Thursday, May 31, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012


Title: Abhorsen

Author: Garth Nix

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: The Ninth was strong
and fought with might,
But lone Orannis
was put out of the light,
Broken in two
                                     and buried under hill,
                                     Forever to lie there,
                                     wishing us ill.

So says the song. But Orannis, the Destroyer, is no longer buried under hill. It has been freed from its subterranean prison and now seeks to escape the silver hemispheres, the final barrier to the unleashing of its terrible powers.

Only Lirael, newly come into her inheritance as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, has any chance of stopping the Destroyer. She and her companions -- Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget -- have to take that chance. For the Destroyer is the enemy of all Life, and it must be stopped, though Lirael does not know how.
To make matters worse, Sam's best friend, Nick, is helping the Destroyer, as are the necromancer Hedge and the Greater Dead Chlorr, and there has been no word from the Abhorsen Sabriel or King Touchstone.
Everything depends upon Lirael. A heavy, perhaps even impossible burden for a young woman who just days ago was merely a Second Assistant Librarian. With only a vision from the Clayr to guide her, and the rather mixed help of her companions, Lirael must search in both Life and Death for some means to defeat the Destroyer.
Before it is too late. . . .

Review: The third book was kind of unnecessary. It would have been better to have just added the final battle onto the end of the second book, rather than have this big long journey and then the fight. Abhorsen was just Sabriel with different characters: there's a horrible ancient evil breaking free, we have to hurry through a long journey before we can defeat it. A dissapointing ending to such a good series.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Title: Lirael

Author: Garth Nix

Rating: 5 stars

Summary: Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr. Now, two years past the time when she should have received the Sight that is the Clayr's birthright, she feels alone, abandoned, unsure of who she is. Nevertheless, the fate of the Old Kingdom lies in her hands. With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog, Lirael must undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil.

Review: I really wanted to continue with the story of Sabriel and Touchstone, but instead I was introduced to Lirael and Sameth, their story taking place fourteen years after the first installment of the Abhorsen Chronicles. At first I was annoyed at the absence of the two previous main characters, though as the book went on, I grew to enjoy these new characters better. Sameth reminds me of Shirley from the Icemark Chronicles; the baby of the family who feels inadequate and goes on a journey to save his kingdom. His older sister, Ellimere, is very similar to Cressida of the same series; they are the oldest, completely capable and can do no wrong, while their younger siblings are constantly making mistakes. This series has some seriously awesome animal sidekicks, the one in this book being the Disreputable Dog. After meeting Sanar and Ryelle in Sabriel, I wanted to learn more about the Clayr. I wish that the Great Library of the Clayr was real, because I would spend all my time there. At the beginning, the magic is more conventional (spells that make, break, seal, that sort of thing), though it gains necromancy as it goes on. I was actually surprised by the twist near the end. The next book is the last one, and continues right where this one left off. (We'll get to keep the same characers!)

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Title: Sabriel

Author: Garth Nix

Rating: 4 stars

Summary: Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

Review: This is a high-fantasy book, but there is a wall separating the magic world (The Old Kingdom) from the semi-modern world (Ancelstierre). Sabriel must battle the Dead, which are these shadow zombie things. The magic is mainly focused on necromancy: the powerful magic user is the Abhorsen (a necromancer); some can travel into Death, which is a river flowing through nine gates; the main enemy is an evil guy who gave up his Life for power and his army of Dead. The Abhorsen has a powerful sword, but mainly uses seven bells to get rid of the Dead, and each bell has a different power. I know that in another book I thought it was stupid when they just rang a bell to get rid of a demon, but this is much better. Each bell does something different, and they are very powerful. Using the wrong one at the wrong time would have catastrophic effects. There was a tiny bit of romance, but it was, thankfully, simply a side note to the story. Though Mogget can be annoying sometimes, I thought he was pretty awesome, because wise talking cats who are actually evil things are always awesome.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Secret of Ka

Title: The Secret of Ka

Author: Christopher Pike

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: One minute Sara's bored on vacation in Istanbul. The next, she's unearthed a flying carpet that cleverly drags her to the mysterious Island of the Djinn—or genies. By her side is Amesh, a cute guy she has a crush on but doesn't yet trust. When Amesh learns the secret of invoking djinn, he loses control. He swears he'll call upon only one djinn and make one wish. The plan sounds safe enough. But neither Sara nor Amesh are any match for the monster that that swells before them. It hypnotizes Amesh, compelling him to steal Sara’s flying carpet and leave her stranded on the island. Discovering the carpet has sparked a new path for Sara, one that will lead her to battle creatures even deadlier than djinn. In this fight, Sara can save mankind, herself, or the boy she cares for. Who will she be forced to sacrifice?

Review: This was a fun read, but a bit of a let down from what I was expecting. I was excited for a magic carpet adventure involving djinn. I liked how the author changed the normal djinn "three wishes" to one wish for free, and then serious consequences for any others. There were too many exclamaition points. The romance was pretty bad; Amesh and Sara seem thrown together just for the sake of attracting the romantic audience. Also, at the very beginning Sara lies about her age, and at the end when she states her age out loud (talking to someone else) Amesh doesn't react at all! The fact that Sara is a Kala isn't as stressed as it seems like it should have been. The worst part is that there's a cliff-hanger ending, yet this is a stand-alone novel.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Title: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: 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.

Review: What happened to the rest of the country? The author has taken the normal dystopian country and made it into a dystopian city. Are all the other cities like Chicago? Also, Beatrice, or Tris, doesn't take down the goverment or forever mess up the way the counrty works. She stopped an evil plan after it had been set in motion, and the evil plan would have taken down the government. The first four hundred pages or so is all about the initiation trials, so there's only about ninety pages where stuff actually happens. That said, I liked all the humor, action and the fight scenes. I realize the bad outweighs the good in this review, yet I gave it three stars. This is because while I liked the book, it's easier to put into words what I didn't like than what I did.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Title: Underworld

Author: Meg Cabot

Rating: 2 stars

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn't dead.

Not this time.

But she is being held against her will in the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

Her captor, John Hayden, claims it's for her own safety. Because not all the departed are dear. Some are so unhappy with where they ended up after leaving the Underworld, they've come back as Furies, intent on vengeance . . . on the one who sent them there and on the one whom he loves.

But while Pierce might be safe from the Furies in the Underworld, far worse dangers could be lurking for her there . . . and they might have more to do with its ruler than with his enemies.

And unless Pierce is careful, this time there'll be no escape.

Review: Abandon, the first book, would have been better off as a stand-alone novel. The only reason there's a series is so that the romance can be dragged out. In this re-imagined version of the Hades/Persephone myth (these things never work out well), John only rules over one little Underworld, and while he's almost two centuries old, he isn't actually Hades. Also, apparently this Underworld is between heaven and hell, while in Greek mythology, the singular Underworld is heaven and hell. The thing that angered me most is the way John treats Pierce at the beginning of the book. When Pierce becomes angry with him, John makes a pet bird magically appear, and she's happy again. He treats her like a very young and spoiled child, giving Pierce presents whenever he messes up. Even worse is that Pierce goes along with it, gladly accepting the gifts. Not only that, but he lies to Pierce over, and over, and over again, but she just goes: "Well, you're the super-hot lord of the Underworld so I'll forgive you." Are you serious?! Meg Cabot is an amazing author, but this book could have been so much better.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Hero for Wondla

Title: A Hero for Wondla

Author: Tony DiTerlizzi

Rating: 5 stars of happy amazing awesomeness!!!

Summary: Before the end of The Search for WondLa, Eva Nine had never seen another human, but after a human boy named Hailey rescues her along with her companions, she couldn’t be happier. Eva thinks she has everything she’s ever dreamed of, especially when Hailey brings her and her friends to the colony of New Attica, where humans of all shapes and sizes live in apparent peace and harmony. But all is not idyllic in New Attica, and Eva Nine soon realizes that something sinister is going on—and if she doesn’t stop it, it could mean the end of everything and everyone on planet Orbona.

Review: I fell in love with the first book, and it happened all over again with A Hero for Wondla. The world of Orbona is amazing: a perfect mix of fantasy and futuristic. From the aliens, to New Attica, to Eva Nine herself, I could not put this book down! The artwork was, as in the first book, absolutely fantastic, and pulled me even deeper into the story. Also, there are several very good life lessons in the book, and life lessons are difficult to come by in YA fiction these days. I hope this series goes on for many books, because I can't imagine having to finish one and realize that it was the last one. The Wondla series is not to be missed!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Drowned Cities

Title: The Drowned Cities

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: Soldier boys emerged from the darkness. Guns gleamed dully. Bullet bandoliers and scars draped their bare chests. Ugly brands scored their faces. She knew why these soldier boys had come. She knew what they sought, and she knew, too, that if they found it, her best friend would surely die.

In a dark future America where violence, terror, and grief touch everyone, young refugees Mahlia and Mouse have managed to leave behind the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities by escaping into the jungle outskirts. But when they discover a wounded half-man--a bioengineered war beast named Tool--who is being hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers, their fragile existence quickly collapses. One is taken prisoner by merciless soldier boys, and the other is faced with an impossible decision: Risk everything to save a friend, or flee to a place where freedom might finally be possible.

Review: Just because two books by an author are the same genre, that doesn't make them companion novels. Ship Breaker was enjoyable, but the only thing it has in common with The Drowned Cities is that they both take place in future America. As for the actual story, I was drawn in by the beginning, but someplace a little past the middle, I began to grow bored. Mouse is given another name, but the author calls him Mouse until a ceratin point, when calling him the other name is significant. He stay with the second name for a few pages, then randomly switched between the two for no reason at all. There was no romance, which surprised me. I'm happy not only with the lack of romance, but also with the fact  that the author refused to bow down to the expectations of YA fiction. The book was okay, but I'd prefer a sequel to Ship Breaker.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Diviners

Title: The Diviners

Author: Libba Bray

Rating: 3   3/4 stars

Summary: Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

Review: I'm a big fan of Libba Bray's books, but this one fell short of my expectations. Set in the 1920's, it's historical fiction with a paranormal twist. I don't understand how being sent from a small town to New York City would be a punishment for someone constantly getting into trouble. The book is in third person, but tells the story of not only Evie, but also Memphis and Theta. At first I found the story-switching annoying because I really wanted to read about Evie, but once I had discovered her story, I was ready to hear about he other characters. By that time, though, all the chapters were given to Evie. Libba Bray knows how to mix up romance. I assumed Evie was going to end up with the stereotypical love interest, but she doesn't. And when she does find someone, it's not: "I'll love you forever and ever," it's: "Maybe I love you, maybe I don't." The Diviners went on a little too long, but it was still an enjoyable read.

The Diviners will be published in September of 2012.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Forsaken

Title: The Forsaken

Author: Lisa M. Stasse

Rating: 4 stars

Summary: As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

Review: Futuristic governments seem to have this obsession with creating a perfect society. But in sending all would-be criminals away, they allow them to come together as a united rebellion. The island is one crazy place. There's two groups: the drones, who are brainwashed followers of the Monk, and the villagers.  One part of The Wheel is the mysterious gray zone, an area cordoned off by an impenetrable jelly-like wall. Random attacks by "feelers", robotic tentacles that swoop down from the sky and capture islanders, are common. The beginning of the book is filled with action, and as you near the end surprising revelations are constantly Being made. I am excited to read the next installment. 

The Forsaken will be published in August of 2012.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Iron Hearted Violet

Title: Iron Hearted Violet

Author: Kelly Barnhill

Rating: 4 stars

Summary: IRON-HEARTED VIOLET is a story of a princess unlike any other. It is a story of the last dragon in existence, deathly afraid of its own reflection. Above all, it is a story about the power of stories, our belief in them, and how one enchanted tale changed
the course of an entire kingdom.

Princess Violet is plain, reckless, and quite possibly too clever for her own good. Particularly when it comes to telling stories. One day she and her best friend, Demetrius, stumble upon a hidden
room and find a peculiar book. A forbidden book. It tells a story of an evil being—called the Nybbas—imprisoned in their world. The story cannot be true—not really. But then the whispers start. Violet and Demetrius, along with an ancient, scarred dragon, may hold the key to the Nybbas's triumph…or its demise. It all depends on how they tell the story. After all, stories make their own rules.

Review: This is one of those good ol' fantasy books, filled with princesses, dragons, and a fight to save the kingdom. Even better, there is absolutely no romance! Princess Violet is not beautiful, and she's surrounded by stories where all the princesses are beautiful. She has come ot believe that to be a real princess she must be beautiful, like her mother was. This is the first fantasy book I've read where the heroine isn't perfect and actually slips over to the dark side for a while. Though Violet is thirteen years old, she seems younger. In her world, there are two suns, a mirrored sky, and you can actually go to the edge of the world. Even though there's an important reason for the mirriored sky, it's very whimsical and fun. In many books there is no reason for these things; it's as if authors go "What random things can I do with the sky?" When the book is published, I'd love to flip through it and see all the illustrations that are to come.

Iron Hearted Violet will be published in October 2012.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

When We Wake

Title: When We Wake

Author: Karen Healey

Rating: 2 stars

Summary: My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027 - she's happiest when playing the guitar, she's falling in love for the first time, and she's joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.

But on what should have been the best day of Tegan's life, she dies - and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.

Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity - even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn't all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

Review: This is one of the first futuristic books I've read where the reason the future is horrible is global warming. I find it annoying when in creating "future slang" for teen characters, authors shorten lots of words, like "pharma" for "pharmacutical." No teenager is going to bother with shortening "pharmacuticals," a word that rarely comes up in conversation. The story is told from Tegan's perspective and it is interspersed with her talking to the reader. It isn't until later in the book that I figured out that Tegan was narrating her story in an online broadcast. These little comments ruin the ending half-way through the book. Not the best idea.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Title: Crewel

Author: Gennifer Albin

Rating: 4 stars

Summary: Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

Review: Starting this book, I thought that it was dystopian, but as I continued on it began to appear to be more like a fantasy book. Crewel is dystopian/futuristic, but it seems so fantastical that it's difficult to tell for sure until the end. The concept of weaving the very world around us and being able to manipulate strands of time is amazing. Society has regressed back to the lack of complete equality for women: women can only are only meant to be pretty and silent, and may only be employed as secretaries along with similar jobs. 

       Adelice's parents absolutely did not want Adelice to be a Spinster, but they were careful to never say they were against the government. Life as a Spinster is pretty great if you comply to the rules, and the reason Adelice didn't comply was because her parents told that it was bad and did all they could to not have her retrieved. The reason why her parents were so against the Spinsters was never explained, and that is their actions because of this belief are the reason for almost everything that happens in the book. 

     The ending threw me for a loop, and I can't wait for the second book!

Crewel will be published in October of 2012.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood

Author: Kendare Blake

Rating: 2 stars

Summary:  Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.


Spoiler Alert

 I wanted to like this book. A ghost hunter going after a crazy scary ghost that's dripping blood? I'll try it.  I also made the mistake of assuming that there will be no romance. But of course Cas cleans the ghost instead of banishing it and then he falls in love with the ghost. Not only that, but the evil thing that killed Cas's dad comes around and Cas has to defeat him. How, pray tell, is this supposed to be a series if the big bad monster is obliterated in the first book? I try to avoid spoilers, but there was no way to truly review this book without revealing the ending.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Title: Bunheads

Author: Sophie Flack

Rating: 4 stars

Summary: As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.

But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah's universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other "bunheads" in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?

Review: Bunheads is a ballet version of Virtuosity. And I liked it. This is one of those books you can just curl up with and when you finish you get a happy feeling. I can't remember the last time I finished a book and was entirely happy with the ending. Bunheads takes the reader on a tour through the inner workings of the ballet world. While the dancers are very competetive, the book wasn't an overdramatic mass of back-stabbing, dangerous dieting health scares, and the like. Points for restraint. I began this book expecting to mildly enjoy it and finish with a positive "meh", but it ended up exceeding those expectations. 

Friday, May 4, 2012


Title: Venom

Author: Fiona Paul

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancĂ©, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancĂ©, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.

Review: If you're inclined to romance books, you'll love this book. I am not one of those people, so I spent the most of the book being annoyed by Cassandra. I was constantly yelling at her in my head: Don't trust him! Don't go into the dark room! Don't go into the dark room with the guy I told you not to trust! I enjoyed the murder mystery aspect, but the high-society girl playing detective has been used far too many times. Also, before every chapter was a quote from "The Book of The Eternal Rose"; which, while the name of the series is similar to the title, this book is never mentioned. The quotes were extremely odd. They spoke of what to do with dead bodies and one in particular described instructions of strangling someone! Venom is simply another YA book with an overused storyline, to be skimmed and not particularly enjoyed.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Book of Blood and Shadow

Title: The Book of Blood and Shadow

Author: Robin Wasserman

Rating: 3  1/2 stars

Summary: 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.

Review: I had high hopes for this book. I was drawn in by the beginning, but as the book progressed it became really slow. Near the end it started back up again, but there were so many characters going "Guess what? I lied!" that I began to wonder if there was a point to the beginning of the book if everyone had been lying.  I also never truly got what the purpose of the Lumen Dei was. This was one of those books where I prefer the summary to the actually story.