Saturday, June 30, 2012

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Book: Shadow of Night
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Viking
Date: July 10, 2012
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
My grade: A

Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.

Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries, delivering one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the season.


Initial reaction
Holy story overload!!! In a good way…..

Title and cover
I am experiencing title and cover love for this series. This title is actually literary, which earns it bonus points. And these covers are so cool to look at! The colors on this one are amazing and then with Renaissance London's cityscape there!  Another 2 thumbs up!

Plot, characters, etc 
Wow! This plot is crammed full of information! It required some thought-processing time as I read. But I love the way that Deborah Harkness has woven together her own world-building with the historical content in this novel. Watching the story unfold in Renaissance England was incredible!

This series has some beautiful world-building, in my opinion. Just when I think she’s backed herself into a corner that she can’t possibly get out of with any feasibility, she comes up with something that just blows my mind! This book had some crazy stuff in it, but I was always able to suspend disbelief and go with the story. I wish that Stephenie Meyer would have taken some tips from Ms. Harkness! All the explanations about the nature of vampires and the nature of witches and magic, it all makes sense within the world that she has built! Bravo!

This story was crazy and all over the place, but it was fabulous nonetheless. It read a lot like The DaVinci Code, with the mystery taking them back in time and then all over Renaissance Europe. There was another great cast of secondary characters in this one as well. I don’t want to give away key plot points, so I can’t really name any of them. Just rest assured that the cast from the past is as fun as all the secondary characters in the present!

Now, don’t expect this to be a fly-through read. I can normally kill a book in a day or two, but this is literally chock-full of information. I had to slow down in order to absorb it all, but by the time I reached the end, I was very satisfied with the book. This one doesn’t end with the killer cliffhanger that horrified me at the end of the first book, but it sets up the next book very nicely.

This is an adult book, so there are some sex scenes in it, but not the bodice-ripper romance type and they fit right into the narrative, but some parents may not approve of this for their teen. However, I think that anyone, teen or adult, who reads this series needs to have at least a passing interest in history or they will quickly lose interest in the book.

Matthew de Clermont 
I don’t usually “cast” characters as I read, but holy hot vampire! I could not get this image out of my head for this book!

Yes, Henry Cavill is definitely Matthew for me, and more so in this book since Matthew is always running around in Tudor era clothing. ::fans self:: I’ve heard rumors that this has been optioned for a movie, so I’m hoping that they think of dear Henry! Of course, if they do cast him, my ovaries might explode when I see the movie!


Skalds and Shadows by Blind Guardian

This song works in so many ways for this book. First, it has a very Renaissance feel to it. Second, the word “Shadow” is so important in this book. Finally, there is all the talk of myth and prophecy that figure so prominently in the storyline.

In Stereo by Summertime's End

This song reminds me sooooo much of a particular scene in the book which I loved!

Landslide by Stevie Nicks

I imagine Diana and Matthew both feeling this way at times. This is such a bittersweet song about the past, present and future and that especially fits this book with the timewalking to the past to affect the present and future.

The final grade 
This book is another A for me. I loved it! It requires some processing while reading, but when I got to the end, it was glorious! I am anxiously awaiting the next installment. In the meantime, I may have to pick up some DVDs of The Tudors!

Thank you to Viking and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book. I received no compensation for my honest review, but I would be willing to take some pictures of Henry Cavill.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Book:  A Discovery of Witches
Author:  Deborah Harkness
Publisher:  Viking
Date:  Available now (sequel is available July 10, 2012)
Source:  purchased
My grade:  A

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism. (Cover and description from

First impression
This is like Twilight for intellectual adults.  Deborah Harkness has corrected every one of Stephenie Meyer’s mistakes, I’m pretty sure.

Next thought
Damn!  If Matthew Clairmont were a real person, he would be perfect to play that 50 Shades of Grey guy.  Then I might actually be interested in that……

Title and cover
I love them.  The title is catchy and the cover is just paranormal enough.  It’s not screaming paranormal romance, because, well, it’s not one.  I like the cover a lot though.

Plot, characters, etc.
I knew I should have listened to Mary and Tara (2 work colleagues of mine) when they kept bugging me to read this one.  It’s just that I got bogged down last summer in that YA lit class and I still haven’t caught up with my own personal reading.  I would kick myself for not reading this sooner except for one FABULOUS fact:  I am right now in possession of the ARC for the 2nd book and I was able to actually start it as soon as I finished this one!  Yes!  For once, procrastination has paid off for me!  And I’ve only waited 42 ½ years for that to happen!

This book was incredible.  It reminded me somewhat of The Da Vinci Code and Anne Rice but Matthew Clairmont was also similar in many ways to my own beloved Edward Cullen.  Yes, he was a dark, handsome and moody vampire, but Deborah Harkness did it better than Stephenie Meyer.  Why?  She actually was able to justify Matthew’s moodiness and possessive nature in a way that did not come across as misogynistic.  And Diana was certainly no Bella.  She not only recognized these features in the vampire, but she would often fight him on them and stand up for herself.  Of course, she was a 33 year old woman instead of a 17-year old girl, so that does make a difference.

This book was a little slow to start, but it is full of all sorts of history and scholar and all the references to alchemy were very interesting to an academic nerd such as myself.    I think that the novel was a new twist on the supernatural and it was refreshing.  There’s a mystery, a romance and lots of history all mixed up together and the author keeps pulling in real history to mix with her created supernatural history and I love it when authors do that well.

Then there is Matthew Clairmont…..swoon!  He is so sexy!  If you like the brooding vampire type, you will love this one!  But he is so intelligent and mysterious!

I actually liked the whole cast of characters.  The vivid descriptions of the characters made them so easy to imagine, especially when all the creatures started coming into the library.  But the cast of main characters were varied and fun.  Diana’s aunts were great characters and I fell in love with Matthew’s family.  The evil guys were really evil and the whole 2nd part of the book just kept me turning pages non-stop.  I was really aggravated when my kids kept fighting in the car on the trip home from Florida!  Grrrrr!


Kate Bush:  Waking the Witch

Siouxsie and the Banshees:  Spellbound

Lifehouse:  You and Me

Etta James:  At Last
I thought that Matthew would prefer an old school love song for sure, and this is one of the best…..

Deborah Harkness playlist
The author released her own playlist on her facebook page to celebrate the paperback release and it’s pretty awesome.

Other considerations
I need to discuss, I suppose, the non-sex sex that happens in this book.  It is an adult book, so there is a little bit of description of some adult situations, but they never actually do the deed.  WTF??  It’s actually a good deal more tame than some YA books I’ve read except that there is a little more description of actual touching, if that makes sense.

The final grade
My grade for this book is an A.  I thought it was intelligent and interesting and I was so, so glad that I had that next book sitting there as soon as I finished the last page of this one.  If you like your supernatural to have a bit more intellect, you will like this one.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

So, I've decided that I really like this wonderful meme, Top Ten Tuesday, started by the wonderful folks over at The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week there is a new Top Ten list of books.  Hooray!

This week's list.......


So, here is the deal.  I hate the beach.  Really, I do.  I'm very fair-skinned, so all I do is burn.  So, I prefer to spend the day sitting under an umbrella with a book.  To me, the best books for the beach are light-hearted stories that don't require me to focus quite as much, since I'm constantly interrupted by my kids, the sand, the sunscreen, etc.  So my books are all books that will make you feel pretty good in the end and also have at least a dash of romance in them, preferably more.

Twilight  by Stephenie Meyer
This book is still one of my favorites.  It's a fast read and it's all about first love.  It's just what you need to be reading for a relaxing afternoon at the beach.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Nothing is better than this light-hearted comedy of manners from the master herself. 

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Of course one of the books should take place at the beach, right?  This one is fun and fast-paced and all the water even made me think about the beach.

Ditched:  A Love Story by Robin Mellom
Fun, fun, fun!!!  This book is so much fun and leaves you feeling great at the end!

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
I'm starting to think this book just belongs on every list!  This one is the quintessential summer road trip novel.

The Espressologist by Kristina Springer
This book is about coffee, which is not a beach thing, but it's also about matchmaking and finding love, which so IS a summer/beach thing.  Very light and fluffy, like the froth on your cappuccino.

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg
A fun modernization of the Jane Austen classic, this book will have you smiling and laughing.  This would be great to read right after the original, so go ahead and put on that extra sunscreen!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
This book is so, so lovely!  Who doesn't want to dream of Paris in the summertime?  And add some first love to that?  Oui, s'il vous plaĆ®t!

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
This is my new "recommend to random strangers" book.  I loved this book.  It's not exactly light and fluffy, but the ending will warm your heart and the relationship between the 2 main characters is so, so sweet.

Austenland by Shannon Hale
Yes, you might be noticing a Jane Austen theme here.  I love this novel.  What a great way to spend a day at the beach by reading about a vacation in Regency England!

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I know this makes 11 instead of 10, but I just love this book and I think it would make a great beach read.  It may also be the only place where the cover is not embarrassing.  Of course, you'd better put on extra sunscreen since Jace is SO HAWT!!!!  ::fans self::

So these are my recommendations for good reads at the beach.  Do you have any recs for me?  Hurry, because I'm going next week!

Monday, June 11, 2012

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Book:  This Is Not a Test
Author:  Courtney Summers
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Griffin
Date:  June 19, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.

To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.

But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside.

When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?
(summary and cover picture from


Initial reaction
Well, that was definitely not rainbows and unicorns…..

Title and Cover
The title was intriguing and then once I realized where it came from, it was genius.  I like the cover on this one.  The girl looks a little out of control and a little like she’s drowning, both of which are fitting.  So we’ve got a two thumbs up here, people!

The plot, the characters, etc.
I don’t even know how to begin reviewing this book.  This is a zombie book, sort of.  The zombies are important, but really, the book is more about the meaning of life and what gives life meaning and makes it worth living.  And what is worth dying for.  It is a stark exploration of the darkest parts of the human soul.  And the zombies are really symbolic, in my opinion.  I think it’s the contrast between the actual “zombies” on the outside and what turns a human into an emotional zombie on the inside.

Whew!  That was heavy!

And that’s what this book is.  Heavy.  This is not a feel-good, hooray-the-world-has-gone-to-hell-but-we’ll-make-it sort of book.  It also is not a zombie gore-fest, so if that’s your thing, you might be disappointed with this book.  

I was NOT disappointed with this book, because this book made me think.  There were times when I wanted to kick every single one of the main characters and try to knock some sense into them, but that is what made this book great.  The characters are REAL.  They have imperfections, they make mistakes and sometimes the mistakes cost other people their lives.  What a reality check.

There is a lot of tension, both physical and emotional.  Of course, the whole time I was on the edge of my seat just waiting for a zombie attack, but even when they were “safe”, the characters were never safe from themselves or one another.  Although the book is narrated by Sloane and she has lots more baggage than the rest of the characters, they all have dark, dark places.

There are several themes going on here, so I chose 4 songs to go with this book.

Simple Plan:  How Could This Happen to Me?

Breaking Benjamin:  Hopeless

Metallica:  Fade to Black

Of course, it is still a zombie book, so I figured we needed a good, classic slasher type song.......

Drowining Pool:  Let the Bodies Hit the Floor

The final grade
My grade for this book is a solid A.  It is a suspenseful story with a page turning plot and a lot of food for thought.  Go get this one before the zombie apocalypse arrives!

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Griffin for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation for my honest review, not even a zombie survival guide.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

Book:  Flirting in Italian
Author:  Lauren Henderson
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Date:  June 12, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  B+/A-

Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!


Initial reaction:
What is this cliffhanger WTFery?  Are you kidding me???

Title and Cover
The title of this book is actually what attracted me to it in the first place.  Having spent many summers in college in Spain and a semester in France, I was very aware of just how much fun it was to spend all summer flirting with cute foreign boys who didn’t quite speak English.  So, I love the title and the cover is alright.  I like the vespa and I like it when there are not faces on the cover to influence how I see the characters, so all is good with title and cover here.

The plot, the characters etc.
I thought this would be a cute, fun summer romance.  It is and it isn’t…..

There is more to the story than a fun summer abroad.  Violet is trying to figure out why there is a portrait of an Italian girl in a museum in London who looks EXACTLY like her.  She is trying to solve a mystery and she is questioning whether or not she even belongs to her parents.  This is very much a coming-of-age story with a nice little mystery to lead it.

It took me a while to get into this book, but in all fairness, it may or may not be the book.  I was constantly interrupted during the last week and a half every time I tried to read.  It was exam week and graduation week and last week of school for my own children.  In other words, it was total chaotic craziness!  That may be the reason that it took me a while to get into the story.  Regardless, when the mystery part picked up, the book got really good and at that point, I just ignored everyone in my house! : )

I enjoyed the characters.  The 4 girls in the Villa are all different but interesting and Violet is a good main character.  I enjoyed reading in her voice.  She’s a teenaged girl who tries really hard not to succumb to the more stupid tendencies of teen girls, so her inner dialogue is interesting.

Most of the boys are rather flat characters, but that’s what they are supposed to be, so that didn’t really bother me at all.  Elisa, the evil daughter of the villa owner provided just the right amount of “mean girl” to get things going.

What bothered me is that just as things were getting really good and I was flying through the pages, they suddenly ended and there was an ending that invited me to follow Violet’s adventures in the next installment. What????!!!!  There was no denouement of the current situation or anything.  The sentence just ended and I was left with a giant “WTF?” look on my face.

Honestly, I’m not sure what is left to fill another book, so I’m a little wary of the second book.  Maybe there is a lot to discover, and I hope that’s the case, but this didn’t strike me as the type of book that needed a sequel.  Just sayin’……

This one was easy, because Luca quoted it for me in the book.  He sings this song to Violet.  It is by Italian singer Jovanotti, 30 Modi per salvare il mondo

This is what the chorus means:

There are 30 ways to save the world
But one only because I saved the world
I want to be with you
And you want to be with me
I want to be with you
And you want to be with me

The final grade
This was tough.  On the one hand, I feel like the story was an A-, but then I have questions about the slow start and that awful cliffhanger, so that would make it a B+.  I don’t know.  You should read it and make your own decision.  Then come back and let me know what grade you give it!  In the meantime, I’m going to eat some pasta and look up pictures of hot Italian male models, ok?

Thanks to Delacorte Books and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation for my honest review.  Not even dinner at Olive Garden.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Burn Mark by Laura Powell

Book:  Burn Mark
Author:  Laura Powell
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Date:  June 19, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A

Glory is from a family of witches and lives beyond the law. She is desperate to develop her powers and become a witch herself. Lucas is the son of the Chief Prosecutor for the Inquisition—the witches’ mortal enemy—and his privileged life is very different to the forbidden world that he lives alongside.

And then on the same day, it hits them both. Glory and Lucas develop the Fae—the mark of the witch. In one fell stroke, their lives are inextricably bound together, whether they like it or not . . . (picture and description from

Initial reaction
So, Harry Potter and Nancy Drew had a party and invited The Sopranos........

Title and Cover
This cover is gorgeous!  I love the flames against the black background and it’s very fitting for the story, since they’re still burning witches.  I like the title, but I’m not sure how it fit into the story exactly.  I mean, I get the burning part, but no one really had burn marks.  Yes, I realize that is nitpicky.  Oh well…….

The plot, the characters, etc.
This book was crazy good!  I have read some not so great reviews of this one, but I really liked it.  But here’s the deal:  the writing is VERY British.  I mean, the publisher of Harry Potter went through and Americanized all of it before it was published here.  This book has not had this done.  I liked that, but it also meant that I had to acclimate to different sayings and different cadences in the language, not to mention different slang terms and even cultural differences.  This didn’t bother me, but I think that might be why some people are having difficulty getting into the story.  What I DID find to be true is that I couldn’t just read and still deal with the distractions around me.  I had to finally just find a quiet place to sit down and read after my kids and husband had gone to bed.  That made it so much easier to pull myself into the world.

This plot was unbelievable.  It really did remind me some of Nancy Drew and Harry Potter.  There’s a lot of sleuthing going on here.  But the coolest part is that the witch world has become like the Mafia!  That was such an interesting twist to the whole “underworld” theme.  And it worked!  The whole book worked, in fact.  It was interesting to think about what would happen if the Inquisition and witch burnings were brought into modern day society.

I loved the 2 main characters.  They were so different, yet so much the same.  It was interesting to read from both of their POVs.  Both Glory and Lucas become witches on the same day, but under totally different circumstances, so it was nice to see the differences.  I have to say that at first I thought that Lucas was a bit of a pompous ass, so it was fun to see him get brought down a notch or two.  By the same token, Glory is very rough around the edges, so it was interesting to watch her development across the events of the book.  The secondary characters were all intriguing and I still am not sure who to trust and who not to trust.  I am hoping and praying that this book has a sequel.  The book ended with a resolution of sorts, but there were a lot of questions left that I want answers to.

Witch burning theme songs

There are some really awesome songs about witches out there, but I especially liked these 3 with this novel.

Bloc Party—Hunting for Witches

The Church—Witch Hunt

Queens of the Stone Age—Burn the Witch

The final grade
My grade for this book was an A.  I thought it had an intriguing plot with some unique things that I haven’t really seen a lot of in YA paranormal.  Find yourself a quiet little place to read so that you’re not distracted by the Britishisms in the book and I think that you will find yourself pulled into this world.  I especially recommend this for fans of the new Holly Black White Cat series, since it also deals with paranormal and organized crime.  I loved this book and I hope that there is a sequel in the works.

Thanks to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation for this review, but I could recommend that they send out a s’mores kit to go with the ARC.  It would go well with the fires and burning theme.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Book:  My Life Next Door
Author:  Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher:  Dial Books for Young Readers
Date:  June 14, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A+

A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.


Initial Reaction
Dude!  I thought I was getting marshmallow fluff, but instead, I got homemade chocolate pound cake.  Still plenty sweet, but richer with LOTS of substance!

Title and Cover
 Basically, I love the title and I hate the cover.  I don’t like PDA on the covers of books.  It feels so 12-year-old-girl-version-of-a-tawdry-romance-novel-cover.

The plot, the characters etc.
I went into this one thinking that it would be a sweet summer romance about a rich girl with “that” boy.  It has that, but it has so much more.  There was the addicted best friend’s brother, the crazy, absent sister and the uppity mom who was never home.  And the Garretts.  God, how I loved the Garretts!

What was amazing to me is how Huntley Fitzpatrick managed to bring all the various threads of the story together in a way that not only made sense, but was not overwhelming for the reader.  It felt completely believable and I could follow every part of it.  It was a perfectly planned plot.  And when the bottom fell out of the perfect story, did it ever fall out!  I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach and like Samantha, I wasn’t sure what to do about it.

The characters were amazing.  I loved all the Garretts.  They were so alive!  Jase was a perfect leading man and so, so swoony!  But I loved the others also.  Mr and Mrs. Garrett were so nice if a little off-center with the 4 dozen children!  George was probably my favorite Garrett after Jase.  The precocious pre-schooler was so cute!

I liked Samantha as a protagonist.  She was a believable 17 year old girl and she was just nice.  I also found that I grew to love Tim.  It was heart wrenching to watch him fight his demons.  It was also heart wrenching to watch Nan.  They both made me feel for them so much.

I must say that Ms. Fitzpatrick writes a mean villain!  I hated Grace Reed and I hated Clay Tucker even more!  They were both reprehensible in the worst sort of ways and even at the end, I could not find myself to like Samantha’s mom.

I felt satisfied at the end, but I still wish I knew all the details about what went down.  Maybe we can get one of those e-book 1.5 deals where the author writes a short story or novella to fill in a few plot points?  Please??

I should probably mention the "sex scene".  Yes, there is talk of sex.  Yes, there is a scene where you know it is happening.  It is dealt with in a very sincere and open manner.  What I loved most though was the inner dialogue that Samantha had with herself about the decision to do it.  It was a decision that they both weighed carefully and, as a mother of a 14 year old, I appreciated the other perspective.  When Samantha wishes that she could talk to her mother, it gave me pause to reflect.  I think that I want to make sure that I  CAN have an open dialogue with my daughter about sex and the repercussions of that decision.


Oh!  This song was made for this book!

Collide by Howie Day

Of course, I like this one too, just because a) I love Jack Johnson and b) it seems that Jase turns Samantha’s world upside down.

Upside Down by Jack Johnson

The Final Grade

Run, don’t walk, to get this book on the day it releases.  My grade for this one is a huge A+.  This is a fantastic YA contemporary that has a lot of meat to it.  Plus a bit of swoon worthy romance served to the side and a nice sprinkling of realistic sex talk.  Two huge thumbs up for this one, Ms. Fitzpatrick!!!

Thanks to Dial Books and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation for my honest review, although I feel like I owe the publisher and author a good bit of compensation.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Glimpse by Claire Merle

Book:  The Glimpse
Author:  Claire Merle
Publisher:  Faber & Faber
Date:  June 7, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A

In a near future, society is segregated according to whether people are genetically disposed to mental illness. 17-year-old Ana has been living the privileged life of a Pure due to an error in her DNA test. When the authorities find out, she faces banishment from her safe Community, a fate only thwarted by the fact that she has already been promised to Pure-boy Jasper Taurell.

Jasper is from a rich and influential family and despite Ana’s condition, wants to be with her. The authorities grant Ana a tentative reprieve. If she is joined to Jasper before her 18th birthday, she may stay in the Community until her illness manifests. But if Jasper changes his mind, she will be cast out among the Crazies. As Ana’s joining ceremony and her birthday loom closer, she dares to hope she will be saved from the horror of the City and live a ‘normal’ life. But then Jasper disappears.

Led to believe Jasper has been taken by a strange sect the authorities will not intefere with, Ana sneaks out of her well-guarded Community to find him herself. Her search takes her through the underbelly of society and into the pits of the human soul. And as she delves deeper into the mystery of Jasper's abduction she uncovers some devastating truths that destroy everything she has grown up to believe, but she also learns to love as she has never loved before.


Initial reaction
A New Age Dystopian WTFery???  Well, good WTFery in any case.

Title and Cover
I love this cover.  It’s so simple, but so eye-catching.  The title is also simple, yet intriguing.  A glimpse of what?  The blurb on the cover though?  THE PITS!!  I hate cheesy blurbs, and this one has one of the cheesiest.  It should have a picture of some Kraft Mac and Cheese to go with that blurb instead of that cool, blue paper heart. 

The plot, the characters, etc.
This is dystopian, so there’s something that’s discovered in the future that the powers that be want to protect everyone from and end up restricting people in an attempt to “keep them safe.”  What was refreshing about this one is that the government was not really the bad guy in the plot.  It was the psychiatrists and other medical workers, so that was interesting to see the whole story play out without a big, oppressive government. 

The characters were very interesting also.  There was a diverse cast and they all had their back stories.  It was fun to try and figure out who I should and should not trust.  Even at the end of the novel, I still have questions about who is trustworthy.

The whole book was very well-written and kept me turning the pages as fast as possible.  The descriptions of the mental institute were horrifying.  As a warning, there is a mention of a rape, but it is not described and is more of a passing observation.  But some people are bothered by that, so I’m throwing it out there.

There is no mention of a sequel, but I’m hoping and praying that there is one.  The ending COULD be the end, but there are still more questions than answers.  Please, please, please let there be another book!

Now, let me talk about Cole.  Talk about a swoony man hunk!  Oh my!  This character made me weak in the knees with his heroics and his destiny talk.  Oh wow!!  In my mind, he looks like Henry Cavill but with longer hair.


I love this Mae song for this book.  This is "The Sun and the Moon" and it really reminds me of Cole when the singer talks about "your ocean eyes".

The final grade
This is a good dystopian in a genre that is getting really crowded.  It has enough differences to make it noticeable among all the futuristic stories floating out there.  My grade is a solid A.  This one is well-written, thought provoking, fast-paced and swoony, all at once.  If you like dystopians, I highly recommend this one.

Thanks to Faber & Faber and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation for my review, although I would be willing to take Cole.  Just sayin’…..