Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Pearce mixes werewolves and classic fairy tales to create a lushly romantic story of two sisters who hunt the Fenris, werewolves who roam in search of adolescent girls to eat. Along with her younger sister, Rosie, Scarlett March was orphaned and nearly killed at age 11 by a Fenris who destroyed her grandmother and left her missing an eye. Eight years later, the sisters have become fierce hunters, avenging their grandmother and protecting unknowing young women with the help of their neighbor, a young woodsman named Silas, who wields a mean axe. Silas loves Rosie, but hesitates to come between the sisters' strong bond. Scarlett and Rosie alternate narrating chapters, giving the reader a clear view of their inner conflicts. Despite plenty of gore and werewolf transformations, it's the compelling love stories that drive the tale—the sisters' affection for each other, the first breathless flush of infatuation between Rosie and Silas, and Scarlett's love of the hunt.(Summary from Booklist taken off Amazon)

I received this ARC as part of a traveling tour from We Love YA Tours.  With a week turnaround time and NaNoWriMo I had to read in every snatch of time I got.  The doctor's office-she asked "And now the most important question Is that book any good?"  She thought it was by Gregory Maguire of Wicked fame.  I live in Massachusetts.  They live for Gregory Maguire.  Wicked is a very big descriptive word up here.  So I'll say this  Sister Red was Wicked Good! 

This is the tale basically of Little Red Riding Hood, in a different version, when she's all grown up and they are sisters.  I'm going to try not to give anything away.  The summary tells you that the wolf eats Oma March and the woodsman takes the two orphaned girls in until their mother comes home to care for them.  She had run away to the circus, but is motherly enough to come back and stay with the girls for a little while.  At least until she can't stand to see Scarlett's scars anymore and then it's off to the circus again.  But the woodsman looks after the girls, he has many children of his own.  And he and Oma March had been good friends.

Scarlett's scars are extensive and criss-cross  her entire body.  When the wolf killed Oma March, she broke a mirror and pushed her sister under the bed and she fought the wolf.  He took her eye and left scars everywhere, except over her heart.  This is significant because the girls, though two years apart in age, believe they share a heart.  They believed when they were little that their heart broke in two because half of them wanted to be born first, Scarlett, and then Rosie braved the world later.  As little girls they believed this but after the attack, the only time their hearts felt as one was when they were on the hunt for Fenris-the wolves that attacked and ate young girls.

This story is basically about the deep love between two sisters, the responsibility Scarlett feels to hunt the Fenris and Rosie's need for something more.  There is a lot of guilt on Rosie's part because her sister bears the scars of protecting her and the hunt and Rosie doesn't feel she can separate from her sister.  But Silas, Scarlett's hunting partner lures her away from a life of hunting and tries to show her a life beyond just hunting.  For Scarlett, anything but hunting is an act of betrayal.  For Silas, he can hunt and still have a life.
For Rosie's a choice between the two people she loves.

But another story going on is the hunt for the Potential, a human that has all the right things to be turned into a Fenris and the Fenris are on the prowl, first in the girls' small town and then when Scarlett, Rosie and Silas head to Atlanta where there are a lot of killings, they hear Fenris talking of the Potential.  But they know so little of this Potential.  What makes him what he is and their greatest resource, Silas' father, the woodsman, is in a nursing home with Alzheimer's.

There is a lot of action in this novel mixed with a little bit of  budding romance and lots of fighting and gore.  Not the kind that turns your stomach, just descriptive enough.  I knew who the Potential was pretty early but you may not guess.  Pearce just left the hint way too soon for it not to be the person I thought it was no matter how far off she tried to lead.  This was fast paced and a great take on the Little Red Riding Hood story.  Each character had something to add, but Silas wasn't a fully developed character.  However, this was after all Sisters Red and the two sisters were given every other chapter to narrate and let us see into their minds.

I'd love to see Pearce do another fairy tale.  I've just recently read Beastly, a take on Beauty and the Beast and the modern telling of the old versions make for really great reading.  I love the grown up versions of Red Riding Hood.  I definitely recommend this to anyone that loves fairy tales, suspense, mystery, YA, or just a good read.  I'd say it's clean enough for any age to read.  Just depends on the gore factor.  And a big  thanks to We Love YA Tours for letting me have a chance to read this one!!

Heather in Sandwich

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vamped by Lucienne Diver

When Gina makes out with newly hot Bobby after prom, she gets more than she bargained for. Later, her boyfriend Chaz crashes his car and Gina finds out the hard way why the teen death rate is up in her Ohio town. She wakes up and claws her way out of the grave, adjusting quickly to the fact that she is now undead. Bobby meets her at the cemetery and they end up back at her house before sunrise. They are then captured and taken to a secret hideout where they meet Mellisande, a rogue vampire who seeks to build her own army and to fulfill a prophecy. She has turned a group of teens into vampires, but Bobby has special powers, including telekinesis, that the other vamps do not possess. Chaz and Gina's friend Marcy are among the new vamps who are training in combat skills to take on the vampire council, and Gina must step up to save her friends. This quick read is filled with teen slang and fashion consciousness; it's a lighthearted, action-packed, vampire romance story.

At the beginning of this novel, I felt like I'd missed the first chapter or so.  It took me awhile to catch up with things and figure out what was going on.  Even so, I was about halfway into the novel before I felt like I was really into the novel and knew what was going on, who the characters were and where things were headed.  But, once I got there, it was fun.  There was Gina, obsessed with her looks who had no reflection.  Then she's separated from her boyfriend who has some kind of superpowers for vampires.  She's held prisoner and her best friend treats her like she's got a disease, no one is talking to her.  But, Gina isn't going to take it lying down.  She's the kind who takes charge now and falls apart later.  So, she does makeovers.  When Marcy goes missing, she gets out to rescue her.  And she wants to find out why the evil vamp holding them captive is building an army of high school vampires.  Does she even care about them?

When Gina hides out in the head vamps office and hears a conversation she shouldn't, she finds out more of what's going on.  She hopes she can round up the troops to help save Bobby and take their own fates into their hands, but mayhem ensues and retreat is required.  When they are attacked the next night, more mayhem ensues and Gina and Bobby are made an offer they can't refuse!

It's not a hardcore vampire book.  Other than the confusion in the beginning, it was a fun book.  I'm looking forward to reading Revamped.  I like the snarky way Gina talks and thinks and her comebacks.  She isn't at all upset about being a vampire other than the fact that she can't see her reflection.  She's a take charge kind of girl and even though she's not sure if she's making the right decision, she stands behind it so that everyone else believes in her.  And she's got a boyfriend that has her back.  And really knows how to talk to win a girl's heart.

I can't remember any bad language.  Only one scene where Gina and Bobby are in their underwear.  But that's all it says.  I think this would be fine for thirteen and up.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.

Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby's right. The goblins are coming.

Did you know that Tyger, Tyger has already been released despite the fact that it still says Novermeber 15, on Amazon, it was released October 20th the author told me.  If you look at the reviews on Amazon, you'll see it has four and a half stars.  If you read the reviews, you'll see that most of them tell you why it's so great.
I reviewed it a while back which you can read HERE.  It is in my top five favorite of the year and at the time was my absolute favorite of the year.  This is a book about goblins which I didn't know much about when I read the book and normally wouldn't read about but I understand them now and they aren't the ugly short creatures I imagined them to be.  They are beautiful much like fairies are and vampires are.  And the folklore, Kersten Hamilton knows her Irish Folklore.  If you didn't know it before, you will after reading this and really if you're into fairy talkes, myths, folklore and such, can you ever know enough?

And if you didn't read her story about searching for the origins of Vampires you won't know that they originated in IRELAND.  I never thought of the Irish with those wonderful accents being blood thirsty vampires.   But then who wouldn't be lured in by those accents????  Go figure.  I think you can still click on the link on my sidebar and read her story.  It was fascinating.  Who else believed vampires started with that crazy guy that stuck the heads of all those guys he defeated on pikes in front of his castle?  Too much History Channel for me.  I need to stick my head in a folklore book.  They need a Folklore Channel.  Wouldn't that be an interesting channel.  But then I'd never turn the t.v. off until the infomercials started. 

I digress.  If you want to brush up on your Irish folkore while reading a novel about a strong female main character,  this is the one for you!  It moves at a fast pace.  Some say it skips over a major part without the proper attention paid to it.  I say that year skipped is fine.  We all know what happened during that year.  We can imagine.  It's not central to the story.  You pick up and go on.  That's what I think the author was trying to convey, that they dealt with it the best they could and went on.  No need to dwell on the facts.  What's there to say?  The obvious effects could be seen when the story started up again. 

This story has it all, romance, but restrained, uncertain, action, lots of it, suspense, tragedy, folklore, mystery and monsters.  And it starts out so  normal.  Don't be fooled, things go from normal to not in a page.
There's really nothing left for it to have in it except maybe science fiction which doesn't belong, but who knows what may come later in one of the other books.  You'll kick yourself, if you don't read this masterpiece.  Tyger, Tyger, to me, is a flawless novel and I can't remember using those terms to describe another book very often.

Get it!  Read it!  Tell me what you think!

Heather in Sandwich

You can follow Kersten Hamilton on Goodreads

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Beastly by Alex Flinn

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

This was a great adaption of the Beauty and the Beast.  It was told from the Beast's point of view and had some interesting plot twists to it.  It was humorous, heartbreaking and fast paced.  The trasformation of the ego centric main character Kyle Kingsbury, Prince of Tuttle Private School to Adrian the kind hearted beast was slow going, but it did happen and not just with the help of a girl.

The beginning starts with the choosing of Prince and Princess of the last dance of the school year.  Of course Kyle knows he'll win.  But a girl in the back of the room pipes up that it is utterly preposterous that they are voting on someone just because of their looks and people should be judged by what's inside.  Kyle doesn't know this girl but thinks she's extremely ugly and vows to get even with her.  At P.E. he ask her to the dance knowing full well he already has a dance with the hottest girl in school.  He shows up at the dance with his date and they all make fun of her.  One faux pas, he brought the wrong type of corsage for his date so he gave it to the ticket taker at the front, she seemed to think it was beautiful.

Later that night, he finds out the girl he tricked was a witch and she turns him into a beast.  She tells him he must find a girl that he loves that loves him that will kiss him to break the curse.  There are some other things attached, but I don't want to spoil it.  His father is a news anchorman and is rarely home, but he takes time off to visit specialist around the country to see if they can help Kyle.  They all say the same thing, "No."  Eventually, he moves Kyle to a Brownstone in Brooklyn with five stories and an 8 foot tall fence.  He doesn't move in with him.  He doesn't want to be seen with Kyle.  Kyle realizes this and makes some demands threatening to go to the news if his father doesn't follow through.

Soon Kyle has a blind tutor and a computer with the internet.  He joins an internet support group for people that have been transformed and meets some of the familiars, the Frog Prince, The Bear in Snow White and Rose Red, and The Little Mermaid who is considering giving up her fins.  They instant message during support group time, it's sort of funny especially since "Froggie can't type very well or fast."  Kyle convinces his tutor that a witch turned him into this beast and finely, after feeling his hair, he believes him.  They study daily and one day, the tutor, Will, brings home rose bushes and all the things it takes to grow them.  Kyle, at first stung by the roses as they remind him of the dance is shocked, but helps plant them and soon takes over the care of them.  He later builds a green house of glass so he can enjoy them all year long.

One night he hears someone breaking the glass of his greenhouse and finds a man coming in to steal from him.  It's the same story, bring your daughter to me in one week or I'll turn you in to the police.  But, Kyle, who calls himself Adrian now has video cameras with tapes to prove the break in and he knows who the man's daughter is and knows she'd be better off without her father.  He spends the week decorating her bedroom, buying out the bookstores and clothing stores and painting and wall papering.  But Lindy hates him for keeping her prisoner and won't even take meals with him, his tutor and maid.  But one night she brings her dishes down and Adrian is in the lounge where the t.v. is.  She gets her first shadowy look and him and doesn't go running.  The next day she comes down in daylight and soon a friendship begins.

Lindy's father is not the kind of father Beauty had and not one that deserves the love Lindy gave him.  Adrian truly transforms and asks for gifts for his friends instead of himself even if the curse isn't lifted.  He is resigned to the fact that he will always be a beast.  But he accepts his fate and is content with it knowing he is better inside than he was as Kyle Kingsbury.  It's a great story and I never felt like I was reading Beauty and the Beast.  It's completely contemporary and feels very genuine except for the witch and  the enchantment.

I really enjoyed it and read it in just a few hours.  I suggest it for anyone that loves the classic fairy tales or wants a simply enjoyable read.  There was some slightly suggestive remarks in the beginning but that was it.
Heather in Sandwich

It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach?

It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come.

But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started--at Cousins Beach.

Conrad and Belly left things badly.  Or should I say Belly did.  At his mother's funeral, she found him with his head in another girl's lap, the girl who broke his heart, and Belly told him she hated him.  Yes it was childish, but that's what love does sometimes, makes you act childish.  She spends the next few months pining over Conrad but also mourning the loss of Susannah.  She misses the attention she got from her, how she treated Belly and mostly she misses their summer at Cousins.  It just doesn't feel like summer.  Her best friend thinks she's carried on long enough, but she just doesn't understand.  For sixteen years, almost seventeen she'd lived at Cousins trying to fit in with the boys and this year, there was no Cousins, no Susannah.

But that all changes when Jeremiah calls and asks for her help in finding Conrad.  He's gone missing at school and missed two classes and has some exams coming up on Monday.  Jeremiah picks her up and she lies to her mom about where she'll be.  They take off for Brown, where Conrad is attending school.  His room mate is no help.  A quick hello to the RA gives them the information they need when he tells them he said something about going to the beach.  They find him at Cousins, his usual brooding, surly self.  He gives them no reason why he's there and they can't talk him into going back.

It's only when the boy's dad shows up that they understand why he's there.  Belly still loves him, but he is still aloof and she takes no chances on being hurt again until she gets drunk on their last night there.  Then she runs to the beach to swim and Conrad comes after her because she's too drunk to swim.  She taunts him and he tells her he won't follow her in.  She gets distracted and he picks her up and drops her on the beach.  By this time she's crying and apologizes for the way she acted the day of the funeral.  Conrad acts like it was nothing while Belly has carried the shame and guilt of it around for months.  She runs crying from the beach and crawls up to her room where she drunk dials her mom.  She spills her guts, then passes out with the phone off the hook.

The next morning, when Belly's mom shows up, everyone is surprised and they relay the events of the past few days.  She says she'll try to help.  After she leaves, Belly and  the Jeremiah have to help Conrad study for him exams.  They study most of the night and then Jeremiah drives them to Brown while Conrad studies.  Jeremiah has always been in love with Belly and knows he'd be good for her and during one of the times they are waiting for Conrad, they end up kissing.  Conrad sees them and is jealous.  Belly is confused all over again when he says he never loved her.  It's and up and down ride and there will be another book coming out in May next year.  Personally, I'd like to see Jeremiah punch Conrad in the face and Jeremiah and Belly live happily ever after, as much as you can.  Conrad is really detestable.  He strings her along, keeping her on the hook just enough to keep hope alive.  But Belly is the most frustrating.  She lets him treat her like dirt.  He leaves her at the prom, to walk home.  He didn't even bring her a corsage.  He acted like he didn't want to be there the whole time.  He doesn't call her.  Then at the funeral when she wants to be with him, he's with his ex-girlfriend.  But he still makes these flirty comments to her.  So she lets him keep her hoping when even if he does love her, he's never going to be there for her and she's never going to be able to count on him.

That was the frustrating part of this book.  For two books now, she's been mooning over Conrad and though between book one and two he called  her almost nightly, she didn't know if they were boyfriend and girlfriend.  Then there's Jeremiah who told her he liked her and who she can talk to and be with and laugh with.  Hello, wake up Belly!  First change your choice in boys and then change your nickname, you're not a toddler anymore.

I still loved this book and can't believe I have to wait this long to read what I hope will be the last in the series.  I only want it to be the last because I don't like waiting for sequels.  I love the characters and they had the appropriate feelings as to the loss of Susannah in this book.  Each character handled their grief differently, but they were all grieving.  The visit to Cousins helped to heal that wound a little.  If you liked the first novel, you'll love this second one and hate that you have to wait for the third one!  Again, this is PG for underage drinking and a possible swear word or two.


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