Saturday, April 30, 2011

Virals by Kathy Reichs


Summary (from book):

Adventure has always been in fourteen-year-old Tory Brennan’s blood. After all, she is the niece of world-famous forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. So when she moves to middle of nowhere Morris Island, South Carolina, to live with a marine biologist dad she’s never known, Tory does the best she can to adjust to her new life.


There she meets a group of local kids who are just as “Sci-Phile” as she is--science geeks who’ve grown up exploring the backwoods marshlands of nearby Loggerhead Island. But there’s something strange going on at the Loggerhead Research Institute...maybe even something deadly. After rescuing a stray wolfdog pup from a top-secret lab, Tory and her friends are exposed to a rare strain of canine parvovirus, changing them--and their DNA--forever.


Now, with newly heightened senses and canine-quick reflexes, they’ll have to solve a cold-case murder that’s suddenly become very hot...that is, if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer’s scent.


Fortunately, they are now more than friends.


They are a pack.


They are VIRALS.


Review:

I absolutely love the TV show Bones, so when I saw that Kathy Reichs was writing a YA book, I figured I had to read it. It turned out to be a fun, action packed and fast paced story that I could not have enjoyed more.


After her mom’s death, Tory Brennan is forced to move to Morris Island, South Carolina to live with a father she didn’t even know she had. There she meets three boys who share her interest in science and mysteries. With them, Tory explores Loggerhead Island where something strange may just be happening. After rescuing a wolfdog pup from a secret lab at the research institute on the island, things become even more strange for the four teenagers. With strange new powers developing, Tory and her friends may just have what it takes to solve a forty-year-old murder case that has long gone cold.


This was such a fun story to read and for once, one that wasn’t driven by romance and love. I cannot even begin to tell you how refreshing it was to read a book where a girl didn’t fall in love with a supernatural creature or where there was a love triangle of some sort. What was even better was that it didn’t feel like anything was missing without the romance in the story. Aside from that, I loved the mystery and action that was present throughout the story. It was written in a way that made it so I didn’t put it all together until it was all laid out for me to see. If anything, the story reminded me of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books I used to read when I was younger. Despite all the similarities I found, it didn’t fell like the story had been done before. It was really a great story, one that I really enjoyed.


Tory Brennan is a bit like a young Temperance Brennan (who just happens to be her aunt). She is a smart, quick witted and adventurous girl who pretty much won’t let anyone or anything stand in her way. Granted she has some reckless tendencies but that’s what made her that much more fun to read about. And her friends weren’t any less interesting. Hiram pretty much had me smiling or laughing anytime he said anything. Shelton also had me smiling a lot and of the four teenagers he seemed to be the one who questioned Tory’s ideas the most. Ben I had more trouble figuring out but once I did I really liked him. The combination of the four of them together created some interesting dynamics that only served to make the story that much more interesting.


Overall, Virals was a great and fun read, one I was completely drawn into. I can only hope that Kathy Reichs will write more books featuring Tory and her friends.



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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (23)


For those of you that don't know, Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine where book bloggers devote a post to an upcoming book release they are particularly looking forward to reading.


THIS WEEK'S PICK:
BEAUTIFUL CHAOS BY KAMI GARCIA & MARGARET STOHL

Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask.

Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.

Beautiful Chaos is the third book in the Caster Chronicles series. The first two, Beautiful Creatures & Beautiful Darkness, were simply amazing and I just can't wait to see what's going to happen next to Ethan and Lena.

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl will be published October 18, 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.


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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Interview with Holly Schindler

Today I have the pleasure of having Holly Schindler, author of A Blue so Dark and Playing Hurt, on the blog as part of the Canadian blog tour for Playing Hurt. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. Here is what she had to say.



How was writing PLAYING HURT different from writing A BLUE SO DARK, your first novel?


Actually, I drafted PLAYING HURT before I ever drafted A BLUE SO DARK. And while BLUE wrote really very quickly, PLAYING HURT had a longer drafting process. PLAYING HURT also changed the most, from first draft to final published version—in fact, the first draft of PLAYING HURT didn’t feature the sports subplot or chapters written from Clint’s POV.


Where does inspiration come from when you write? Did it come from different places for A BLUE SO DARK and PLAYING HURT?


All my books come from a scenario, rather than from an idea for a character. With A BLUE SO DARK, I knew I wanted to write about the possible link between mental illness and creativity. With PLAYING HURT, I knew I wanted to write about learning the difference between loving someone (which is how Chelsea feels for Gabe) and being passionately IN love with someone (how Chelsea feels for Clint). From those basic scenarios, I start to create characters, outline a plot…


Both Chelsea and Clint were very involved in sports in high school. Were you particularly athletic in high school or more into music like Chelsea’s brother Brandon?


Very perceptive question! Yes, I was very much like Brandon, rather than Chelsea or Clint. I’ve never been particularly athletic at all—if you’d told me a few years ago that my second book would feature athletes, I would have laughed.


But I’ve always adored music. When I was in high school, I took guitar lessons from a local musician who played with the Ozark Mountain Daredevils (and was the most innately talented person I’ve ever known)…



Did you always want to be a writer or was there something specific that made you want to write?


I’ve always loved books and reading—and was writing stories by the time I was in the first grade. It’s always been a lifelong dream, just something I always had to do.



Are you working on anything new you’re allowed to share with us?


My debut middle grade novel will be released by Dial in the summer of 2012—the book doesn’t yet have an official title—or cover art! I can’t wait to finalize both…



You can visit Holly Schindler on her website at hollyschindler.com and on her blog at hollyschindler.blogspot.com, as well as follow her on Twitter @holly_schindler. You can also find her and other YA authors at YA Outside the Lines and she also recently started a blog with a group of middle grade authors which you can find at Smack Dab in the Middle.


Be sure to check out the final stop of the Playing Hurt Canadian blog tour on Readers Unite next week.



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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler

Summary (from book):

Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college--and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed her senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.


As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain--or finally heal their heartbreak?



Review:


When I read Playing Hurt I discovered an amazing writer. This may only be Holly Schindler’s second book, but already she has made a name for herself. In this book, she wrote a powerful and touching story, one that many readers will easily be able to relate to.


Chelsea is slowly recovering from a hip injury that put an end to her dream of having a professional basketball career. In the hope of getting her mood up, Chelsea’s dad gives her a three week “boot camp” program at a resort in Minnesota. There, Chelsea meets Clint, her trainer, who has plenty of issues of his own. Both Clint and Chelsea are immediately drawn to each other but both have something hold them back, in the form of a dead ex-girlfriend and a boyfriend waiting at home. Together they discover new feelings, some they thought they would never feel again. What could cause Chelsea and Clint even more pain might just be what they need in order to heal.


Under normal circumstances I would be against a story about a girl who goes away for the summer and cheats on the boyfriend she left back home. However, I fell completely in love with Holly Schindler’s version of this story. The way the story is written makes it so that it’s not about cheating but more about falling in love and coming to terms with the past. The alternating points of view only worked to make the story more powerful and touching, showing how each of the characters struggled and came to terms with their feelings. If the story as a whole wasn’t amazing enough, I absolutely loved the ending. For once it wasn’t a case of “and they all lived happily ever after” but everyone was still happy. There was closure but not enough for all doors to have been completely closed. It was, in my opinion, the perfect ending.


I absolutely loved Chelsea in spite of the whole cheating thing. If you ask me, Gabe wasn’t all that great anyway. I loved seeing her grow and come out of her shell. She started out hiding, not really opening herself up to anyone, to being someone who did things she never thought she would do and standing up for herself. In the end Chelsea was able to come to terms with what had happened to her. Clint had a similar evolution. At the beginning of the book he was afraid to open himself up to anyone, especially romantically, but then Chelsea came along. My favorite part though, was seeing the relationship between them develop and blossom. In my opinion Chelsea and Clint were exactly what the other needed.


Playing Hurt was an incredible book. I am so happy to have discovered Holly Schindler and I will definitely go back and read her first novel, A Blue So Dark, and whatever comes next from her.



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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Summary (from book):

The Mortal War is over, and Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And--most important of all--Clary can finally call Jace her boyfriend.


But nothing comes without a price.


Someone is murdering the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her. His mother just found out that he’s a vampire and how he’s homeless. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side--along with the power of the curse that’s wrecking his life. And they’re willing to do anything to get what they want. At the same time he’s dating two beautiful, dangerous girls--neither of whom knows about the other.


When Jace begins to pull away from Clary without explaining why, she is forced to delve into the heart of the mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: She herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.


Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.


Review:

It’s been two years since I read the first three books in the Mortal Instruments series so I was really looking forward to jumping back in with City of Fallen Angels. I loved being back with all those characters I had fallen in love with the first time around. If anything, I love Cassandra Clare and her writing even more now that I’m done reading her latest book.


Everyone is back in New York and recovering from the events that took place in Idris. Clary can finally call Jace her boyfriend and not be afraid, Luke and Jocelyn are planning their wedding, Alec and Magnus are on a romantic trip together and Simon is dealing with having two girlfriends. But of course all the peace didn’t last very long. Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle are turning up dead all over town and the cause of their deaths could not be more mysterious. On top of everything else, Jace starts acting mysteriously and no one, not even Clary, can seem to figure out what’s going on with him. With a new enemy in town, the stakes are higher for everyone.


Cassandra Clare is a master storyteller. The way she writes the story is just absolutely wonderful and magical and I absolutely cannot get enough. No matter how tired I am or what else I have to do I just kept on turning page after page, until there were none left to turn. The Shadowhunter world she created is also absolutely amazing. There are so many layers to it and there’s always something new to learn. I read a lot of books and there aren’t that many that have a world so well built and a story that is so superbly written. My only problem with the book was the ending, not because it was bad but because it was amazing and left me totally hanging.


Not only does Cassandra Clare write incredible stories but she also creates incredible characters. And it’s not just one character that stands out, it’s all of them. As much as I love Clary and Jace, I loved being able to see more of the other characters. It was great to get scenes told from Isabelle’s, Alec’s and Magnus’s points of view. What I particularly liked what how much of the story was told from Simon’s point of view and getting to know so much more about him. As for Clary and Jace, I really enjoyed seeing Clary grow and develop as a Shadowhunter and how she dealt with her relationship with Jace. Speaking of Jace, he is still as great as ever. He has his dark moments but I can’t bring myself to dislike him one little bit. Much like with the story, with what happened to the characters at the end, I can’t wait to know what happens next.


I’ve already said it but Cassandra Clare is a master of her craft. She writes incredible stories with even more incredible characters. I can’t wait to find out what comes next in both her Mortal Instruments series and her Infernal Devices series.



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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins



Summary
(from book):

Anna was 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. So she’ s 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 Lights, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and heats melt.




Review:

Despite all the good things I had heard about it, I didn’t read Anna and the French Kiss until quite recently. Let me say that once I started, I didn’t stop. No matter how many times I told myself I would stop after the next chapter, I just kept reading on. It was that good a book.


Anna was perfectly happy to spend her senior year of high school at home in Atlanta where she has her family, her friends and a potential boyfriend. But her dad decides it would be better for her if she went off to boarding school in Paris. Though Anna doesn’t like the idea at first, she realizes Paris may not be so bad after all. And of course Etienne St. Clair just might have something to do with that. Unfortunately for Anna, St. Clair also happens to have a serious girlfriend. But who knows what can happen when you’re in one of the most romantic cities in the world.


Even now that I’m done reading, I just can’t seem to get over how cute and adorable this story was. Not only that but it reminded me of my high school experience overseas, mine wasn’t a boarding school or in Paris but it was still similar. While those similarities drew me into the story, what kept me reading was the writing. This isn’t an action-packed story but the way Stephanie Perkins writes it makes you want to just keep on reading. No matter how many times I told myself to stop reading, I didn’t do so until I realized it was 3 AM and I really had to go to bed. It was just a really adorable story that you can’t help but love and want more of.


As for the characters, they were absolutely great. I loved Anna right from the start. Not only was she a really realistic character but she was also extremely likable. I just couldn’t help but hope that she would get what she wanted and that everything would work out for her. And then there was Etienne St. Clair. St. Clair has pretty topped my list of literary crushes. I could just picture him in my mind and hear his accent in my head and I wished I was in Anna’s place. He was just a genuinely good guy and you couldn’t do anything but like him. Basically, there were moments where I was pretty jealous of Anna.


Anna and the French Kiss was absolutely adorable and I loved every single page of it. Stephanie Perkins wrote a fantastic story and I absolutely can’t wait to read her next book, Lola and the Boy Next Door.


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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (22)


For those of you that don't know, Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine where book bloggers devote a post to an upcoming book release they are particularly looking forward to reading.


THIS WEEK'S PICK:
LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR BY STEPHANIE PERKINS

In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, two teens discover that true love may be closer than they think.


For budding costume designer Lola Nolan, the more outrageous the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins move back into the house next door.

When the family returns and Cricket—a gifted inventor and engineer—steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.


I just recently read Anna and the French Kiss (review coming on Saturday) and I absolutely loved it. It was one of those books that kept me up until the early hours of the morning even though I knew I had plenty of things that needed to get done the next day. I loved everything about the book and I can only hope that Lola and the Boy Next Door will be just as good.


Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins will be published September 29, 2011 by Dutton Juvenile.



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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston


Summary (from book):

“I don’t love Sonny Flannery.”


That’s the lie Kelley Winslow told to protect the boys she loves from a power he doesn’t know he possesses. Devastated, Sonny retreats--to a haven for Lost Fae that’s hidden deep underneath New York City.


But Kelley’s not about to let things end in heartbreak. To get Sonny back, she’s got to find out who’s after his magick--and how to use her own. She’s got to uncover who’s recruiting Janus Guards to murderously hunt innocent Faerie. She’s got to help rebuild the shattered theater company she called family. And she’s got to do it all without getting dangerously distracted by the Fennrys Wolf, whose legendary heart of stone seems to melt whenever he’s around Kelley.


The intrigue and romance that began with Wondrous Strange and Darklight come to a stormy head in Tempestuous, the breathtaking conclusion to Lesley Livingston’s ravishing urban Faerie trilogy.


Review:

I always have mixed feelings when it comes to reading the last book in a series and it was no different with Tempestuous. As excited as I am to see how it all ends and comes together, I’m also sad to see it all end and have to say goodbye to the characters I loved reading about and getting to know over the course of the series. With this particular series, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.


In order to protect him, Kelley had to make Sonny believe that she doesn’t love him. Now Sonny doesn’t know what to do anymore and Kelley is completely overwhelmed by everything she needs to do. The Faerie World as they know it is about to end and New York City is under threat from all the Faeries roaming around. Kelley and her friends now have to find a way to save Faerie all the while protecting New York from the dangerous fae. At the same time Kelley also has to find a way to convince Sonny that she lied to him when she said she didn’t love him. And she has to learn lines for her new role. No one said it would be easy to be the princess of the autumn and winter courts.


Every Faerie story I read is different but I have loved every one of them I’ve read. They each have something that differentiates them from the rest. In this case I would have to say it has something to do with Sonny Flannery. There is something about Sonny that makes him jump off the page and come to life. Because he feels so real, the rest of the story and the characters begin to feel that way too. Lesley Livingston creates an incredible world with an even more incredible cast of characters. There isn’t one character in the story who wasn’t interesting. It’s not just Sonny. Kelley is a strong heroine who’s not afraid to do what needs to be done. She and Sonny are only two of the amazing characters here. If I were to talk about them. all, we would probably be here for a very long time.


The story itself was incredible and full of twists and turns. Every time I thought I had is all figured out, something would happen that would make me have to rethink the whole thing. It kept me guessing the whole way through and that’s what I love about this story, there is never a dull moment. What makes it all even better is Lesley Livingston’s writing. She knows just how much information to give to keep the reader interested without revealing too much information at the same time. Her writing is simply magical and it makes everything jump off the page and become real. I absolutely love reading anything and everything she writes.


Tempestuous was the perfect conclusion to an amazing series. I loved every single page of it and would gladly read it all over again. If you haven’t read the Wondrous Strange series, I strongly recommend you pick it up, you won’t regret it.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (36) & Follow Friday (28)

It's Friday so it means it's time for the Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday!

Book Blogger Hop

First off, the Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Jennifer of Crazy-for-Books. It is a way for all the book bloggers out there to get together and find out about each other's blogs. I've found a lot of great blogs and bloggers through this hop and it's always fun to take part in each week.




The Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View each week. It works a lot like the Book Blogger Hop except that it's only on Fridays. I haven't been taking part in this hop as long but I've found a lot of great new blogs through this one too.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION:

DO YOU JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER?


Sadly yes. Unless I know about a book ahead of time, what's going to draw me in when I see it on the shelf at the bookstore is the cover. I am a lot more likely to pick up a book with a pretty cover than one which isn't so pretty. Sure I may be missing out on some great books, but it's just so hard not too judge based on the cover.

That's it for this week!

Enjoy your weekends!


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