Sunday, September 7, 2014

In Anticipation: Sept 2014


A Creature of Moonlight - Rebecca Hahn
 
A stunning debut novel about a girl who is half dragon, half human, and wholly herself.

As the only heir to the throne, Marni should have been surrounded by wealth and privilege, not living in exile-but now the time has come when she must choose between claiming her birthright as princess of a realm whose king wants her dead, and life with the father she has never known: a wild dragon who is sending his magical woods to capture her.

Fans of Bitterblue and Seraphina will be captured by A Creature of Moonlight, with its richly layered storytelling and the powerful choices its strong heroine must make.

First Lines: August, 2014

The first words you read can often set the tone for the entire story.  I thought it would be fun to keep track of the first lines of the books I read each month and share them with you.  Below are the first lines for all the books I read in August.

Welcome to the Dark House by Laure Faria Stolarz
"It's Saturday afternoon, and I'm sitting in Dr. Donna's office."

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
"I am where dead children go."

How to Fall by Jane Casey
"Freya ran"

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
"Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family."

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday
"My breath is quick."

Oblivion by Sasha Dawn
"Lindsey and I left her portable speakers in her backyard shed last week, during the thunderstorm."

Woah, this one completely got away from me.  With the start of the school season I have been a very bad blogger.  So, better late than never.  My favorite first line in August was The Girl From The Well.  I love the mystery and sadness of that line.

My least favorite line was How to Fall.  Blech.  Boring.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Stacking The Shelves - August 2014

 

Stacking The Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

 EBOOKS I GOT:

Friday, August 29, 2014

OMG! Have You Seen This Cover?!

Lots of incredible covers this week.  I picked two that I loved, but for very different reasons.

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige

In this dark, high-octane sequel to the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die, Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to kill Dorothy and free Oz.

To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die....

But Dorothy still lives. Now the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has vanished, and mysterious Princess Ozma might be Amy’s only ally. As Amy learns the truth about her mission, she realizes that she’s only just scratched the surface of Oz’s past—and that Kansas, the home she couldn't wait to leave behind, may also be in danger. In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust—and who is really Wicked?


I missed out on Dorothy Must Die back when it was first published.  I have seen lots of mentions of it since then but, seeing this cover for the sequel has made me finally grab a copy and start reading it.  I love the silhouette here and the storm clouds in the cutout.  I don't know what it is about lime green and evil but the color works perfectly here.  

 Awful Auntie by David Walliams

A page-turning, rollicking romp of a read, sparkling with Walliams' most eccentric characters yet and full of the humour and heart that all his readers love, Awful Auntie is simply unmissable!

From larger than life, tiddlywinks obsessed Awful Aunt Alberta to her pet owl, Wagner – this is an adventure with a difference. Aunt Alberta is on a mission to cheat the young Lady Stella Saxby out of her inheritance – Saxby Hall. But with mischievous and irrepressible Soot, the cockney ghost of a chimney sweep, alongside her Stella is determined to fight back... And sometimes a special friend, however different, is all you need to win through.

 
 This cover gives me such a sense of nostalgia.  It reminds me of the Roald Dahl covers from my childhood.  Growing up in a very small town with a very small library and before the days of interent shopping - the Roald Dahl books were read over and over again, so seeing covers like these will always make me smile. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Oblivion by Sasha Dawn

Title: Oblivion
Author: Sasha Dawn
Publisher:
Egmont USA
Release Date:
May 27, 2014
Rating:
3/5

Cover Impressions: I'm not usually a fan of full face covers, but I like this one.  The eyes are very detailed and the writing keeps your eye moving across the cover.  I am not, however, a big fan of the title font.
The blurb sounds really interesting and I am excited to read about someone who suffers from graphomania.  I have heard of this condition before and I really hope the author gets her facts right.  I do wish they had left the whole "new guy at school" part off, I don't see any reason for this story to be wrapped up in a romance.

The Gist:
  Calliope Knowles suffers from Graphomania - a compulsion to write.  Words pop into her head and torment her until she is able to get them out.  The disorder started the night her father, a local minister, disappeared with a young girl from the parish.  Callie was found in her old apartment, scrawling I KILLED HIM across the bathroom walls.  Since that day, she has no memory of what happened, but as she refuses to take her medication and slips deeper and deeper into the grip of the words that haunt her, they begin to form a pattern.  These clues lead her on a search that uncovers more family secrets than she ever thought possible.

Review: 

I skipped over this book when I was in the middle of a reading slump and decided to wait to review it until I was more likely to enjoy ANYTHING that I was reading.  I'm very glad I did because Oblivion got off to a pretty slow start and and needed some patience.  There was something about the writing style that didn't quite grab me.  There was a distinct lack of transition between Callie's narrative and her Graphomania episodes and hallucinations/memories.  There was a great deal of description every time one of these hit (which was A LOT) and it really started to slow down the plot.  Callie spent a ridiculous amount of time searching for a pen, which drove me insane.  Every time her graphomania hi, she went frantic looking for a pen and notebook and I kept questioning why someone who suffers from this disorder doesn't have a pen in every pocket.  The plot was also slowed by the whole romance element.  Callie has a boyfriend, but naturally starts to fall for another guy who, unfortunatly, is the current interest of her foster sister - which leaves him off limits.  This led to a lot of pages dedicated to teen angst when all I was interested in was what actually happened to Callie and if she killed her father.  Eventually, I started to skim until I got to the halfway mark and things got interesting.

The mystery was less of a whodunit, and more of a whatexactlydidtheydo.  There were some decent surprises along the way.  I did feel like this book could have been more effective as a mystery if they cut some of the boyfriend drama and gotten rid of some of the repetition and made the book shorter.  By the time the main mystery had been resolved, it felt like the story was done, but there was a great deal of time spent wrapping up some of the loose ends, which left me a little bored. 

Callie was a decent main character, though she had more a tendency to follow along with other people's plans rather than to take charge of her own life.  When she did make her own decisions, they usually left her squatting in an unoccupied apartment with no real plan for the future.  The most interesting part about her was the graphomania.  I would love to know how accurate a portrayal this was and if Callie is representative of what people living with this issue actually go through.  I would also like to know how someone who has experienced this felt about John referring to it as a gift.  None of the other characters were particularly compelling, except Callie's mother, who is barely featured.

Oblivion didn't work for me right away, but the last 1/4 or so picked up and I enjoyed the mystery plot. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

Age:
15 and up
Sex: Sex between teens
Violence: Physical Child Abuse, Sexual Child Abuse, Knifeplay, 
Inappropriate Language: Piss, Bitch, Fuck, Whore, Shit, Slut
Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, Marijuana Use

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter which is due to be released on Sept 2nd

 In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…

Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

Even though she has no talent of her own, Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. Her father has kept her isolated at the estate and forbidden her interest; everyone knows that teaching arcane magickal theory to women is the height of impropriety. But against her father’s wishes, Sophie has studied his ancient volumes on the subject. And in the tall, stammering, yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest and awakens new ideas and feelings.

Sophie and Gray’s meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. And after the king’s closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be even more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost…


I fell in love with the almost etched quality of this cover, and the plum color.  I don't know anything about the author, but the premise is interesting enough for me to give this one a shot

Monday, August 25, 2014

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Title: Of Monsters and Madness
Author: Jessica Verday
Publisher:
Egmont
Release Date:
Sept 9, 2014
Rating:
1/5

Cover Impressions: I like the cover, the image is sufficiently creepy, the colors work well and I like the scrollwork on the bottom (man, I am a sucker for scroll).  But, I don't feel like this is anything too special, I've seen this kind of backlight figure on a hundred scary novels before.
The real reason that I picked this book is because I LOVE Edgar Allen Poe.  I will pretty much read anything that is inspired by his work - even though I am almost always disappointed (I'm looking at you Nevermore and Mrs.Poe)

The Gist:
Annabelle Lee has just lost the only parent she has ever known.  Summoned to her father's house in 1820's Philadelphia, she finds a world if intrigue and murder.  Her father is not at all what she expected, gruff and unwelcoming, he spends most of his time in his laboratory with one of his two assistants: one fair and kind, the other dark and brooding.  As news of gruesome murders creeps closer and closer to their home, Annabelle begins to suspect that the monsters may be nearer than she ever imagined.    

Review:

I didn't have the highest of hopes for this book when I requested it, but I will read just about anything that is inspired by Poe.  This predilection of mine has, unfortunately, led to some pretty awful books, but I keep trying because there has got to be one Poe connected book out there to make it all worthwhile.  This, however, is not that book.

Immediately upon starting Of Monsters and Madness I couldn't help feeling like the writing was a little juvenile and eye-roll worthy.  It felt almost like it hadn't been edited carefully.  The first half spent entirely too much time comparing Annabelle's new life to the one in Siam.  If the author didn't feel it was important enough to start the book while she was still living there, why pound us over the head with it every chance she got?  It began to feel like she was saying "look at all this fancy research that I did, I will show you ever fact I learned!"  This interrupted the flow of the writing and annoyed me.

I got the feeling very early on in this novel that Annabelle was going to play the damsel in distress, and I was right.  As a character she was rather bland, despite the author's desperate attempt to make her seem oh-so-special.  From the very beginning, she was a mess of cliches.  We are told that she prefers to wear trousers (though we never actually see this in the rest of the novel), she clearly treats the servants as her equal (like every other heroine in lame historical fiction) and she even meditates.  It really bothers me when authors try to take on a historical setting but give their characters modern sensibilities that are completely out of place in the time frame.  What results, at least in this case, is a character who seems all too perfect.  Other than being completely oblivious to what is right in front of her face, Annabelle doesn't appear to have any character flaws and spends the entire novel desperately trying to please other people.  She is simply too good to be true.  

None of the other characters are even remotely compelling and Poe is set up as the love interest.  There was some chemistry between the two but he was far too pushy for my taste.  On a couple of occasions he insists on being alone with Annabelle despite the social norms of the time that would dictate that there must be a chaperone.  This is one of those triggers for me.  It is not romantic, it simply shows that the character has no concern for his love interest's reputation or her future.  The servants and her grandfather are at least kind, but they don't have anything interesting about them and the father is interesting, but is featured so little that it barely registers.

The biggest issue that I had with this novel came in the very reason that I chose it.  I was looking for a story inspired by Poe, but that was done very poorly.  There were bits and pieces of Poe's work scattered throughout the narrative but their inclusion seemed clunky and awkward.  They appeared completely out of place with the writing style of the author and the scenes that featured them seemed contrived merely for their sake.  To make matters worse, the story was actually a mish-mash of classic horror novels.  It was as if the author a) could not decide whom to emulate and decided to throw them all into one book and let them hash it out or b) could not come up with a unique idea on her own and decided to steal them from the greats instead.  The plot was almost completely predictable and there was no real sense of danger or excitement. 

There was also a strange epilogue that appeared to be tacked on in some odd way of setting this book up for a sequel but I, for one, will not be signing on for that.   

Teaching/Parental Notes:

Age:
15 and up
Sex: Kissing
Violence: Murder (not described), Arson, Animal Experimentation
Inappropriate Language: Bastard
Substance Use/Abuse: None

Unanswered Questions:
Does she really not take the scarf off, ever?  Not even to wash it?  Man that thing must reek!