Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In the Forests of the Night by Kersten Hamilton

Book:  In the Forests of the Night
Author:  Kersten Hamilton
Publisher:  Clarion
Date:  November 22, 2011
My grade:  A+

Teagan, Finn, and Aiden have made it out of Mag Mell alive, but the Dark Man's forces are hot on their heels. Back in Chicago, Tea’s goblin cousins show up at her school, sure she will come back to Mag Mell, as goblin blood is never passive once awoken. Soon she will belong to Fear Doirich and join them. In the meantime, they are happy to entertain themselves by trying to seduce, kidnap, or kill Tea’s family and friends.
Teagan knows she doesn’t have much time left, and she refuses to leave Finn or her family to be tortured and killed. A wild Stormrider, born to rule and reign, is growing stronger inside her. But as long as she can hold on, she’s still Teagan Wylltson, who plans to be a veterinarian and who heals the sick and hurting. The disease that’s destroying her—that’s destroying them all—has a name: Fear Doirich.
And Teagan Wylltson is not going to let him win.

My Review

God bless Kersten Hamilton.  First of all, she contacted me this summer after noticing that this book was one of my “impatiently waiting for” books on my blog.  She offered to send me an ARC if I wanted it.  Of course I wanted it!!!  So, with wee bit of Irish luck, I got my fix of Finn (sigh!) about 2 months early!

Second, she has written a killer second book in this series!  Of course, now it just means that I’m impatiently waiting for Book 3!  Still, Kersten, I thank you from the bottom of my Irish heart for sending me this book!

What a glorious book it was.  It has lots of Finn, of course.  One of the best things is that it jumps right back into the story.  I hate it when books give me a lot of background from the previous book.  If you’re dumb enough to pick up a book in the middle of the series, you don’t deserve to understand what’s going on.  Harsh, but true. : )

We really got to know some of the secondary characters a little better in this book also.  I am interested in Thomas and Raynor and their past.  Also, Joe, the new character is very intriguing.  Abby and her mafia wannabe family were great for a bit of comic relief.  Aiden was not as prominent, but we really got a good look at Teagan in this book.  I really like her.  She is a nice, strong female lead.  I mean, here she has a sexy beast Irish warrior at her beck and call, but she wants to just see what happens and plan on following her own plans.  Alright, maybe she’s crazy also, but seriously, it’s a breath of fresh air to not see the lead girl fawning all over the hot boy just because he’s hot and has a great accent.

Finn, of course, is still swoon-worthy and the lines that come out of that boy’s mouth will turn you into a big puddle of goo.  In fact, if Teagan wants to go off to school, I’ll be glad to keep him entertained while she’s gone. : )

Like all good second books, it’s a bit of a cliffhanger.  I enjoyed another look at Mag Mell and the surprises there and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this whole thing plays out.

My grade for this book is an A+.  This book was just as engaging as the first book, the characters continued to grow and build and the story had plenty of interesting twists and turns.  And there’s also the hot Irish guy with the accent that launched a thousand ships.  If you haven’t read “Tyger, Tyger” yet, run get that one so that you’ll be ready to read “In the Forests of the Night” when it releases in November.  You can read my review of that book here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Book:  Beauty Queens
Author:  Libba Bray
Publisher:  Scholastic
Year:  2011
Grade:  A+

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program--or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan--or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

My Review

It took me a long while to read this book.  That is not an indication that it is not good.  To the contrary, this book is brilliant.  This book has a lot of heavy messages all wrapped up in snark and tongue-in-cheek humor.  Libba Bray is a genius.

For one thing, the school year started up again and I have been inundated with work from Real Life.  Sometimes Real Life sucks!  But also, I really needed time to digest with this book.  It is so much more than a story.  This book is a statement.  I loved thinking about the whole idea of women in the world.  I hope that every teen girl, (as well as not-so-teen-anymore girls), reads this book.

This book was snarky, silly and completely absurd.  Yet, when all the absurd is pulled back, there’s a good strong message to girls about defining oneself and not letting society pull you from your dreams because you’re “just a girl”.  I love “Girl Power” stuff and this may be the ultimate Girl Power book!

The best thing about this book, though, is that I think it’s not just a book for girls.  It’s so much fun and so funny that I think guys would get a kick out of it as well.  This is a book that I plan to start recommending to even random strangers on the street.

My grade for this book is A+.  Any book that manages to pull off social statement while channeling Saturday Night Live, all without smearing its lip gloss, is totally win in my book!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

Book:  Matched
Author:  Ally Condie
Publisher:  Dutton Juvenile
Date:  November, 2010
My grade:  B+

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

My Review

I liked this book.  I liked this story.  I did not really like Cassia.

Now, I have read a lot of raving reviews of this book, and I really did like the story.  I like the set-up for it and the whole idea of the Society.  I think that as far as dystopian worlds go, this one is fantastic, because it is so believable!

I did not really care for Cassia.  I thought she was whiny and superficial.  I did really like Xander, and herein lies the problem.  Because of my love for Xander, I couldn’t stand to see him get hurt.  And honestly, I had a really hard time buying Cassia's love for Ky.  I think it was only a teenage infatuation and so it really bugs me that she made these tremendous life-changing decisions based on some puppy love.

I definitely want to read the next book because I’m really sucked in to the story.  I can’t wait to see what will happen next and I’m hoping that a revolution is brewing.  But I’m also hoping that Cassia will come to her senses and realize just how wonderful and special Xander is.

I think that this opinion may be caused by the fact that I’m an adult reading YA lit.  I wonder if a teen girl would have the same reaction that I do.  After all, at 42 (yikes!), I’m well aware that a marriage based on friendship first has a much better chance of succeeding than one based on passion and physical attraction. 

I also now find myself sympathizing with the Jacob lovers of the world!  I think that I may be in the minority here by pulling for Team Xander.  If anyone else out there is a Team Xander fan, please let me know!

I would recommend this book to people who like dystopians, because I think it’s an excellent example.  I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that things will go my way in the next 2 installments.

My grade for this book is a B+.  The world is great and the story is intriguing, so if she would just make Cassia more likeable, this book would have everything it needs.