Sunday, May 29, 2011

In My Mailbox Oink Oink!

In My Mailbox is a meme started by the Story Siren for bloggers to let other bloggers know what they are reading and what books have just released and what books are coming out in the near future.

My mailbox was strictly purchases except for one book from a debut novelist.

Her book is called Between written by Cindy Tefft and it has one of my favorite types of characters in it- A Scottish Highlander!!
She saw my comment to her that I loved Scottish Highlanders and sent me a copy of her book for review along with a great post that will be on my blog on June 1st the day her book is released for publication.  I won't have a review written by then, but I can't wait to read it!


Here is the rest that I got from Amazon-

Sleight (AVRA-K #1)The Sky Is EverywhereDivergent (Divergent, #1)Blood Magic (Blood Journals, #1)

The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1)Beauty QueensWrappedCrescendo (Hush, Hush, #2)

Amandine      From PaperBack Swap

So you can see all the great recommendations I keep seeing are making me want these books.  I'm taking a break from review books so I can finish the ones I have and read some of these books that I have.  I can't wait!  What did you get this week??  And remember, I paid for most of these.  I traded for Amandine and only received one book for review.

Heather in Sandwich

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

Witches of East End                     
Melissa de la Cruz
June 2011
288 Pages
ARC Reviewed
From Library Things
Early Reviewers

The three Beauchamp women--Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid--live in North Hampton, out on the tip of Long Island. Their beautiful, mist-shrouded town seems almost stuck in time, and all three women lead seemingly quiet, uneventful existences. But they are harboring a mighty secret--they are powerful witches banned from using their magic. Joanna can resurrect people from the dead and heal the most serious of injuries. Ingrid, her bookish daughter, has the ability to predict the future and weave knots that can solve anything from infertility to infidelity. And finally, there's Freya, the wild child, who has a charm or a potion that can cure most any heartache.

Beauchamp women realize they can no longer conceal their true selves. They unearth their wands from the attic, dust off their broomsticks, and begin casting spells on the townspeople. It all seems like a bit of good-natured, innocent magic, but then mysterious, violent attacks begin to plague the town. When a young girl disappears over the Fourth of July weekend, they realize it's time to uncover who and what dark forces are working against them.

With a brand-new cast of characters, a fascinating and fresh world to discover, and a few surprise appearances from some of the Blue Blood fan favorites, this is a page-turning, deliciously fun, magical summer read fraught with love affairs, witchcraft, and an unforgettable battle between good and evil

I received an ARC of this from Library Things Early Reviewers Program.  This in no way influenced my review.

Let me start by stating that this is not a YA novel.  It is strictly seventeen and up.  This is one of those books that would be great for a college age YA lover.  It took me a little while to get caught up in the story, but I don't know if that was because of personal reasons or the story line, so I'll give it a break on that.  I love witch stories, but these witches, Freya, her sister Ingrid and their mother Joanna Beauchamp are forbidden to practice witchcraft since the Council ruled anyone stuck on this side of the bridge could no longer practice witchcraft.  I didn't know what bridge, but I thought it had something to do with the Salem Witch trials as the girls, Freya and Ingrid were hung on Gallows Hill. (You find out what bridge much later in the book.) Joanna and her husband split up after that, Joanna claiming that he left the family.  The girls were reborn to Joanna, in fact any time they died they were reborn.  But Joanna also had a son whom she misses dearly and she is afraid he is gone to her forever.  There isn't any mention of where he is.  The Council confiscated, wands, brooms and cauldrons after the ruling.  But Joanna, unbeknownst to the girls, kept some of their things, especially their wands.

The three women live in a town on the tip of Long Island called North Hampton which didn't exist on any map and is likened to Brigadoon in that once you've been there, it's hard to find it again.  Across from it is Gardiners Island and the mansion Fair Haven that has recently undergone a great and complete restoration.  The novel is told from Freya, Ingrid and Joanna's points of view, alternating chapters, sometimes sharing chapters.  It may sound confusing, but it never is, it makes perfect sense. 

Each woman is extremely different and strong in her own way.  Freya, the youngest at nineteen is pure fun-sexy, loves to be in love and loves others to be in love.  She is the life of the party and makes sure there always is a party.  She's very emotional and, in fact, her mood dictates the atmosphere around her.  If she's happy, everything tastes better, everyone looks and feels better, life is just better all around.  She works in a bar and mixes drinks and customers swear her drinks taste better than anyone else's.  She gets the idea to make a little love potion for a couple that are having trouble and it's so successful that she creates a little cocktail menu of  "Love Potions".   She figures a little magic can't hurt and it makes her feel so alive!  And she's missing her future husband, Bran Gardiner so much and feeling more than a little guilty about the thoughts she's having about his younger bad boy brother Killian Gardiner.  But something goes awry with one of her drinks, or so she's led to believe and a girl goes missing that she made irresistible and now the police are questioning her.

Then there is Ingrid, head librarian at the small library that sits on oceanfront property.  The mayor is threatening to shut the library down completely and sell the expensive property to a land developer, seeing no need for the library.  As she worries about her library and her co-workers, Ingrid prepares blueprints of Fair Haven for a fundraiser at the end of summer.  Killian brought them by and as she steams them she notices strange tags on them and writing in a language she's never seen before.  She snaps pictures and sends them to a secret source to get more information.  In the meantime, she pines away for a man that's unavailable and figures, if Freya is practicing magic and the Council hasn't done anything, she can at least help a friend in need.  But when she does the friend talks and soon, Ingrid is healing women in the town on her lunch hour every day and seeing some kind of dark mass blocking the women of the town either creatively, in their relationships, or in their ability to bear children.  When the mayor's wife comes asking for something to keep him from having an affair, she gives her a love knot, but could she have tied it wrong subconsciously she wonders when the mayor goes missing?  Is it her fault?

And then there is their mother, Joanna who spends most days baking and doting on the live in housekeepers' four year old son, Tyler.  But when she begins to find dead birds on the beaches and and some type of toxin is washing up on the shores of North Hampton threatening the lives of everyone that lives there, their livelihoods, the sea life, (sounding familiar) she realizes she needs help to fix it.  The toxin starts to affect the children and Tyler falls deathly ill while she is out of town getting help.  But her powers of restoration and renewal won't help him because though she's very powerful, she  can't help the people she loves.  Her magic doesn't work on them.  And she is accused of the worst crime of all murder and assault, though she isn't charged.

There is a lot going on in this story and after I got into the plot things moved along, not fast, but at a steady pace.  I felt like the ending came out of nowhere and some of you may like a surprise ending.  If you do, you will absolutely love it.  But as I wrote this review, I realized there might have been a few very, very subtle clues as to the way this story was heading.  The lore, mythology whatever you want to call it is one I'm not familiar with so I didn't pick up on any of it.  I'm not going to tell you what to brush up on or even label it.  So the ending will be a big surprise for you, too.  I felt like it was asking a lot to get me to go along with that ending.  But that was me.  Just my opinion so please Blueblood fans do not hate me.  I haven't read the Blueblood series but I want to and still want to and want to read the next book in this series because the little teaser at the end of this book promises for a very interesting next book!

Heather in Sandwich

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Josephine Angelini
Release date- May 31st 2011
Publisher- Harper Teen
496 pages
Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

Epic. That's what Starcrossed is Epic. Yes, it's 496 pages long, but that's not what I mean by epic. You'll think it's too short when you get done. And please, Dear God, do not compare this to Twilight. It is not in the least like it and if I see a post somewhere that says it is I will come to your blog, facebook or twitter account and rant until you remove the reference. There are no vampires, werewolves or faeries-so far. But, there are meticulously researched and well developed characters with plot lines that intersect and weave through the main plot line which is-you guessed it star crossed lovers.

What is so incredible to me is that each name used is exactly correct for the character's attributes and what family they belong to. Their storyline is so in line with the ancient Greek mythology I'm just awed by the genius of the author. I checked. I looked things up. I wanted to know what the Iliad and the Odyssey were about. You'd think a Lit major would have read them, but somehow, I missed them. I'm not sure I lucked out.

Starcrossed is as complex as any Greek epic, but I think much easier to enjoy. With a large cast of characters and plots and subplots I never got confused. Josephine Angelini took a combination of stories and rewrote them in the present day. And it works, seamlessly and beautifully. And you don't have to have read any of the Greek epics to understand it. You don't even have to remember your Greek mythology because it is well and easily explained.

The setting is Nantucket, a small isolated island, busy in the summer, but not overly populated with year rounders. Helen Hamilton is a year rounder living with her father in a quaint shingle sided whaler with a widow's walk. They have a good relationship, ignoring a few strange things about Helen, and Helen works in his store a few days a week. Helen's mother took off when Helen was a toddler and oddly enough took every photo of herself with her. Helen is drop dead gorgeous, thin, athletic, inhumanly fast and strong and very intelligent but, she hides all of these gifts, preferring to fly under the radar. She doesn't even try in classes, only sometimes doing her work. Even in track she sometimes hides on the course so she doesn't finish first or too fast or she hides in the middle of the pack. Deep down she's afraid of what she is witch, monster, freak, animal?   Helen tells the story to us so we know what she's feeling and thinking, what her greatest fears are. And what hurts her. Sometimes though, we do see things through one of the other character's view points and it's always interesting no matter who it is.

Lucas Delos is Helen's male counterpart. He is drop dead gorgeous, tall, athletic, intelligent, inhumanly fast and strong and bestowed with other talents. But most of all and differently from Helen, he is self assured. He is comfortable in his own skin. He's grown up knowing what he is and it isn't any of the kind of things Helen fears. He's part of a large family that just arrived from Spain. He lives with his parents and sister, aunt, widowed Uncle and his daughter and two sons. And they will all be attending the only high school on Nantucket. They are big news to the island to say the least. They prove to be invaluable to Helen to understanding her ancestry.

With all the references to the Iliad and the Odyssey you must realize that this has something to do with Greek stories. But you cannot imagine. And don't peek at the ending, it won't make sense anyway. I wanted to write an intelligent, clever review because I think Josephine Angelini, again, is a genius. She took all these characters from the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Orestia, one I'd never heard of, and other Greek plays/poems and threw in some, no I mean carefully placed some Shakespeare and Greek mythology (yes that is different from the Iliad and the Odyssey) and set it down gently in a perfectly believable setting.  And it works.  It works so well I can't stop trying to figure out the next book!  I'm reading the Iliad and the Odyssey!  And the Orestia! 

I've read it twice now and I'm ready to read it again because my heart is breaking at the cliffhanger ending and I hate those. But it's more that the characters are hanging on the cliff rather than us because we know something they have yet to figure out. Hopefully they will soon. In the beginning of the next novel. You, the reader, should be able to pick up on it easily.

So, instead of being intelligent and clever, after four tries, this being my fifth, I've settled for gushing. Gushing that I love this novel more than anything I've read ever.  Gushing that Josephine Angelini can bounce ideas off of me any time she wants.  Gushing that any writer that puts this much work into a novel deserves to be read.  But don't read her because she did her homework and I'm the geek that looked it up.  Read it because you love a good story with lots of family and love and stories from the past and cool talents and explanations.  Just read it.  I guarantee you won't be disappointed.  It's magic. It's epic. 
Heather in Sandwich
Don't forget about the Starcrossed Blog Tour!  It will be here on my blog on May 26th.  I will be announcing a surprise giveaway and have an interview with Josephine Angelini.  She may give some secrets away!!  At the very least, she's very interesting and has some really good news for us.  I'll be posting my part of Lucas' letter to Helen on that day as well.  So be sure to come back!

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby


Simon and Schuster
By Jessi Kirby
Released May 2011
232 pages

I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

Anna's life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It's bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.

While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean's tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna's mother's death- stays buried forever.
Moonglass is one of those novels.  It isn't long and it isn't flashy, there hasn't even been much buzz about it, yet.  But its very much like it's cover.  It's beautiful in its subtlety.  As I started reading I thought, "Oh no another dead mother story," and laughed because I'd read that same line in another novel I read recently and had been deeply touched by.  But this is anything but another dead mother story.
If you look at the cover on the book, you can see the moon glowing above the clouds, illuminating the water.  The same clouds are shrouding the night sky, hiding the stars, yet the beach sparkles with little gems almost like stars, moonglass all around the couple holding hands on the beach.  It's very symbolic.
The novel is much like the cover-things are covered up, murky and this has made for a strained relationship between Anna and her father who is a park ranger/head lifeguard.  It's not really spelled out, but it's not just a summer job.  He uproots her and takes a new job at a new beach miles away from the place she grew up, from the place where her mother walked into the ocean and never walked back out while Anna, seven sat and waited for her.  Enter the clouds.  Anna never asks about her mother feeling her father's unwillingness to discuss her with Anna.  But then why does he take a job on the beach where her parents met if he wants to avoid talking about her?  It's confusing for Anna and the surf begins to churn inside her.
Anna herself is good at avoiding things, evading questions about where her mother is, so that her friends think her mother travels a lot.  Avoiding how she really is when she feels something growing inside of her.  Avoiding what she's running from, the answers, the truth. And avoiding who she really is.  When she flirts with a life guard, she lets him talk trash about her father just for the anonymity - not being the boss' daughter, not being off limits, that girl.  But Anna is running from something, her mother's death and the misplaced guilt and shame it brings with it.  She joins the cross country team and gives the fastest girl on the team a reason to run faster.  But this isn't something Anna can outrun. Tension builds, the clouds fill in.
Throughout the book as Anna learns more about her mother, makes friends, falls for the lifeguard, and continues to run, the pace of the book begins to build.  It starts slow and gentle like a wave on a calm day at the beach.  But as the turmoil-the questions, the emotions, the fears-build inside Anna, a storm brews waiting to explode both inside and out.  The tension builds and before long that beach is being pounded with wave after wave.  And as Anna seeks an end to her turmoil, the wave just might take her away forever, just like her mother.
But this is not a story about a dead mother and daughter.  And Anna's savior is not only the most unlikely of heroes, but he's also the moon- illuminating- bringing understanding when it's least expected.  And with the first light of illumination, Anna is able to stop running and ask the questions and get the answers she's been running from since she was seven.  What's left behind?  When the storm ends the beach is littered with moonglass, the sparkling seaglass of the night and gentle reminders of the past.  And a perfect night for walking on the beach.
The novel is told from Anna's point of view.  The descriptions are so great I can feel myself going back to summer days at the beach when my friends and I used to lay out on the beach and watch the lifeguards.  I think there must be a pre-requisite that all lifeguards have to be cute if not drop dead gorgeous.  And then there's that whole laid back beach atmosphere that pervades everything they do.  Jessi Kirby teases us with snippets like "It was the kind of perfect golden summer afternoon when you could tell people just didn't want to leave..." p.29  and "The girl absently scooped up handfuls of sand and let it sift through her fingers..." p.29 and it makes me nostalgic for the warm sandy beaches and long hot summer days.  The descriptions are like everything else understated and eloquent each word spare, but perfectly placed.  Another author might have been more prolific, making it a longer novel, but Jessi Kirby knew the perfect word count and number of pages.  Nothing is wasted in Moonglass.  I can't believe this is a debut novel, it reads like a seasoned novelist wrote it.  It's going on my shelf of favorites, something I'll read again and again along with my other friends.  I'm looking forward to her next novel already.  And it's a stand alone, more kudos to be heaped on this debut author for daring to be different!!
Heather in Sandwich

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In My Mailbox

IMM was started by The Story Siren to share with other         
bloggers what we got to review and read so that others
know what's out there.

My books all came from Amazon this week.

First came this one:


Bickering frenemies Meg and Shar are doing some serious damage at a midnight sample sale when the fashionistas find themselves arguing over a pair of shoes-with fatal consequences. One innocent bystander later, the girls are suddenly at the mercy of Hades, Lord of the Underworld himself. To make them atone for what they've done, Hades forces the teens to become special-assignment Sirens, luring to the Underworld an individual whose unholy contract is up.

Finding that delicate balance between their fashion addiction and their new part-time job in the eternal hellfire biz turns out to be harder than Meg and Shar expected, especially when an entire pantheon of Greek deities decides to get involved. Then there's the matter of the fine print in their own contracts...

Yep more Greek Mythology!!  Can't get enough!!

                                                                             Ruby Red-
Ruby Red (Ruby Red - Trilogy)Die for Me
                           Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.
Tempest RisingTempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kai, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her-and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance.

I so loved the book The Beautiful Between by Alyssa B. Sheinmel so when I
saw this book by her I ordered it even though I haven't heard anything about it.

High school junior Nick Brandt is intent on getting a girlfriend, and Eden Reiss is the one that he wants. He has exactly four semesters to get the girl, but when the phone rings on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday night, life for Nick and his parents will never be the same. What had been a seemingly idyllic home life has become something else entirely. But with this shake-up comes a newfound confidence for Nick; he's become a bolder version of himself, no longer afraid to question his parents, and no longer afraid to talk to Eden.

The Lucky KindAlyssa B. Sheinmel has written a powerfully gripping story about family secrets, falling in love, and finding luck in unexpected--and sometimes unwelcome—circumstances.
The Pull of GravityAnd I know you've seen reviews of this one: 
And I saw this last one on Small Review's website during her Adele Griffin week!  You need to check it out if you didn't because it was a fascinating post on how the author and the cover people (I know that isn't the official name) came up with the cover for this eerie looking book.


I can't wait to read all of these books!  Of course, they are going to have to wait for a little bit but I'm excited about all of them!  I also have some very exciting news which I will reveal on my next blog post!


Friday, May 13, 2011

Wallflower by Holly-Jane Rahlens


Berlinica Publishing
Holly-Jane Rahlens
November 11, 2010
138 pages
Wallflower is four hours in the life of Molly Lenzfeld, sixteen-year-old New Yorker in Berlin. It's Thanksgiving Day 1989, two weeks after the fall of the Wall. Molly, the daughter of a German-Jewish mother who fled the Nazis in 1938, is off to her mother's birth house in East Berlin. On the subway trip from West to East wallflower Molly meets East German wildflower Mick Maier, nineteen. It's love at first sight, and for both, a journey into an unknown land, into the labyrinth of Berlin's underground world, a terrain in which they discover each other, the absurdities of the divided city, and, of course, the wonder of love.
Wallflower was sent to me by Dr. Eva Schweitzer of Berlinica Publishing for review. My copy says it is an uncorrected proof though this book is already released for purchase. I don't know if you can tell what's on the cover but it is what I presume is the Berlin Wall before it was taken down from the Western view. It's spray painted and graffitied and actually looks like a work of art. I'm sure it never felt like that. It's not pretty when you remember it's purpose.

Wallflower is a YA novel set in 1989 Berlin, two weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The main character, Molly is the narrator and describes herself as a giantess at six feet tall with size 12 shoes, a Jewish girl who is hopelessly lost. Her mother died of cancer five years earlier, quite suddenly and she is still struggling with this loss. Her boyfriend walked out on her during the middle of a class field trip to make out with another girl. And her father took her from New York City to Berlin for a year where she doesn't fit in any better than she did at home. She is a "wallflower in a crack."

Molly is odd and doesn't really do a lot to overcome that image. She can't help her height or shoe size, but the fact that she sleeps through the historical taking down of the Berlin wall is strange. She prefers to spend her time cooking, she doesn't like change such as moving from New York City to Berlin and she'd prefer to count the number of pharmacies on the street corners and ponder the mental health of the Germans. And oh yeah, she gets lost a lot! She's in a perpetual state of being lost. That's why, on Thanksgiving Day, we are traveling with her through the labryinthian maze of trains and subways to her destination in East Germany where she plans to visit, must visit before going home two days hence. She won't even stay for Christmas. (They are a mixed family.)

But during her journey, and it is one as the destination is her mother's birthplace, she meets a boy. And suddenly in many ways she is no longer lost, though it takes her time to sort that out, to trust that feeling. She's not good with feelings either. And the boy, Mick, "as in Jagger", from East Germany, also finds his way not understanding how lost he really was.

The entire story takes place over four hours. There are a whole cast of supporting characters adding a lot to the story so that it is a full and complex story. From one of Molly's frenemies showing up on the train to ill mannered waiters and confessions and misunderstandings, there is a lot that goes on in those four hours. The question is, is Molly hopelessly lost or does meeting Mick change everything?

Though the novel is set in 1989, I think YA readers will appreciate the historical significance of the time. The train transfers and names of the plazas and stations and the rules in East Germany would be incredibly daunting to me without a guide. As it was, I got hopelessly lost in the in the strasses and platzs and finally just let go of trying to pronounce everything and remember where they were and I concentrared on the story. But I found that the same platzs and strasses were repeated enough that I began to get my bearings. So I wasn't so lost after all, but I'm glad I didn't have to manuever through the stations anyway.

This is a short story but because of the German words and wanting to understand what was going on it took two nights to read- still just a few hours. I recommend it to anyone that enjoys realistic fiction. You also get a look into history and what East Germany was like those first weeks after The Wall fell. And there is a light, sweet romance.

Heather in Sandwich

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Urban Falcon by Jennifer Caloyeras Diversion Press Blog Tour

Evan Falcon was all set to finish high school in Elbow Creek when his dad’s job forces the family to move to Lincoln Heights, a booming metropolis. Now, his best friend won’t even talk to him and he suspects his mom is having an affair. Caught between who he used to be and the possibility of who he could become, Evan is thrown into a world of dating, out of control parties and family drama.

I chose to read Urban Falcon because I'm always looking for books written from the male point of view.  I think boys YA and MG are being under represented and  that they should be highlighted more.  There should be more to choose from.  So I found Urban Falcon a refreshing change from all those female points of view I've been reading.

It really was a great surprise.  It's written from Evan Falcon's point of view, a sixteen year old without a care in the world until his parents uproot him in the middle of the year and take him from his almost rural suburban home where he roamed the forest and creeks with his best friend to the city where he catches the city bus for school and attends a huge high school.  He also has to adjust to his father's hard ass attitude which he's been showing more and more lately despite the fact that Evan hasn't done anything wrong.  Plus, he's sure he's the only kid that's sixteen and doesn't have his driver's license.

The novel is all about Evan's adjustment from suburbia to urban life and about growing up in many different ways as he navigates life in the city.  The move happens so dad can take a job with a bigger practice as a prosthodontist.  He's "following his dream."  Evan is not impressed.  But their new house is nicer and they might let /Evan get his driver's license if he earns good grades.

School is different, too.  Going from a small school where everyone knows everyone to a huge high school where you can be invisible, Evan is in kind of a culture shock.  Due to lack of space, one of his classes is held in a house across the street from school.  And there is a photography class that he loves which his old school never had the funds for.  But, his first friend, Roger, isn't exactly from the sort of crowd I'd want my child hanging around with.  Evan realizes this early on, but it's better than being alone.  A couple of run ins with the Queen Bitch, I mean Bee and with a sweet girl named Maya and Evan starts settling in. 

Maya is into almost every cause there is and when Evan makes a stupid mistake and is grounded, she ropes him into helping her so they can see each other.  Evan's mistake is more fueled by anger than by stupidity, anger that his mother isn't who he thought she was that his parents aren't infallible.  There comes a time when we all have to accept that, but Evan is sort of slapped in the face with his mother's flaws.  You might think he's a little old at sixteen to just be discovering that, but remember he came from a small suburban town where he could explore anywhere, where they probably left the doors unlocked.  He never had any reason to suspect otherwise.

Maya is his first girlfriend and first sexual experience.  They get along well, but it's funny to hear his insecurities about should he do this or that from the guy's point of view.  To me the boys always seemed so sure of themselves like they had some innate sense of what to do on a date, when to kiss, when to call, what to do during sex and I was the one with the insecurities.  It was nice to see it the other way around with the girl taking the lead.  The two have a mutual dislike of the Queen Bee and her hatred from others is well deserved.  And in an act of retribution Evan chooses a childish way to get back at her, one that could bite him in the backside.

This is definitely a character driven novel with a slow and steady pace.  The climax between Evan and his parents is as unexpected to the reader as it is to Evan.  I breathed a sigh of relief once he let it all out.  Evan's character grew considerably from a naive immature young boy just easing through life to a harder edged more wordly, but still enjoyable character.  I think this is an easy to read and understand book about choices and parents and teenage boys should be able to relate to it easily.  Jennifer Caloyeras does a great job of getting into the head of a sixteen year old boy.  I can't wait to see what else she has in store for us.

  Heather in Sandwich                                                                                               

IMM Past Week- Once Again My Mailbox Stuffed Itself!

IMM is a meme created          
by  The Story Siren to
let other bloggers know
what books they are

So here's what my greedy little mailbox brought to me this week:)

For review:

Guys Read: ThrillerThe Birth of JaidenWitches of the East End (The Beauchamp Family, #1)
CutMinding BenWallflower

Ordered from Amazon:

Ostrich Boys and   So Much Closer

So once again I'm reading, reading, reading.  I got a lot of reading done last week but then got blindsided by a migraine and my life stops then.  I did listen to an audio book, but kept falling asleep due  to my medication.  My review books are all so great I want to read them all at once!   This almost never happens.
Don't turn down any of these review books if the authors or publishers ask you to review them.  I was going to pass the Zombie Ohio book along that I got last week thinking I wouldn't like it, but nope, got hooked with the humor on the very first couple of pages.  So much for catching up!

Heather in Sandwich

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Darling Rebels by Siobhan Nichols Diversion Press Blog Tour

The Darling Rebels

Diversion Press, Inc.
251 pages

When Charlotte returns to her hometown of Asebrook from boarding school, she knows what she can expect from her days--lessons from tutors, criticism from her mother, and listening to the same gossip from the same people. But there seems to be something different in store for Charlotte when she meets Adam and Jack, the two boys who will change her forever. However, when Jack and Charlotte fall in love, they realize the fight that they are going to have to put up if they want to be together. During a time when money, society, and how one is viewed as everything, Charlotte stops at nothing to be with the boy that she knows she loves. Even so, Jack seems unwilling to sacrifice her future and happiness since he knows he has nothing to offer. The Darling Rebels tells the story of bravery and resilience in the face of insurmountable odds and how far one girl will go for love, even if it means leaving her seemingly perfect life behind.

The Darling Rebels is set in the 1890's and I'll let you know right from the start that there are quite a few inconsistencies as regards to behavior and consequences and society overall in it.  The author herself admits this is true and says she wondered if she'd slept through that part of history class.  Though, she did have editors that let all of it slip through as well so...  And still I read the book from beginning to end and it was absolutely heartbreaking.

Charlotte, a girl of means and high society, has come home from the Tisdale Academy for Girls which sounds rather grim, drained of color and focusing on teaching young girls to be proper ladies.  Charlotte has no intentions of going back.  But her mother, a formidable woman (picture Mrs. Olsen from Little House on the Prairie but never smiling and always getting her way, never approving), is the one who will decide Charlotte's future.  Her father, a doctor, is a workaholic, or so it seems, but perhaps it has something to do with his wife.  He indulges Charlotte whenever he can.  Her mother arranges tutors for her all summer long, but every chance she gets, she escapes to the forest where she's always felt more at home.  She makes friends with a boy named Adam, just a common boy who helps her when she falls out of a tree.  And from there her life changes completely.

Adam is good looking, always looking for adventure and courting Charlotte's best friend, Lucy.  But it doesn't stop him from going around town and into the woods with Charlotte.  Lucy comes from less money than Charlotte yet her parents welcome Adam as a suitor-despite the fact that he seems to be just above poor and his mother is a single mom, something that would seem to be scandalous at that time in our history.  Or, that was the impression I got.  This was one of the things that bothered me about the novel.  But, Adam has a good heart and his intentions toward Charlotte end up being supportive, though his adventuresome nature gets her into some troubles.  The first and probably most adventurous is her introduction to Jack.

Jack and Charlotte hit it off right away despite the rumors that he is dangerous despite the fact that he lives in a cave in the forest, despite the fact that everyone hate him.  Charlotte doesn't care what society thinks only what he thinks of her.  Again, things that occur between them seem too improbable to have happened in the 1890's, but if you can forget it's the 1890's its still an enjoyable and tender love story.

However, I never saw the ending coming.  And I bawled like a baby through the last third of the book.  Do you know how hard it is to sob quietly at 2 am in the morning?  I kept having to remove my glasses, wipe my eyes, read a few lines and do the process all over again.  That part was so gut wrenching that I asked the author if she'd been through something like that or if she had that good of an imagination.  It was pure imagination.  Somewhere along the line, I got completely emotionally invested in the characters in the book and when the end came, I felt as devastated as the characters did.   At least I felt like I did.

So, to sum it up, if you can take it out of the 1890's and read it as a love story and a story about a girl who didn't judge people by status but by character, then it's a great story.  I think if it were rewritten and set in today's time period, the message would still be the same and as clear.  There will always be people who judge by status and wealth rather than by character and there will be those who seem rebellious for not judging people that way.

Heather in Sandwich

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Abandon By Meg Cabot

Abandon (Abandon Trilogy #1)

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld. (Image and Summary from Goodreads)

Scholastic, Inc.
Released May 2011
304 pages

 The first thing I noticed about Abandon is its rich look and feel.  The cover is beautiful even the inside pages are gold with a floral design matching the design on the front cover and the gold pages are a heavier stock of paper than the rest of the pages in  the book.  It suggests a rich, lush tale is in between those beautiful covers and gold  pages.  Or perhaps,  the beauty and the heavy pages are covering up something meant to be kept inside the pages of the book.  Meant to be trapped there.  Maybe they are trying to make something ugly appear beautiful.  Maybe it's all of the above.  That was my impression as I read.
 We all know by now that this is a "dark retelling of the Hades and Persephone" myth. I'm not sure how much darker you can get than what Hades did, but Abandon does put a different twist on the story and it doesn't get any prettier than Hades and  Persephone.  Pierce dies while trying to save a bird she believes is hurt.  She drowns in her own pool in winter sucked down by her clothes and the pool covering that gave way because it was broken.  She dies and everything that happens after that she thinks is a dream.  She's brought back to life, but not before meeting a modern  Hades, John.  Now, not only does she think she's crazy but also that she's being stalked by John.  She escaped the Underworld and he wants her back.  But why?
The plot thickens and it only gets more thick as the story goes on until you feel like you're trying to find you're way through a labryinth of stories and possibilites.
 Abandon is told from Pierce's point of view so we get a full if somewhat one sided account of everything that happens.  Since we only see things from her perspective, we  get a very skewed version of what's going on.  Because of her narration, I was a little lost in the first half of the story.  I didn't like how it unfolded, it felt choppy and  disconnected and I felt irritated just wanting to know what happened and to get on with the story.  There were too many allusions to the "Hannah thing" and Pierce not saving her without the telling of the whole story.  We were fed bits and pieces of information when I would have rather had the whole story told upfront and gone from there.  And until the story was told, I didn't understand why Pierce had been kicked out of school or why she was thought to be a troubled student.
 But, then, when all that got smoothed out the story moved on at an even pace showing more of Pierce's character and motivations and it all made sense.  Her "troubled child" label and her other problems run much deeper than what any psychiatrist can fix, though they try with pills and talk therapy.  More Greek characters continue to weave their way through the novel and new characters are added to the story after Pierce and her mother move to Isla Huesos, her mother's birthplace where she still has family.  Pierce attends the local public school and is enrolled in a program for "at risk" students.  The high school students call them D-Wingers.  The upper class, smart students are, of course, in the  A-Wing.  But they make friends with Pierce because her father is extremely rich and well known
 Though you might think it is, the plot is unpredictable from beginning to end.  I liked the second half better than the first half, though there were a lot of interesting moments in the first half.  Pierce seems to be the kind of girl that gets into trouble without even looking for it, but doesn't look for a rescue, just needs one.  Pierce set the pace of the story and despite that need for rescuing, she was brave and a strong female character.  She drove the plot looking for answers which came from some really unlikely people in some very unlikely
The ending of Abandon was a complete surprise to me.  I thought even that this book may be a stand alone book.  How foolish of me.  It does say trilogy.  And there were too many characters that had been introduced with nothing happening with them.  Too many issues had been left unresolved, but I felt like it was a good ending and it didn't leave me hanging.
 I've had time to think about Abandon since I've read it and I can't get John and Pierce out of my head.  They were very memorable and likable characters despite their flaws.  John would go all  caveman whenever Pierce seemed the slightest bit in trouble and Pierce just seems to seek out trouble despite being warned.  I think this is going to be a fantastic series and I hope  Ms. Cabot can craft the next one quickly so I can find out what happens.  I was satisfied with the ending, but that doesn't mean I don't want more.  Next month please!  Darkly and nicely done!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

IMM In My Mailbox

IMM was started by The Story Siren
to let other bloggers know what books they are reading and what's out there.  I don't usually participate in this, but my mailbox was so full this week, I thought I'd share!

From Paperback Swap I received:
The Oresteia (Greek Tragedy in New Translations)Red Branch
and the Iliad translated by Robert Fitzgerald but I couldn't find a picture of the cover.

Then I got some review books from authors.

From J.J. Telly I received   Panjandrum: Book 1 - The Aerolith Adventures (Volume 1)

From Brian Rowe I received Happy Birthday to Me (Birthday Trilogy, #1)

And from Skyhorse Publishing I received my second zombie book Zombie, Ohio: A Tale of the Undead

I won a book from The Book Scout a while back and received the book Kindred

And then from Amazon I received the following books

We'll Always Have Summer (Summer, #3)    Abandon (Abandon Trilogy #1)   The Last Little Blue Envelope 


Shift (Shade, #2)Moonglass


Oh and I forgot one from Paperback Swap-

Tantalize (Tantalize, #1)

So I feel like my mailbox was really good to me this week and I just had to share with everyone all my goodies.  Plus I just got my PC back and I'm so excited to have it back I want to use it!!  I hope everyone else got some great stuff in their mailbox this week!!

Heather in Sandwich

Don't forget if you are in the Cape Cod area Rick Riordan will be at Sandwich High School next Sunday May 8th for a book signing and reading from his latest book.  You can have two books signed by him and take pictures from the floor while he's signing the books.  Titcomb's bookstore in East Sandwich has more information.  It starts at 2pm.


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