Thursday, August 30, 2012

AToMR Blog Tour Seaweed by Elle Strauss Review and Giveaway

Seaweed

by Elle Strauss
Goodreads Summary:
Dori Seward can’t wait to get out of Eastcove, a sleepy fishing village on the border of New Brunswick and Maine. She bides her time by hanging out with friends, attending swim club, and holding her biggest competition, Colby–who wants more than just friendship, at arm’s length. 

Then Tor Riley comes to town and he has everything Dori dreams of in a boyfriend–looks, athleticism and mystery. 

But Tor also has a tantalizing secret and Dori is determined to find out what it is. The truth is crazier than her wildest imaginations and more dangerous, too. Dori has new enemies, and they will do anything to get to her.

Her life, her dreams and her love for Tor are all weighing in the balance. Will Dori risk it all in order to have it all?

Despite a bit of an awkward beginning, Seaweed turned out to be an undeniably fun and unique reading experience.  Yes, it has to do with mermaids, no secret there just by the cover and the description you know that, but it is an unusual mermaid tale. Dori is a fantastic swimmer. And looking for a boyfriend. She lives in the very small town of Eastcove New Brunswick and when a new guy shows up at the end of the year Bonfire, everyone notices, especially Dori. Dori isn't shy so she goes up to introduce herself. But when the guys get a bit rowdy and start spraying soda at each other and Dori decides to spray her water in new guy, Tor's face he dashes off down the beach and heads into the ice cold June waters. Dori, being a lifeguard goes in after him, but cannot find him, and at the risk of hypothermia, she has to get out of the water. Her story launches a massive Coast Guard search for Tor until Tor's Uncle shows up at the police station saying it was all a mistake and Tor is fine.

It's all a bit awkward in the beginning, the relationship rushed, Dori's anger at Tor a bit too much for only knowing him such a short while, anger, jealousy, feelings. All of that was a bit much and not like the other Elle Strauss book I've read. But, once all that was over with, which wasn't very much into the book, things settled down and the book got very interesting. Dori finds out that she has a very interesting family tree. And that may explain the pearl like mounds behind her ears and the itchy rashes on her legs. And the deep longing and feelings she has towards Tor.

I liked Dori but sometimes she was just plain stupid. She didn't learn from her mistakes and it was as if the guys around her didn't learn from her mistakes either. Every time she asked them to do something and they tried to talk her out of it they gave into her and it ended badly. Come on! How many times does it have to happen before you learn your lesson? And I blame the people that were more experienced for giving in to her. They knew what they were doing was stupid! That was an annoying trait of hers. She never foresaw the danger, until the very end. Finally, she catches a clue and listens.

This was a bit predictable as well. I knew what was going to happen before it happened and knew who was who before it happened. But it didn't make everything predictable and it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the novel. I had a great time with the novel. I've been having a hard time finding things that I've wanted to read lately and this one fit the bill for me. There is plenty of room for a sequel so I'm hoping there will be.

Thanks to AToMR and Elle Strauss for the review copy of Seaweed. Here is a link to the  rest of the tour:




You can find Elle Strauss at these various places on the WEB:
And for the Giveaway: Enter the form below for a print copy of Clockwise and Seaweed and a Whalebone necklace pictured on the author below:


Elle Strauss wearing whale bone necklace

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Heather

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cornerstone by Misty Provencher Read Along Sign Ups


Hello everyone!  September is soon upon us and with it comes the Cornerstone read-along!  Every Wednesday in September we'll have discussions about Cornerstone by Misty Provencher.  This is a book I really can't recommend highly enough.  It's such a creative story with a fabulous romance and and I hope you'll all join in!  In addition we'll have a fabulous giveaway provided by Misty herself!

This Read-Along is hosted by Candace at Candace's Book Blog,  Heather at Buried in Books, Heidi at Rainy Day Ramblings and Heather at The Flyleaf Review.

Schedule:

Each week you will find the following week's questions on each of our blogs.  This enables you to prepare your post ahead of time and jump around to each participating blog to discuss those questions.  There will be a linky provided each week on the host blogs for you to link up your blog so we can visit you!

The Giveaway:
Misty is providing one lucky participant with a signed copy of Cornerstone and an ebook of Keystone.  Each week you enter into the linky you are entered for this prize.  The Keystone tour is also running the month of September and this tour is filled with EPIC goodness, including some massive giveaway's!  So be sure to check that out as well.

The first weeks questions, to go up September 5th are:

1.)  Right away we learn a bit about the fact that Nalena has to buy massive amounts of paper for her mom and that her mother is a bit of a paper hoarder.  What was your initial reaction to this?  Do you think there might be more to her mothers paper obsession?  What do you think it is that she's writing down, is she really just a crazy lady that has a compulsion to create characters and plot details?

2.)  We meet Garrett.  Okay, breathe for a moment... Now we meet him and we see him through Nali's eyes and she's very wary at first, despite his good looks (or because of it).  But he seems so genuine, and he says he understands her mothers paper hoarding.  And then he saves her from the crazy person in the woods.  And then makes her hand and arm feel better. What are your thoughts about Garrett so far?

3.) We meet Cora and Nali describes her as a bit of a fair-weather friend.  Only showing up when it's convenient and never really being a true friend.  Have you ever had a fair-weather friend?  How did it make you feel?

4.) Nali is teased and called The Waste at school because of her mothers paper hoarding.  She's constantly made fun of and put down.  Do you think you would be brave enough to stand up for yourself?  And if you were to see someone being teased would you jump in and stand up for them?

5.)  When Regina is picking on Nali in class she suddenly feels these rings go around her body and then seems to step outside of it.  Later when she's attacked she seems to have a sort of super speed that helps her dodge blows.  Do you have any idea what might be going on?  If you could have any ability what ability what you choose?

Want to sign up?  Link up your blog or where you'll be answering the questions and grab the image at the top of the blog (feel free to link it to a host) and we'll see you next week!


Happy Reading! Heather

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spark The Elemental Series by Brigid Kemmerer Review

Spark The Elemental Series

by Brigid Kemmerer
Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound
Goodreads Summary:
Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally.

Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can’t. Like the fire that killed his parents.

Gabriel has always had his brothers to rely on, especially his twin, Nick. But when an arsonist starts wreaking havoc on their town, all the signs point to Gabriel. Only he’s not doing it.

More than Gabriel’s pride is at stake -- this could cost him his family, maybe his life. And no one seems to hear him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Layne understands family problems, and she understands secrets. She has a few of her own.

Gabriel can’t let her guess about his brothers, about his abilities, about the danger that’s right at his heels. But there are some risks he can’t help taking.

The fuse is lit…

When I read Spark I couldn't believe it was from the same author that wrote Storm. They are as different from each other as the boys they are written about. But, Brigid Kemmerer is a talented author and the emotion in Spark is so raw and on the surface just waiting for you to rub it the wrong way so Gabriel can lash out at you.  He wears a heavy cloak of guilt for something that happened when he had no control over his powers, when he was still a kid. And he blames himself every single minute of the day and believes all of his brothers do, too. Especially Michael, his oldest brother who is more parent to the boys than anything. 

This is a really hard review for me to write as I loved this novel and read it in a few hours. I never write the best reviews of the books I love. It's not one that's easy to put down. Gabriel could be off putting if you didn't know how much he was really hurting inside. In some ways, he's never gotten past that day his parents died in the fire he started. The one he lost control of, that killed them. And he feels like everything is his fault. Nicky is the good twin. Gabriel feels like he's the bad one. He brought all the trouble down on them. He's the reason Michael has to be their parent instead of their brother. And instead of waiting around to hear it, he goes on the offensive and is obnoxious at times, picking a fight with anyone he can to keep from hearing what he already thinks he knows.

One of those fights is over Nicky's new girlfriend who doesn't just sit and listen, she fires back. And for the first time in his life Nicky and Gabriel aren't talking to each other. In fact, Gabriel is barely staying at home. He crashes at Hunter's (yeah, he's in this one too). Unbelievably, Hunter becomes a friend to Gabriel. They hang out and play X-box. They don't talk about feelings, they just work out and do guy stuff. 

Then  Layne enters Gabriel's life. She's the girl that everyone thinks is a freak because she wears turtlenecks all the time. She sits next to Gabriel in math and he asks in a not too nice way to borrow a pencil after he breaks his in frustration. They have to trade papers to grade a quiz and she sees that all his answers are wrong, but knows he always gets A's (because he and Nicky trade places on test days). Something makes her change his answers so he gets a better grade and he doesn't understand why. This intrigues him. Then, unknowingly, he helps her brother from getting beat up and she agrees to tutor him. Things are off to a rough start. Layne has her own secrets and her own emotional scars.

Gabriel and Layne make a great couple, a balm for each other's wounds but they are both so defensive, the dance they play "are you hurting me or being cautious" takes a long time for them to learn. Accusations about the arson fires come from his brothers and more hurt is added on top of the already soul deep wounds. I'd be staggering under the weight of the hurt Gabriel carries around with him, but he is astoundingly strong. Layne has a strong belief in his innocence.  And she risks her father's anger to get him help.

The romance is sweeter, gentler in Spark despite the title. But for two damaged people, the healing that happens is more the fire. I loved this novel as much as Storm but in different ways. While Storm was smoking hot in the romance and the adventure was fast paced, Spark was slower paced and an emotional, heart tugging novel. There was still a huge amount of adventure but there was a lot of emotion. I wanted to gather both main characters up and hug them. 

I still want to give those Merrick boys a Mom to love and take care of them so they can have home cooked meals and wash their clothes and listen to them. And yeah, mainly give them the hugs they need. 
I have to be honest and say, I still don't like Hunter. I think the author has her work cut out for her to make me care for him in even the smallest amount that I do for those Merrick boys. But given this novel, I just don't have any doubts that she can do it. I'm just sayin' she's got her work cut out for her. She's made him pretty detestable. 

Oh, and I still want Michael to have his own novel!! Are you guys with me or what? I mean if Hunter gets one....(Brigid Kemmerer is probably tired of hearing from me!)

Thanks to Kensington Publishing for the copy of the novel for review. I received no compensation for my review. The opinions expressed in my review are my own.

Heather

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long Review

The Treachery of Beautiful Things

By Ruth Frances Long
Goodreads Summary:
The trees swallowed her brother whole, and Jenny was there to see it. Now seventeen, she revisits the woods where Tom was taken, resolving to say good-bye at last. Instead, she's lured into the trees, where she finds strange and dangerous creatures who seem to consider her the threat. Among them is Jack, mercurial and magnetic, with secrets of his own. Determined to find her brother, with or without Jack's help, Jenny struggles to navigate a faerie world where stunning beauty masks some of the most treacherous evils, and she's faced with a choice between salvation or sacrifice--and not just her own.

When I look for a good book, I look for something that transports me from my world into the story. I want to get lost and whether the story is pretty or not, I want to feel like I'm a way from my world and in another. While reading The Treachery of Beautiful Things not only did I get fully immersed in another world, but I was reminded of the fairy tales I read as  a child that weren't always so pretty, that had bad things happen in them to teach lessons and punish and sometimes just because. As I read, I remembered those old stories and  was enchanted by fairy tales once again. These were the fairies I grew up with, not the ones that have been created by some of my favorite authors. These are the ones to be frightened of at night and when you walk in the woods alone.

Jenny and Tom, sister and brother are walking home from his flute lesson when Tom is literally snatched by the trees in Branley Copse when he was just fourteen and she was ten. It haunts her for years through countless psychiatrists and pills they try to convince her she didn't see what she saw. And her mother and father silently blame her, she thinks, wishing it were her instead of him. But, after she graduates from boarding school, she faces her fears and thinking she hears Tom playing his flute, she ventures into the woods. At once, she finds herself not in Branley Copse, but in a different world, the fairy world though she doesn't know it yet, and she learns the lesson of the treachery of beautiful things.

Such a befitting title. It conveys so many meanings. Jenny is caught up in a war between Titania and Oberon between Mab and Titania between the Oak King and Oberon between the Wild and the Tame, between the Fae and Human. It's a timeless war fought for centuries and the winners never seem to change. Jenny meets Puck who goes by many names and Jack, who also goes by many names, one very surprising to me. Jack guards the edge between the two worlds and it is his job to escort Jenny back to the edge to her world. But she wants to stay to find Tom. And Jack can't escort her at night. He has other duties at night. So misadventures begin and Jenny learns that she can't trust anyone. Jack does give her a few rules like don't eat anything except fruit or water so she won't become Fae. She remembers these rules and a few others as the story goes on to keep herself safe.

I found it a little hard to get into the rhythm of the writing but after a few chapters I began to fall right into the story. Jenny is smart and after an encounter with "beautiful things" that leaves her hurt, she is mistrusting of anyone and anything. She does find herself in need of rescuing a few times, but she's also the rescuer of more than one thing in the forest. She is the antithesis of all that is wrong in this Fairyland. Jack is described as mercurial and I'll agree to that, though there are reasons for it and I was just waiting for the full truth to be revealed.

Puck is Puck. He's a trickster, not to be trusted, sometimes to be trusted. a friend, a betrayer. He's just Puck, but how can you not like Puck? He was there when it counted the most and that's what mattered. Jenny knew not to trust him yet she did anyway because who else could she trust?

The Sidhe, the Queen's court, is as cold and unfeeling as Titania. The first we see of her is when she is trying to track the Piper, who we believe might be Tom, who has run away from her. He's to be the blood tithe in a few days time and they need to find him. When the tracker is unable to locate him, she gives him a head start then sends her hounds after him. The Sidhe courtiers, with Titania behind them, follow with glee as the hounds tear him to shreds.

This is a long story, almost four hundred pages, but any shorter and  it would feel rushed. It has beautiful, lush imagery and dark adventure. The woods are alive and something is always watching them be it day or night as Jenny, Jack and Puck travel to find Tom.  It's a great story and again, you'll get lost in the telling of it. There are creatures from all over the fairy lore, Kobolds, Nixies, Sprites, Goblins, Elves, Foletti,  and Leczis. There's even a dragon.

It made for a beautiful fairy tale and one I won't soon forget. It isn't typical, it isn't a retelling as far as I know, but it was sure worth the reading. It was a savory read, not one I rushed through. I took three days to read it instead of one and I enjoyed each and every word. Definitely going on the special shelf.

Great for any lover of fairy tales, just not the sweet lovable fairies. This was a clean read though the protagonist is older, just graduated I think any YA lover of fantasy would enjoy it.

Heather

Friday, August 17, 2012

All These Lives by Sarah Wylie A Review

All These Lives

by Sarah Wylie
Goodreads Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky.  She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal.  And Jena is wasting away.  To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives.  Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one.  Someone like Jena.  But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization.  Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all.  Maybe she really only ever had one.

This book is loaded with emotional cliffs and we drop off more than one as we navigate, for a brief time, in the life of Dani Bailey's complicated and decidedly depressing life. Not that Dani does anything to make it better. But her twin, her other half, the one who knows her best, the one who she promised when she was six and had the chicken pox that she would die for her, is dying right before her eyes and she can't stop it. But she has this odd theory that she has nine lives from something her mother told her when she survived a car crash when she was little. And she thinks when Jena is at her worst, if she gives up one of those lives, then Jena will feel well.  And so she goes from one suicide attempt to another without anyone really understanding what is happening. Except for Jack.

Dani and Jack have known each other since kindergarten and apparently Dani has been bullying Jack verbally since then. She loves to tease him and make him blush. But now that things have changed in her life, the stakes are higher and suddenly Jack is talking back. Somehow he knows what's going on and like everyone else, she uses her humor as a defense to push him away. Dani has essentially become a stranger to herself. She doesn't know who she is without Jena and she's so afraid that Jena is going to die that instead of savoring her moments with her, she pushes her away and stays away as much as possible. But to think "I will go on existing without her. Wear dresses she has never seen. One birthday cake instead of two. The thought is so absurd that I almost burst out laughing." That's what she thinks as tears roll down my cheeks. 

Dani's parents make her start seeing a therapist after she crashes a motorcycle and she's still denying herself any help. If they could only see what we could see, they would put her on 24 hour lock down, and I'm not one to kid about that. She is a danger to herself always. Her biggest fear is being left alone without her twin. Seeing that empty chair at the table for four. Being the one left behind. Some of the last pages are the most profound in the story which I can't share of course. But it makes me wonder who is more scared, the person dying or the ones left behind?

Dani does crash land literally. And she has to decide is she going to quit before she even knows if her sister makes it through the cancer? Or is she going to live the life she's been given, considering she's wasting the one she'd do anything to give to her sister, which is impossible. She has a wicked sense of humor, which she keeps despite everything, but I think I'd be exhausted keeping everyone in my life at arm's length. And in the end, she finds out she isn't as enigmatic as she thought.

I'd definitely recommend this for YA readers that can handle death and suicide. It's heavy on both.
I received a copy of this from MacMillan Children's Publishing through NetGalley for review. The opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for my review.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lucretia and the Kroons a Review

Lucretia and The Kroons

by Victor LaValle
Kindle, Barnes and Noble
Goodreads Summary:
Lucretia’s best friend and upstairs neighbor Sunny—a sweet pitbull of a kid, even as she struggles with a mysterious illness—has gone missing. The only way to get her back is for Lucretia to climb the rickety fire escape of their Queens tenement and crawl through the window of apartment 6D, portal to a vast shadowland of missing kids ruled by a nightmarish family of mutants whose designs on the children are unknown. Her search for Sunny takes Lucretia through a dark fantasyland where she finds lush forests growing from concrete, pigeon-winged rodents, and haunted playgrounds. Her quest ultimately forces her to confront the most frightening specter of all: losing, forever, the thing you love the most.

Lucretia and the Kroons is a dazzlingly imaginative adventure story and a moving exploration of the power of friendship and the terror of loss. This all-new novella serves as the perfect companion piece to The Devil in Silver, a thrillingly suspenseful work of literary horror that continues the story of Lucretia.

Okay, so this is a pretty unique story. The first half is set in the real world with Lucretia, nicknamed Loochie, having a birthday party for herself. She loosely fits in with three girls who I have to say are real snots who her mother has invited to her house for a party. It doesn't end well. Loochie throws them out calling them whores. She puts her ice cream cake back in the freezer and tells her mom she'll celebrate her birthday when her bestfriend, Sunny comes home from cancer treatment in Tennessee.  It did surprise me that Sunny was in Tennessee getting treatment when they lived in NYC with supposedly the best doctors and I always assumed the best facilities and treatments for cancer.

Months later, Sunny comes home and Loochie is in denial. She sees how frail her friend is, how hard she has to work to breathe, but she still thinks her friend is coming down to spend a few hours with her and they'll celebrate her birthday. While waiting her brother drops by to pick her mom up for lunch. He tells her about the Kroons in 6D who snatch little kids and burn them up. That they almost got him one time. He tells her, "Being young doesn't protect you. Horrors come for kids, too." Loochie's mind is focused on the Kroons as she listens to sirens wail up the street and stop at her building. She knows there are a lot of old people in her building and wonders who they came for. It never enters her mind that it could be for Sunny.

Circumstances lead her to the fire escape again where she sees Sunny's grandmother bent over with wracking sobs. The Kroons have Sunny and Loochie is on her way to get her back. In through the window she goes and immediately her belt and shoes are snatched off of her by a strange man with a dented face.
She gets loose and thus begins her journey into the strange land of 6D. There is a park there, the one she and Sunny always visited, Flushing Meadows. And though it's a bit askew, it is their park and she knows exactly where to find Sunny. She is chased by the Kroons but escapes several times and comes to the Playground for Lost Children. There isn't a child in sight. Just abandoned toys all over. And she wonders if this is where Sunny and all the other sick children go. But there are no bones. So she doesn't give up hope. And that is where she and Sunny are reunited. Sunny is fiesty as ever and they outrun and outsmart the Kroons with the help of one of the other Kroons. 

Slowly, as they spend their remaining time together, Sunny explains that she is headed to the Shea, a stadium where kids spend eternity running around sitting wherever they want, never sick. She even thinks her hair might grow back and she'll never have to get more treatments. Loochie asks her to stay, asks her "Don't you love me?" And Sunny asks the same. It's a time of transition, of letting go of Sunny. There is a lot of symbolism in the novel even as they battle the Kroons.

It's a unique story, a prequel to The Devil in Silver, an adult novel, but I think it can stand alone. The last few pages seemed to be tacked onto the story as an after thought and felt a little jarring. Like it hadn't been written by the same author. Lucretia had been written so tenderly and carefully, her time with the Kroons so thoughtfully and symbolic, I just felt the last few pages could have had the same effort put into them.

There is some strong language in it, but only a couple of times and it does deal with death. Use your best judgement as to age appropriateness. This is not billed as YA but could definitely be.

I was asked to review this by Random House publishing. I received a copy for review from NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review. The opinions in my review are my own.

Heather


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Traitor Creepy Hollow Series #3 by Rachel Morgan

Traitor Creepy Hollow #3

by Rachel Morgan
Goodreads Summary:
Violet and Nate may have escaped the labyrinth, but only one of them came out unscathed. Nate is now the bearer of a mysterious eye-shaped tattoo, a mark he has no memory of receiving. While Vi is intent on discovering the meaning of the tattoo, Nate seems less interested. His experience in the labyrinth has caused recurring nightmares, and he’d prefer to pretend none of it ever happened. But Vi has never been one to let a mystery go unsolved, and she’ll do whatever she can to discover who’s behind the tattoo—even if it means leaving Nate out of her plan.

You know how you're reading a really good book and you keep wanting to read one more chapter but you really need to go bed? With this series you have to because there is only so much of it written, so far. I think it's (I'm averaging what Amazon and Goodreads says about how many pages it is) about at 168 pages so it's a good read but each section ends on a good place. Until....THIS ONE!

*****Note there might be spoilers from the previous two novels but I will try not to do that******
(After reviewing my review, there are no big spoilers in my review so you can read it and still read the series without major upsets at me!)

Violet is a Faery Guardian in training sent to protect humans from rogue escapees from her world. She's got tons of neat gadgets like a stylus that she can draw on a wall to open a Faerie pathway and weapons she just has to think about and they appear in her hand. Problem is that on one assignment (Guardian book 1) the human she's protecting sees her and the creature she's fighting. That isn't supposed to happen. Worse, he follows her into the fae realm and she has to take him back.

And that's how it all starts. He gets her on suspension. She kinda gets a thing for him and they start to date. They try to figure out how he can see her and travel in the fae realm without dying. And last time they got into a bit of a scrape in a labyrinth underground. Violet's stylus doesn't work underground and they got separated. So it got a bit hairy and I mean that very literally. Violet has no idea what happened to Nate and he doesn't really remember. All he knows is they got separated and he got this weird tattoo on his back.

In Traitor, Violet is back to training. Being number one in the class like her deceased mother is her priority. And finding out about the tattoo on Nate. Her biggest competition  is a jerk named Ryn. She's not the only one that dislikes him but they are in the running for the top spot and she is determined not to let him get it. There are some really creative fighting and training implements especially The Fish Bowl. No, not gonna explain it you have to read it. But Vi's personality really comes out in this story. She's observing her classmates, two giggly girls flirting with Ryn and we see, "Aria waits until she's standing beside Ryn and Dale before gracefully stretching her arm out and watching her weapon disappear with a sparkle. Perhaps the boys are meant to find that attractive. I don't know. She just looks stupid to me." She is not jealous at all, that's really how she feels. Later on when she's listening in on their conversation she thinks she needs to focus on the wall in front of her as she runs in place because "I'm in danger of falling asleep listening to their inane conversation." Yep that wall is more interesting than them. However, she's not a smartass to people's faces. She's direct, but not unkind. Unless it's Ryn. But he always deserves it.
 
Then she talks about one of the things she's really bad at. When she has  a kill, she has to go to counseling. She says about it, "That thing where I have to discuss my feelings about killing someone. Great. The list of things I'm not good at is pretty short, but discussing feelings is probably at the top." Oh, she's a bit self confident, but then she does have to kill Goblins, Minotaurs and other creatures I've never even heard of without assistance. So it pays to have a healthy dose of confidence in yourself. Of course, when Nate drops this on her, not being able to discuss feelings makes things a bit difficult- 
Nate- "I mean, no matter what happens, you won't forget that I lo-- that I really care about you?" 
Vi- 'Whoa, hang on. HANG ON. Did he almost just use the L word? ' 
Poor Vi she's freaking out with that one! I think she could handle a battalion of trolls better than the L-word! She, of course, leaves very quickly after that.  

The worst thing about Traitor is who the traitor is. There is a definite red herring. I thought I knew right away before I started the story who it was but not so. There are always the people that she is close to. Tora, the head of the Guild and a kind of mother figure for Violet. And she has a married couple that she's close to and Nate. She does have a couple of friends in her class. There are some characters from past stories that it could be, Vi's made a few enemies. But I couldn't believe who it turned out to be! This is one of the few trusted people in her life and it is crushing. I only hope that Masquerade which is already out and on my Kindle to be read reveals why the betrayal.

Honestly, if you haven't started reading this series, I don't know why you haven't. It's a great story and I can feel the tension building with each episode. Rachel Morgan, the author is great at giving a good story in the episode and giving a feeling of having read just enough. This was the first time there was a cliff hanger, but when I know the next installment is a month to six weeks away, I can stand it. She really does  deliver quality writing to her readers in a timely manner so that we have something worth looking forward to. I love it when I get an email from her to know the next story is ready.

The characters have depth, the world building is layered and the plot thickens! I'll be reading Masquerade tonight!

Thanks to Rachel for providing a copy of Traitor Creepy Hollow 3 for me to review.

Heather

Monday, August 13, 2012

Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear A Review

Innocent Darkness

by Suzanne Lazear
Goodreads Summary:
Wish. Love. Desire. Live.

Sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock's hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer's eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie rescues her and brings her to the Otherworld, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed, otherwise, the entire Otherworld civilization will perish.

I have to say that this book was nothing like I expected it to be, but that wasn't a bad thing. I think the cover is a bit misleading for those looking for a real steampunk novel as this one is what I'd call "light steampunk." That's fine for me, I don't think I can get past the intricacies of the machines and just a brief introduction into the steam engines and zeppelins is just fine for me. But if you're expecting hardcore steampunk, this is not the novel for you.  

Why would I recommend this novel? It's utterly it's own fantasy world. It takes the otherworld and turns it on it's ear. Suzanne Lazear only kept a very few things that I've read about faeries in her story. It might as well be a totally different world, and it is really. The courts are air, fire, water and earth joined to a central court but there is still a darke court. You still can't trust a faery. EVER!  They need BLOOD SACRIFICES! That's the first time I've read that. And let me tell you, even the nice guys, they admit, they need it. She built an incredibly fascinating otherworld. But first, she built an incredibly fascinating alternate Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Noli, short for Magnolia is a very strong character. Most of the story is told from her point of view, but not all. She has amazing resilience. She tinkers with a flying car until she finally gets it running only to crash it minutes later and gets hauled into the police station for driving without a license. In this world, early 1900's Los Angeles, women have no rights. Can't drive, vote, but Noli wants to go to University to be a botanist. Socialite women, like they used to be before Noli's father disappeared in the San Francisco earthquakes, never even held jobs. But now, Noli's mother has a dress shop. Noli tends the house and the gardens and tries to keep up the outside of the house. But the machines call to her. When she's sent to reform school for girls, she bears their punishments which are very cruel and unusual, until a particularly brutal night. When she finds herself in the Otherworld, she's very smart about it. She is not a character you'll throw your hands up in frustration about. She is extremely sensible.

Steven, V., for short is the boy next door, literally. He is a contradiction if there ever was one. He always is cautious with Noli, telling her to behave, remember she can't get in trouble, be careful etc. And unlike Noli's mother who believes Noli is at a nice school for boisterous girls, he knows she's at a terrible school. He worries about her constantly, but he's hiding a huge secret. One that is revealed and when it is....well let's say the steam in this novel doesn't just come from the engines!

I loved that some of the chapters were from some of the POV of some of the men in the book.  There was some small amount of predictability, but that may change. I certainly didn't see the ending happening. My only complaint is that I'll have to wait so long for the next book in the series!  There was no big cliff hanger ending, so thanks to Suzanne Lazear for that! This one is definitely one that I'll be eagerly awaiting the sequel to and any little novellas if any come out!

Recommended for older YA readers due to mature themes. 

Thanks to Flux Publishers and NetGalley for the E-ARC for review. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Beneath the Slashings by Michelle Isenhoff A Review

Beneath the Slashings

by Michelle Isenhoff
Goodreads Summary:
After four uncertain years of war, twelve-year-old Grace Nickerson is desperate to return to a sense of normalcy. But when her father returns from the army, he sells the farm and drags the family off to a lumber camp in Michigan's northern wilderness. Grace is devastated; she's never been brave. When her tears and tantrums won't change Pa's mind, she stops speaking to him altogether.
Grace spends long hours working with her brother Sam and Ivan, the surly Russian cook, but at least in the kitchen she is safe from the lumberjacks. She's seen them from the window. They're rough, unkept, and terrifying. But slowly, with Sam's help, she comes to understand they're all missing home and recovering from loss, just like she is. Her fear begins to evaporate--until she learns one of them is trying to kill Pa. 
Who is sabotaging the camp, and why? Will the winter in the woods bring the healing Grace needs? Or will it drive a wedge into her family?

I'll be honest and say, that I wasn't anticipating liking this novel as much as I did. I'm not a big Civil War novel lover and the fact that this takes place just after the Civil War, I thought that it would be about that completely. It does in fact deal with some of the horrors of war and some lingering racism. Ha, racism, I'm not even sure if that's the right word. Second class citizen, I just don't even have the right word for what most of the men thought of the one lone black man that was in the logging camp. Even the northerners that fought against slavery consider this black man beneath them. Anyway, that isn't all the book is about. In fact, that's only a small part.

The book is told through 12 yr old Grace Nickerson's very reluctant voice. She hates the idea of leaving the farming community she grew up in, her friends, her aunt and uncle she's lived with while her dad fought in the war to go to this logging camp. She expects the worst and isn't really disappointed. The men are somewhat crude and dirty, not liking the bathing every other Sunday rule that her father institutes. (honestly you'd think they were 12 yr old boys!) But they don't allow any mistreatment of their little Grace even if she doesn't speak to them or look them in the eye. She cooks in the kitchen with her twin brother and Ivan, the chef and they work hard. But on the occasion that she does have a break, she goes and pouts somewhere. Yep, she's taken the silent treatment to a whole nother level! Anyway, one of the loggers sees someone mistreat her and he gets a little mistreatment of his own. It's very funny what they do to him and when Grace hears through her brother what happened she warms up to the men. But not her father. This little girl can give the silent treatment like nobody's business!

She keeps busy by snooping around and trying to figure out who is causing a series of nearly fatal accidents at the camp. The last camp boss, her father's position, was found dead of a shotgun wound and no one is sure if it was self inflicted or an accident or if he was killed. She may not be talking to him, but she doesn't want her father to die. While she puts the clues together, she makes friends with the men and begins to see the logging camp differently. We get a crash course in logging. I found it very interesting. Grace finds her way to an old Ottawa woman's tepee where she learns to make moccasin's out of rabbit skins. She reads to the men on Sunday afternoons, fairy tales and Alice in Wonderland, and she grows up quite a bit. 

The novel would have been dull if it had been just about living in a logging camp, but the added mystery, the Native American woman, a teeny tiny romance and the men reminiscing about home, about the losses in the war, all of that made for a really interesting novel. I'd definitely recommend this to any MG reader who can read a chapter book of this size. There were a few words I didn't know, but read in context (and a little help from the Kindle dictionary) I figured them out. I did not, however realize who the bad guy was until  Grace did. This book is part of a trilogy, but can work as a stand alone as the characters are different and unrelated in each story. Also for teachers, there is a Curriculum Guide available if you want to go along with the book. Below are some links you might find helpful.

Thanks to the author, Michelle Isenhoff for the complimentary copy of Beneath the Slashings given to me for an honest opinion in my review. I was in no way influenced in my review.

Here are the authors links:

Heather

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Jelly Bean Crisis by Jolene Stockman A Review

The Jelly Bean Crisis

by Jolene Stockman
Goodreads Summary:
A total meltdown. The whole school watching. Now Poppy’s an ex-straight-A with no Plan B.

When Poppy Johnson throws away a full scholarship to Columbia, she can only blame the jelly beans. The yucky green ones? Midnight cram sessions and Saturday’s spent studying. The delicious red? The family legacy: Columbia, and a future in finance. Except now it’s starting to look like Poppy’s jelly bean theory is wrong. School has been her life until, but maybe it’s time to start living now.

Poppy has thirty days to try a new life. No school, no studying. Just jumping into every possible world. Thirty days to find her passion, her path, and maybe even love. The Jelly Bean Crisis is officially on.

So, why do I recommend you read this book? If you're a teen thinking about going to college or a parent with a kid going off to college, I think you should read it simply so you can remember who's life it is that's going to be affected the most by college. What's the right major? Should I take a year off? Should I let my child take a year off? Should I let them go for their dreams or a sensible job? If any of those questions are wandering around in your mind, even if you're an adult considering going back to college, read this novel.

Poppy has planned her life to please everyone but herself. She doesn't even know what makes her happy. I'm surprised she knows how she likes her pancakes. But when she's been pushing herself for so long to get the Denton award, a full ride to Columbia plus allowance, she stumbles. She realizes that being an investment banker may not be what she wants. She has never tried anything but what's on her plan, math, extra credit, lots of studying, anything that will look good on her transcripts. But her world is so limited that she doesn't know enough about it to know what she does and doesn't like. Her guidance counselor mentions a gap year between high school and college and Poppy jumps at that.

Dad doesn't. Dad and all of the people on his side of the family, the men, are legacies at Columbia. His father made him go and become a bank manager and he's going to make sure Poppy is taking that scholarship and study finance at Columbia.  But he's willing to compromise, amazingly. She gets 30 days starting now to find out what she wants to do. And the race is on. It's unfair pressure. Poppy is a junior and sixteen. I doubt any sixteen year old really knows what they want to be. And Poppy knows that she's good in math, with numbers, but it doesn't make her happy. But she is sixteen, and has amazing resilience and optimism. She doesn't even let the less than supportive talks from her teachers sway her from her gap month.

There are some great moments in Poppy's experiences like eating all the cookie dough you could possibly want. Falling into the compost bin at an organic farm and chasing a chicken. Even being a go for on a movie set. She even meets a boy, something she's never done at her all girl high school and she learns the importance of her friends.

I only had one small time when I felt Poppy was being a tad over dramatic, but she is a 16 yr old girl. She kept on about how she didn't feel anything and she was miserable and a failure. She hadn't discovered what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. As smart as she is she still didn't figure out for herself that she wouldn't figure it out at 16. If she did, she would be one of the very few.

This is a really good coming of age, discovering yourself contemporary novel. Romance takes a back seat to the journey of finding yourself. Anyone struggling with that question might find some answers in the novel. I found the writing easy going, not overly descriptive. A couple of parts dragged but not for long.
I'm almost hoping there will be a second novel to follow up on Poppy and let us see what happens.

This is a very clean read and appropriate for 12 and up. I can't wait to read future works from this author,
Jolene Stockman.

As part of the AToMR blog tour you can follow the other blogs and reviews and extra content through the following link:  The Jelly Bean Crisis Blog AToMR Tour



There is also a GIVEAWAY!!  You can fill out the Rafflecopter form to enter the giveaway from here or on any of the other blogs on the tour.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thanks to the author, Jolene Stockman for the review copy of The Jelly Bean Crisis and AToMR Blog Tours!

Heather

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

WOW Some Upcoming Titles

WOW

I have not done a Waiting On Wednesday in forever! So I am very excited to do one today!
There are so many books I am excited to read both this year and in the beginning of next year-Can you believe school is starting already? The new year will be here before you know it!
So here are some I am excited to read!
Oh, and WOW was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine to do just what I'm doing, show books I'm anxiously awaiting!

I do have to give a nod to Shannon at Stalking the Bookshelves for giving me a heads up on these!

April 16,2013
Three high school girls become the avenging Furies of Greek legend.

We were only three angry girls, to begin with. Alix, the hot-tempered surfer chick; Stephanie, the tree-hugging activist; and me, Meg, the quiet foster kid, the one who never quite fit in. We hardly knew each other, but each of us nurtured a burning anger: at the jerks in our class, at our disappointing parents, at the whole flawed, unjust world.

We were only three angry girls, simmering uselessly in our ocean-side California town, until one day a mysterious, beautiful classmate named Ambrosia taught us what else we could be: Powerful. Deadly. Furious.





January 8 2013
Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived … and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye. 

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?



What are you waiting for?  This isn't all, but I want to space them out!! Man, does it seem like the books are just getting better and better to you too?

Heather

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas Review

Throne of Glass

by Sarah J. Maas
Goodreads Summary:
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.


I loved this book! I loved the world though I'm hoping to understand it more in the next novel. I loved the sheer ballsyness of Prince Dorian getting the Assassin of Adarlan, an 18 yr old girl, to be his champion and show up his dad, if it worked. I loved the intelligence behind Celaena's mind even in the very beginning of the book. She's being led up and down and round and round in shackles through two connecting towers by a man in a hood with six guards and she realizes it's all to keep her from figuring out an escape route. But she's already figured out they are going up and down the same sets of stairs and around the same tower and she's plotting how fast she can take the six guards out or should she take the hooded man out first.  But then she's before the prince and she's a little flumoxed.


Throughout the book, though I'm certain in all her training as an assassin so that she can fit in she knows how to act, Celaena shows a complete lack of decorum. She hates the corsets and would rather wear trousers. She eats with her mouth open and even shows her food to Captain Westfall once when he's going on about something. She was like a child in many ways. And she was delighted by the things a child would delight in, a puppy, a bag of candy. It gives you a hint into what she missed out on as a child and what has shaped her into who she is. Why she craves freedom so desperately she'll do anything, even this crazy championship to get it.


If she wins the championship, she'll be the King's assassin for four years. The King she despises for sending her to the salt mines, for enslaving so many of the people of their lands, for conquering so many nations and killing innocents, for banishing magic. If she wins, she'll have to stand beside him and follow his orders to kill anyone he tells her to. But after four years, she'll have no master. She thinks it's worth it.


The love interests are the Captain of the Guard, her main guard and trainer, Captain Westfall, first name Chaol and best friend to the prince, Dorian, the other love interest. It's really hard to pick a winner in the love triangle. They are both good men, but if you look at Celaena, and what she needs, Chaol is probably the best choice. At least he can fight her. I don't think Dorian is a match for her and she is not one to play princess.


So, there is a lot of court intrigue and politics. Mom is trying to get Dorian to marry. HA! If she only knew. The champions are being murdered. The King is away most of  the book but news of his heinous deeds reaches the castle. Some kind of magic is being worked in the castle. Celaena has two handsome men falling for her and someone is out to get her. And there are secrets in her past that we only get to see hints at in this novel. What's not to love? Oh and she hates the Glass Castle. Yes, the King built a Glass Castle. I can't see anything but bad things happening there.


I was completely in love with this story. That Celaena was a bit childish was unexpected but made perfect sense.  Her ability to fight men twice her size was believable because of her wit, not brawn. It was no wonder no one believed she was the Assassain of Adarlan.  I cannot wait for the next book!!


Thanks to Bloomsbury Children's Books and NetGalley for the E-ARC. I will be buying a copy of this for the special shelf so I can read it again until the next book comes out! The opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for my review.


Heather

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