Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday





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


Top Ten Books That I Hope People Are Still Reading in Ten Years


First, I need to apologize for not keeping up with TTT this month.  May is a difficult month for me since the school year is coming to a close and this year, I had my own graduate school work finishing up as well.  But summer is so close.......::shouts for joy::  Now, on to the books.........




These are books that kids should be reading and talking about in class.  I hope they are still reading and talking about them 10 years from now.  Not surprisingly, most of them have also found their way on to banned book lists each year!  Go figure……

There is really nothing else that I can say about each of these books/series.  They are all so powerful that words are really insufficient.



Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling 




Looking for Alaska by John Green



Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson



Playing with Matches by Brian Katcher



The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexie Sherman



American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang



Divergent series by Veronica Roth



The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins



Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson



Unwind by Neal Shusterman



So this is my list.  Tell me about yours.  Anything you would take off of my list?  Anything fabulous that I've missed?

 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


Book:  Shadow and Bone
Author:  Leigh Bardugo
Publisher:  Henry Holt
Date:  June 5, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A+!

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.
(Description and book cover from goodreads.com)

MY REVIEW

Initial reaction

I think that this book has cast a magic spell on me.  Either that or the pages are infused with opium.  I WANT MORE!!!!

Title and Cover

I love, love, love this title and cover!  The whole Russian theme is carried out beautifully on the cover and it is a very attractive cover that captures the otherworldliness of the book without putting a girl in a dress on it.  Not that I hate the girls in dresses, but it’s nice to see something different.

The plot, the characters and whatnot

Holy cow!  Once I got into this book, the plot was non-stop and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next.  I honestly put off starting this book because I started wondering why I had wanted to read it in the first place.  Then, it took me a couple of chapters to get into it.  But wow!  I normally don’t like “high fantasy” that takes place in somewhere other than the world I know, but this one seemed so real.  The author’s world building was nice because it was based in Russia, just given different names, I think.  I was intrigued by the whole concept of the Grisha.

It was very interesting to see Alina discover so much about herself, both her magical powers and herself personally.  I really felt like I was inside her head as I read.  It was like I could really understand her and connect with her voice.  I thought that all of the characters were well-developed and I really grew to love several of them.  I also loved watching Alina grow into a more confident woman and I can’t wait to see how she uses her newfound confidence in the next book.

Another thing I loved about this book is that it was different from anything else out there.  Right now, YA is full of paranormal and dystopian books.  Many of them are starting to feel the same.  This book is so totally different.  It seemed to be a mixture of paranormal and dystopian but with many twists that I haven’t seen and it felt almost like a folktale.  The only thing I’ve read lately that would even come close to this book in feeling is Grave Mercy, which was sort of a paranormal historical.  This book has that sense to a certain extent, but it still feels more like folklore.


A Shadow and Bone theme song

I love to hear and song and think about a book I’m reading or have read.  This song makes me think of this story.  I can just imagine Alina thinking most of the things in this song.  I loved the original by The Cure, but Adele’s cover is gorgeous and more fitting for Alina’s voice, obviously.


I also like this song with the book, but not for the whole book, just parts of it.



The final grade

This book is a definite A+.  I cannot stop thinking about it.  I cannot wait for the next installment.  It is well-written, intriguing and unique in a genre that is currently full of paranormals that seem to all be alike.  Go get this book as soon as you can on June 5th.  Like, wait outside the bookstore until it opens.  For reals.  You will not regret it!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Transcendence by C. J. Omololu


Book:  Transcendence
Author:  C.J. Omololu
Publisher:  Walker Books
Date:  June 5, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A-

When a visit to the Tower of London triggers an overwhelmingly real vision of a beheading that occurred centuries before, Cole Ryan fears she is losing her mind. A mysterious boy, Griffon Hall, comes to her aid, but the intensity of their immediate connection seems to open the floodgate of memories even wider.
       As their feelings grow, Griffon reveals their common bond as members of the Akhet—an elite group of people who can remember past lives and use their collected wisdom for the good of the world. But not all Akhet are altruistic, and a rogue is after Cole to avenge their shared past. Now in extreme danger, Cole must piece together clues from many lifetimes. What she finds could ruin her chance at a future with Griffon, but risking his love may be the only way to save them both.
     Full of danger, romance, and intrigue, Transcendence breathes new life into a perpetually fascinating question: What would you do with another life to live?

MY REVIEW

Initial reaction
That turned out waaaaaay better than I thought it would at first.

Title and cover
The title is interesting and the cover actually ::gasp:: matches the story!!

The plot
This plot was very slow to start for me.  I mean, the plot dives right into the storyline, but for some reason, I had a hard time getting into it.  Maybe it was because I have a lot going on right now with the end of the school year and I was distracted.  I don’t know.  Of course, once I got further into the novel, it really piqued my interest and I read straight through to the end.

The novel has an interesting premise about reborn souls and their purpose.  I also like the way it tied in the Egyptian Ankh and I’m hoping that the author will tie in some Egyptian mythology as the series progresses.  Another fun thing about this book is the “whodunit” element.  There were so many ways that the story could have gone and for a while, I didn’t trust anyone.  It was thrilling to try and figure out who was the good guy and who was the bad guy.

So, overall, I really enjoyed the book and I felt that the plot became very engaging; it just took me a few chapters to warm up to it.  But once it started to move, I found that I couldn’t put the book down. 

The characters
This was an amazing cast of characters.  They were all so different, yet all very interesting.  Of course, many of them are drawing from a lot of past lives, so that added a lot more depth to their character.  Somehow, these characters all felt so real to me.  I could imagine most of them in real life, and that’s really cool.

They were also pretty likeable.  Even though Cole and Griffon both had some flaws, they were still people I could see myself liking and hanging out with.  I loved Cole’s dad.  Her sister wasn’t so nice, but I could understand why she acted the way she did.  The person I really did NOT like was the mom!  That woman was the stage mother from hell!  But otherwise, it was a very nice cast of characters.

The final grade
My grade for this was an A-.  I had a little bit of a hard time getting into the story, but once I did, the book took off and I read it at lightning speed.  I was also really glad to see that there was a sequel planned.  Even though this one sort of found a stopping point that would work, there’s a lot more to tell in this story.

Thanks to Walker Books and to Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation in exchange for my honest review, but I have to say that a trip to London would be nice. : )

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen


Book:  Dark Kiss (Nightwatchers #1)
Author:Michelle Rowen
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Date:  May 22, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A

I don't do dangerous.  Smart, ├╝ber-careful, ordinary Samantha-that's me. But I just couldn't pass up a surprise kiss from my number-one unattainable crush. A kiss that did something to me...something strange. Now I feel hungry all the time, but not for food. It's like part of me is missing-and I don't know if I can get it back. Then there's Bishop. At first I thought he was just a street kid, but the secrets he's keeping are as intense as his unearthly blue eyes. If he's what I think he is, he may be the only one who can help me. But something terrifying is closing in, and the one chance Bishop and I have to stop it means losing everything I ever wanted and embracing the darkness inside me.... NIGHTWATCHERS When angels and demons must work together, something beyond evil is rising...

MY REVIEW

Initial impression:  Wait a second…..I need to catch my breath!!

Title and Cover
Ok, I was really glad that I was reading this on my Nook.  The cover and the title both scream cheesy romance, when in reality this book was a paranormal thriller with a healthy sprinkling of romance.  I mean, kissing someone to suck out their soul is not really romantic, right?

The plot
This was another whirlwind plot.  It was non-stop and I didn’t want to put the book down.  I almost took it with me when I had to go chaperone Prom on Saturday night.  I mean, my Nook does have backlighting, so I could have read it in the dark.

I loved being able to try and figure things out with Sam and Bishop as they moved through the story.  Also, the twists with Samantha’s origins and the story behind Bishop and Kraven just added more depth to an already interesting plot and story premise.  This was paranormal at its best:  a fast-paced, mysterious thriller with hot boys and plenty of unresolved romantic tension!

The characters
I liked the characters in this book.  Sam was a very believable teen heroine.  She wasn’t too whiny and her insecurities were believable.  Carly, her best friend, was also very believable.  The angels and demons were wonderful and ran the gamut from just plain evil to almost saintly.  Bishop and Kraven were both characters that seemed at turns wonderful or mean.  I loved Bishop but I also found myself loving Kraven, especially after the revelation about the two of them near the end of the novel.  They both were just so good and so bad!

There were some minor characters that were a little flat, but they didn’t really take away from the overall storyline. 

The final grade
My grade for this book is a solid A.  This book starts off a new series with a bang.  I highly recommend it.  I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough on this one and it left me with an insatiable hunger too—for the next book in the series!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout


Book:  Obsidian
Author:  Jennifer Armentrout
Publisher:  Entangled Teen
Date:  May 15, 2012
Source:  purchased for my Nook
My grade:  A

Starting over sucks.When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.And then he opened his mouth.Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens. The hot alien living next door marks me.You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. If I don't kill him first, that is.

MY REVIEW

Initial reaction
Oh my gawd!!!  I never knew that aliens could be hot boys!  ::squeals like a 13 year old at a Justin Bieber concert::

Cover and title
I like the title a lot.  It’s a word I recognize but I have to read the book to find out what it means for the story.  The cover……I love to look at hot boys too, but I’m glad that I had it on my Nook because I don’t think I could read that book with the cover showing in public.  It looks to similar to a bad romance novel.  But I did enjoy looking at that guy…… in private. : )

The plot
Wow!  Just wow!  This is the first Jennifer Armentrout book that I’ve read, but it will not be the last!  This was a very unique concept in a sea of YA paranormal.  Seriously, I never thought about writing books about aliens, but this one really worked.  The plot revealed just enough along the way to keep me reading to find out more.  It was full of action but it was also mysterious and thought-provoking.  I love the way she also worked in some local folklore and Native American stories.  I could not put this book down.  I had to keep going to find out what would happen next.  Of course, then she ended it right when things were heating up really well.  ::shakes fist at Jennifer::

The characters
Yes, Daemon is a total hottie.  But I also liked him as a “person”.  He had a very rough exterior, but it was easy to see that he was very protective and caring, especially with his sister.  Once I knew the whole story, I understood why he acted like an a** most of the time.  I liked Katy a lot too.  She was shy, but she wasn’t a doormat, and that was good.  The other characters were alright.  Dee was fun.  Ash was a little stereotypical “mean girl”, but I guess you have to have one of those in high school, right?  But my goodness, the chemistry between Daemon and Katy!!  ::fans self::  Jennifer, girl, you know how to write some sexual chemistry.  I’m not gonna lie….at a certain point I probably wanted this to become one of those embarrassing bodice ripper romance novels! 

The final grade
My grade for this book is an A.  Honestly, the story was an A+.  However, the editors over at Entangled need to really buckle down.  There were some pretty bad spelling and grammatical errors.  The teacher in me was horrified. (I can’t stand to see the your/you’re mistake and so that one made me cringe!)  Someone was also happy with dash marks.  Obviously, they need to hire me to do some copy editing. : )  But, grammatical errors aside, the book had me burning through the pages (that will be funny after you read this book) and clamoring for more at the end.  Is it August yet?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Insurgent by Veronica Roth


Book:  Insurgent
Author:  Veronica Roth
Publisher:  Katherine Tegan Books
Date:  May 2012
Source:  purchased very quickly on my Nook
Grade:  A+

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

MY REVIEW

Initial reaction
::stunned silence::  Did she seriously just end the book there???  I am having flashbacks of Catching Fire here?  Can Hermione’s time turner take me forward in time to the next installment??

Title and cover
I am really digging these one word titles and the symbol superimposed on the background of Chicago.  It lends an air of mystery and is a little futuristic.  It also seems a bit imposing and sort of sums up the whole atmosphere of the series.

The plot
Just like the first book, Insurgent is a non-stop powerhouse of a book.  The plot picks up exactly where it left off in Divergent….seriously, like almost mid-sentence.  This book rolls at a super-fast pace as well.  There were some real shocks in this one that I totally did not see coming and a few others that I started to suspect somewhere in the plot.  These books have that fast-paced action movie feel.  In fact, if Hollywood doesn’t snap up the rights to these books and turn them into some sort of blockbuster starring Will Smith, they are dumb!

The characters
The characters continue to be richly developed.  I don’t know how she manages to create such complex characters and still keep up the action movie plot, but apparently, Veronica Roth is a genius.  I grew to love Tris and Four/Tobias even more in this book and characters that I thought were more simple and easy to understand end up having more facets than I thought.  There were big surprises with Caleb and with Peter which just made the characters even more interesting. 

The final grade
This is another A+ book for me.  It has everything that I want in a book:  great characters, an action-packed plot, twists and turns and mystery, a bit of romance and heartache and it makes me think about the nature of the human experience.  What more could one want in a book?  If you haven’t read this series yet, don’t wait any longer!


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Divergent by Veronica Roth


Book:  Divergent
Author:  Veronica Roth
Publisher:  Katherine Tegan Books
Date:  2011
Source:  purchased
My grade:  A++++++++++++++ to infinity and beyond!

In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

MY REVIEW

Initial reaction
Holy crap!  How long will it take to download Insurgent onto my Nook?  And will someone just kick my butt for not reading this sooner???

Title and Cover
Both are perfect.  The fire and the city on the cover capture the whole feel of the book and the title has such significance.  Plus, no one would EVER think this was a bad romance novel.

The Plot
How does one even start to describe a plot like this?  It was riveting, fast-paced and full of hold-your-breath moments.  I found myself so engaged in the plot that when I had to put it down, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I had to keep turning the pages in order to figure out how it would all end.  The world that Veronica Roth created was so unique and so realistic that I felt like I was part of the world myself.  It’s hard to even find words to describe how fabulous this book plot was.  I think you may just have to experience it yourself.

The Characters
Again, Veronica Roth has outdone herself!  This cast of characters is so realistic and so well-described that I felt intimately acquainted with most of them by the end of the book.  And I found myself worrying about what would happen to some while hoping that others would soon meet their demise! And, unfortunately, she was able to allow characters that I loved to meet an untimely end.  I hate it but I also hate it when authors wimp out on that (::clears throat:: SM)  I am so caught up in these characters that I am still thinking about them the day after finishing the book.

The final grade
This book is an A+++.  I’m sure this will be on my top 10 list for this year.  Don’t wait a moment longer if you have not read this book!  I’m downloading the next book as I write this review!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Looking for Alaska by John Green


Book:  Looking for Alaska
Author:  John Green
Date:  2005
Publisher:  Puffin
Source:  Checked out from my school’s library
My grade:  This book is beyond a grade.  It is enlightenment.

Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green's arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

MY REVIEW

Initial reaction
::silence::

Secondary reaction
My God…..I had no idea that a YA novel could be this…..profound.

Tertiary reaction
WHY THE HELL ARE THEY NOT READING THIS IN HIGH SCHOOLS INSTEAD OF JANE EYRE AND GREAT EXPECTATIONS??????

Title and Cover
Both were perfect.  Somewhat mysterious and they piqued my curiosity.

The Plot
Honestly, there wasn’t a whole lot to the plot of this novel.  Miles is a poorly adjusted, geeky high school kid who decides to go away to boarding school.  When he arrives, he makes a mixed bag of friends, all of whom are misfits in their own way.  They do silly things, they do bad things, they word hard at school, they share secrets.  It’s exactly like what you would expect to happen with a group of high school juniors.  Some drinking, smoking cigarettes and sex are all there, although they are dealt with in a very realistic manner, including a lot of awkwardness and lots of puking. : )

Then, THE EVENT happens.  It changes everything.  The book is split into 2 parts:  Before and After.  The after part of the novel deals with the fallout from the event and how this group of teens will grow and change forever as a result of it.  It is about their own enlightenment and their first foray into the world of adult mistakes, regrets and forgiveness.  And it is beautifully written and oh, so bittersweet.

The characters
This novel is so, so, so character driven!  There is not much to the plot outside of the Event, but the characters are so vivid and real.  I feel like I knew them personally, because in many ways, they were like real kids that I did know in high school and the kids that I still see in my classes every day.  They were not perfect, but they were perfectly flawed, just as we all are.  It was incredible to experience this journey of growth and discovery with these kids.  Seeing them learn to deal with their choices and the consequences of them was both heartbreaking and inspiring.

The Final Grade
This is one of those books that is beyond a grade.  It is one of those books that finds the truth of a human experience and opens it up so that we can all see a little bit of the inside of it.  Honestly, I don’t understand why we are not teaching books like this one to high school students.  If school is about being relevant, then a book like this one has a lot to say to our students.  The discussion that would happen around this book could fill days worth of classes.  How do we deal with the consequences of the smallest choices we make in life?  This is a novel that provides rich food for thought.  I would recommend it for adults and teens alike.  I had only read Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green before this novel, but now I will grab up every one of his novels to read!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong


Book:  The Gathering
Author:  Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Harper Collins
Source:  Checked out from school library
My grade:  A

Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn't know much about her background - the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip - but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.

Until now.

Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town - from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend's hidden talent for "feeling" out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . . different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya's biological parents and it's easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.

MY REVIEW

Initial impression

Oh my God!  I have to figure out about Daniel and I’m so glad the second book is already out!!!  (runs to Nook shopping app)

Cover and title

The title is sort of …….neutral.  I don’t feel inspired by it but I don’t feel turned off by it either.  I’m not exactly sure it fits, but maybe it will make sense later.  ::shrugs::  The cover is not so great.  For some reason, I just don’t find it appealing.  I LOVED the covers on the Darkest Powers series but this cover is a little bland to me.  Of course, Kelley Armstrong’s name on the cover would make me pick up any book.

The Plot

Like all Kelley Armstrong books, this one has a strong, action-driven plot that slowly releases clues to build to a whopper of an ending!  Can this woman ever write a paranormal!  I don’t know how she does it over and over.  She is constantly dropping little clues to keep your interest and revealing just enough to keep stringing you along.  This book was exactly like that.  There was the mystery of the town and the animals.  It was interesting to see her use of a more natural setting as opposed to urban. 

Another thing that I really liked about this book was the Native American lore that was briefly introduced.  I’m really hoping that she will reveal a little more about that in the subsequent books.

The Characters

The book is full of strong, charismatic characters.  What’s wonderful about the characters is that Kelley writes them with just enough flaws that they seem real.  They are so compelling and I found myself rooting for all of them, even the ones that seemed to be not so likeable.  Armstrong is a master of working the character’s back stories into the plot and allowing the reader to see a lot of the characters’ motivations for how they act.  Those back stories help to bring a balance to the good and bad personality traits and make the characters compulsively likeable.

The final grade

My grade for this book is a solid A.  Kelley Armstrong has done it again.  I’m so glad to see her expand her writing talent into the YA world.  We are all winners because of it!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks


Book:  Of Poseidon
Author:  Anna Banks
Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends
Date:  May 22, 2012
My grade:  A

Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma’s gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom . . .

Told from both Emma and Galen’s points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.

MY REVIEW

Initial reaction
Ohmysweetgoodness!  Please tell me that there is a sequel and it’s coming out soon!

Title and cover
The title is great.  The cover is ok.  I love the font and I love the idea of the girl in the ocean, but the actual girl on the cover looks……awkward.

The plot
This plot had me racing through the book at top speed.  I should have been grading papers today during my planning period, but instead I was reading this book.  ::hides head in shame::  The book starts out with a bang, describing an event at the beach that left me reeling and then I couldn’t wait to get to the bottom of the mystery.  I thought that the plot was fast-paced and full of action.

There were a couple of things that bothered me about this plot.  This may just be me getting picky because of what I am.  I was disturbed by the fact that all the Syrena spoke English, immediately.  Now, perhaps this is because I am a French teacher and I’m very sensitive to language accuracy.  I really don’t think that a whole different race of humanoids is going to speak English.  Might some of them learn to speak it?  Sure.  But I had a hard time buying that they all spoke it.  That was a bit of a distraction for me.  I really wish that she had done some translating when other Syrena showed up around Emma.  I could accept that Galen spoke English and I would understand that even though she wrote conversations in English for the readers’ benefit even if the Syrena were “speaking” something else between one another.  But I’m probably just being weird.

The characters
I thought this was a fun cast of characters.  They had a lot of spunk and spirit and I really liked all of them.  Galen was the typical moody bad boy type of YA hero, but Emma stood up to him. (I wish Bella would take some lessons here.)  I was glad to see that she didn’t just turn into a dishrag because some hot supernatural fish guy paid her some attention.  Now, she had a lot of the typical teen girl insecurities, but it didn’t turn her into Galen’s doormat, and I appreciate that.

Galen was an interesting character also.  I liked him as the male protagonist and love interest.  His sister Rayna was soooooo interesting and so was Toraf, Galen’s friend.  He reminded me of some character that I can’t quite put my finger on.  Regardless, the characters in this book were an interesting bunch and I enjoyed getting to know them.

The final grade
My grade for this book is an A.  Language issue aside, I really enjoyed this book and couldn’t get through it fast enough.  I just hope that there really is a sequel, because I’m dying like a beached whale here!  I must see what happens next!!!  I recommend this book to people who love paranormals.  It was a breath of fresh air in that genre and I enjoyed reading something that wasn’t vampires, werewolves or angels.  Bravo!

Big thanks to Feiwel & Friends and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation for my honest review, but I did get to imagine Galen shirtless…..a LOT!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ladies in Waiting by Laura Sullivan

Book: Ladies in Waiting

Author: Laura Sullivan
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date: May 8, 2012
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
My grade: A-
Eliza dreams of being a playwright for the king’s theater, where she will be admired for her witty turns of phrase rather than her father’s wealth. Beth is beautiful as the day but poor as a church mouse, so she must marry well, despite her love for her childhood sweetheart. Zabby comes to England to further her scientific studies—and ends up saving the life of King Charles II. Soon her friendship with him becomes a dangerous, impossible obsession. Though she knows she should stay away from the young, handsome king, Charles has a new bride, Queen Catherine, and a queen needs ladies in waiting. And so Zabby, Beth, and Eliza, three Elizabeths from very different walks of life, find themselves at the center of the most scandal-filled court that England has ever seen.

My Review

Initial Reaction
A whirlwind story but what the heck happened to the ending????

Title and Cover
I’m happy with both the title and the cover. The title works and doesn’t sound hokey and the cover is gorgeous. Also, the characters actually wear long, beautiful gowns, so there’s a reason that they are on the cover! Hooray!

The plot
Whoa!! What a plot! This court has more twists and turns than the Rock n Roller Coaster! I really loved seeing all the court intrigue and following all 3 of the girls as they tried to navigate through court politics, love, friendship and interests. The way that the author could weave together the fictional plot with the actual historical facts was very fascinating. This book pulled me in and I had a hard time putting it down because I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.

Until I got to the end. Then the book just……stopped. Almost mid-sentence. I looked down at my Nook to see if there was something wrong and couldn’t believe it when I saw that I was on the last page. It was very bizarre and somewhat disconcerting. I doubt that she plans a sequel, but I would really like to know what becomes of the girls. There is nothing to let me know what happens to any of them. This abrupt ending is what dropped this book from an A to an A- for me. I’m still a little shell-shocked from the ending and it left me unsatisfied with the outcome.

Also, I hope that the publisher will consider putting some historical notes in the back about the real figures in the book and the real history. I ended up looking on Wikipedia.

The characters
They are magnificent!!!! I loved all 3 of the Elizabeths and it was so great to see the court from each girl’s point of view, especially since they were so different. Sometimes Eliza and Zabby seemed a little too modern, though, but I found that I could accept it and move on. The secondary characters were also well-developed. I feel like I came to know the King, his mistress Lady Castlemaine, the Queen and some of the other lesser characters in addition to the main 3 characters. They were all very three-dimensional characters that I both loved and hated in turns. That makes for a very satisfying read.

The final grade
My grade for this book is an A-. This is a fabulous book for history buffs, but also for anyone who likes to have exceptional characters in a plot of intrigue. If they would just fix that ending, this would be one of my favorite books so far this year.


Thanks to HMH and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book. I received no compensation for my review, not even a tour of the King’s elaboratory.