Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Starstruck by Cyn Balog

From Delacorte (Random House):
Gwendolyn "Dough" X doesn't think she has much going for her—she carries a few extra pounds, her family struggles with their small bakery in a town full of millionaires, and the other kids at her New Jersey high school don't seem to know that she exists. Thank the stars for her longtime boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman—or "Wish." He moved away to California three years ago, when they were 13, but then professed his love for her via e-mail, and he's been her long-distance BF ever since.
At the beginning of her junior year, though, Wish e-mails that he's moving back to Jersey. Great, right? Well, except that Dough has gained about 70 pounds since the last time Wish saw her, while Wish—according to his Facebook photos—has morphed into a blonde god. Convinced that she'll be headed for Dumpsville the minute Wish lays eyes on her, Dough delays their meeting as long as she possibly can.
But when she sees Wish at school, something amazing happens. He looks at Dough like she's just as gorgeous as he is. But Wish is acting a little weird, obsessed with the sun and freaked out by rain. And the creepy new guy working at the bakery, Christian, is convinced that there's more to Wish's good looks than just healthy eating and lots of sun. He tells Dough that a mark on Wish's neck marks him as a member of the Luminati—an ancient cult of astrologers who can manipulate the stars to improve their lives. Is Wish and Dough's love meant to be—or are they star-crossed?

This book was exactly what I was looking for; fun, quick, quirky and not a part of a series.  There was a beginning and an end to this story where everything was taken care of within the pages and finished with a sweet, happy ending that left me smiling and appealed to my little used sappy side.
Gwen was a hilarious heroine.  You know that feeling, when watching a tv show or movie with a heroine that is a complete mess and is about to do something socially inept and you scrunch down in your chair, because you just see it coming and you are completely embarrassed for them?  I had this feeling when watching Never Been Kissed and You Again (among others), but this was the first time I ever had that feeling reading a book.  And it was fabulous.
Wish, for his part, was sweet and lovable.  He was the popular boy we wish all popular boys would be.  You know, except for that whole Lumanati thing, oh wait, we love it when they are a little dangerous and damaged as well! 
Beyond being a sweet love story, the book explored the image issues faced by both girls and boys.  Gwen with her weight and being a social outcast at school and Wish with the lengths he was willing to go to be the good-looking popular boy.  I thought the issues were dealt with honestly without making the story too depressing and heavy. 
I gave Starstruck 4 stars and now am looking forward to reading Cyn Balog's Fairy Tale and Sleepless.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

* * * *

"Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant dust storms.  That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother, Lugh, is around.  But when a monster sandstorm arrives bearing four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered.  Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on a quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her.  So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent.  Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, relentless action, and an epic love story."

I LOVE this book – so much so that when I unintentionally woke up at 4:30am on a Saturday morning I had no desire to go back to sleep.  This book is everywhere and I didn’t have the impulse to pick it up until I saw that James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner had recommended it.  I loved The Maze Runner and if Mr. Dashner says I should read it then I will.

Moira Young does a superb job immediately establishing the tone of the book.  And much like Dashner, the language and grammar of the characters are unique to their world. It took me a few pages in to get accustomed to it and by then I was so engrossed in the story it felt so natural.  You’re not quite sure when or where exactly this takes place but it’s post-apocalyptic.  What happened is never discussed and is actually unimportant here. 

Eighteen year-old Saba is devoted to her twin brother, Lugh and they live in an area called Silverlake, a harsh, desolate place isolated from everyone.  They have only themselves, their father, their younger sister Emmi and Saba’s pet crow, Nero for company.  Lugh is Saba’s world.  She hangs on every word he says and resents anyone else taking away his attention from her, including their little sister.  He holds the family together as his father has been unstable since their mother died giving birth to Emmi.  They trudge through their day scrounging for scraps – metal, plastic - that have been left behind by the Wreckers, the lost civilization.  One day their ho-hum world gets thrown upside down when Lugh is kidnapped.  Saba vows to find him and bring him back and reunite the family.

Saba is a fierce heroine.  She's unpretentious and unapologetic.  While, it’s almost cringe-worthy to hear her admit some bitter flaws about herself, it’s also her unwavering loyalty and love for her brother that drives her to reunite her family.  Her search for Lugh takes her beyond Silverlake to a place called Hopetown.  If only it lived up to its name!  Having received undesirable attention on the way there, she gets captured and thrown into the violent world of cage fighting reminiscent of the gladiator fights in ancient Rome.  And Saba becomes the star attraction who is quickly dubbed the “Angel of Death”. 

While she’s trapped she uncovers a web of intrigue surrounding the town's inhabitants.  Having tunnel vision all along regarding her brother's rescue, she's surprised to learn how Lugh's kidnapping is connected to her current predicament.  She befriends a  group of young girl fighters known as the “Free Hawks” and together they hatch a plan for escape.

It’s so fascinating to read how Saba gradually grasps the concept of friendship. She’s reserved and has no interest in getting involved in other people’s quarrels; however, everyone she encounters along the way enlightens her.  Maev, as the leader of the Free Hawks becomes a kind of BFF.  She begins to understand that this is bigger than just her search for her brother; that her personal mission also carries the hopes of many people.

There is of course, a love interest in the form of Jack.  They meet as fellow fighters who escape together.  Jack is a much-needed comic relief that is a mix of Jace and Patch – good-looking, cocky, irritating and heroic. Despite the instant attraction between them, Saba never admits it nor does she allow that to distract her from her plans.  It was great fun to watch the two antagonize each other as their sexual tension steadily built.  And ladies, let me tell you there was even a dirty sexy cave scene that had me jumping!

By the end I felt as if I had been through this rough ordeal with Saba.  It could have been a thoroughly depressing read but Young added plenty of light-hearted moments by sprinkling some humorous interplay between the characters.  It was such a pleasure to watch Saba develop into a person who realizes that she has her own strength and ambition, independent of her brother.  At no time is it more apparent than when she has to fight for her life in the cages.  Her description of the adrenaline rush she gets - "red hot" as she calls it - are vivid.  And despite the violence she has to suffer through, she maintains her simple morals. 

Blood Red Road is the first in the Dustlands trilogy and apparently director Ridley Scott has already optioned the film rights.  Until that happens, I wait patiently to continue Saba's journey, especially since there were some minor characters introduced that I suspect will play a bigger role in the next book.  Moira Young is a gifted storyteller and I hope you’ll think so too!

~ Bel

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert T. Jeschonek

* * *

Description for the book:

“Being trapped in a book can be a nightmare – just ask Idea Deity.  He’s convinced that he exists only in the pages of a novel written by a malevolent author … and that he will dies in chapter 64.  Meanwhile, Reacher Mirage, lead singer of the secret rock band Youforia, can’t figure out who’s posting information about him and his band online that only he should know.  It seems to both teens that someone is pulling the strings of their lives… and they’re not too happy about it.  With a national magazine preparing to expose Youforia and chapter 64 bearing down like a speeding freight train, time is running out.  Will Idea and Reacher be able to join forces and take control of their own destinies before it’s too late?

School of Rock meets Alice In Wonderland in this fast-paced, completely unpredictable novel of alternate realities, time travel, and rock ‘n’ roll.  If you band does not exist… do you?"

The description doesn’t lie.  It is a fast-paced, action-packed story that volleys back and forth between the two characters, Idea and Reacher.  There’s also another book within the story called Fireskull’s Revenant that both the characters are reading.  A few chapters in it does occur to you that there’s a parallel between the book you’re reading and the book they’re reading. And eventually Idea and Reacher realize that too.

Jeschonek has come up with a brilliant idea here (no pun intended).  I’d like to add that elements of the story also reminded me of a certain Brad Pitt movie that shall remain nameless lest it give away too much about the book.  It’s definitely one of the more creative stories I’ve read, and to be perfectly honest it was kind of nice to take a break from reading about angels, dragons or elves.  Instead I was introduced to this guy over here, Fireskull, a guy with a perpetually flaming head as you can see, who loves war and torturing his army.   Despite that gruesome bit of detail, he was rather entertaining.

Reading this reminded me of authors like Terry Prachett and Neil Gaiman* and their propensity for creating bizarre worlds, outlandish characters and ridiculous names. In my opinion, that's high praise.  So if you’re in the mood for something different, definitely try this.  Though be aware that it may take some concentration to keep up with who’s who and what’s what as the author does scramble realities frequently.  Have fun!

~ Bel

* Good Omens being one of my favorite books  :-)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay

From Random House:
"These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume."
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.
Most people I know tolerated Shakespeare in school.  A necessary evil to get a passing grade... Not me, I found a home in his prose.  I have a huge, leather bound, gold embossed, lovely tome of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare (a long ago birthday present from Bel & my brother).  This book is sacred to me, one of my most prized possessions.  Naturally, I generally hate it when people bastardize Shakespeare (I cannot even fathom watching the Leonardo DiCaprio version of Romeo & Juliet).  Given this, I shocked myself and Nat by picking up Juliet Immortal.  Admittedly, I never thought I would finish the book.  I figured my curiosity would leave me a chapter or two into the book.  I was wrong.  I went from a premise I was sure I would hate, to a book I could not put down.
Evil Romeo?  An epic battle of good and evil between Romeo & Juliet?  Unfathomable, and yet it caught my attention and forced me to become immersed in this book.  Juliet, as a force of light, fighting for love and protecting soul mates, despite having been so cruelly denied her own happy ending, could have been a complete cliche, begging for someone to reach into the book and beat her up, yet I found that the author tempered Juliet's anger and bitterness with true concern for others and a desire to do good in the world.  She also possessed an inner strength that made her not only tolerable, but likable.  Juliet is fueled by righteous anger and a need for revenge by blocking Romeo's attempts to destroy soul mates. 
Juliet's current assignment requires her to face her past and examine who and what she has become.  It also requires Juliet to search her own soul to see if she can find forgiveness and love for someone that she has hated for centuries to avoid a fate worse than hell.  Romeo for his part was wickedly evil and charming at times.  His cruelty is tempered by moments, just glimpses of the man he was, before.  This passage from Shakespeare's play kept popping into my mind as I read, especially the portions from Romeo's point of view.
"Love is a smoke rais'd
with the fume of sighs;
Being purg'd, a fire spark-
ling in lovers' eyes;
Being vex'd, a sea
nourish'd with lovers' tears.
What is it else? A madness
most discreet,
A choking gall, and a
preserving sweet."
Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare
I had no idea where Stacey Jay would take this tale, even right up to the end I could not figure it out.  Juliet Immortal is fast, action-packed, fun with heart.  There's humor, intrigue and murder - just the way Shakespeare liked it.  I give Juliet Immortal 4 stars for keeping me thoroughly entertained and desperate to get to the end.   
~ Shel

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Show Me Your Teeth Blog Hop Winners!

We have winners!  Woohoo! 

Night World No. 1 goes to:  Gloria (geschumann)

Marked goes to:  Nayjf


Vampire Academy goes to:  Ashley Holt!!!

Congratulations!  I have sent emails to the winners, please respond with your mailing addresses and our mailing goddess Nat will ship out your books! 

A big thanks to everyone that stopped by and participated!  There is a lot of vampire love out there, but I am happy to report, that Angel/Angelus seems  to remain mine (I am so glad I do not have to fight anyone for him)!  Bel is psyched that there is so much Damon (Ian) love and Nat, she loves 'em all (but especially Edward, me thinks).  I believe I definitely have some new books to check out based upon the responses, so thank you!

Stay tuned for our next giveway - September 1-7 we are participating in the Back to the Books Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Buried in Books.

Nat & I may be cooking up some extra special fun in honor of a certain BiblioJunkies, uhm, 25th birthday the middle of September.  And October 3-9, we are celebrating the release of Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan with Greek Week!  We look forward to seeing you all back for these awesome giveaways and events!


The Other Countess by Eve Edwards


Duty.  Passion.  Which one will rule their hearts?

Ellie – Lady Eleanor Rodriguez, Countess of San Jaime – possesses a worthless title, but her feisty spirit captivates the elite of Queen Elizabeth’s court – especially the dashing new Earl of Dorset.

William Lacey, Earl of Dorset, has inherited his father’s title – and his financial ruin.  Now Will must seek a wealthy bride and restore his family’s fortune.  If only he hadn’t fallen for the beautiful but penniless Ellie…

Sparks fly whenever Ellie and Will are together; however, circumstances – and the conniving interference of others – threaten to keep them apart.

Every twenty-first century book love will fall in love with The Other Countess, the first novel in Eve Edward’s sumptuous historical romance series set in intrigue-filled Elizabethan England.

As you may have read in previous posts, I love historical romance.  So it was no surprise that I chose to review this book.  But after I started to read this, I felt like I was stealing away a book and review that was maybe also meant for Bibliojunkie Bel since she enjoys historical fiction so much.  The Other Countess ended up being a perfect blend of historical romance AND historical fiction.  Eve Edward’s has very obviously done the research to make this historical romance historically accurate in every way she possibly could.  She includes everything in this book that we associate with the Elizabethan time period – the Queen’s court, jousts, banquets, ridiculously uncomfortable clothing, loveless marriages, etc. 

This ended up being much more than just the Lord and Lady falling in love.  There was plenty of intrigue and a number of bad guys all with different agendas.  Ellie was a wonderfully strong and saucy female character that even with her strength became a victim of her era on more than one occasion.  I appreciated that the author did not make it all rainbows for her.  And Will….well Will is great too.  Your typical Lord that struggles with making life decisions based on his family needs or his personal desires.  And of course Will is hot and says beautiful flowery words that a boy would never say this day and age; at least not believably.  And I also have to admit that Will jousting made me think of this…minus the MTV soundtrack, of course.

To the point that I just started seeing Heath Ledger as Will throughout the entire story. So really?  What’s not to love there?

The secondary characters in this book are also strong and surprisingly multi-dimensional.  The only thing I found strange was the attention put on Lady Jane’s maid, Nell.  Her story seemed to have nothing to do with the others.  I can only conclude that she will play a bigger role in The Queen’s Lady which will be released in 2012.

All in all, this was a great read.  If you enjoy historical romance and/or historical fiction, I can’t recommend it enough.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Spoiled by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

* * * *

Description from the book:

"Sixteen-year-old Molly Dix has just discovered that her biological father is Brick Berlin, world-famous movie star and red-carpet regular.  Intrigued (and a little terrified) by her Hollywood lineage, Molly moves to Los Angeles and plunges headfirst into the deep end of Beverly Hills celebrity life.  Just as Molly thinks her life couldn't get any stranger, she meets Brooke Berlin, her gorgeous, spoiled half sister, who welcomes Molly to La-La Land with a smothering dose of "sisterly love".  But in this town, nothing is ever what it seems.

Set against a world of Red Bull-fueled stylists, tiny tanned girls, popped -collar guys, and Blackberry-wielding publicists, Spoiled is a sparkling debut from the writers behind the viciously funny celebrity blog"

If you’re someone who loves following celebrity news and gossip, you’d certainly get a kick out of this.  At the start you’re hit with an onslaught of name brands and name-dropping.  It’s a bit much at first but when put in context it’s easier to swallow.  It is L.A. and lord knows which A to D list celebrity is lurking about on every corner. 

Shortly after her mother’s untimely death, Molly decides to move to L.A. to be with her father, Brick.  Molly hopes this move will give her some semblance of a family that she has lost. Brooke, the other daughter who is accustomed the glitzy Hollywood lifestyle, is self-centered and spoiled.  She is appalled at the thought of welcoming someone from an undesirable time zone and does everything she can to make Molly feel unwelcome. This includes feeding her to the paparazzi and giving her nonsensical fashion advice.  After Molly’s less than stellar public debut at a party, thanks to no help from Brooke, Brick is determined to have his daughters get along and instructs them to share a bedroom together so they can bond.  Oh and they have to share the car as well. But only Molly can drive since Brooke only has a learner’s permit.  Yeah, that doesn't go doesn't go down well.

The whole arrangement has disastrous results.  Brooke already feels slighted by her father’s preference for his work and his long, lost daughter. Molly just wants to fit in and create a new home for herself.  Unbeknownst to her, Brooke is now ready for war to defend her territory.  There is no way she is going to share what’s rightfully hers with someone who can’t appreciate the importance of a pair of Manolos. 

It’s easy to think that you’d hate Brooke’s character because she's self-centered but she’s hysterical.  You realize she’s not as narcissistic as she appears.  She does feel moments of guilt for her behavior towards Molly.  And she herself has her own mommy issues.

Molly’s reactions to L.A. and the people are fun.  The great thing is that she doesn’t come across as judgmental.  She’s just someone taking mental notes of the oddities of the Hollywood-type folk.  Brick as the hapless dad who can't function without his Blackberry, doesn’t have a clue what his girls are going through but you can’t really hate him either.  Every time he speaks, he reacts as if he’s just written an Oscar-winning script and reaches for his Blackberry. 

What can I say?  I had a blast reading this book.  It was fun, nonsensical and light-hearted.  I especially loved the mention of my Hollywood crush, Chris Pine, hurting his hamstring during a stunt for the next Star Trek movie.  Brick’s reaction to this was to get on his Blackberry and arrange to send Chris Pine a ham.  Really?  Or when Brooke starts to question what's important, she muses: "Blood was thicker than smartwater, wasn't it?" You wonder if people really think like this out there!

My entire reason for reading Spoiled is that I'm a fan of the Fug Girls and their celebrity fashion-skewering blog.  Many times I've found myself in uncontrollable fits of laughter because of them. Much like their blog, the book was very entertaining.  And if you're at all familiar with them you know they've seen plenty to draw upon!

- Bel

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


Synopsis taken from book cover:

Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more.  So she’s less than thrilled about being shipped of to boarding school in Paris – until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair.  Smart, charming, beautiful, √Čtienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Lights, wishes have a way of coming true.  Will a year of romantic near misses end with their long awaited French kiss?  Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.

I admit it.  I am a sucker for romance.  Sure a lot of girls like a little romance in their books.  But I am talking about a book just about romance.  No plots about Shadowhunters fighting evil and mind control (no offense Jace).  No plots about fallen angels trying to sacrifice girls in order to become human (don’t worry Patch, Bel still wants you).  I am talking pure unadulterated romance.  The kind of story where the main plot is about the Boy pursuing the Girl or the Girl crushing on the Boy.   All of it leading up to a smile-inducing ending where the Boy kisses the Girl and they live happily every after (or so we assume).

Anna and French Kiss is THAT book.  It is THAT romance.  It made me think of all my favorite romantic comedies.  Princess Diaries.  Serendipity.  Definitely, Maybe. When Harry Met Sally (yes I am dating myself). The movies I don’t mind watching over and over again because they make me happy.  Positively giddy.

Stephanie Perkins does an amazing job of building the tension between Anna and St. Clair.  Her simple descriptions such as legs accidentally brushing each other in a darkened movie theater will set your book on fire.  Quick, make sure you put that fire out though because the story is just getting started.  We suffer with Anna and St. Clair for an entire school year of mistakes and misunderstandings that keeps them apart.  All the time wondering, is this it?  Is it finally going to happen? 

And as much as I enjoyed the romance in this book there were a myriad of other things to love.  Such as:

  • Anna’s growth as she maneuvers through her senior year at a new school, in a new country, with no immediate familial support.
  • Anna’s new friends.  These aren’t token friends added to the story just because.  They are wonderfully developed characters that you learn to love as they take Anna under their wings.
  • The laugh out loud moments.  Anna’s internal dialogue often had me laughing hysterically.  She is wonderfully dry.  I don’t know that anyone else could make me laugh at the following sentence  “Trousers.  Honestly.”  And yes, the exchanges between Anna and her friends were also hilarious at times.  Let’s not even mention some of the funny exchanges between her and St. Clair.
  • Never have I been happier to hear a girl call a guy an asshole.  Won’t tell you who, what, when, where or why.  But it was fitting and it was deserved.
  • I learned a new word that I will now use regularly…Callipygian.  Seriously, look this up.  It’s fabulous.
  • And most importantly, how can I not love a book where a group of friends bond over crepes and Girl Scout cookies?  This is Bibliojunkie heaven.

Really, I could go on and on.  I enjoyed it that much.  I haven’t had many happy reads lately and to me this was a happy read.  So go!  Go now.  To your local bookstore or library, either one.  Just go and pick up this book.  In the end you will be smiling and will be happy that you listened to me.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cinder And Ella by Melissa Lemon

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from NetGalley.  The book releases November 8, 2011.
From Benneville Books (Cedar Fort, Inc.):

After their father’s disappearance, Cinder leaves home for a servant job at the castle. But it isn’t long before her sister Ella is brought to the castle herself—the most dangerous place in all the kingdom for both her and Cinder. Cinder and Ella is a Cinderella story like no other and one you'll never forget.

This book is a slow starter.  So much so that I put the book down for a week or so before going back to finish it.  This is definitely not your childhood version of Cinderella.  There are a few parallels drawn between the tales, but Cinder and Ella in this book bear very little resemblance to the Disney or Grimm version.  For one thing, this tale is much darker.  The Prince may be handsome, but he is not good.  In fact, he is quite evil (and not in a good evil Jace or Patch way either).  This Prince uses his dark magic to bring his subjects under his control, convincing them that there is no hope, no reason to go on and this darkness is spreading throughout the Kingdom.  Cinder and Ella are sisters who live a miserable life in which their father became influenced by the darkness, and one day, just wandered off.  Cinder and Ella then take over the household as their mother has a mental breakdown and their two sisters become spoiled brats.
One day, Cinder applies for a job in the King’s castle as a servant to help provide for the family.  With her new job, she will have to reside in the castle most of the week and will return home on her one day off.  She leaves the care of the family to Ella.  Unfortunately, Ella has little patience for the tantrums and antics of her family and she too, wanders off.  Ella finds a new place with a family far away, helping to take care of the family's children.  This family is warm, bright and loving.  Exactly as Ella wishes her family was.  Ella finds a sense of peace and happiness, until one day a Knight and two of the Prince’s aids come to return Ella to the Castle. 
The Knight worked in the Castle and each night during his rounds, he would hear Cinder crying and talking in her sleep from the hallway.  One day the Knight, Tanner, approaches Cinder to ask her about the sister she speaks of during her sleep.  Cinder confides in the knight that her sister has disappeared and she fears that Ella may be in danger.  Tanner, being a brave and honorable Knight, seeks permission from the Castle advisors to go on a quest to find Ella.  The advisors go to the Prince, who agrees for his own nefarious reasons and insists that Tanner take along two of his aids, the lecherous William and the stoic Flescher.  Tanner does not trust the Prince or his aids, but must take them on the quest.
During the journey to return Ella to the Castle, Tanner begins to care for Ella, and in true fashion, then becomes a clumsy fool.  Tanner soon discovers that the Prince may want to harm Ella and after an encounter with the drunken William, Tanner and Ella break from the aids and devise a plan to find out what the Prince wants without turning Ella over to him.  The rest of the book covers the attempts of the good Knight and the sisters to thwart the evil plans of the Prince and the darkness that spreads throughout the Kingdom.  I won’t get all spoilery, because truly, this book does not follow the fairytale path.  You get the main points though, love, danger, intrigue, magic and a very stubborn horse. 
As I said, it takes a while to get into the meat of this book.  I kept going because I had never read a book told in the manner of a fairytale; therefore was intrigued and curious to find out where Ms. Lemon was going with the plot.  Ms. Lemon kept me guessing until the end.  I give the author credit, she kept to the fairytale style of writing and storytelling.  She wove the different plot lines and points of view flawlessly.  I am giving the book 3 stars.  If you enjoy fairytales and want to see a different and darker version of Cinderella, I recommend you pick up Cinder And Ella in November.    

~ Shel

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bel's Love Letter to Patch Cipriano

Dear Patch,

I am not at a loss for words to describe you.  However, I am at a loss as to how to describe you in a PG-13 kind of way...  

Any one familiar with you knows that you are never shy about saying what's on your mind.  All the innuendos served up with your arrogant manner have somehow captured the hearts of women (and in some cases men) everywhere.  And I don't doubt that you could teach Damon Salvatore a thing or two (sorry Damon, I still puffy heart you but Patch has a few more years on you).

Drew Doyon aka Patch
"You can call me Patch.  No really.  Call me."

To put it plain and simple, you are frakkin' hot and you make me all kinds of silly.  Even the book cover which depicts your tumultuous fall from the heavens is spectacular.  I wonder, did you nail the landing?  From the very first word you uttered to what’s-her-name, I’ve wanted to call you.  You are rather stalkerish but because this is a book and somehow in YA world there’s a special kind of magic that renders all high school boys hot, I’ll let your stalkerish ways go.  But I’m keeping my eye on you only because I know what your eyes are doing when I’m not looking.
"All this time I've hated myself for it.  I thought I'd given it up for nothing.  But if I hadn't fallen, I wouldn't have met you."

A fallen angel. Could there be anything more of a chick-magnet than a guy who is on the outs with an authority figure?  And THE supreme one at that!  On the outside you're this cocky, macho guy who doesn't care what people think of him.  Yet inside you're probably this cuddly little teddy bear who's just so misunderstood.  Hmmm.  Scratch that.  I prefer your outward cocky demeanor.

"Five days a week isn't enough of me?  Had to give me an evening too?"

You are so arrogant!  You think the sun revolves around you.  And may be it did at one point.  After all, as a fallen angel you may have seen a rough draft of the universe prior to the final product.  But that arrogance of yours comes dressed in black with a smirk, great hair and gorgeous eyes.  You can get away with that and have my evenings too.  As long as tacos are involved, I'm good.

"I want to do a lot of things to your body but that's not one of them."

You obviously have a keen understanding of human biology.  It is your superior knowledge that leaves me to conclude that I need extra tutoring.
"Say provoking again. Your mouth looks provocative when you do."

Arrghh!  You are so darn infuriating!  I don't know if I should swat you with that pool cue or just let you teach me how to play pool.  Your smug self would probably think being hit with a pool cue is some sort of foreplay.  Do you see the dilemma I'm in?

Nora: "It's called a shower.  Soap, shampoo, hot water."
Patch: "Naked. I know the drill."

If I, like Nora (lucky girl), was ever stuck in a motel room with you, I think my head would spontaneously combust - reason being all of the above.  Oh and speaking of ... Nat and I wholeheartedly agree that the song "The Big Bang" describes you to a T.  We like to pretend that it's you singing. Never has the word "combustible" gotten two BiblioJunkies so giddy!  

Well it's obvious that you are many, many things and that us mere mortals have no way of resisting you.  And after that wild climactic ending in Crescendo, we all await eagerly to find out what happens in Silence.  By the way, it's beyond my comprehension why you didn't make it farther in the YA Crush Tourney.  Seriously, a showdown between you and Jace?  Now that would have been HOT! ... and a little too much for this BiblioJunkie to handle.  But still, what do you care?  You could probably squash your competition with your thumb and use your Jedi mind trick to mess them up.

So dear Patch, let me use a quote I saw on a t-shirt that echoes the sentiments of many of us out there: 

"I want to ride the Archangel."

Comes out October 4, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker


Synopsis taken from the author’s website:

Does falling in love mean falling out of faith?

“Lacey Anne Byer is a perennial good girl and lifelong member of the House of Enlightenment, the Evangelical church in her small town. With her driver's license in hand and the chance to try out for a lead role in Hell House, her church's annual haunted house of sin, Lacey's junior year is looking promising. But when a cute new stranger comes to town, something begins to stir inside her. Ty Davis doesn't know the sweet, shy Lacey Anne Byer everyone else does. With Ty, Lacey could reinvent herself. As her feelings for Ty make Lacey test her boundaries, events surrounding Hell House make her question her religion."

Let me preface this review by stating that this is NOT the type of book I would normally pick up.  And had I really known what I was getting into I am not sure I would have checked it out from the library.  But I don’t regret this read.  It was equal parts fascinating and upsetting.  It was so upsetting (for me, anyhow) that I texted my fellow Bibliojunkies at 1:30 in the morning to vent my frustration.  Hopefully I didn’t wake either of them up with text alerts screaming from their phones.

So, why did I pick up this book? Because of the following quote from a review found in Book Page – “For the first time in her life, Lacey is forced to stop and think about her faith, her friendships and what she wants for her future”.   Due to my strict religious upbringing and how it affected me, I could completely identify with this statement and thought I might really relate to Lacey, the main character in this book.  Thankfully, the person I am now couldn’t relate to her or her way of life but I saw my teenage-self more than a few times in this story. 

Extreme religious sentiments in this book abound.  Anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-premarital sex…the list could go on.  And let’s not forget to mention the Hell House in which all these sentiments are delivered.  (If you didn’t know already, Hell Houses do exist.  Look it up.  You will be horrifically fascinated.)  Also, scriptures are often quoted by characters in this book (Lacey in particular) to both argue for and against certain religious beliefs. 

Melissa Walker does not try to send a pro or anti religion message.  However, she does stay so true to her setting and characters’ evangelical upbringing that this book can be very difficult to read if you can’t look past the extremes and see the message she is trying to make clear to her readers. 

I don’t agree with the path Lacey takes in the end.  It’s not the route I would have taken.  Nor is it the path I did take in life.  But that isn’t the point of this book.  The point that Melissa Walker so eloquently makes is that it is okay to question our faith and make our own decisions based on what we learn in life.

If you think you can handle reading about the extreme ideals of the far Christian right, then I would recommend this books as it is an interesting read.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

From HarperCollins Childrens:

Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but for Lily Sanderson, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.
Lily has a secret, and it’s not her huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid—she’s a Thalassinian princess. When she discovered three years ago that her mother was actually a human, Lily finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been going to Seaview High ever since. Living on land has its problems—like her obnoxious biker-boy neighbor, Quince Fletcher—but it has that one major perk: Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type—when they bond, it’s for life.
When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily ever after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

I had read and enjoyed the Oh My Gods! series by Tera Lynn Childs, so I picked up this book, despite my mermaid reservations.  The underwater descriptions are vivid and lovely, making me want to vacation in Thalassinia.  The antagonistic relationship between Lily and Quince is hilarious.  Quince seems like the quintessential bad boy (my favorite) in the beginning, but as he learns who Lily really is and the two spend more time together, you see that he really is a sweetheart (Nat's favorite).  Lily is a fun heroine and perhaps true to form for a "normal" teenager, she makes all the wrong decisions without a thought to the ramifications.  I really did not like the ending; however, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book.  I reserve judgment on the ending though, since book 2, Fins Are Forever released June 28, 2011 (review coming soon), so this ending set up the story in Forever.  

All in all, I give Forgive My Fins 4 stars - you should definitely read it!  

~ Shel   

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly

* * * *

From Candlewick Press:

Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars.  Willow has a gift.  She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them.  But the assassin, Alex, does.  Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself.  He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces, and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them.  When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil.  In the first book in an action-packed, romantic trilogy, L.A. Weatherly sends readers on a thrill-ride of a road trip – and depicts the human race at the brink of a future as catastrophic as it is deceptively beautiful.

They’re out for your soul… and they don’t have heaven in mind.

My librarian (my co-worker’s 15 year old daughter) has supplied me with many books in the past year.  Whenever my library (the one my tax dollars go to) doesn’t have my book, I ask The Librarian and she always comes through.  So it’s because of her that I came to know Angel Burn.

I have to say it started off really well.  Meeting Alex the assassin first, who is surprise, gorgeous, was fun.  Weatherly set it up with just the right amount of mystery that got me hooked.  Who is this guy riding around in a sleek Porsche?  How does he have the energy to go work out for hours at a 24-hour gym after a kill?  And which gym is it because I want to go?

Alex receives his next assignment – to eliminate Willow Fields.  Willow is your typical high school girl with her own quirks.  I like her.  She’s self-assured about who she is and what she does.  Having had to grow up fast does that to you.  She and her mom who’s mentally not all there live with her aunt who isn’t all that pleased to be sharing her house with them.  

Willow’s special gift is that she’s psychic.  She doesn’t tell the person exactly what will happen but tells them the options that lay in front of them and the potential outcome of each option.  When she agrees to do a reading for a schoolmate, she uncovers a deadly truth and inadvertently ends up smack in the middle of a war between humans and angels. 

Weatherly presents a revamped version of angels that are not God’s divine creatures.  They’re hideous and feed on a human’s life force to sustain their own.  Their world is slowly being destroyed due to some “Crisis” that no one really knows how it began.  They've been coming to earth to feed off of unsuspecting humans for a while.  The human that has been fed upon believes that they’ve received a special gift from the angel. The truth is that their encounter results in "angel burn".  On the outside they appear to be in a blissful state.  Angel burn leaves them fatigued, the body starts to deteriorate leading to various physical and mental diseases.  No one suspects a thing because the humans are so enraptured by this that they do anything to protect the angels and serve them.  Massive churches are dedicated to angels whose followers become their meals.  One of the largest churches is in Colorado headed by Raziel, who has plans for an angel invasion, The Second Wave, by which more of them will come to earth via a gate that will be opened soon.

A small group of people known as AK, Angel Killers know the truth and are fighting for human kind.  Alex is one of them.  He comes to understand what Willow is and that her special gift can help defeat the angels.  Their initial encounter ends up with them being on the run together.

It’s while they’re on the run that the book is really interesting.  The initial awkwardness and fear of two strangers being thrown together give way to an uneasy camaraderie where they slowly learn to trust each other.  Soon sexual tensions arise.  It’s a given that they’d fall for each other.  I liked how Weatherly divided the chapters so that we could see each one’s perspective.  The scene when they finally admit their feelings for each other is sweet, though I felt the subsequent chapters after that kind of lost their oomph. 

It did pick back up with Willow attempting to destroy the “gate” to prevent the impending Second Wave. Alex and Willow learn that they’re not alone as they had thought.  There are still some good guys out there, including other angels who feel that what the rogue angels are doing is wrong. 
Available December 2011

The climax set up the next installment very well.  With so much at stake, it’ll be interesting to see how Willow will reconcile her feelings for Alex, the truth of who she is, from whom she comes from along with the cause that she is determined to fight with Alex at her side.  There’s a lot of story left to tell and I’m looking forward to it.  Angel Fire comes out in December.

- Bel

Monday, August 15, 2011

Show Me Your Teeth Blog Hop Giveaway!

BiblioJunkies are taking part in the Show Me Your Teeth Bog Hop Giveaway!  The Hop is in anticipation of the Bloodlines by Richelle Mead release. 

Show Me Your Teeth

Bloodlines will be available August 23, 2011 and is a spin-off of the Vampire Academy series.  From Razorbill Publishing:

When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.

To help Richelle Mead celebrate, Me, My Shelf & I and Fictitious Delicious are hosting the Show Me Your Teeth Blog Hop.  The hop runs from August 15 thru August 23rd.  BiblioJunkies have three great books to giveaway as part of the Hop.

The first book we have up for grabs is Night World No. 1 by L.J. Smith (this is a used copy, but still in good condition).  Here's the description from SimonPulse Publishing:

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 battle between black magic and white magic in Spellbinder.

The second book in our giveaway is Marked by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast:

From St. Martin's Press:

The House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird's world, vampyres have always existed.  In this first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire--that is, if she makes it through the Change.  Not all of those who are chosen do.  It’s tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling.  She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx.  But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers.  When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny--with a little help from her new vampyre friends.

And finally, our grand prize is Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, so that you can catch up to read Bloodlines! 
From Razorbill Publishing:
St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . . Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

It is easy to enter, just comment below telling who your favorite vampire is and what book/movie/tv show the vampire is from.  You must post between 12:00 a.m. August 15th and 11:59 p.m. August 23rd.  You may receive 1 extra entry by following us on the blog.  Be sure to indicate in your comment that you signed up to follow us!  On August 24th, we will ask to choose three random numbers for us and announce the three winners.  The first number chosen will receive Night World No. 1 by L.J. Smith.  The second number chosen will receive Marked by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast and the third number chosen will receive Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. 

We would like to offer our thanks to Me, My Shelf & I and Fictitious Delicious for hosting this awesome Hop and allowing the BiblioJunkies the chance to have some fun with you all!  Finally, we want to say congratulations to Richelle Mead on her exciting new series.  As a lover of the Vampire Academy series, I am greatly looking forward to Bloodlines!  Now go comment!