Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Book:  Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink
Author:  Stephanie Kate Strohm
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date:  May 8, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  B-

A story of crushes, corsets, and conspiracy

Libby Kelting had always felt herself born out of time. No wonder the historical romance-reading, Jane Austen-adaptation-watching, all-around history nerd jumped at the chance to intern at Camden Harbor, Maine’s Oldest Living History Museum. But at Camden Harbor Libby’s just plain out of place, no matter how cute she looks in a corset. Her cat-loving coworker wants her dead, the too-smart-for-his-own-good local reporter keeps pushing her buttons, her gorgeous sailor may be more shipwreck than dreamboat — plus Camden Harbor’s haunted. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, Libby learns that boys, like ghosts, aren’t always what they seem.

Initial reaction:  Meh, it’s ok……

Title and Cover
I think the title and the cover are both very fitting for this book.  You can take one look at it and know that it’s not going to change your life, but it might entertain you for a few hours on the beach or in the car.  The cover is cute and it actually fits with the story, which is sort of hard to find these days!

The Plot
The plot of this book left me a little underwhelmed.  Honestly, there wasn’t a lot of meat to this read.  I think that the whole romance with Cam was completely rushed and so I never understood Libby’s attachment to him.  In fact, I think this story could have used another 100 pages to flesh out some of the plotlines and it would have been much better.  As it stands, this plot is sort of like cotton candy.  It tastes really good going down, but it leaves you still hungry for something with more substance when you’re finished.

The characters
This was the highlight for me in this book.  The characters were very interesting.  Libby was a contradiction in terms, but it worked.  Ashling was a great mean girl and it was funny to see the nerdy girl get to be mean for a change.  I liked Garrett a lot and even Cam was fairly interesting.  The show stealer though was Dev, Libby’s gay BFF, and was he ever fabulous!  I wish that we could have seen more of him!  The little girls from the camp were adorable.  In fact, this cast of characters was so wonderful that if the plot had been fattened up a bit, I think I would have ended up LOVING this book.  Instead, I feel like it was an alright read, but nothing that I’m going to rave about with random people on the street. (Yes, I really do that.)

The final grade
My final grade for this is a B-.  It ended up being ok when I got to the end, but I really wish that parts of it had been better developed.  This is one to check out from the library and toss it into your beach bag or backpack for a little bit of very light and fluffy reading.

Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation for my review except for a nice description of shirtless colonial American guys.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is:

Top Ten Favorite Characters of All Time

1. Lizzie Bennett from Pride and Prejudice

This is one of my all-time favorite books and Lizzie is the very best character in it. I love her wicked sense of humor and her snark. She is also not willing to just sit back and let society make of her what it will. Even though women were not considered equal to men in this society, Lizzie stands up for herself and demands that she be treated well. I LOVE that about her.

2. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series

What makes Hermione such a great character is that she is a smart girl. Harry might be the hero, but he wouldn’t have gotten very far without Hermione. She saved his butt so many times and she is so ridiculed for her intelligence, but Hermione would NEVER be one of those girls who pretend to be dumb because she thinks it is more feminine. Bravo for her!

3. Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series

I love Dumbledore’s little nuggets of wisdom throughout the whole series. I wish someone would make a set of posters with them. Yet, even though he is so wise, he’s not too terribly serious and that seems to be the wisest thing of all about him.

4. Edward Cullen from Twilight

Edward Cullen is the quintessential tormented anti-hero. What makes him so perfect is that he is not. But he is perfect for Bella, in spite of what he thinks. He is such a tragic figure.

5. The Vampire Lestat from The Vampire Chronicles

Lestat is very similar to Edward Cullen, but he is much more fascinating as a character. He has so many facets to his personality. In “Interview”, he is made out to be the bad guy, but once you keep reading, you discover that Lestat is just as tortured and tragic as the other vampires. What I like about Lestat though, is that he never mopes about his tortured existence. Instead, he embraces vampirism with a sort of cockiness that is very attractive.

6. Morgan LeFay from The Mists of Avalon

I loved this incarnation of the King Arthur tale and Morgan Lefay becomes the good guy in this retelling. I love her independence and her flaws. I love the way she stands up to the men in the story and doesn’t want to let herself become a pawn, even though she still becomes one since that is her fate in the story. She is one of my all-time favorite characters.

7. Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games

I like Peeta a lot because I feel like Peeta is an honest, gentle soul. Katniss is a little too harsh for my taste. I mean, I understand that life in District 12 has made her that way, but it takes a lot to reach her heart. Peeta, on the other hand, has had an easier life than hers, but not really luxurious by any standard, yet he is not as jaded. He still believes in the goodness of others and he is willing to share his feelings. He just makes me melt.

8. Jace Wayland from the Mortal Instruments series

Jace is such a complex character. He hides behind a mask of bravado, but underneath, he is just a hurt little boy looking for a family. He is fun to read about because he is a little unpredictable. For example, the decision that he made at the end of City of Lost Souls was total shock to me! I want to get into his head and see how it works.

9. Arnold Spirit Jr. from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

I love this kid for his wicked sense of humor! He takes a horribly tragic life and turns it into something funny. That makes me feel like he will be able to conquer the world even though he has so many strikes against him.

10. Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty from On the Road

I read this book in 11th grade and it changed my life. I loved the 2 main characters and their love for life.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Endure by Carrie Jones

Book:  Endure
Author:  Carrie Jones
Publisher:  Bloomsbury Children’s
Date:  May 8, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A

 It’s all-out war (and no-holds-barred romance) in the climactic conclusion to Carrie Jones’s bestselling series.

Zara is at the center of an impending apocalypse. True, she’s successfully rescued Nick from Valhalla, but it simply isn’t enough. Evil pixies are ravaging Bedford, and they need much more than one great warrior; they need an army. Zara isn’t sure what her role is anymore. She’s not just fighting for her friends; she’s also a pixie queen. And to align her team of pixies with the humans she loves will be one of her greatest battles yet. Especially since she can’t even reconcile her growing feelings for her pixie king . . .

Unexpected turns, surprising revelations, and one utterly satisfying romantic finale make Endure a thrilling end to this series of bestsellers.

My Review


I'm trying something new with this review by dividing it into categories.  I feel like I ramble a lot so I'm hoping this will keep me on track.  Let me know if you like this format better or if you prefer my aimless rambling reviews!
The title and cover
I love the covers for these books, but the titles are only so-so.  This one is the worst in my opinion.  It sounds so boring when the book is about trying to save the world from the apocalypse!  For heaven sakes!  Who thought Endure would be a good title for that kind of book??

The plot
Of course, this book picks up right where the last one left off.  Betty is still going all feral tiger and Nick is still being a wordthatrhymeswithhisnamebutstartswithaD.  Zara is still very emotional and things are just getting worse.  This story is non-stop action all the way through the book.  The characters never have any down time at all and I felt like I was holding my breath through most of the book. I don't know how the characters survived because I was worn out by the time I reached the end. There are some plot twists that were surprises and I love the way Carrie Jones mixes in all the Norse mythology.  I am definitely going to have to get some books on that stuff because it seems pretty epic.  I don’t think I can tell you many details about the plot without spoilers, so let me just tell you that this is an action-packed, fast-paced book that has a real whirlwind of a plot.

There is one thing that bothered me about the plot and that is why this book is not an A+.  The whole prophecy/chosen one thing felt a little like a Harry Potter rip-off.  Now, I know that JK Rowling cannot be the only person to ever write that sort of thing, but this one was not well-developed throughout the series and so it felt a little thrown together for me.  Especially when it seems that Zara is going to have to sacrifice herself for the good of humanity.  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s just because Rowling did that plotline so much better.  ::shrugs::  That’s really the only point of contention I have with this book.

The characters
I really feel like I got to know these characters over 4 books.  I like seeing Zara become more confident.  In fact, she’s pretty badass in this book.  I also really like Issie in this book.

Of course, the characters that everyone wants to know about are Nick and Astley, right?  Astley is as swoon-worthy as ever.  That guy just has everything!  He is so sweet and caring with Zara.  I just want to smack her for not seeing what’s right there in front of her eyes and for pining over Nick the D***.  And as far as Nick goes, I’m not even sure why I liked this guy in the first book.  He’s a real jerk and especially now that Zara has found her own voice.  I spent most of the book wanting to punch him.  Of course, by the end of the book, he redeems himself somewhat, but not enough, in my humble opinion, to make up for being mean to Zara who became a pixie to go all the way to Valhalla and save his worthless hide.
(politely steps off soapbox)

The final grade
My grade for this book is an A.  It is a short, fast read with lots of action and a smattering of romance.  I think it wrapped up the whole series nicely and I think that fans of the book will love this one.  Well, unless you’re a fan of the guy she doesn’t end up with.  Then you might be bitter like all those Team Jacob people out there.  But I think she ended up with the right person and now if I could just get an outtake chapter of them on a hot date with some real liplocks going on………

Thank you to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation for this review, except a couple hundred pages of Astley hotness.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers

Book:  Supergirl Mixtapes
Author:  Meagan Brothers
Publisher:  Henry Holt and Co. (an imprint of Macmillan)
Date:  April 24, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A+

After years of boredom in her rural South Carolina town, Maria is thrilled when her father finally allows her to visit her estranged artist mother in New York City. She’s ready for adventure, and she soon finds herself immersed in a world of rock music and busy streets, where new people and ideas lie around every concrete corner. This is the freedom she’s always longed for—and she pushes for as much as she can get, skipping school to roam the streets, visit fancy museums, and flirt with the cute clerk at a downtown record store.

But just like her beloved New York City, Maria’s life has a darker side. Behind her mother’s carefree existence are shadowy secrets, and Maria must decide just where—and with whom—her loyalty lies.

My Review
I am still reeling from this novel.

I thought that this would be a fun novel, a romp through the 90’s and New York City with a touch of Southern charm.

Boy, was I wrong!  But in the best sort of way.  This book had lots of 90’s, lots of NYC and some Southern charm, but this was a novel with a lot of meat to it.

One of the lighter things that I loved in this novel was the music.  All the references to the NY punk scene and all the punk bands were a lot of fun.  I owned many of the albums that were discussed in the novel.  It was refreshing to see that someone else knew about Henry Rollins. Ha!  The beginning part of the novel had me reminiscing about my punk rock high school days.  Readers who are not well-versed in fringe music genres might feel lost in this part of the book.

But this was not a fun novel about the punk scene.  It was gritty and deep.  I loved Maria, the main character.  I mean, I really loved her.  She felt so real.  A teen girl, with a mother who took off when she was young, trying to find herself and figure out how to be a woman.  I think that she was very realistically portrayed.  Yes, there were times when I wanted to smack her and yell “What are you thinking??”  But I want to do that to my own teenaged daughter as well, so I think that was very plausible.

I really did not like her mom.  From the first moment that she appeared on the pages, I thought that woman was a sorry, no-good excuse for a woman and a mother.  Even at the end of the book, I find that I have little sympathy for her.

This was a real page-turner for me.  I found it extremely hard to put the book down once I started reading.  In fact, I finished this book in a day.  It was fairly short, coming in at 256 pages on my Nook.  But it was compulsively readable and I found myself flying through the pages to find out what happened next.

I think the book handled a lot of very adult situations and issues with finesse.  The only thing that I wish was different is that I wanted more explanation of Maria’s “incident”.  I was left wondering exactly what had happened.  Otherwise, the whole “sex, drugs and rock’n roll” thing was portrayed realistically without being too graphic about any of it.  Still, the mature themes of the book make this a novel for the upper high school crowd.

I thought that one of the things that made this novel great was the balance between fun and darkness.  This wasn’t a book that had me crying and ready to slit my wrists at the end, but I also didn’t get to the last page and think that the whole thing was a little too good to be true.  It didn’t end with a happily ever after, but there was a “probably things will be ok ever after” ending.

My grade for this book is an A+.  This book had a lot of depth with a splash of fun thrown in.  If you’re looking for a light, fluffy read, this is not the book for you but if you are looking for a gripping contemporary realistic read that really lives up to the name “realistic” then you have found your book.  This is a gritty and poignant coming-of-age story for music lovers.

Now I have to go make a mix tape…….or I guess a mix CD. : )

Thank you to the publisher and to netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation for this review.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Trailer for The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Here is the trailer for The Immortal Rules.  I thought it would be a great way to break the news about this book from Julie Kagawa.  Apparently, this book has already been optioned as a movie!  You can find out more on her blog:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Author:  Julie Kagawa
Publisher:  HarlequinTeen
Date:  April 24, 2012
Source:  Publisher and Netgalley
My grade:  A+

In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

My Review

Holy bloodsuckers, Batman!  This was some kind of vampire novel!!

Now, I know a lot of you are thinking, “Tammy, a vampire novel?  Really?  Everyone is sooooooo tired of vampire novels.”

Oh ye of little faith!  I say to you, you have not read a vampire novel written by Julie Kagawa!

This novel was incredible!  I did not want to put it down and I swear I cried a few tears when I realized I had reached the last page of this book.  This book does vampires in a way that I haven’t seen vampires before.  This is the premise:  the world has been decimated with a plague and many of the people have been turned into these rabid zombie/vampire creatures.  In the meantime, the real vampires have created these vampire cities where they herd in humans and protect them from the rabids, but they basically use them as cattle to feed their blood thirst.  In other words, if you’re human, life sucks.

I really liked the cast of characters in this book.  Allie is a great leading lady.  She is strong and in many ways she is hardened by her life.  But once she becomes a vampire, we see that she really wasn’t as hardened as we, or she, thought!  I really liked Kanin and I’m hoping to see more of him in the next novel.  And then there was Zeke.  I have to admit, it took a while for him to grow on me, but in the end, I really liked him too.  I think that Julie Kagawa is great at creating complicated characters that are believable and interesting.

Now, I was not a huge fan of Julie’s Iron Fey series.  I mean, I liked them a lot and I was totally Team Puck until the last novel, but I wasn’t one of those people who went crazy over them.  I am definitely one of those people going crazy over The Immortal Rules.  This is a vampire novel with everything:  rabid, monster vamps, soulless, evil vamps who look at humans as snacks only and a few vampires who sit around feeling bad about being vampires and struggling to retain shreds of humanity.  Now, drop all of that down into a dystopian world and WOW!

This plot was non-stop action.  I really did not want to ever stop reading.  I read until 1 and 2 a.m. on school nights and today, I might have curled up on the sofa in my classroom and read during my whole planning period.  Maybe.  ::whistles and looks around::
My grade for this is an A+.  I really thought that I might even be done with vampire novels for a while, but this novel has restored my faith in the goodness of the undead!  If you like vampires, go read this book.  Even if you don’t like vampires, go read this book.  You won’t be sorry!

Thanks to HarlequinTeen and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Author:  Robin Wasserman
Publisher:  Random House
Date:  April 10, 2012
Source:  Half Netgalley, half purchased!
My grade:  A+

It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up. When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark.

But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead. His girlfriend Adriane, Nora’s best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora’s sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.

My Review

Ok, so here’s the story.  I was reading this book and ended up having to put it down for a day and a half (pure torture!) because I took my kids to the zoo and then we cleaned the house the next morning.  When I went back to the book, it had “expired” on my Nook.  So I went to Netgalley to download it again and, lo and behold!  It had been archived by the publisher!  But the problem was that I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about this book since I put it down.  I ended up going and buying it at Barnes and Noble since it had published 2 days before so that I could finish it.

If that little tidbit doesn’t tell you just how compelling this story is, then let me attempt to give you lowdown.  I had been reading reviews that called this book the DaVinci Code for YA.  I had scoffed at those and then I started reading The Book of Blood and Shadow!  Holy cow!  It really did read like the DaVinci Code!

Now, the storyline is worlds away from the storyline of TDVC.  However, they both have a religious mystery, secret societies, an unsolved murder and people other than the police trying to get to the bottom of it since the police are clueless about said secret societies.

Once the murder happened, this book was non-stop.  I did not want to put it down.  It’s a good thing that we went to the zoo before the plotline really picked up, because I think if I had been in the middle of that part of the book, we would have skipped the zoo.  For reals.

I really liked Nora.  She was a cool heroine.  She was smart, but there were times when she was still just a teenaged girl.  I really loved being able to get bits and pieces of the story through the letters that she was translating from Elizabeth.  That was one of the coolest parts of the book.  It was almost like having 2 protagonists.  Seeing the present day through Nora and the past through Elizabeth and then seeing the 2 stories mirror one another in places and fill in gaps in others was just brilliant.

It was also thrilling to have so many places to put blame for the murder.  It was like you could trust almost no one.  I found myself many times wanting to shout out the character equivalent of “Colonel Mustard did it in the dining room with a rope!”  Of course, I would have been wrong every time, but it didn’t stop me from guessing and questioning.

This was just the type of book that I love.  It was a mystery with a supernatural twist.  It read very much like Harry Potter, where you spend the book trying to piece together the clues with the characters.  And yet, I was still surprised by the big “reveal”.  Then the book ended and left my mind reeling.  What a rush!

My grade for this book is an A+.  If you like non-stop mystery novels that make you feel like you’ve just exited a killer roller coaster, go get this book now.  Drop what you’re doing and go on!

Thanks to Random House and Netgalley for allowing me to read half this book.  Thanks to Barnes and Noble for creating Nook and letting me immediately download and read the rest of it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is:

Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers

  1. Add links to stuff.  It takes more time, but I love it when I can just click on a book in someone's blog and it takes me right to goodreads!
  2. Don’t worry about the number of followers you have.  They will come!
  3. Join book hops, memes, contests and giveaways.  Those are great ways to network and to get your blog seen.
  4. Make sure you write reviews with substance.  I used to write lots of fangirl squeals on goodreads, but on your blog, people want to know what makes the book good.
  5. Provide a good mix of things on your blog.  It might be a mix of genres, or a mix of features, but you don’t want to only post reviews of vampire books!
  6. Don’t take on so many books from galleys and blog tours that you run out of time to read your own books. (I’m still trying to figure this one out myself.)
  7. Don’t stress out over your blog.  You want to post regularly, but remember, this is a fun hobby.
  8. Create a pleasant design, but don’t overkill.  If it’s too busy, it’s hard to read.
  9. Make sure that your blog reflects your special qualities and personality.  You want to let people hear YOUR voice.  If people want to read boring book reviews, they can go to Publisher’s Weekly.
  10. This is just a pet peeve of mine, but make sure you enable e-mail subscription.  I hate it when I find a blog I really like and I can’t get updates through e-mail!  In fact, offer many options for your followers to get your blog updates.
What advice would you offer?  Any tips that I need to heed? : )

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

    In My Mailbox

    In My Mailbox was inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie and created by Kristi at The Story Siren.

    I’ve decided that I’m going to start participating in the “In My Mailbox” meme.  It probably won’t be every week, but once or twice a month, I’ll let you know what I have hanging around to read.

    This list is from the last 2 weeks.

    For Review

    Of Poseidon by Anna Banks  
     Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

     Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

     The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

     Touched by Cyn Balog

      Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

      Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama


     Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

    A Beautiful Evil  by Kelly Keaton

    The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

    Wanderlove  by Belle Malory

    Sleeping with Paris  by Juliette Sobanet

    What did you get to read this week that was fabulous?

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Top Ten Tuesday.....on Wednesday (again!)

    Yes, I am becoming quite the blogging loser.  Unfortunately, the professor supervising my master's thesis has sent me on a wild goose chase looking for research that simply doesn't exist. So yesterday, I was doing 400 Boolean searches, again, and suffering a slight panic attack when she told me that she just wouldn't read my work!  Now, without further ado......

    Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is:

    The Top Ten Most Deceiving Books
    Ok, so I've decided that I'm going to look at books that I should never have judged by the cover!

    Playing with Matches by Brian Katcher

    For such an ugly book cover, this was a beautiful and amazing story !  I have to thank Dr. Truett for making me read this one in my YA lit class.

    The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams

    This was also a YA lit class required read, but this one totally missed the mark.  It has this epic cover that opens up and has cut outs of the trees!  I thought it would be great, but it was just fail.  There is no other word to describe it.

    Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber

    This book sounded sooooo good on Netgalley.  And I was looking for something about werewolves.  I should have steered far, far away from this one.  It's this type of book being published on the coat tails of Twilight and The Mortal Instruments that are giving paranormals a bad name.  This is one of the most trite, cheesy books I've ever experienced.

    Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

    This book is here because it was good and SO MUCH MORE than what the cover led me to believe.  I thought this would just be a fluffy, light read.  But wow!  Did the author ever pack a punch with this one!  Don't let the cover fool you!  This book has some substance.

    Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

    I let me love of a beautiful cover and Arthurian legend fool me into reading this one!  Gah!  It was terrible!  I have read some excellent modern-day retellings, but this is not one of them.  If you want a really good modern day Arthur book, read Meg Cabot's Avalon High.

    City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

    I came home with this one and the hubs wanted to know when I had started reading in the cheesy romance genre.  And he's right!  Even though I know that's sexy Jace in all his Shadowhunter glory, it looks like just another shirtless guy on a bad romance novel.  Of course, I wouldn't dare want them to change it.  Even though this is anything BUT a cheesy romance.  Just put a book cover over this one out in public and then take it off and stare at it at home. : )

    Starters by Lissa Price

    I almost didn't request this one from Netgalley because the cover was so off-putting.  The girl looks very young, so I thought it was maybe a middle grades novel.  Plus, it's so bizarre and the girl is sort of, well, ugly.  I'm really glad I did request it though, because it turned out to be a great read!

    Tyger, Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

    I won this book on Goodreads from the author and it sat on my shelf for probably a year before I finally picked it up and that's mostly because Kersten Hamilton (bless you, woman!) messaged me and said she was interested in my opinion since I was an educator and in Library Science school.  Guilt trip much?  Thank goodness she did that!  I LOVED this book and couldn't put it down or get enough of it!  But the cover just didn't do anything for me.  Who knew it was hiding such goodness?

    Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

    I'm going to admit my problem now.  I am a sucker for those covers with the girls in beautiful dresses.  Especially when they are red.  So I expected great things from this book, but it was a little underwhelming for me.  I mean, by the end, I liked the book ok, but it just wasn't a great book.  ::shrugs::

    Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

    This one isn't about the cover or the blurb.  It's about my own preconceived notions about Sarah Dessen.  I thought she was a teen fluffy romance writer.  Boy, was I wrong!  This book knocked my socks off and my 14 year old has been reading one Sarah Dessen after another and telling me about them.  Sarah!  I'm so sorry I misjudged you!  I can't wait to read more of your books.

    So that's my Top Ten List of Books that Deceived Me!  Did any of these deceive you too?

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    The Green Man by Michael Bedard

    Book:  The Green Man
    Author:  Michael Bedard
    Publisher: Tundra Books
    Date:  April 10, 2012
    Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
    My grade:  C+

    Teenaged O – never call her Ophelia – is about to spend the summer with her aunt Emily. Emily is a poet and the owner of an antiquarian book store, The Green Man. A proud, independent woman, Emily’s been made frail by a heart attack. O will be a help to her. Just how crucial that help will be unfolds as O first tackles Emily’s badly neglected home, then the chaotic shop. But soon she discovers that there are mysteries and long-buried dark forces that she cannot sweep away, though they threaten to awaken once more. At once an exploration of poetry, a story of family relationships, and an intriguing mystery, The Green Man is Michael Bedard at his finest.

    My Review

    I’m glad that I stuck with this book.  At around halfway through the book, the story REALLY picked up and I found that I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next.  However, getting to that point to begin with was quite difficult.

    I’m not sure how to describe this book.  I love the spooky elements and the paranormal part of the book, of course, but I also loved the way the author waxed poetic about, well, poetry!  This book may be about a teen protagonist, but I don’t really know that I would classify it as YA.  It almost felt like something I would read in an English class, with all the philosophical musings about poetry and poets.  It was also difficult to stick with at first, like many of the things we were required to read in high school English!

    I chose to read this book in the first place because of the title.  I’m a big Celtic mythology buff and I was familiar with the Green Man images and some of the beliefs surrounding the Green Man in Celtic myths.  I was really hoping that this book would somehow work that in.  It didn’t.  So if you are looking for a Green Man story, this is not the book for you.

    When I got to the end of the book, I realized that I had really enjoyed the story, but I wish that I knew a little bit more about some of the characters and some of the events.  Which people were real and which were ghosts?  Who or what was Rimbaud?  Could O see the people that Emily did?  What happened to O?  I felt that there were still a lot of holes in the story that I really wanted filled in.

    I do think this book needs bonus points for the cover.  What a great cover!  And no girls in long dresses!

    My grade for this book is a C+.  I thought it was good…..eventually.  It took me a while to get there.  So when I add up a so-so beginning with a great final story, I get a decent read.  Just be warned that this is a book that requires a little patience.

    Thank you to Tundra and to Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.  I did not receive any compensation for this review.

    Saturday, April 7, 2012

    Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

    Book:  Kill Me Softly
    Author:  Sarah Cross
    Publisher:  Egmont
    Date:  April 10, 2012
    Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
    My grade:  Solid A

    Mirabelle's past is shrouded in secrecy, from her parents' tragic deaths to her guardians' half-truths about why she can't return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage. Desperate to see the town, Mira runs away a week before her sixteenth birthday—and discovers a world she never could have imagined.

    In Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems—the strangely pale girl with a morbid interest in apples, the obnoxious playboy who's a beast to everyone he meets, and the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. Here, fairy tales come to life, curses are awakened, and ancient stories are played out again and again.

    But fairy tales aren't pretty things, and they don't always end in happily ever after. Mira has a role to play, a fairy tale destiny to embrace or resist. As she struggles to take control of her fate, Mira is drawn into the lives of two brothers with fairy tale curses of their own . . . brothers who share a dark secret. And she'll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns.

    My Review

    This is not your childhood's fairy tale!  Although the author occasionally tips her hat to the Disney versions that we all know and love, she’s sticking to the original Grimm Brothers versions here.  The blurb on the cover should say something like:  “Welcome to Fairy Tale Town:  Where All Your Dreams, and Nightmares, Come True!”

    Wow!  This book became a real page turner for me, somewhere around 1/4 to 1/3 of the way through it.  Make no mistake about it; there is definitely some kitsch in this book.  After all, how else can you do a fairy tale story in a modern day setting?  But it didn’t take long before I totally ignored that and got sucked into the story.  And what a story!

    One of the fun things for me in this book was trying to figure out who was part of which fairy tale.  Some of them were easy to spot (Snow White and Beauty and the Beast), but others were much more obscure.  I’m ready to go sit down with the original Grimm tales now and see what I’m missing.  I’m not going to tell you about the more obscure ones because I don’t want to provide any spoilers, but the reveal of the original tale blew me away!!!

    I loved the characters in this book.  They were not flat, one-dimensional fairy tale cardboard stand-ups.  And they easily could have been written that way.  There were a few that were close to that (Freddie, for example) but it was interesting to watch these teens, and adults, try to navigate their lives and have some choice even though their fairy tale curse would eventually make decisions for them.

    I think this would be an excellent book to read in an English class.  The debate here on how much of life is your destiny and how much you have control over yourself could last a whole semester.  Not to mention trying to figure out the fairy tales.  This could be a great book to end a unit on the original Grimm tales.  But it's not for elementary school kids!

    The other thing that I liked about this book is that, like the original tales, the author was not afraid to be gruesome.  And there was definitely gruesomeness and crudeness and evil here!  This book reminds us just how much Disney cleaned up these tales in order to provide the saccharine sweet versions we know today.

    The book wrapped up rather nicely, but it still left some questions hanging around.  I’m not sure if a sequel is planned, but there is definitely an opening for one.  I hope there is one because I’m really interested to see what happens to a couple of the other characters, or what has happened to them already that we just didn’t get to see.  But, if she doesn’t write another one, this one still left me with a satisfied feeling at the end.  It also left me with a feeling that just perhaps, some parts of life could be chosen, not pre-destined.

    This book gets a solid A for me.  I love fairy tale retellings and this one was great!  The author blended together many fairy tales and made it work and has given me a lot of food for thought.  As well as an urge to sit down and read gruesome fairy tales.  I’m not sure if I’ll be wishing on a star any time soon now!

    Sunday, April 1, 2012

    Grave Mercy by Robin Lefevers

    Book:  Grave Mercy
    Author:  Robin Lafevers
    Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    Date:  April 3, 2012
    My grade:  Can't I give anything higher than an A?  No?  A++++++ then. 
    Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

    Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

    Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

    My Review
    This novel was breathtaking.  I am still reeling from the brilliance that is Grave Mercy. 

    I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this novel, but it was medieval and French, which made it automatically good in my book!  But it is so much more than that!  This book has it all:  mystery, magic, Death and deception, intrigue, true love.  This book was spellbinding.  I am left speechless at the end of it.

    First, let me say that I started this book yesterday.  On my Nook, it is 564 pages.  I read the whole thing in just a little over 24 hours.  I did sleep and eat and go shopping for my kids’ stuff for Easter.  But otherwise, I could not put this book down.  I have ignored my children, the dishes, the laundry and my husband to read this book.  I haven’t been this engaged in a book in a really long time.

    The story was astounding.  I found myself completely pulled into Ismae’s world.  It helps that the story is told in first person from her point of view.  But I swear, I could feel everything she felt and it was like I experienced the whole book with her.  It left me breathless.

    The characters are incredible.  They are so multi-faceted and layered.  Plus, there is whole deception thing thrown in, so that I was constantly trying to figure out, just like Ismae, who can I trust and who is lying.  And the intrigue just kept me turning pages.

    I also loved the whole old gods part of the book.  The magic and the pagan twist kept everything very interesting on a different level.  Of course, I’m a sucker for that type of thing.  One of my favorite books ever is The Mists of Avalon.  Just like that book, this book breathed a new life into a historical fiction by adding another layer to the story.  If you liked The Mists of Avalon, you will not be disappointed with Grave Mercy.

    But this is still an excellent storyline without all the pagan magic.  The mystery is amazing.  I kept thinking about who was doing what and who was betraying the duchess and where did the loyalties of everyone lie, from the advisors, to Duval and even the abbess and the convent.

    Another really nice thing about this book?  The cover features a beautiful girl in a dress, but IT ACTUALLY GOES WITH THE STORY!!!  Now, I am still a sucker for those covers and I think they are beautiful, but it’s even better when it matches the plot of the book!

    My grade for this book is an A+++.  I would bet that this novel is ranked first or second in the class!  This book releases on Tuesday, April 2nd.  Do yourself a favor and go get it as soon as the bookstore opens.

    Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this fabulous book.  I have received no compensation for this review, unless you count being able to read a book this good as compensation! : )