Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa


Book:  The Iron Queen
Author:  Julie Kagawa
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Date published:  January 25, 2011
My grade:  A+

My name is Meghan Chase.
I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.
This time, there will be no turning back.
My Review

I cannot believe how much I loved this book.  For reals.  Now, I really liked the first 2 and that’s not why I waited this long to read this one.  I actually read the first 2 in this series this past summer for my class in YA lit.  I really wanted to keep reading, but I had to move on to the next assignment.  (And my professor limited the number of supernatural books I could read….wasn’t that just mean?)

Anyway, I then was lucky enough to receive an ARC of The Iron Knight!  So I had to read this one and I kept trying to fit it into my schedule.  Finally, finally, finally I was able to read it!  Hooray!!!  I think this is my favorite of the series so far.  Why, you ask?

Because finally, finally, finally I was able to see Meghan’s attraction to Ash.  Now, I will personally always be Team Puck.  I have a soft spot for gingers and in my mind, he looks just like Prince Harry.  Hot, right? : )

But I finally started liking Ash.  I liked him a lot in this novel.  I could believe Meghan’s love for him and his love for her and watching them navigate all the ins and outs of faery courts, politics and intrigues was really fun.  I had a hard time putting this book down. 

What I really like about this book series is that Julie Kagawa has found a way to completely take the faery mythology and, without changing anything about it, add a whole new dimension.  Her descriptions are so vivid and give lots of detail.  I can imagine the lush worlds that she creates in the books.  But, it’s not a load of boring description like, oh, Charles Dickens?  (I realize I just offended all English teachers in the country, but really?  Dickens is so overwrought!)

Her words bring her world to life and her characters are so wonderful.  You can sympathize with almost all of them, even if they are supposed to be “bad” because really, they are all so multi-dimensional.

Like Grim.  I love that cat.  He seems so self-serving and he often is, yet, he also shows up when he is most needed and then he is able to help in a way that I NEVER saw coming in this book. 

This book was so satisfying to me.  I could believe the entire ending and I loved what happened and how it resolved.  If it weren’t for the Meghan/Ash question that is left unresolved, I could be totally happy with this book ending the series.  Of course “The Iron Knight” is narrated in Ash’s voice, so I’m looking forward to it also, now that I am actually a fan of the Winter Prince.

Oh!  There is one thing that I don't like about these books.  The covers!!!!  In one of them, the girl looks like she's sporting a bad 80's girl mullet.  Really?  This was the best you could do, Harlequin?  I mean, I like all the scrollwork, but get the girl to look better.  Now, the Iron Knight cover is AWESOME, so why couldn't they make the girl covers look better?  Nitpicky, I know.

My grade for this book and this series is an A+.  If you haven’t started this series, what are you waiting for???

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer


Book:  Nightshade
Author:  Andrea Cremer
Publisher:  Philomel
Date published: October 2010
Source:  My school library
My grade:  A+

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything- including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

My Review

Ok, the truth is, I put off reading this book because the blurb on the front was sooooooo cheesy.  “She can control her pack, but not her heart.”  Really?  What a big load of cheesiness that line is!  But, my students started harassing me about it and I had read some good reviews, so I finally gave in and read it.  Geez, I loved it!  It wasn’t cheesy at all.  It was incredible!

Why did it have that campy saying on the front, I wonder?  I guess there are some questions without answers, but I’m glad that I ignored that little blurb and went ahead and read it. 

This book sucked me in from the first chapter and I couldn’t put it down.  I read it during lunch.  Ok, I even read it during class one day. ::hides head::  This book has an extremely intriguing plotline and really strong characters.  And the wolves!  Sigh!  The wolves!  I think that I may love all werewolves now, with the exception of the Twilight wolves.  (Sorry Jacob.  You will never beat Edward in my book!)

And speaking of books with love triangles, this book has one.  And it is quite upsetting to me.  I am so, so, so Team Ren.  Oh, how I loved Ren.  He is hot, he is strong and he is definitely the alpha.  He was my choice.  Shay…..eh.  He was ok.  I personally didn’t see the attraction for Calla, but we’ll see what happens.  I have a feeling that this series is not going to go my way, and I hope that there is a happy ending for Ren.  He deserves it.  Especially after those moments he had on the night of the union.  He was positively swoon-worthy!  Maybe Andrea Cremer can just send him to me.  I might start my own collection of the rejects that should never have been rejects. (That would be Ren and definitely Balthazar from Claudia Gray’s series.  Oh!  And Puck from the Iron Fey series.)

But, regardless of my inability to see why Calla likes Shay, I loved this book.  I cannot wait to get my hands on the next installment.  Right now, I’m trying to catch up on the Iron Fey series, but I may have to skip all the other books in my TBR pile in order to read Wolfsbane.  I may end up being a wolf girl after all.

My grade for this book is an A+.  It was a thrilling adventure with a totally sexy wolf pack and a plot that didn’t stop.  Run read this book as fast as you can.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Eve by Anna Carey


Book:  Eve (Eve #1)
Author:  Anna Carey
Publisher:  Harper Teen
Date:  October 4. 2011
Source:  Harper Teen and netgalley.com
My grade:  A

The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

My Review

Do you hear that crashing sound?  It’s the sound of my heart breaking at the end of this book.

I thought that “Eve” was a fantastic book.  It started out with a heart wrenching letter from Eve’s mother that she wrote while she was dying from the plague.  That immediately pulled me in and I never got pulled back out of this world.  I read this book in a day while ignoring my children, the laundry and my husband. : )

One of the things that I liked about this book is that the characters seemed so real to me.  Poor Eve is so na├»ve and sheltered and I think that leads her to make a lot of poor decisions in the book.  I’ve read other reviews where people didn’t like this bad decision-making, but the truth is that she has never had to make decisions, so she doesn’t really know how to do it.

I loved Caleb and all the other boys at the dugout.  The publicity for the book says it’s a cross between The Hunger Games and Romeo and Juliet, but honestly?  It made me think more of Wendy and the Lost Boys with Eve acting as the sort of mother figure to these poor orphaned boys.

The plot was very fast-paced and never really had a lot of down moments.  Of course, the characters, and the reader, were always on edge because they were being hunted, so there was a sense of urgency and foreboding throughout the book.  The ending was a real humdinger that I was totally unprepared for.  I immediately logged in to my goodreads account to make sure that this was a series and not a stand-alone.  I was extremely relieved to see that there is another one.  I may have breathed a huge sigh of relief.

My grade for this book is an A.  I loved it and thought that it was action-packed from beginning to end.  I think that fans of The Hunger Games will love this one.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison


Book:  Tris and Izzie
Author:  Mette Ivie Harrison
Publisher:  EgmontUSA
Date:  October 11, 2011
Source:  Egmont and netgalley.com
My grade:  C-

A modern retelling of the German fairy tale "Tristan and Isolde," Tris and Izzie is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until -- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.

My Review

I have never been so disappointed in a book in my entire life.  For reals.

I love Arthurian retellings.  I mean really love them.  As in, it was Howard Pyle’s “King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table” that made me a book lover when I was just a wee little thing.  Then, in college I picked up Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon” and I have never been the same since.  Really.

I have read so many Arthurian retellings, I don’t even know where to begin with listing them.  I have also read other retellings of the Tristan and Isolde myth.  I was so, so, so excited when I saw that this was a modern day twist on the story of Tristan and Isolde.  I kept imagining that maybe this book would do for that legend what Meg Cabot had done in “Avalon High”.

This book was sooooooooo not Meg Cabot.

Where do I even begin?  Izzie was vapid and trite.  I hated her.  Tristan was flat and uninteresting.  The whole magic premise probably could have worked, but it felt like there was no world-building for it.  In the original legend, both Tristan and Isolde are so torn apart by their forbidden love and they fear hurting Mark, whom they both love.  Here, it was all very middle-school drama.  It felt fake.

And please tell me how a giant can attack a school and then one person, who is supposed to not be so powerful anyway is able to erase everyone’s memory of it???  Really?

It was impossible to suspend my disbelief in this novel.  Much like half-vampire mutant babies in a book that shall remain nameless, there was no set-up here for the reader to be able to buy into the magic.  An author has to carefully craft supernatural fiction and this one was not carefully crafted.

Obviously, I finished the book, so there was enough of a plot to keep me going, which is the only reason this book is getting a C-.  But it’s a very bottom C-.  And I’m really being generous with that rating.  I kept reading and reading, hoping that I could find some sort of redeeming quality in this book.  I hate to give bad reviews, but I just couldn’t find anything I liked about this one. 

Maybe 7th grade girls who don’t know anything about the legends of King Arthur will like this book.  But high school girls who are used to having a little more substance to the plotlines would do better to pick up “Avalon High”. 

Misfit by Jon Skovron


Book:  Misfit
Author:  Jon Skovron
Publisher:  Amulet Books
Date:  August, 2011
Source:  netgalley.com and Amulet Books
My grade:  B+

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

Author Jon Skovron takes on the dark side of human nature with his signature funny, heartfelt prose.


My Review

I liked this book.  I didn’t love it to death, it didn’t change my life and I won’t be running out to read any Misfit fanfiction, but I did like it really well.

This book had an interesting take on demons which I found rather intriguing.  I never thought I’d see a book where demons were not necessarily bad guys, but this book took that stance and made it work.

I liked Jael as a character.  She is strong, yet still a teenaged girl and she didn’t give off that “badass” vibe that so many authors try to give to strong female characters.  I really appreciated that.

The plot was action-packed and even though there was a little romance, it was heavier on the side of action and the conflict between Jael and her father or Jael and the priests.  In fact, I would say that all the relationships in the book were treated with equal importance.  I also liked the flashbacks into her father’s life and her very early life with her mother.  I found that I didn’t really want to put this book down.  I could have but I didn’t want to.

My grade for this book is a B+.  I think it stands out from the crowd a bit in the overpopulated world of supernatural fiction, but it’s not one of those books that totally blew me away.  If he wrote a sequel though, I’d definitely read it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen


Book:  The Mephisto Covenant
Author:  Trinity Faegen
Publisher:  Egmont USA
Date:  September 27, 2011
My grade:  A+

Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—Sasha is Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx looming, Jax has to keep Sasha safe and win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?

My Review
Holy hot sons of Hell!  The Mephisto Covenant was an incredible read!

Now, I have seen some pretty bad reviews of this book, but I just don’t get it.  I loved every single word of this book.  Yes, it’s true that the whole Edward “I’m so bad for you, but I love you and can’t stay away from you” vibe was going on here, but Sasha and Jax were not like Edward and Bella.  They were different and they were great!  To me, there was more of a Beauty and the Beast feel to the story.

I got pulled into this book within about 4 pages and did not want to put it down.  In fact, even though I love my Nook, I was wishing that I had a Kindle so that the device could read the book to me while I was driving!  I’ve had to put it down in order to do things like work, feed my children, shower and sleep, but I didn’t want to.  I have been able to do nothing but think about this book since I started it.

I cannot wait to read the next one.  I have no idea where this is going to lead and I’m really excited to see what happens next.  I want to see a lot more of Sasha and Jax.  For an evil guy, I really love Jax.

The action was non-stop in this book.  I also loved the way the lost souls were described.  I also felt that the religious overtone of the book was sort of refreshing.  There was a lot of God-talk, but it wasn’t preachy.  It did incorporate a lot of Biblical mythology and that was very interesting to me.

Of course, I was a little shocked at the rather graphic sex scene in the novel, especially next to all the religious stuff!  Readers who are uncomfortable with that should be forewarned!  This is not a Twilight fade-to-black scene!  Oh no!  For this reason, I would definitely recommend this book to older teens.  This is not a book you want sitting on the middle school library shelf.  Plus, I think that it deals with some rather deep topics:  immortality, free will, human selfishness……it runs the gamut.  This is a book that will be better enjoyed by those with a little maturity.

I tried to look at this book with the critical eye that I saw in many reviews, but I keep coming up empty handed.  I couldn’t think of one thing I didn’t like about this book.  It has suspense, romance, bad guys, fighting evil, a house full of hot guys (ok, they are sort of demons, but who cares?  They fight people who are more evil than they are!)  I like the message it sends about our choices.

My grade for this book is an A+.  I feel certain that I will be thinking about this book for weeks to come and as soon as the sequel is announced, I will be adding it immediately to my TBR list.  And possibly stalking the author for an ARC.

Great big thanks to netgalley and to Egmont USA for allowing me to read and review this one.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Juliet Spell by Douglas Rees


Book:  The Juliet Spell
Author:  Douglas Rees
Publication Date:  September 27, 2011
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Source:  Netgalley and Harlequin Teen
Grade:  A

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

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

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

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

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

My Review
This book was absolutely precious!  Honestly, the story pulled me in from the beginning and I had a hard time putting it down.  I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next with poor Edmund!
I loved all the characters.  Miri was very realistic and Edmund was the cutest thing ever!  I may have fallen for him a little myself.  I liked Drew and even Bobby.  

This book was a very quick read and it’s very light.  There is no great message here.  It’s just a fun story that’s a “what if this happened” sort of book.  It was fun to see the way that Shakespeare was worked in and the end was just a little bit of tragedy as well since Rees created his own pair of star-crossed lovers within the book.  Of course, nothing as heavy as Romeo and Juliet, but it still left me just a little sad.

In fact, the ending was the only part I didn’t like.  That is only because I could not have my purely selfish fantasy ending that would never be possible anyway. : )  Rees actually ended the book the way it needed to end, just not the way I wanted it to end!

I give this book a solid A.  If you are looking for something light and fun, this is a great book to pick up.  Nothing life-changing, but there’s nothing wrong with just enjoying a sweet now and then.