor down to her level and makes a bet with her friends that she can do just that. And boy, are the stakes high - sense my sarcasm here? Can’t tell you what the bet is, you will find out in the first few pages of reading this (and you will read it because I loved it and I told you it’s a good idea) what she gets for bringing this good boy down and you will be disgusted and annoyed. But not everything works the way we think it will and Jen finds herself being sucked in by Trevor’s kindness. And *gasp* finds herself desiring the things that she never thought someone like her deserved.

Thanks to abuse she experienced as a child and the life she subsequently was forced into, Jen has extremely low self esteem. She has no idea of how much she has to offer and how much those around her love her. According to her, any attention given to her must come at a price. So, as you may have guessed, the boy saves the girl. Not necessarily a favorite theme by some people, but trust me, you will love it in this book. The boy doesn’t save the girl in the conventional Prince Charming way. The boy saves her simply by being kind. His attitude rubs off on her over an extended period of time (there is no falling in love after 5 seconds – it takes time with these two very different people). Making her realize that maybe there are people out there that do love her and maybe, just maybe, that love doesn’t come at a price.

Another refreshing message in this story is that being loved by a boy doesn’t solve all of life’s problems. I know, I know. I just said the boy saves the girl. And he does. But there are some things only we can do for ourselves and Jen has to learn to love herself and not depend on someone else’s feelings about her to determine her self-worth.

Now this book is really about Jen and then Jen and Trevor. And what do I have to say about Trevor Hoffman? All I can say is move over Peeta Mellark! If you know how much I LOVE Peeta, you will be thoroughly shocked to read this. Shel and Bel often laugh at me and my love of the “good” boy. Seriously, I am IN LOVE with “good” boys; or as I like to call them, “Forever” boys. You know. The boy you actually WANT to bring home to meet the parents. The boy that gives you the warm fuzzies when you think of him and forever in the same thought. Or better yet, the boy that you look at and think, “I will be okay if my daughter decides to bring him home.” Yep, that’s Trevor Hoffman. Love him, love him, love him. I enjoy it when authors aren’t afraid to create a “perfect” or “perfectly nice” love interest. Don’t get me wrong. I love the bad boys too. But bad boys are temporary and let’s face it…I’m not a temporary sort of girl.

And before I end this review I have to tell you all that I loved the “geek” aspect of this book as well because as you may be able to guess, I was and still am a geek at heart. AND I continue to explore my inner geek because as you should know….Geek is cool. At least this thirty-something likes to think so. The numerous Sci-Fi references in this book made me laugh. If anyone out there has seriously named their kid Adama, I want to shake their hand. And the Mork and Mindy reference? Totally embarrassing and awesome all at the same time. There are a ton of geek references to enjoy in this book but not so much that it will turn off the non-geek.

Read this book. It is a great story that I will be recommending it to my YA loving friends – both young and old.

~ Nat


* Geek Girl is a novel that was independently published. It has been picked up by, Sweetwater, an imprint of Cedar Fort Publishing and will be released December 8, 2011. I was able to snag the ARC of Geek Girl via Netgalley.





Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

* * * *



“IN THE SOCIETY, OFFICIALS DECIDE. 
WHO YOU LOVE.  WHERE YOU WORK.  WHEN YOU DIE.

Cassia has always trusted their choices.  It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate.  So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one…until she sees another face flash for an instant before the background fades to black.  Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared to follow – between perfection and passion.”


Where do I begin?  Matched is about a young girl, two different boys, their every move strictly calculated by a government system called the Society that defines and confines each individual in their world.  Everything – culture, technology, music, education, careers, activities, knowledge – has been pared down because an overabundance of choices leads to misery and failure.  Every thought, emotion and intention is closely monitored and no one questions it because that’s the way it’s always been.  People are told exactly what to do.  Any deviation and an individual can be classified into a different part of society.  For the most part, it appears that people are content and the Society is viewed as a just and fair organization providing all their necessary needs in a structured and orderly manner.  But then they don’t know any other way.

It is with this backdrop that Cassia slowly awakens to realize that this supposed utopia may not be all that ideal.  Because of a simple error at the Matching ceremony when she is paired up first with her best friend, Xander and then sees that she is also paired with Ky, a boy she barely knows, Cassia begins to question the rules she has always obeyed.  She begins to wonder what’s real and what’s pre-determined by the Society.  The budding friendship between Cassia and Ky is the catalyst that propels her into the unknown where she has to come to grips with the dilemma she faces – do what has been chosen for her and conform or risk everything to create her own life.

Cassia is an impressive protagonist who emerges into her own.  She’s reserved, a characteristic that’s expected of everyone who lives in this society.  She’s not a rule breaker and is genuinely happy to have Xander be chosen as her future mate.  However, as she gets to know Ky, she becomes slightly unhinged to learn that there's a different world beyond theirs that she's been oblivious too all this while.  Ky’s definitely not the archetypal bad boy.  Unlike everyone else in this particular “province”, he came from one of the outer provinces where circumstances were the opposite for him.  Before his aunt and uncle adopted him, his early life was marred by misfortune – something he's not supposed to talk about.  He has revealed little of himself and his past until Cassia becomes more important to him.  Although he's a smart kid with great potential, he has his own motives and prefers to be perceived as average in order to stay under the radar while he quietly bends the rules.  

Cassia and Ky’s growing bond would certainly meet with disapproval so they must be careful about how they conduct themselves publicly.  Despite the physical constraints it’s amazing how Ally Condie manages to make the simple gesture of a smile or a hand on the arm be so sensual.  I can't believe I'm saying this because I myself love a good make-out session in a story but the minimal physical intimacy here is a good thing.  Without that distraction you can actually witness the beauty of Cassia and Ky falling in love. Their precious few stolen moments during regulated activities are opportunities for them to be authentic. Their personal revelations come bare and their language is so simple. Each discovery they make about each other has such a profound impact on them.  I was so drawn to these characters and their emotional depth that I even started to feel nervous and protective of them. 

I feel Ally Condie has done something so remarkable here.  She's written a beautiful love story about two people who are not only discovering the power of their own individuality but also their purpose amid a disturbing political setting.  Now that they have dared to question, the fight begins.  Look for Crossed, the second in the trilogy that comes out November 1.

~ Bel

P.S.  I was listening to this song in the car after I finished the book and somehow made this Cassia and Ky's theme song.  I tend to do this with books I read where I produce a soundtrack in my mind.  In this particular case, I think the lyrics for the most part speak for them.  In fact, I don't think this song would mean as much to me if it weren't for them.


Monday, September 19, 2011

A Peek in the Biblio-Bin - #2

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.  It is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore,  borrowed from the library or friend, etc.

This week Shel is giving you a peek into her section of the Biblio-Bin.



It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But all is not as it seems...

Em is thrilled that the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend. And on the other side of town, Chase’s social life is unraveling and the stress of his home life is starting to take its toll. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel....And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. There are three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—to choose who will pay. Em and Chase have been chosen.




On Lily Sanderson’s eighteenth birthday she’ll become just a girl—still a mergirl, true, but signing the renunciation will ink Princess Waterlily of Thalassinia out of existence. That leaves plain old Lily living on land, dating the boy she loves, and trying to master this being-human thing once and for all.

Now that Lily and Quince are together, mer bond or not, she’s almost content to give up her place in the royal succession of Thalassinia. But just when she thinks she has everything figured out, the waves start to get rough. Lily’s father sends a certain whirlpool-stirring cousin to stay with her on land. What did Doe do to get herself exiled from Thalassinia and stuck in terraped form when everyone knows how much she hates humans? And why why why is she batting her eyelashes at Lily’s former crush, Brody?

The seafoam on the raging surf comes when a merboy from Lily’s past shows up—Tellin asks Lily for something that clouds her view of the horizon. There’s a future with Quince on land, her loyalty to the kingdom in the sea, and Lily tossing on the waves in the middle. Will she find a way to reconcile her love, her duty, and her own dreams?

Tera Lynn Childs’s sequel to Forgive My Fins offers another tail-flicking romance with plenty of fun, sun, and underwater adventure.



Will Elise’s love life be an epic win or an epic fail?

At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Case in point:

As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school—not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.

As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.

When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.




A boy who can see the world's secrets and unravel spells with just a glance.

Braden's witch eyes give him an enormous power. A mere look causes a kaleidoscopic explosion of emotions, memories, darkness, and magic. But this rare gift is also his biggest curse.

Compelled to learn about his shadowed past and the family he never knew, Braden is drawn to the city of Belle Dam, where he is soon caught between two feuding witch dynasties. Sworn rivals Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe will use anything--lies, manipulation, illusion, and even murder--to seize control of Braden's powers. To stop an ancient evil from destroying the town, Braden must master his gift, even through the shocking discovery that Jason is his father. While his feelings for an enigmatic boy named Trey grow deeper, Braden realizes a terrible truth: Trey is Catherine Lansing's son . . . and Braden may be destined to kill him.


How about you?  What books came your way this week?






Saturday, September 17, 2011

Winners! Bel's Birthday Extravaganza!

And we have winners!  First thanks to everyone for wishing Bel a Happy Birthday!  Here at BiblioJunkies, we do not just celebrate the day - we celebrate the week, or sometimes the entire month of our birthdays! 

Bel asked me to extend her thanks and to let you all know that she ate lots of pie (and other goodies), read great books and watched cute boys (Vampire Diaries, Thor, etc).  Oh, and she also hung out with friends and family...

Anyway, enough of that, you want to know who won right?  Ok, here goes...

The winner of the Vampire Prize is:

Maria! 

And the winner of the Angel Prize is:

Sarah!

I sent emails to our winners, please respond with your addresses and the shipping goddess, Nat will send out your winnings!

Thanks again for playing.  Check out our Contests & Giveaways page for the details on our upcoming Giveaways for Greek Week & The Spooktacular Giveaway Hop, both in October! 

Happy reading!

~Shel

Friday, September 16, 2011

Vanish by Sophie Jordan

* * * *


Description from the book:

“To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable:  She betrayed the most closely guarded secret of her kind.  Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing that she might never see Will again – and worse, because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for bot h her sake and her family’s.  Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate.  Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on – that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both.  Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again.  When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?”

Wow!  I am seriously shaking my head because I cannot believe I’m already done reading Vanish (in one day) and have been left with a hell of a cliffhanger.

Vanish starts in the immediate frantic moments following Jacinda’s flight from Chapparal, after she has saved Will’s life and in the process revealed herself to be a Draki.  She, her sister Tamra and her mother are taken back to the pride by Cassian.  Life is no picnic for her and her mother once they’re back home but things have turned for Tamra who’s viewed differently now.

While reading, I was reminded why I really like Jacinda.  She has such a strong sense of self and she displays such impressive maturity.  As an example, with Tamra’s new found acceptance within the pride, Jacinda is genuinely happy for her.  She’s incredibly thoughtful about how her decisions are going to impact her family.  Their safety and happiness are of equal priority to her as her own happiness with Will and she strives for nothing less.

I had to resist the urge to skip paragraphs because I was so eager as the story was unfolding. In Vanish we also learn more about Will and Cassian – Cassian especially is a pleasant surprise as his true intentions surface.  A couple of scenes had me a bit giddy.  Boy does Jacinda does have a task on her hand to figure out whom she’s meant to be with!     

She’s not perfect though.  There's duty to the pride and then there's following her heart and she manages a few slip ups that result in some devastating consequences all around.  There are some very dramatic moments where the characters’ true natures come to life.  All of this culminates in an ending that implies the proverbial “calm before the storm”.

I absolutely enjoyed reading Vanish.  I'm just upset that it's over already and I have to wait for more.  Sophie Jordan, I am dying over here!

~ Bel


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

* * * 1/2


Slut or saint? Good friend or bad friend? In control or completely out of it?


Life is about choices, and Natalie Sterling prides herself on making the right ones. She’s avoided the jerky guys populating her prep school, always topped honor roll, and is poised to be the first female student council president in years.


If only other girls were as sensible and strong. Like the pack of freshmen yearning to be football players’ playthings. Or her best friend, whose crappy judgment nearly ruined her life.


But being sensible and strong isn’t easy. Not when a prank nearly gets her expelled. Not when her advice hurts more than it helps. Not when a boy she once dismissed becomes the boy she can’t stop thinking about.


The line between good and bad has gone fuzzy, and crossing it could end in disaster . . . or become the best choice she’ll ever make.


Natalie Sterling is a perfect student. She has perfect grades. She studies religiously for her upcoming SAT’s. She is extremely focused and knows where she is going after high school. She is also a feminist with very clear views on how women should be treated and viewed. Sounds like a pretty awesome person right?

The only problem is that Natalie sees everything in black and white. Her views border and sometimes downright cross the line of extreme. You don’t notice this in the beginning. At first she seems like the super nice girl that has stood beside her best friend when said friend was going through one of the worst high school experiences ever. She is portrayed as a great leader. Someone that always has an encouraging word for the other girls. But slowly you realize that Natalie is highly judgmental and prejudiced. On more than one occasion she shows how superior she thinks she is to her classmates. Including her best friend.

Early into her senior year, when she is expecting perfection from herself and everyone around her, Natalie’s perfect life begins to unravel. A new freshman, a girl she once babysat, sets off on a course that both enrages and challenges Natalie’s way of thinking. Her best friend has decided to become less dependent and has started branching out. On top of that she has a new found attraction with one of the high school boy she so desperately mistrusts. A boy that does not fit into her future plans at all.

I really wanted to like Natalie but found that I couldn’t. Her overly superior attitude drove me nuts. And really that was the point, I think. Her attitude is repelling and that is the obstacle she needs to overcome without necessarily losing herself. As Bibliojunkie Bel reminded me today, it took “balls” on Siobhan Vivian’s part to write this character. Regardless of how I feel about Natalie Sterling, I can’t dispute that this book is excellent. The writing was wonderful. The author kept me interested. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen from one page to the next. Also, many of the secondary characters, particularly Autumn, Spencer and Connor, were quite likable. I kept reading because I wanted to know what happened to them. And I admit a part of me was hoping Natalie would change. And maybe she did….but I can’t get all spoilery now, can I? You will have to read and find out for yourself.

And here is the really tough part. Rating this book. As I said, it did keep my interest. I enjoyed the overall story. Would I recommend it? Yes, but with the caveat that the main character is extremely unlikeable. So I decided to put it in between Enjoy and Awesome which in the Bibliojunkie world is 3 ½ stars.

~ Nat

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Misfit by Jon Skovron



 
**** From Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS:

Jael has always felt like a freak. She’s never kissed a boy, she never knew her mom, and her dad’s always been superstrict—but that’s probably because her mom was a demon, which makes Jael half demon and most definitely not a normal sophomore girl. On her sixteenth birthday, a mysterious present unlocks her family’s dangerous history and Jael’s untapped potential. What was merely an embarrassing secret before becomes a terrifying reality. Jael must learn to master her demon side in order to take on a vindictive Duke of Hell while also dealing with a twisted priest, best-friend drama, and a spacey blond skater boy who may have hidden depths.

I thoroughly enjoyed Misfit. Jon Skovron created a fantastic world of magic, demons and other mysterious beings. More than just action-packed fun, Misfit explores the very complex and complicated relationship between Jael, her father Paul and her Uncle Dagon, a scaley-fish looking demon.
Plus, the magic described by Skovron was just cool. Most magic is described as the practitioner controlling or commanding the elements, in Skovron’s world, magic works when the practitioner and the elements work together and cooperate with one another. One of my favorite scenes in the book takes place in the last couple of pages during a thunderstorm - read it and let me know if you loved it as much as I did!

I recommend Misfit for anyone that enjoyed Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton, Falling Under by Gwen Hayes and the Hex Hall books by Rachel Hawkins. Definitely worth 4 stars!

~Shel

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore

* * * *

Description from the book:

"I’ve seen him on the news.  Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio, John Smith, out there, on the run.  To the world, he’s a mystery.  But to me… he’s one of us.

Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us – if we all still believe in our mission.  How can I know?  There are six of us left.  We’re hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another… but our Legacies are developing, and soon we’ll be equipped to fight.  Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I’ve been waiting for?  And what about Number Five and Six?  Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams?  The girl with the powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine?  The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together? 

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio – and failed.

I am Number Seven. One of six still left. 

And I’m ready to fight."



The Power of Six is ripe with action and brings it to you from two sides of the continent as the book pivots back and forth. 

First off we meet Marina and her Cêpan, Adelina, who have found refuge in a convent in a small town is Spain.  They’ve lived there for a number of years and unlike Henri, Adelina seems to have abandoned their mission having taken up living in the cloisters and even adopting their religion as that of her own.  Without Adelina’s guidance and focus on training, Marina has been left to her own devices to figure out who she is and where the others are.  One of the means she adopts to maintain a connection to her heritage is by scouring the Internet for any news of John Smith who she’s convinced is a Lorien.  It’s her ultimate dream to leave this stifling life she has quietly and unhappily endured to go to America and find him.  She’s also desperate to find her Chest that Adelina has hidden from her to prevent her from discovering her inheritance.  In this isolated environment, Marina's Legacies are slowly revealing themselves. However, due to Adelina’s defiance about their true nature, Marina has to learn how to cope on her own. And unfortunately, danger is slowly creeping up on them.  Even all the years of Adelina’s blissful ignorance can’t prevent the awful reality that the Mogadorians have eventually caught up to them.

In the meantime, while attempting to keep a low profile on the run, John, Six and Sam spend their days focused on training, honing their powers and strategizing about how they can retrieve Six’s Chest and learn more about Sam’s dad.  Things also start to get a bit interesting between Six and John as he starts to develop feelings for her.  Confused with guilt he wonders how this can be since he believes as Henri had told him that Loriens have only one true love and his is Sarah.   Plus, Sam has the hots for Six too so that can’t be good especially when you’re living in close quarters. As Six begins to reveal more about her past, she also finds herself in the position of rallying the boys to stay focused on their goal and keep them from straying too far off course.  In a way, she kind of becomes the surrogate Cêpan.

Action is never far off and reading this made me want to watch I Am Number Four again.  Even if it deviated significantly from the book, it was still fun.  And we have to admit how very, very hot Alex Pettyfer is.  BiblioJunkies Nat and I have a massive crush on him but I digress… 

I was slightly annoyed with John’s constant pining for Sarah - may be because I was more interested in the dynamics between John, Six and Sam.  I get it.  He’s in love and misses her but for a guy who should understand the importance of remaining on the down low, he makes some stupid choices.  I know it's not fair to expect our heroes to be infallible but thank god for Six and her bluntness and Sam for his good-natured sweetness and dedication to his friends.  The Power of Six is a quick, enjoyable read that moves at a steady pace.  Now the excruciating wait for what happens next.




I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: Six's Legacy by Pittacus Lore

* * * *

If you have the chance, I highly recommend this.  It fills in the gaps before Six met up with John and has plenty of action to boot.  You learn more about her life with her Cêpan, Katarina and see how she gained her impressive discipline and survival skills.  It makes for a nice comparison too of how each of the Numbers was raised.  Aside from Six, you also get a better glimpse of the creepy Mogadorians and their secret lair.  It's not pretty.

In case you’re wondering, it’s not necessary to read this before Power of Six. You’ll still be able to enjoy it either way.  Once you're finished with both books, you'll be excited about the possibilities that lie ahead once all the members of the Garde finally come together. And you’ll absolutely love how Six becomes the bad ass we know and admire!

~ Bel




Monday, September 12, 2011

A Peek in the Biblio-Bin - #1

We have been wanting to take part in The Story Siren's In My Mailbox for a while now but have been stumped on a very important requirement.  The name of our weekly post.  We wanted to switch it up a little.  After a fun evening of meeting Sophie Jordan and Tera Lynn Childs, (who by the way were totally AWESOME!!!) Bibliojunkie Bel blurt out in the car "Biblio-Bin!"  And there it was.  The stroke of genius we were waiting for.  

This week Bel is giving you a peek into her section of the Biblio-Bin.  


Libby Kelting had always felt herself born out of time. No wonder the historical romance-reading, Jane Austen-adaptation-watching, all-around history nerd jumped at the chance to intern at Camden Harbor, Maine’s Oldest Living History Museum.

But at Camden Harbor Libby’s just plain out of place, no matter how cute she looks in a corset. Her cat-loving coworker hates her, the geeky local reporter keeps pushing her buttons, the sailor she's dating is more shipwreck than dreamboat, and Camden Harbor might be haunted.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, Libby learns that boys, like ghosts, aren’t always what they seem.



If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.

When Harper Scott’s older sister, June, takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split up her sister’s ashes, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She'll steal the urn and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going—California.
Enter Jake Tolan. He's a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession…and an unknown connection to June. So when he insists on joining them, Harper's just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanor and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs. Except...Jake's keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper's life upside down—again.



To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will's memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family's. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride's heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?

In bestselling author Sophie Jordan's dramatic follow-up to Firelight, forbidden love burns brighter than ever.



Number Six—when John meets her in I Am Number Four she’s strong, powerful, and ready to fight. But who is she? Where has she been living? How has she been training? When did she develop her legacies? And how does she know so much about the Mogadorians?

In I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: Six’s Legacy, discover the story behind Six. Before Paradise, Ohio, before John Smith, Six was traveling through West Texas with her CÊpan, Katarina. What happened there would change Six forever….



How about you?  What books did you acquire this week? 

Bel's Birthday Extravaganza Giveaway!

It's Bel’s birthday! This is a huge deal. Why? Because we LOVE birthdays. Birthdays are another excuse (not that we usually need one) to eat cake AND pie. It’s also another opportunity to giggle over our favorite fictional boys.


AND

Birthdays are a perfect reason to giveaway some of our favorite reads to our readers!



The PRIZES:

In honor of Bel’s 19th-ish birthday we are giving away two Bel’s Boys Beginner Prize Packs.

1st Prize

Bel’s Boys – The Vampire Collection:
    Twilight and The Twilight Graphic Novel: Volume 1 by Stephanie Meyer - For so many of us, Edward Cullen marked the beginning of our fictional boy love. This is no different in Bel’s case. You should see her well loved copy of Twilight – complete with post it notes marking all her favorite Edward quotes.
    The Vampire Diaries: Volume 1 by L.J. Smith and Vampire Diaries Card Game– Damon. Need we say more? Just read Bel’s letter to Damon to see what place he holds in her heart.


    2nd Prize Bel's Boys - The Angel Collection:
    City of Bones by Cassandra Clare – Jace. *sigh* This angst-y shadowhunter has so many of us wrapped around his finger.  Even Bel is not immune to his snarky and sometimes lovely words. 
    Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and “Ride the Archangel” iron on patch – “Call me Patch. I mean it. Call me.”  Read Bel’s Love Letter to Patch and see what all the fuss is about. You won’t be disappointed.
    We hope you stop by to enter and wish Bel a Happy Birthday!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Prince Caspian? Winter Prince? Tomato, Tomahto...

The Bibliojunkies have been catching up on Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series and have of course fallen in love with Puck and Ash. Particularly Ash. Really. Who doesn't love the brooding yet loving Unseelie Prince? Even if he wasn't a love interest, he would be impossible to ignore. In my quest for fan art I instead found that the book lover world is all over a certain Prince Caspian playing the Winter Prince. And I have to say that with some pictures I found, I can't disagree....



Ash, you look so thoughful here.  Are you mourning your lost love? Don't worry.  We will comfort you.

Dear Ash.  You look so cold and evil....which we admit works for you.  Carry on. 


Since the cold doesn't bother you at all I can only assume you are wearing that scarf to so that you have something to tie the three of us girls up with later. Oh get your mind out of the gutter people.  He will tie us up to stop us from eliminating the competition.  You know, Meghan, the girl he so fiercely loves.  Actually, that's all kind of hot too.  
And before my ramblings become to spicy for this blog, I bid you all adieu....

~Nat