Saturday, March 31, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Quirk Books, 2011
351 pages
YA; Historical; Fantasy
4/5 stars

Source: Library

I found the cover of this creepy, especially when you only see the thumbnail sized version. Thus I classified this as horror and stayed away. But I loved Anna Dressed in Blood and kept seeing positive reviews of this book so I succumbed to blogger pressure and requested it from the library.

Not to be obvious about this, but this book is peculiar. I can't even begin to explain all of the details that go into this book. Let's just say it is mostly contemporary with a bit of time travel to the WWII era and a lot of fantastical people and situations. I found the beginning slow and had a lot of trouble sitting down and focusing on it. We meet rich kid Jacob who is doing his best to get fired from his family's store and who is concerned about his grandfather whose delusions about girls levitating from the floor and someone coming after him are growing stronger. Then Jacob gets a phone call and races to his grandfather, holding him during his last cryptic remarks. These fuel nightmares and give Jacob a single-minded purpose to visit the island where his Jewish grandfather found safety during WWII.

Once on the island, Jacob explores the dilapidated house of Miss Peregrine where his grandfather stayed and stumbles upon the unique circumstances around that place. I don't want to spoil anything so that is about how much of the plot I can share. I can say that the house scenes reminded me of "The Woman in Black" which contributed to a sense of terror. There are some scary moments!

But those are leavened with humorous snarky comments from Jacob as he learns the truth about his grandfather's past, learning to appreciate his quiet strength in the face of dark challenges as well as preparing to face what his future holds. I really can't say too much more as it would spoil the enjoyment of uncovering the secrets for yourself but it's definitely worth a shot.

Overall: A different and unique offering to the YA category; for someone looking for the out of the ordinary.

Cover:  I don't know if you noticed but that girl is levitating a few inches off of the ground. I didn't even see that until the picture was featured in the book again. I just thought the girl was making a grumpy face and the black-and-white photo made it look creepy.

Friday, March 30, 2012


Spellcaster by Cara Lynn Shultz
HarlequinTeen, 2012
371 pages
YA; Paranormal
4/5 stars

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

After being pleasantly surprised by Spellbound, I was excited for a second book. While I originally anticipated it focusing on Angelique, viewing the conclusion of the first book as teasing that, I was fine with it returning to focus on Emma and Brendan especially as we do get a good dose of Angelique.

The epilogue of Spellbound led me to believe that Angelique would be the focus as Emma and Brendan had broken a centuries-old curse-what kind of obstacle could possibly top that? Didn't they deserve to just be young and blissfully in love? Well, that is how they start the book  but it is not long before some malicious forces conspire to cause pain to the couple. Especially difficult for Emma is Brendan's playboy past. He got around and everyone knows his reputation; even now girls still throw themselves at him, causing Emma to doubt Brendan's true feelings. Does he only feel because of the curse?

Beyond internal doubts, are the very real external threats that physically harm Brendan, Emma, and some of the people care about. Interestingly Brendan's past plays a big role in this as does Emma's magical abilities. We really get to see her start to exercise her talents throughout the book, building up to the big climax.  The magical aspect is definitely my favorite along with Angelique's snarkiness. Like me, she doesn't think Brendan is all that great but she is a good friend as she provides support and advice to Emma.

Again I grew weary of hearing about how attractive Brendan is and how much in love they are but that is the fundamental point of these books. They are in love and the strength of that love is integral to their ability to have a future together. It's just not my favorite part.

Overall: If you liked the first one, I think you'll like this one too: with dollops of magic and adventure and a heavy helping of romance :)

Cover: Of course, the same lovely font is used for the title but this time I really like the lovely green accents that make the cover seem brighter.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Loss by Jackie Morse Kessler
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
258 pages
YA; Paranormal
4/5 stars

Source: Received an ARC from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

I was so excited to acquire a copy of this book, one of my most anticipated reads of the year due to my love for the previous books in the series Hunger and Rage. While each can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend reading all of the books.

Besides enjoying the previous books, I knew that this book would focus on Pestilence, the Horseman of the Apocalypse who we know the least about. He made brief appearances in the other books but he has definitely been very mysterious. Before we meet him though, we have our "ordinary" human protagonist.

Billy Ballard, great name, has been regularly picked on every day for years with his only hope of a break coming after graduation in two years. All he can is curl in on himself and hope his tormenters don't injure him too badly. Adding on to his pressures are his need to work hard in school to earn a scholarship and caring for his ailing grandfather with Alzheimer's who transforms into an angry man unable to recognize Billy. He has deep self-hatred for his inability to stand up for himself and he wants to be the hero who gets to kiss the pretty girl.

The book is divided into three parts. The first introduces Billy. The third part is about Billy learning to stand up for himself by facing off against a crazed Pestilence. But the second part of the book was a hard read.  In it, Billy is searching for Pestilence who has hidden himself in his memories in order to avoid ending the world. By running away, he has allowed disease to reign unchecked, putting the world in far greater danger than if he was performing his job to maintain balance. I like the plot but not so much the writing, which is very dreamlike and hallucinatory-not to my taste. On the plus side, it also incorporates legendary figures King Midas and Robin Hood in unusual ways.

Besides disliking the writing in the second part, I had two other problems. One was how the pestilence and bullying themes didn't seem to connect as strongly as famine/anorexia and war/self-cutting did in the previous books. The second problem relates to Marianne, Billy's crush, the girl he wants to kiss. We don't get much insight into her; it is assumed that she also likes Billy but I wanted to know more about her and confirm that she wanted to be the girl who is kissed.

I know many people love the portrayal of Death in this series and he makes several significant appearances in this book.  But my favorite literary Death is from Terry Pratchett's Discworld and I continue to prefer him to this version of Death.

Overall: As we delve deeper into the world of the Horsemen, more fantasy-like elements come out. Some people will love that writing; others like me, will not. Still this is a must-read if you've enjoyed the previous books and will help us endure the wait until Breath.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tessa Masterson WILL Go to Prom

Tessa Masterson WILL Go to Prom by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
Walker & Company, 2012
257 pages
YA; Contemporary
4/5 stars

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was interested by the bright bold cover that bespoke a fun upbeat contemporary. Plus it is told through two alternating narrators, one of my favorite techniques. For one more bonus, we have a hot current events topic: homosexuality and all of that controversery that stirs up if a girl should decide she wants to take the person she likes to the prom, if that person happens to also be female.

Our two narrators are the titular Tessa and Lucas, her long-time best friend. After thinking over their closeness, Lucas decides he is in love with Tessa and will ask her to the prom as a big romantic gesture. However Tessa, instead of happily accepting as anticipated, confesses to Lucas that she is gay and sort of involved with another girl who will hopefully accompany her to prom. This quickly leaks out in their small-town and soon a firestorm erupts due to Lucas' impolitic words.

Lucas is not at all careful with his words and they are used as additional support for those who do not want Tessa and her girlfriend at the prom. This also prompts people to lead a boycott against Tessa's parents' grocery store and eventually to close down the prom. Happily this is when Lucas finally steps up and plans their own dance of inclusivity.

If you thought I was focusing a lot on Lucas so far in this review, that is for a reason. I found Lucas to be a much more compelling personality even as he pushes against his best friend, causes her pain, and embarrasses his cool mother. I really grew to like him after being mad at him for his meanness to Tessa because he redeems himself as he starts to fight for Tessa's rights.

Meanwhile Tessa is a much more private person, which extends to keeping the reader at arm's length. I could not get a sense of her and therefore I gravitated to Lucas, ending up preferring his narration far more. This is also a potential problem in dual narrative books-finding one character lackluster and the other exciting and sadly it occurred for me here.

Overall: Strong, pointed writing in places but weak characterization of Tessa did not endear her to me.

Cover: From the thumbnail, I could not distinguish that a tux is shown but that is perfect and eye-catching for this cover.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sisters of Glass

Sisters of Glass by Stephanie Hemphill
Alfred A. Knopf, 2012
150 pages
YA; Historical
3/5 stars

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I think it has been amply recorded on my blog that I adore sister-sister relationships so it was a no-brainer to request this book after seeing the title. I didn't need to know anything else. As an additional bonus, the author and I share a first name and I have been known to read books just because of that fact (see: Stephanie Laurens, Stephanie Perkins).

Due to only looking at the cover, I wasn't sure what to expect. Imagine my surprise to discover a historical novel set in Italy told in verse. Those three elements are not hugely popular in YA although there are amazing examples for each. I love historical novels, have no opinion about Italy, and am open to verse novels so that boded well for me. However I really struggled.

I felt like I was just dropped in to the world with little context to guide me. The story is set in Murano, the glass-making part of Italy, an island near Venice although I'm still not sure what the year is. Over the course of the book, we learn a bit but not nearly enough for my taste.

The thrust of the story is that first daughters are supposed to marry Senators, the chief politicians of the time, but in this family, the father was convinced that his second daughter should have that fate. This means the dowry is placed at her disposal and all of the family's resources will go toward making her a splendid match. That daughter is Maria who wishes to be a glassblower, not a wife while her older sister Giovanna, the beauty, wants that destiny and bristles against their father's breaking of tradition. The conflict between the sisters over this issue is a big part of the first book but they come together for the second part.

The plot is quite familiar. As stated Maria wants to be a glassblower and falls for their family apprentice despite his unsuitability. Meanwhile she becomes betrothed to a noble as wished by her father who is struck by her sister's beauty. If only the girls could change places! I found it very tired and called every plot turn. Of course, predictability is not a bad thing if redeemed by gorgeous writing and/or outstanding characterization.

While the novel is told in verse, it doesn't feel as poetic as other novels I've read in verse. It seemed like a prose story arranged on the page as if to convey the impression of verse. This was easy to read but it didn't blow me away. Furthermore the characters were average with little depth. As a sister, I was able to infuse those roles with some personality but they were all pretty flat.

Overall: Lacking in setting and characterization, this failed to impress me.

Cover: Very pretty and of course I love swirly fonts!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Life Is But a Dream

Life Is But a Dream by Brian James
Feiwel and Friends Books, 2012
234 pages
YA; Contemporary
4/5 stars

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review and an ARC through Amazon Vine.

This book caught my interest from the song lyrics for "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" as well as my deep love of contemporary novels. By the time I picked this up, I had read Ultraviolet (review to come) and had high expectations for the writing and characterization (yes Ultraviolet is about a character with a neurological phenomenon while this is about a character with schizophrenia but both are about female teenagers placed involuntarily in mental facilities.

I have never really thought of myself as a reader who pays attention to the writing, preferring instead to focus on the plot and how the characters make me feel.  But it is something I've been noticing and happily the writing in this was glorious and intense, capturing Sabrina's unique perspective on the world. I did have one problem which was the alternating between present in the center and flashbacks to the past. They were usually sudden and had me questioning if they were memories tinged with Sabrina's interpretation or complete fabrications; Sabrina is not an entirely reliable narrator.

But I do still think character is important so if you can't sympathize with her, then even the gorgeous writing probably won't be enough for you. I really felt for Sabrina, who mostly lives in her head and has been largely ostracized by her classmates. She has different priorities than their popularity-obsessed minds, looking outside of the narrow high school bubble. In particular there was one boy who treated her abominably without repercussion and certainly didn't help her healing.

Besides our main character Sabrina, there is also the mysterious Alec, who in some ways appears as an entitled rich jerk whose rich dad got him in a mental facilities instead of juvenile detention. He seems to be the only one who can understand Sabrina and encourages to stop taking her medication and to hold onto her beautiful thoughts.  But in some ways Alec also seems like a figment of Sabrina's imagination which had me alternating my interpretation. I've read one review that came down on the side of made-up but the last pages had me saying he was real.

Overall: A powerful contemporary with beautiful imagery and an intriguing main character.

Cover: I love the colors of the leaves and the sky but I don't like Sabrina's hair on the ground.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bloggiesta Plans

 You can still sign up over here!

I wasn't entirely sure if I'd be participating this year. Not that there aren't areas of improvement for my blog but I couldn't decide what I wanted to do. Until, inspiration struck! I have two pretty big areas to work on as well as two others it would be nice to complete.

1. I want to go through my 900+ posts and make sure that all are labelled properly. Mostly it is rating, author, publisher, and category that I need to confirm. It's a tedious process but at least my most recent posts are properly categorized so hopefully it will go quickly.

2. Then I want to go through my google reader, which says I am subscribed to 495 blogs. That's kind of a lot and I know that some of them are now defunct because I haven't cleared this out in almost two years plus some of them I don't read because they review books like adult paranormal romances. Once I have deleted some, I will be eager to replace them with YA blogs I actually read.

3. (Time permitting) Clean out google reader; comment on old posts or delete.

4. (Time permitting) Organize goodreads shelves. I used to do this every couple of weeks but I've slowed down. It's not necessary as I do categorize once I've read but it's nice to remind myself what books are upcoming and to get excited about them!

Wish me luck on my time-consuming endeavors! Are you participating in Bloggiesta?

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Crossed by Ally Condie
Dutton Books, 2011
367 pages
YA; Dystopia
3.5/5 stars

Source: Library

I was pleased enough with Matched to pick this up although I'll admit it wasn't a priority, at least in part because the cover didn't please me (see below for my thoughts). I know that's shallow but there are SO many books and I need some system to help me sort. Anyway I've picked it up now, braced with very mixed opinions from the blogosphere although one point does seem to hold true: second books are hard.

How much information should be revealed? How much character development can happen? How much of a character's wants will be fulfilled? Can the second book top the first? In this book, Cassia and Ky are separated in different locations in the Outer Provinces, both desperate to find each other. Overall I found it pretty boring and not a good second book.

I think my main problem was Ky, who I grew to like less than Xander (originally I didn't feel much for either). I still don't understand their "love" that guides them through hardships. At least Cassia's interest is moderated by her feelings for best friend Xander, love for her family, and desire to fight the Society by joining the Rising. Ky only has Cassia. In fact, Ky's obsession to be the one chosen by Cassia and his willingness to sacrifice his anti-Rising principles in order to keep her from going to Xander rubbed me the wrong way (at least that was how I interpreted his stance in the closing chapters-maybe you felt a different way?)

However I did take notice of the writing which was very lyrical and beautiful. Maybe a little too much as there were pages of such writing with nothing exciting happening. Some new characters were introduced but did not receive much development nor did I feel like Cassia or Ky's personalities were deepened more. 

Overall: Not a lot happens; recommended only for mega-fans of Matched.

Cover: I really do not like this cover as much as that of Matched. I do appreciate the importance of the color blue and I like the idea of the heroine breaking free as it were. But this pose just looks so awkward to me and I especially find the legs weird. It does not look like she would have been able to break out there yet.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Playing Hurt

Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler
Flux, 2011
303 pages
YA; Contemporary; Romance
3/5 stars

Source: Library

Having read A Blue So Dark, I was eager to read more of Schindler's work especially as she is a contemporary writer, my beloved genre within the YA category. Thus I was so excited to discover that my library had purchased this novel. I really liked the idea of a story featuring two athletes without being all about sports. Bonus factor: the story is told in alternating chapters from each perspective-I love that!

Our first narrator is Chelsea Keyes, former basketball star who suffered a hip injury at the beginning of the season of her senior year. She struggles with the gap in her life and with her status as "former." Luckily she has sweet, perfect boyfriend Gabe who has stuck by her. But they're about to have three weeks apart when her family goes to Minnesota for a vacation and Chelsea's father enrolls her in a boot camp headed by Clint.

Clint is our other narrator, a former hockey player who gave up the sport after the death of his girlfriend and has remained emotionally distant since that event two years earlier. When they meet, they are immediately attracted to each other but fight it, launching some nasty barbs at each other. But their passion is too much to deny and soon they are sneaking around, desperate to spend as much time together as they can until the end of Chelsea's vacation.

Of course the writing was fabulous, exactly what I was expecting based on my previous reading of Schindler.  The main characters have depth and challenge each other in exciting ways. The setting is also really cool as they get to enjoy a beautiful summer in Minnesota.

But there were quite a few things that I didn't like. First was the number of times each character mentioned the other's physical appearance. I get it, they're good-looking and they know that about each other. I was so tired of hearing about Chelsea's gorgeous long legs and blonde hair and Clint's hair and toned physique by the end of the book. I also wished there had been a bit more about the families of the characters especially Chelsea's brother, an amazing bass player. Chelsea's relationship with her father is touched upon; their relationship became troubled after Chelsea's injury but her mother receives little page time. I was actually very surprised by that because the family plays a bigger role in the beginning before being squeezed out in favor of the romantic relationship.

But what I disliked the most was the cheating. Now I love romance books and have read a good number of them but I try to avoid ones where one person is involved with someone else while falling for their true love. I will not cheer for that romance and it will inevitably lower my opinion of the characters and the book as a whole, as happened in this case. Chelsea tries to brush it off as a summer fling, something everyone does (the lengths people go to for self-justification!) Clint, for his part, doesn't even seem that bothered that Chelsea isn't willing to drop Gabe for him, content with savoring their time together. Then Chelsea returns home for an ugly confrontation with Gabe. Neither is perfect but given that Chelsea CHEATED, she is immediately discredited in my opinion. She lashes out at Gabe but it is his words that I give weight to and it left an icky taste in my mouth. I could have handled Chelsea dumping Gabe over the phone (which is what I was expecting) before her consummation of her relationship with Clint.

Content warning: Sexual situations; recommended for more mature readers of YA.

Overall: The cheating plot substantially lowered my rating of this book as the writing is amazing and the two main characters are vividly drawn.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Legend by Marie Lu
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2011
305 pages
YA; Dystopian
4.5/5 stars

Source: Library

I saw quite a bit of buzz around this book so I wanted to pick it up and see if it lived up to the hype. I was surprised to reach the first page and discover that the font was in gold (I did enjoy the matching color font in Maggie Stiefvater's Forever trilogy). Even more surprised was I to finish the first chapter and discover a different font, color, and narrator for the second chapter. And that is how the whole story is told: in alternating perspectives. Now this can be difficult if you end up preferring one narrator to the other and then you're just waiting for her to return but I was pretty evenly split.

Our first narrator is most-wanted criminal Day, a fifteen-year-old kid from the slums who has been bothering the Republic for five years ever since he failed his Trial. He causes great disruptions but seems to run alone and make a point of not killing anyone. Until the night he does kills Metias, brother to our other narrator June.

I really loved June (just the teensiest bit more than Day). She's a military prodigy, who earned a perfect score on the Trial (the only to do so) and has enjoyed a spectacular career at military school, where she is preparing to join her older brother in safeguarding the Republic until his tragic death leaves her alone in the world (she was already orphaned) and starts her off on the path to track down Day. Of course, because she's brilliant and innovative, she manages to find Day and have him arrested. But is Day as bad as the government says or is there more to the story?

I think what appealed to me about June was, well actually a lot of things, but two in particular. First her brains made me think of River from Firefly, a show I am currently savoring rewatching. This connection makes me happy. The other main reason is I love when characters think their government is so great and then slowly discover that major things are being covered up. Because then this character gets to go in high-gear and kick some major butt as June does!

Now don't get me wrong, I liked Day too. I loved their similarities-how both are so smart and can easily adapt to various situations; how they don't want to hurt people; how they're so protective of their families; how they want to do the right thing. This helped me root for their romance, which ended up taking a bigger role than I would have liked by the end but I'll forgive that.

Overall: A splendid time was had by me as I devoured this book-I would very highly recommend it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Castle of Shadows

Castle of Shadows by Ellen Renner
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
Originally published Orchard Books, 2010
390 pages
MG; Fantasy
4/5 stars

Source: Received an ARC from Amazon Vine and an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'm kind of ambivalent about this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed myself while I was reading it, trying to puzzle out the dark secrets of some of the characters and enjoying reading about the kingdom of Quale, a fictionalized England in the late nineteenth or maybe early twentieth century.  Five years ago, the queen disappeared, the king went mad, and Princess Charlie's care was given over to the cruel Mrs. O'Dair. Now rumors of revolution and war swirl and Charlie must embark on a quest to find and bring her mother home, with the aid of Tobias, the gardener's boy.  But now that I'm finished, I'm not enthusiastic. I'm not entirely sure what the reason is but I have some ideas.

Fair or not fair, when you read a book, you compare it to other books you've read, in the same genre, by the same author, etc. This is a middle-grade fantasy so I compared it to Tuesdays at the Castle (such a fun setting for that book and both books have castle in the title) and Liesl and Po (girl is mistreated but escapes and goes on quest with boy).  And the best way I can describe my feelings is that those books had magic and this book did not. Not magic as in a plot point but as in casting a spell on me while I was reading.

Another disappointment was that I wanted a magical castle but this one is very appropriately a castle of shadows, filled with secrets, disappointments, and unhappiness. Gloominess seemed to pervade every aspect without enough lightness to balance the story to my taste. This is obviously a very personal opinion but there may be other people out there who agree.

I would say that a third part of the lack of love is the characters. Charlie is the main character, told through third-person narrative. I don't know if I'm spoiled by all of the first-person narration in YA but it seems like that often helps me connect to a character better. Charlies is eleven and frequently acts her age, especially in her attempts to annoy Tobias. Tobias is only a year older but seems far more, perhaps due to his hard life. As for the other characters, they had some life but did not seem fully developed. They had a few traits to their personalities but seemed overall one-dimensional, with good or evil intentions and no ambiguity. I'm also supremely disappointed in the lack of character development for the Queen; I still cannot understand why she took the actions she did.

Overall: An okay fairy-tale story without the magic of the best MG fantasies I've read.

Cover: I really like the cover-the drawing is super cute. I do not like Tobias' hat though because it looks more like he is balancing a book on his head. I also loved the typeface in Garamond Premiere Pro, especially the frequent use of the letter "Q".

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Croak by Gina Damico
Graphia, 2012
311 pages
YA; Contemporary; Paranormal
4/5 stars

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was drawn to this book due to the giant scythe on the cover. Was the plot about a teenage grim reaper? What would be the rules governing the world? My attention was definitely captured so I requested, received, downloaded, and read.

Happiness began when main character Lexington explained how she and her twin sister Concord were named after the beginning battles of the American Revolution due to their mother's obsession with history (more about this history thing later). But it was mingled with confusion as Lexie's violent tendencies have physically harmed almost everyone at her school-how was she not expelled earlier? Still she is informed that she will be visiting her Uncle Mort for the summer in order to hopefully release some of her anger. Leaving her town and especially her sister sounds awful but Lexie has no choice.

Almost upon arrival, Lexie discovers that she is a Killer; no, not like that but someone who releases the soul of a dead person, sending them on the way to the Afterlife, neither hell nor heaven but neutral. A Killer works with a Culler to handle the souls. Lexie is paired with Driggs, a very young Culler who lives with Mort as well. They pretty quickly develop a rapport with strong underlying sexual tension. But not all is well in their little town of death as someone among them is using their powers to go against their code of conduct, causing many mysterious deaths and setting everyone on edge. Lexie is one of the first people to realize this and thus begins searching for the culprit.

This was actually a pretty humorous book. Lexie is snarky and not at all pleased to be shipped off to nowheresville and her humor continues throughout the book. My personal favorite touch was seeing dead Theodore Roosevelt hassle others and haze newcomers-this is absolutely hilarious to imagine. But while the plot has plenty of suspense and the world is fun and imaginative, I felt a lack in the characters.

Mort is somewhat of an enigma, which actually for the story because he is not supposed to be well-known. He is just Lex's weird uncle. We get to see a little bit about him but I would like to know more.  I also would have liked more of the parents as mom's characterization was very vivid based on her love of American history and especially its weaponry but we don't get very much about them since they are at home. More Concord would have been good too given that she is Lex's closest friend.

And the romance was disappointing to me. Not because it was obviously forecast with Lex lusting after Driggs and their proximity solidifying their connection but because the banter between them did not speak of flirting to me. I read a lot of romantic comedies where the banter between the romantic leads seems to be leading to romance and love but most of Lex and Driggs' conversation seemed kind of the way I'd talk to my brother, if I had one. In theory, I understand the romance but after reading, I don't really buy it.

Overall: A funny book introducing a great world of Grim Reapers with lots of potential-excited for the sequel, Scorch!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber
Houghton Mifflin, 2011
190 pages
YA; Contemporary; Suspense
4/5 stars

Source: Library

Warning: Do not pick this book up before you have to do anything else (like going to bed). Because you will not make it; instead you will keep reading until the very end. And if you're not reading, you will be thinking about this book.

At least that was my experience. I really didn't know what to expect but I was pleased to see the short length-none of this padding chapters with boring description or pointless digressions. No, I expected a fast-moving, freewheeling story around New York City. And I got that!

Main character Perry is thrilled with the idea of a European exchange student coming to stay at his house, picturing a sexy girl like in the movies. Instead he gets plain, boring Gobi. Except on the night of his prom, when she reveals herself to be an assassin with a very personal mission who needs Perry's driving abilities to chauffeur her around.

I loved the beginning of each chapter, which features a college admissions essay question. Each chapter then provides an answer to that question while also moving the story forward and entertaining me. Plus there was a significant character arc on the part of Perry, who wants desperately to live up to his father's expectations but learns to stand up for himself over the course of this one crazy night.

As a reader used to female perspective in YA books, it was a welcome change to have a male narrating. I like to shake it up. However I would have liked to know a little bit more about Gobi's background. But there is apparently going to be a sequel-that just shot to the top of my want list!

Overall: A fun read-highly recommended!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mission Statement

Lately I've been thinking about my blog a lot-changes/improvements I'd like to make such as a new design and maybe even a hosting change. But also minor changes or changes of clarification such as framing my blog. What is my purpose? How do I view my blog and what are my intentions? This led to a long post that I spent a lot of time writing and editing so that everything is as clear as possible.

To start, I recently reworked my heading to say "Bookworm1858: No-frills book blogging" and I feel like that goes part of the way to capturing how I feel about my blog. I don't really participate in memes or feature guest posts from authors or host many giveaways (although I am kicking around ideas for at least one later this year because who doesn't love the pleasure of winning a book?) But mostly I just want to talk about the books I have read. The other information can be good and I enjoy reading it on other blogs but it does not interest me the way that books on their own do. It's not a perfect description-I'm not sure that "frills" is the best word to describe extra content like memes and author posts but I haven't decided on a better description. I believe this will always be a work-in-progress but I am content with it for now.

I also hope this shows my lack of tolerance for drama. I've seen stuff about imprudent behavior from a blogger or from an author and I really don't want to get involved. I want to focus on the lovely books that we are so fortunate to have available to us. Is this hard? Yes, sometimes for I am not immune to blogger jealousy and other issues but I don't want it to infect my blog. In general I think of this as a place of positivity because I am so happy when reading. I want to champion the best in us.

I also hope to be relevant, to provide reviews of the buzzed about YA books for people who haven't read them yet and to spark conversation.  I also want to talk about lesser-known YA books, either because they're older or received less promotion. I hope that some people have discovered that we have similar taste while others may find me useful for the opposite purpose-perhaps me hating a book generally signals that you'll like it. And while my focus is YA, I still like sprinkling in some adult and MG books (MG books have been pretty awesome lately!) as they represent where my taste also lies.

Mission Statement: To present an honest book assessment, ideally providing positive aspects as well as negative if relevant that may aid you in determining if a book would please you. To spotlight the books I love and to be polite about the books I don't. To welcome people, new to the community as well as new to my blog and provide assistance if possible; to encourage new bloggers and to form bookish friendships with bloggers and non-bloggers alike.

These are items I'm still working on; I know my reviews have improved since the beginning of the blog (seriously-check out my archives and see how I had little idea of what I was doing) but they can still use more work. As for spotlighting my favorite books, I am planning to do some additional promotion of those books that are really powerful for me just so that I can say I'm doing my best to promote what I feel are some of the best books out there. And socializing isn't my strong point, either in blogging or in real-life. But I've gotten a lot better at checking out more blogs and commenting and I want to continue my growth in that area. I am also an older blog (since November 2009) so I do have some experience and am happy to share what I know.

So what do you think? Have you written a mission statement for your blog, if you blog?

One last addition to the mission statement: to provide super-cute pictures whenever possible. This is of my cat Aragorn who is also of a literary bent-look at his stack of books here!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Every Other Day

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Egmont, 2012
329 pages
YA; Paranormal
4/5 stars

Source: Library

This looked like a very different kind of paranormal, which is what excited me about picking this up. I'm tired of those with the Twilight formula, even if they precede that series or are well-written. Much as I love romance, I do not like it to be mixed with paranormal elements. This book does not have romance as the main focus, leaning more toward suspense as countdowns play a big role.

See Kali is an ordinary human girl...every other day. Every twenty-four hours, she switches, becoming something else. Something not human, that hunts supernatural creatures terrorizing the world. She doesn't know why she's like this and she doesn't know if there's any one else like her. Kali just does the best she can. Until one day when she notices a mark on a popular girl's body, a mark that seems to be condemning her to death. Kali, who has a bit of a savior-complex, takes the mark upon herself, kicking off a series of events.

These events include two very different girls. One is popular girl Bethany, the one whose body bears the mark. The other is Skylar, branded as a slut and ostracized by the popular crowd but nonetheless remains cheerful. Ah, sweet adorable Skylar with her seemingly innumerable brothers and their multi-varied abilities is also psychic although she downplays through the course of the novel. I liked getting to see more of Bethany than a shallow facade but Skylar is the character I really loved. I also loved that the main characters were three girl friends-yay! They have been in and are in romantic relationships but they also work together and are the focus of the book.

The whole plot of this book is a little hard to explain as Kali fighting the mark's power is only the beginning. After that, there are several other plot twists. And due to the countdown of the book, the reader can easily be caught up in the suspense of it all and enjoy a kick-butt story!

Overall: Strong heroine in a story with lots of action sequences and little romance-a welcome addition the YA category!

Cover: I'll admit that this cover makes me think more "vampire" than anything else but it certainly looks creepy!

Friday, March 16, 2012


Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Balzer + Bray, 2012
370 pages
YA; Paranormal
4.5/5 stars

Source: Library

I had instant cover lust with this book-I would love to have a similar red dress (do I have any place to wear such a creation? No, but that hardly matters). Still I did not immediately pick up this book because I have frequently found myself disappointed with pretty dress cover books as I am just not an intense lover of YA paranormals. But after reading many positive reviews and being assured that there was not a love triangle (which was a very important deciding factor for me), I took the plunge.

I found the writing style very easy to read and I was swept away after some momentary confusion at the beginning (the italicized part as well as the prologue). What was going on? What had main character Nikki gotten herself into? I mean, I could make some guesses as to how Nikki found herself seeking oblivion from the pain of life in the arms of mysterious rocker bad boy Cole. And it was obvious that he was some kind of paranormal creation with ambiguous intentions. But what were all the rules governing this world underneath?

For the most part, Nikki is as in the dark as we are BUT she expends considerable energy in figuring things out. Additionally she wants to make things up to her father, brother, best friend, and ex-boyfriend after her disappearance six months. Complicating matters is the fact that she will have to leave again forever in another six months unless she decides to join Cole, whereby she will leave even earlier.  I'm worried that I may have needlessly overcomplicated the plot for you but if you read the book, it should make sense.

What I was most drawn to in this book was the love story. Although Nikki sought solace with Cole after thinking that her boyfriend had cheated on her, she never forgot him. And he never forgot her, forming an intense connection. While the idea of finding "true love" in high school still seems outrageous to me in most of the YA books I read, I fell hard for this romance. Maybe it was my mood after reading a couple of books with little romance or inadequate love stories. Maybe Nikki and Jack just seemed to complete each other (I know: gag). I can't describe it but once they started working together to fight her fate, I was hooked and I soared through the final pages.

With that strong romantic element, I was able to root for Nikki to remain strong even as Cole did his best to win her over. He tried everything including his substantial powers of emotional manipulation to get her to give up her human life and return with him willingly to the Everneath. But she did not want oblivion anymore and she didn't want to rely on the pain of others for that relief. Instead she was willing to accept the pain but also the joy that comes from being a human.

Overall: I really did love this book. I thought Nikki was fairly strong for her situation and for a YA paranormal heroine and the romance really worked for me (if only Jack had been named Will and then he could have entered my list of wonderful YA boys named Will ;)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Man Overboard!

Man Overboard! by Curtis Parkinson
Tundra Books, 2012
152 pages
YA; Historical
4/5 stars

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book caught my eye when I noticed that it was set during WWII; I didn't really read beyond that but I figured boating and war is an interesting combination.

Thus I got to be surprised to discover that this book is set in Canada on a riverboat between Prescott and Montreal where two best friends have secured jobs for the summer of 1943 as most of the other men are off at war.  Scott and Adam become involved in preventing German espionage, inspired by the real-life fact of German agents arriving in Canada to promote their war effort.

In the beginning, everything happens very quickly. Scott accidentally stumbles upon the secret German agents and is threatened, an Allied agent "falls" overboard, and Adam is kidnapped in place of Scott as leverage to keep Scott quiet. Then there felt like a rather long stretch of the novel where Scott worried about what to do and Adam held tight while waiting for an opportunity to escape. For the end though it picked up as they scrambled to rescue Adam and to prevent anything bad from stopping the Canadian war effort.

On the surface, this was a really fun book with some cool historical facts and great villains-I am always in favor of making Nazis the bad guys because they are the quintessential bad guys of the twentieth-century (this also holds true for movies: see the good Indiana Jones films and the recent Captain America). But Adam and Scott did not feel like real people to me; they were just characters doing x in service of y plot line. Generally when I love a book, it is because of the passion the characters inspire in me and this book just didn't have it.

Overall: A fun historical story about a lesser-discussed part of WWII.

Cover: I really like the bold font for the title and author-I think it calls out to the reader and grabs the attention.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator

Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012
228 pages
YA; Contemporary; Mystery
4/5 stars

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have to start out by saying that I'm a native Pennsylvanian (Philadelphia suburbs) and therefore it is basically my birthright to disdain New Jersey. Not for any particular reason, just because. Thus upon seeing that this book is set in New Jersey, I may have sniffed a little-why would you set your book in the Jerz (note: this is what the narrator calls the state, not something I would ever come up with). Of course I kept reading wanting to give this book a fair shake and when I ended up literally laughing out loud on the third page, I knew I was hooked.

Admittedly I did have high hopes for this book because I thought the title sounded cool and I am interested in the science forensics although I don't watch many procedurals (Castle and The Mentalist are my go-tos). But once I clicked with the humor, I was caught. And that is the main thing; if you like the humor, you will enjoy this book. If you don't like it, then you probably will not.

Main character Guy Langman has just lost his father and is trying to cope with that while also trying to figure out girls (...good luck with that Guy!) and joining the new forensics club at school. He would rather be playing video games, taking bubble baths, and putting forth no effort whatsoever.  Guy also indulges in some low humor with fart jokes, your mama jokes, and similar kinds springing from his mouth. While I don't think of myself as a fan of such humor, it turns out I may be wrong because I laughed at pretty much everything that could possibly be construed as humorous.

Oddly enough I thought the book went downhill about halfway through when a plot seemed to emerge. First some valuable coins are stolen from Guy's house; then a boy who looks remarkably like him is found dead, possibly murdered. These circumstances naturally frighten Guy and kick his butt into gear. While previously he had ample time for bathing and video game playing, now he is lifting finger prints, searching out family secrets, and talking to an actual girl. I think this may be because I was a little tired of the jokes, which do grow repetitive. I also thought the "murder" situation was a little confusing. But I did appreciate the growth that Guy experiences-it is a big transformation for him without losing his snarkiness.

While Guy is indisputably the main character, he has some fun supporting characters such as his mother, his best friend Anoop, crush Raquel, rich kid Hairston (seriously), smarty-pants Goth Maureen, and teacher Mr. Zant round out the most important characters as well as Guy's father Francis who lived a colorful life that Guy looks to for inspiration.

Overall: A hilarious addition to the YA category with a sprinkling of mystery and romance.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Delacorte Press, 2012
335 pages
YA; Contemporary; Travel
3.5/5 stars

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Although I don't love Hubbard's debut Like Mandarin, I did admire the writing which seemed to capture a small-town in the state of Wyoming and set the scene. But the characters weren't too my taste. Upon embarking on Wanderlove, I hoped to receive great writing and characters I loved.

Unfortunately I only got the writing, which will be epically awesome for anyone who has a passion for Central America and/or outdoors activities and/or travel in general. I have a passion for none of that. But if you do, then this is a recommended read for you; if you are left uncertain, read on for my impressions.

Main character Bria was originally planning an European tour with her two best friends to celebrate their high school graduation. But they quash that idea, having grown tired of Bria's mopiness over the loss of boyfriend Toby. Instead she impulsively books a trip to Central America and later ditches that guided tour to join backpacker Rowan.

First things first, her decision to randomly do things just about sent me in to conniptions. I am a planner and no way am I going in to a foreign country without a plan (Heck-I don't even travel to other US cities without a plan and I am good at sticking to said plans with minor adjustments as needed). I believe that failing to plan is planning to fail and in my mind getting linked to a guy with a PONY-TAIL (ew) is also definitely failing. At no point was Rowan swoonworthy despite the excitement he conjures in Bria (also fear, anger, mistrust, and lots of other emotions). Both Bria and Rowan are running from their pasts with many secrets keeping them guarded and mistrustful. There is also Rowan's sister Starling, who appears kind of snobby and flighty, but later reveals more depth although she is not a big presence in the book.

I actually ended up being more interested in the drama of Bria's emotionally controlling ex and how his words and actions sent her spiraling out of control, which is carefully doled out to us in little tidbits over the course of the story although you can figure out most of it early on. The fact that the way he condescended to her, the way he shrugged his shoulders at her favorite beach, and the ways he broke her heart were much more enthralling to me and suggestive of the fact that I like a different kind of drama than is the focus of this book.

While the characters were of little to no interest to me, the writing cannot be faulted. Apparently Hubbard used to be a travel writer and it shows with even more awesome descriptive writing than Like Mandarin. Plus there were illustrations included, referencing Bria's love of art and showing how she is able to recapture that love over the course of her journey.

Overall: Personal pet peeves kept me from the characters but the writing really is top-notch and really embeds you in the location.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Tor Teen, 2011
316 pages
YA; Paranormal; Horror
4.5/5 stars

Source: Library

I wasn't sold on this book when it first debuted because I'm a huge scaredy-cat but then I saw it sitting on my library's shelf calling to me and what could I do but check it out?

And I am so glad I picked this as I was immediately drawn in to the world. Our main character is Theseus Cassius Lowood, or Cas for short since that's a bit of a mouthful. After the death of his father, Cas has taken up the mantle of ghost disposal, "killing" those who were already dead and causing harm to humans. He and his mother, a white witch, travel the country following up on tips and Cas is headed to his most challenging yet, the ghost known as Anna dressed in blood, who kills everyone who enters her house. However she spares Cas, prompting him to search deeper and try harder to unravel the mysterious circumstances behind her death and afterlife.

Beyond the complications posed by this most difficult of cases, Cas is starting to make friends for basically the first time since he started ghost hunting (prompting several humorous references to Ghostbusters). Of course it's almost by accident and unwillingly on Cas's part but it happens nonetheless. It's a different experience for Cas, being able to rely on supernaturally inclined human Thomas and queen bee Carmel but not an unpleasant one.

There isn't too much more I can say without revealing spoilers so I'll stop there for plot summarization. I thought the pacing for this was good and it definitely picked up even more at the end, hurtling toward the conclusion with plenty of action and some twists. Although I think of someone who scares easily, I seem to find that I really like YA ghost stories (especially when they come with a helping of romance-not sure if I support the two romances started here though). I would like to see more of Cas's mother and I hope that we continue to investigate the death of Cas's father as I do not have closure in that regard. Excited for the sequel!

Warning: Language-it's not on every page but if you're sensitive to that, you have now been forewarned.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ramblings 11MAR12

Happy end of Daylight Savings Time; while I lament the loss of an hour, I do prefer Springing forward because it's so much easier with my clocks. I think there may be some where you can go forward or back but my digital clocks all can only go forward and since they're all 24-hour clocks, that means I have to go ahead 23 hours to fall back.

Since I began with a little complaint and would like to continue that with a plea to bloggers to turn off the blogspot word verification-it is *SO* annoying! It was okay when there was just one word and now it's two words with letters near impossible to distinguish. I've been plugging away trying to puzzle out the letters but it's super hard and soon I'm probably not going to bother. Just a plea to reconsider!

I also had a fab time at Disney; my big disappointment being a lack of Aurora clothing. She's my favorite princess but I have really only been able to find stuff with Ariel, Snow White, Minnie, and Tinker Bell (the last two aren't princesses obviously but are on tons of stuff). I guess I will just have to continue to look online to find items I like.

That ended up having a bit more complaining than I meant to. Due to my Disney trip, I'm a little behind on my reading but I'm perfectly fine with that and excited about this upcoming week. I have my orchestra concert this Wednesday and am looking forward to catching "21 Jump Street" on the weekend. It's been getting great reviews and I'm sure my sister and I will enjoy it.

How was your weekend? How does your week to come look?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Shooting Stars

Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby
Walker & Company, 2012
265 pages
YA; Contemporary
4/5 stars

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I saw a couple of reviews for this around the blogosphere and was promised a cute, fast read with a sweet romance. This made me eager for a weekend to curl up with this and just leisurely flip through the pages, taken away into a world of paparazzi and stars (I kind of love Hollywood gossip so this was right up my alley).

Jo is almost ready to enroll in photography classes for portraiture but she needs to pap until that enough money has been earned. As the daughter of a paparazzo and with a youthful face, she has some advantages, getting the pictures that no one else can. This generally works in her favor, landing her an exclusive offer to enroll in a facility with hot reclusive star Ned Hartnett and get undercover pictures of him. Although this makes her uncomfortable, the money is just too good. This last job and then she can leave the game to follow her photographic interests.  Complicating her decision is that Ned is actually a celebrity who was nice to her, even giving her a tip for her paparazzi work.  Once there though, Jo's conscience continues to pain her and she learns some secrets about Ned as well as confronting some of her emotional baggage. Together they turn the tables on those who want to exploit Ned's problems for gain.

Due to those reviews, I had some idea of what to expect. But the emotional terrain covered in the books was actually deeper than I had anticipated especially as we learn about Ned's phobia and Jo faces family hurts. I also thought Jo's struggles with conscience over this assignment were intense, perhaps a bit too whiny for me. She was not forced to take this job (there was no blackmail hanging over her; there was just focus on the photography course goal without consideration of other money-making opportunities).

But don't worry, there are still lots of humorous little bits and the overall tone is pretty upbeat especially the ending, which is of course happy with Jo reevaluating her personal and professional life and preparing for great things in addition to a romance.

Overall: A fun, quick contemporary read with a different kind of life.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Take the Cannoli

Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell
Simon & Schuster, 2000
219 pages
Essays; Humor
4/5 stars

Source: Library

Continuing on my Sarah Vowell binge, I picked up this early release, a compilation of essays previously published in other editions. My guess was that the title references the famous The Godfather line "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli" and I was correct; that film serves as an inspiration for an essay here as Vowell visited Italy partly due to her love of the film.

The essays here are varied in topic, mostly focusing on Vowell's life, pop culture often music, and American history. I think my second favorite essay was "What I See When I Look at the Face on the $20 Bill" where Vowell and her sister follow the Trail of Tears, the forced march of Native Americans (including the Cherokee from whom Vowell descends) from Georgia to Oklahoma in the 1830s as the United States government stole their land.  This happened under the presidency of Andrew Jackson, who was originally ranked very high but whose legacy has been challenged in recent years, in large part due to his actions in this regard. I loathe AJ so I am thrilled with this change. However this essay is more personal due to Vowell's ancestry.

My favorite essay was actually the first titled "Shooting Dad." Vowell's father is a gunsmith with conservative leanings counterbalanced by Vowell's more liberal leanings. For a long time, she didn't get guns but as she grew older, she appreciated the artistry of his work and they learned to communicate better even when they disagreed. It was a great way to start off the collection.

Like most collections though, there are invariably a chapter or two that don't speak to the reader. That happened here too. Maybe I tried to plow through the book too fast and would have enjoyed savoring a chapter a day. I just became a little tired of Vowell's voice and the topic of the essay didn't speak to me the way earlier ones had. Still I am very happy to have read this and I will continue to seek out Vowell's writing because it is generally enjoyable with wonderful accents of humor.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Survival Kit

The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011
351 pages
YA; Contemporary
4/5 stars

Source: Library

This book wasn't initially on my radar until I saw another blogger rave about it (sadly I did not bookmark that page; if I can find it, I will link) and I'm so glad that I gave it a chance as it was a very strong contemporary.

Rose Madison is devastated from the loss of her mother, pushing everyone away, her friends, her boyfriend, anything that reminds her of the past. She cannot imagine moving forward. The title comes from an idea of her mother's, a schoolteacher who gave survival kits to the parents of her students, who sometimes struggled sending them off to school for the first time. Rose discovers one for herself shortly after her mother's funeral and the book follows her attempts to survive.

This book features several things I like. First hockey, a sport I am growing to appreciate, starting with last year's Stanley Cup. It's so exciting and I love all the violence. Second, Rose is lucky enough to have some great friends, who don't let her collapse even when she seems bent on doing so. And thirdly Rose's love interest is named Will. I love YA book boys named Will (see Firelight and Perfect You). I was a little worried as it seemed at first that Will would be the person to lead Rose out of her depression, making him the one to save her. That would have been tremendously unsatisfying as the MC ought to save herself. There are more complications to come though.

I do have to mention in my review, something that hopefully doesn't make me sound heartless but instead reflects my (very fortunate) experiences of not losing any one close to me. I understand that Rose is broken and wanting to push away her boyfriend, her friends, anything that makes her think of her mother.  Still she sometimes frustrated me with her self-centeredness-I know, a teenager who only thinks about herself! A first-person narrative which focuses on the main character! Who would have ever guessed it?! But it's a fine line to tread, keeping the reader's sympathy and sometimes I felt imposed upon to care about Rose no matter how she acted. I especially hated the portrait of her father as a man descending into alcoholism to cope with his grief despite the fact that he still has two children who are very much alive and in need of parental guidance. Sometimes the reader just wants the characters to be pulled back from the brink of despair.

Overall: A strong contemporary; recommended.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea

Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea by Sophia Nash
Avon Books, 2012
371 pages
Romance; Historical
4/5 stars

Source: Received an ARC from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

Some of the other reviews I've seen for this book classify it as a "mistorical", meaning a mistaken historical or that which does not take the historical part of its setting seriously. This can be good or bad in the eyes of the reader. For me, that is not usually too important although there were several elements of this book that did make me roll my eyes with disbelief. Overall I liked the humor and the characters enough that I was able to enjoy the majority of the book.

The book opens with a prologue as the newly minted Duke of Kress, Alex Barclay, and other dukes awaken from a drunken stupor, having enjoyed a most raucous night that caused great embarrassment for the crown. The Prince Regent orders everyone to get married, beginning with Barclay as the instigator of the night. He is exiled to his estate in Cornwall to rebuild a fortress and to marry an heiress.

The story proper begins with Roxanne Vanderhaven, Countess of Paxton, hanging from a cliff where her husband left her to die. Although she had grown disillusioned with him over the years from her elevation from tin miner's daughter to peeress, she could not fathom why he might want to dispose of her. Luckily Alex saves the day and is convinced to hide her until she can seek her revenge and make an escape.

This all sounds a bit ridiculous but as I was laughing quite a bit, it didn't matter to me. The humor continues to escalate as Alex attempts to avoid matrimony while tormenting Roxanne's husband and Roxanne tries to maintain her cover as a poor relation of Alex's. Of course, both are falling in love despite his hard shell and her married and presumed dead status. There are lots of other complications along the way.

But what really sold me on this book was the main characters. Roxanne is fairly sensible in the context of the story as well as headstrong and independent. I liked her immediately and loved that she was able to have some friendships with ladies who will presumably marry the other dukes over the course of the rest of the series. I also really loved Alex, a refreshing palate cleanser after the jerk in A Rogue By Any Other Name. Alex is far from perfect with unenlightened views about women but deep down, he's a softy with deep love and respect for his great-aunt as well as care for his ancestral lands.

There is a lot that is blipped over such as Alex's experiences in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars (we were only offered glimpses) and Roxanne's husband's precise motivation for killing her (arrogance over her common roots while being content to spend her money?) Additionally there were  a few too many characters with similar names that led to my confusion whenever many people were in the same scene. And the ending is a bit ridiculous with it's "I am Spartacus" aspect. Nonetheless this will probably be an enjoyable read for those who stress the comedy part of a "romantic comedy." I definitely want to read the rest of the series!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Seattle Cinderella

Seattle Cinderella by Gail Sattler
Barbour, 2012
355 pages
Christian Romance
3.5/5 stars

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

After seeing the title of this, how could I resist? Cinderella is my favorite fairy-tale and I actively seek out retellings plus I used to live in the Seattle area. What I didn't realize is that this was a collection of four intertwined stories, beginning with Cindy, the retelling of Cinderella, and giving love stories to her two stepsisters and to her godmother. I'm going to talk about each briefly.

Cindy and the Prince: This is the story inspiring the title. Cindy runs her father's mechanic shop but only possesses a half interest which she must share with her cruel stepmother and lazy stepsisters. Luke works across the street and has been trying to win a date with Cindy for about six months.

Love by the Books: This was probably my favorite story, actually. It features Annie and Brent, stepsister to Cindy and business partner to Luke respectively. Brent greatly distrusts Annie after her cruel behavior to Cindy but Annie has undergone a transformation and wants to earn trust as she builds her career as an accountant. When she discovers discrepancies in Brent and Luke's books, most people assume she doesn't know what's talking about but Brent trusts her and helps her unravel what has been going down.

Till Death Do Us Part: Zella is the other stepsister who is trying to avoid her mother's matchmaking attempts by joining a book club. Only it's actually a club for writers of books. Zella reads a lot, especially the work of her favorite author T.J. Zareth. Unbeknownst to her, that is the pen name of her group mate Trevor who wants to court Zella without her knowing his secret identity.

Never Too Late: This last story features Cindy's godmother Farrah who has reached her fiftieth year without marrying after the untimely death of her fiance. She has contented herself that marriage is not in the cards for her. Until some meddling teenagers push her to dreamy vet Matt, who had avoided marriage as he is unable to father children.

The books share many things in common. Of course there's the characters who pop up in most of the stories to various degrees and it is all set around Seattle so there are some familiar locales to me from my time in the Seattle area.  Christianity plays a role for all of the characters as they attend church and look for partners of faith.

The weird thing, to me, was how fast all of these couples get married. It seems to take about a week for them to be engaged and then another week for a quick wedding. What's the rush? I understand knowing that you're with the one and wanting to start your lives together but it seemed like they were in such a hurry instead of enjoying dating and getting to know each other. I admit that the timeline might have seemed compressed due to the shortness of the stories but it left me uncomfortable.

Overall: Cute little romance stories-fast reads with sweet characters. Remember these are short stories so not too much time can be spent on character development nor do plots have a chance to be drawn out. I think there's a little something for everyone who enjoys a romance story.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...