Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Review: Ruby Red and Sapphire Blue (Ruby Red Trilogy #1 and #2) by Kerstin Gier


Author:  Kerstin Gier
Publisher:  Henry Holt, 322 pages
Publication Date (US):  May 10, 2011

From Goodreads:
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.

Author:  Kerstin Gier
Publisher:  Square Fish, 384 pages
Publication Date (US):  October 31, 2012

From Goodreads:
Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

Review:
I read these two books back to back so I'm reviewing them together since I don't necessarily remember what happened in one book versus the other book.  
I absolutely love this series.  I love time travel books and this one is particularly interesting and unique, with Gwen learning she has a time-travel gene, even though it was always understood that it was her cousin Charlotte who had the gene.  So Charlotte has been training for this her whole life while Gwen is completely clueless, suddenly finding herself time traveling and having no idea how she is supposed to handle herself.  

Gwen is my favorite character.  She is fun and bubbly, and her snide comments and observations are hilarious.  She is such a likable heroine and the fact that she sort of bumbles around makes her that much more endearing.  She doesn't know how to act in the 18th century, which is where they spend a good part of the time, and the scene where Gwen goes to the party, expecting it be dull and stuffy while ending up having a blast and singing (she asks for a hairbrush) is hilarious.  Her best friend Lesley is the perfect side-kick.  She helps Gwen by researching and trying to figure out what's going on with the Circle, time-travel, the Baron, etc. 

Gwen is teamed up with Gideon, a another time-traveler who just happens to be gorgeous and of course Gwen falls for him.  It's pretty much insta-love on the part of Gwen, but how Gideon feels we're not sure.   One minute he acts all romantic and interested and then the next he's all cold.  There's some trust issues going on and Gwen and the reader are left unsure about his feelings and his motives.  But I absolutely love their interactions together.  At the end of Book 2 things become a bit more clear, but there are still some questions. 

While I thoroughly enjoyed both of these books, I have to admit that not a lot happens plot-wise.  It's really one book split up into three.  But they're so much fun I don't mind.  Love love love this series!  I can't wait until Emerald Green comes out in October!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Tandem by Anna Jarzab

Tandem (Many-Worlds Trilogy #1)
Author:  Anna Jarzab
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date:  October 8, 2013

From Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather's stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real--until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.

To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she'll be trapped in another girl's life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives, and two young men vying for her love--one who knows her secret, and one who thinks she's someone she's not.

The first book in the Many-Worlds Trilogy, Tandem is a riveting saga of love and betrayal set in parallel universes in which nothing--and no one--is what it seems.



Waiting on Wednesday features upcoming releases and is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing (The Testing #1)
Author:  Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 336 pages
Publication Date:  June 4, 2013

From Goodreads: 

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same? 

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career. 

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one. 

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.


Review:

Although there are obviously a lot of similarities to The Hunger Games (group of kids brought together to compete against each other, and it's deadly), I still really enjoyed this book, probably because of those similarities.  It's definitely dark.  It's fast-paced, with a lot of action.  

The fact that so few of the candidates make it is a bit farfetched, especially given these candidates are supposed to be the best and brightest.  This is a question that is brought up in the book, so hopefully that question will be answered in later books. And although you know what happens to some of the candidates that don't make it, you don't know what happens to most of them.  

Other than the main character, Cia, you never know who can be trusted.  Cia is a great character.  She is smart and resourceful, and a lot of the tests involve knowledge and skills other than just strength, and she shows that she is very capable.  Even though she wants to win, she also cares about people and doing the right thing, which gets her in some trouble.  There are a lot of head games and back stabbing going on in this book.  

There is romance and it is believable, although a bit fast, even though Cia and Tomas do have a history together.  But given the high stress situation, it makes sense.  There are definitely questions when it comes to Tomas (and other candidates), but I cannot say any more without spoiling it.  Looking forward to the next book!


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton, 372 pages
Publication Date: December 2, 2010

From Goodreads:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming,beautiful, √Čtienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?


Review:

I’ve been reading mostly dystopian, fantasy, and paranormal books lately, so this was definitely a change of pace. But I kept seeing this book come up so I decided to give it a chance and I’m glad I did.

The character of Anna was very real and likeable. I really cared about what happened to her. St. Clair was a great love interest, although very believable. Even though he is described as “the gorgeous hall boy,” he definitely has some flaws, including how he handles his relationship with his girlfriend. This brings up issues of what cheating actually is (just physical?) and why a couple stays together. It’s also interesting that he is described as short and very scared of heights. This is definitely different than the normal YA love interest.

The relationship between Anna and St. Clair was based not only on attraction, but also a friendship. They spend a lot of time together in the novel and get to know each other. In fact, they become best friends, which was nice to see. I really enjoyed the e-mail exchanges over Christmas break and conversations, which was a nice way to show how their relationship was deepening.

In the end, definitely a fast read. I couldn’t put it down. And it was such a feel good book, you finish with a smile on your face. I wish I was seventeen again and living in Paris! I definitely want to read the next book, Lola and the Boy Next Door, which is a companion novel and includes appearances by Anna and St. Clair.




Saturday, June 22, 2013

Book Review: False Memory by Dan Krokos


False Memory
Author:  Dan Krokos
Publisher: Hyperion, 336 pages
Publication Date:  August 14, 2012

From Goodreads:  

Miranda wakes up alone on a park bench with no memory. In her panic, she releases a mysterious energy that incites pure terror in everyone around her. Except Peter, a boy who isn’t at all surprised by Miranda’s shocking ability.

Left with no choice but to trust this stranger, Miranda discovers she was trained to be a weapon and is part of an elite force of genetically-altered teens who possess flawless combat skills and powers strong enough to destroy a city. But adjusting to her old life isn’t easy—especially with Noah, the boyfriend she can’t remember loving.

Then Miranda uncovers a dark truth that sets her team on the run. Suddenly her past doesn’t seem to matter... when there may not be a future.

Dan Krokos’ debut is a tour-de-force of non-stop action that will leave readers begging for the next book in this bold and powerful new series.


Review:

This was a fast-paced, action-filled book that I really enjoyed.  Pretty much read it in one sitting.  The story starts off dumping you right into the middle of the action, and, since it's written in first person,  you discover what is happening along with Miranda, the narrator.  She wakes up having no memory except her name and how old she is.  

There are twists and turns throughout the novel and just when you think you know what's going on, something completely new and unexpected happens.  The one thing that was missing was character development.  Since there is non-stop action happening in the book, it makes sense, but I kept hoping things would slow down just a little so that I could get to know the characters better.  And Miranda accepts things pretty easily when it seems like she should have been freaking out a bit.   But I guess that just shows how strong of a character she was.  Definitely not a whiny girl.  I really liked Peter's character.  What a great guy, especially what he says near the end of the book.  I'm still not sure I understand why Noah did what he did.  At the end, there's yet another twist that I'm not sure I completely understand, but it sets up the next book,, which I will definitely read.  The main part of the story is resolved, so it doesn't end with such a cliffhanger that you feel like the author just stopped in the middle, like so many books these days, but there is obviously much more to come.

Friday, June 21, 2013

New TV YA series based on new book series! The 100

I was so sad the Delirium pilot was rejected, but I just came across this new television series on CW that is based on a new book series.  Sounds interesting!

From the CW website:

Ninety-seven years ago, nuclear Armageddon decimated planet Earth, destroying civilization. The only survivors were the 400 inhabitants of 12 international space stations that were in orbit at the time. Three generations have been born in space, the survivors now number 4,000, and resources are running out on their dying "Ark" - the 12 stations now linked together and repurposed to keep the survivors alive. Draconian measures including capital punishment and population control are the order of the day, as the leaders of the Ark take ruthless steps to ensure their future, including secretly exiling a group of 100 juvenile prisoners to the Earth's surface to test whether it's habitable. For the first time in nearly a century, humans have returned to planet Earth. Among the 100 exiles are Clarke, the bright teenage daughter of the Ark's chief medical officer; Wells, son of the Ark’s Chancellor; the daredevil Finn; and the brother/sister duo Bellamy and Octavia, whose illegal sibling status has always led them to flaunt the rules. Technologically blind to what’s happening on the planet below them, the Ark’s leaders - Clarke’s widowed mother, Abby; the Chancellor, Jaha; and his shadowy second in command, Kane - are faced with difficult decisions about life, death and the continued existence of the human race. For the 100 young people on Earth, however, the alien planet they’ve never known is a mysterious realm that can be magical one moment and lethal the next. With the survival of the human race entirely in their hands, THE 100 must find a way to transcend their differences, unite and forge a new path on a wildly changed Earth that’s primitive, intense and teeming with the unknown.

The series stars Eliza Taylor (newcomer) as Clarke, Paige Turco (“Person of Interest,” “Damages”) as Abby, Thomas McDonell (“Suburgatory”) as Finn, Eli Goree (“Emily Owens, M.D.”) as Wells, Marie Avgeropoulos (“50/50“) as Octavia, Bob Morley (newcomer) as Bellamy, Kelly Hu (“X2: X-Men United,” “Arrow”) as Cece, Christopher Larkin (“Squad 85”) as Monty, Devon Bostick (“Aim High”) as Jasper, with Isaiah Washington (upcoming “Blue Caprice,” “Grey’s Anatomy”) as Chancellor Jaha, and Henry Ian Cusick (“Lost,” “Scandal”) as Kane.

Based on the upcoming book series by Kass Morgan, THE 100 is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Alloy Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios with executive producers Matthew Miller (“Human Target,” “Chuck”), Jason Rothenberg (upcoming “Twilight Zone” feature), Bharat Nalluri (“Torchwood,” “Emily Owens, M.D.”), Leslie Morgenstein (“The Vampire Diaries”) and Gina Girolamo (“The Secret Circle”). The pilot was directed by Bharat Nalluri.

And here is the trailer:

The TV series is based on a new book series, The 100, by Kass Morgan.  Expected publication date is September 3, 2013, by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.  Can't wait!




Audiobook Review: Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

Between the Lives
Author:  Jessica Shirvington
Publisher:  HarperCollins Australia, 336 pages
Publication Date:  May 1, 2013 (Australia)
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length:  8 hours and 5 minutes
Publisher:  Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
Audible.com Release Date:  May 1, 2013

From Goodreads:

Above all else, though I try not to think about it, I know which life I prefer. And every night when I Cinderella myself from one life to the next a very small, but definite, piece of me dies. The hardest part is that nothing about my situation has ever changed. There is no loophole.

Until now, that is... 


For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she Shifts to her ′other′ life - a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she′s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she′s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.

With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments which bring her dangerously close to the life she′s always wanted... But just what - and who - is she really risking?


Audiobook Review:

I love Jessica Shirvington's Embrace series so much that when I saw this new book, I knew I wanted to read it.  Although the book is only available in Australia, the audiobook is available in the U.S.  So even though I usually don't listen to audiobooks, I ordered it.  

Parallel worlds seems to be a trend right now and I have enjoyed the ones I have read (Anyone remember the television show Sliders)?  Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Sabine is a great character and you really feel bad for her having to live these two lives and keep it a secret, meaning she doesn't feel like she truly has any friends.  And Ethan is so great.  You quickly are rooting for Sabine and Ethan, but it's difficult to see how it's going to work out given her two lives.  Although in the past, anything physical that happened to her in one world  (cutting her hair, getting sick, etc), carried over the other world, suddenly that is not the case.  

I have the admit, I was much more interested in her Roxbury world and I wanted more of the book to be in that world (since that's where Ethan was).  And the ending--so bittersweet.  I'm still not sure how I feel about it.  

As far as the audiobook, the accent was hard to get used to.  I'm not even sure what accent it was supposed to be.  Maybe someone Australian trying to do a Boston accent?  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Book Review: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt


Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Publisher: Bloomsbury, 320 pages
Publication Date: March 26, 2013


From Goodreads:

When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List:
1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous
But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.


Review:  


Such a fun, fast read.  Mallory's voice and character are very authentic and she seems like a typical teenager. Mallory realizes that her entire life has been Jeremy and when they break up, it's definitely a wake-up call for her (I remember when my entire life revolved around a guy).  I loved Oliver--are any high school guys actually like this?  The way he interacted with Mallory (and stuck up for her) was so sweet. Mallory's experiment of giving up all technology is an interesting premise and the author shows how hard that would actually be to do.  As I'm sitting here typing on my computer, after checking my e-mail and sending a text (and about to read on my Kindle), I don't think I could go very long at all without my technology. It did drive a few points home about how we interact with people and how that has changed. When Mallory and Oliver talk for three hours on the phone and she notes how much better she would know people if they just talked on the phone (no one talks on the phone anymore), that definitely rang true.  I will definitely be checking out this author in the future!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Hover by Melissa West

Hover (The Taking, #2)
Author:  Melissa West
Publisher:  Entangled Teen
Release Date:  August 6, 2013

From Goodreads:

On Earth, seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander was taught to never peek, but if she hopes to survive life on her new planet, Loge, her eyes must never shut. 

Because in this world, pleasure is everything, held up by a ruling body that keeps their people in check by giving them what they want and closing their eyes to what's really happening around them. The only hope Loge has is to move its people to Earth, and they have a plan.

Thousands of humans crossed over to Loge after a poisonous neurotoxin released into Earth’s atmosphere, nearly killing them. They sought refuge in hopes of finding a new life, but what they became were slaves, built to siege war against their home planet. That is, unless Ari and Jackson can stop them. 

But on Loge, nothing is as it seems…and no one can be trusted.


I cannot wait for this book!

Waiting On Wednesday features upcoming releases and is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Book Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman



By:  Rachel Hartman
Publication Date:  July 10, 2012
Publisher:  Random House Books for Young Readers, 451 pages

GoodReads Description:

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.


In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.

Review:

I was really interested in reading a book about dragons and I did like the world-building, including the fact that dragons could take human form and had rejected emotions and had very analytical and mathematical minds.  I also enjoyed the politics of it all (humans and dragons really hating each other but having this very uneasy truce).  However, there was just something missing for me in this book.  The book started out a bit slow and there was just so much information throughout the book that didn’t seem that necessary, although it may turn out to be in later books.  There’s a middle ground with having enough information in a book versus having too much, and I think there was just a bit too much here for me.  Sometimes I found myself just found myself skimming a bit, especially when Seraphina is in her “garden.”  Also, I just never completely connected with the characters. It wasn’t one of those books where I was so invested in the characters that I was laughing or crying or wanting to throw my Kindle across the room. Seraphina is a likeable character, and I enjoyed the scenes with her and Prince Lucian Kiggs and Oram. I was rooting for Seraphina and Kiggs, but then you have Princess Glisselda, who I kept liking more and more as the book went on and I’ll be curious to see what the author does with that triangle in the future.