Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

The Half Life of Molly Pierce
Author: Katrina Leno
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: July 8, 2014

Molly Pierce has a problem. She loses minutes, hours, even days and she is beginning to think she is losing her mind as well. When a car accident and death force Molly to start remembering her world beings unraveling and she has to take a look at who she is, and what has been happening during her missing time.

Usually I don’t like being in the dark during novels. There is a fine line between creating suspense and just being annoying, or worse gimmicky. Katrina Leno plays the line so perfectly! The reader finds out along with Molly about each plot twist and there was always the right ratio of answers coupled with new questions to keep the story driving.

And boy was the story driving! From the first chapter The Half Life of Molly Pierce consumed my life. I couldn’t stop thinking about what was happening to Molly, why she was losing time, who these new people in her life were to her. It was a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Okay, okay, so I might be overselling but I really did want to know what was happening!

What I loved about The Half Life of Molly Pierce was that there were times when I thought things would take a turn for the paranormal, but they never did. Leno’s novel was a total psychological contemporary thriller and the fact that it could have taken a turn for the paranormal but never did made me like it even more. Some of the most interesting things in life aren’t paranormal at all.

I also liked Molly. I admired her determination to find out the truth, even when doing so could really harm her. The supporting characters were also stellar, especially Molly’s siblings who were both supportive in their own ways. I love seeing sibling relationships in YA.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Half Life of Molly Pierce, the mystery was gripping, the characters were interesting, and it kept me up late turning pages. I will definitely be reading whatever Leno decides to write next!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Crown Of Ice Blog Tour {Review & Giveaway}

Crown of Ice
Author: Vicki L. Weavil
Publisher: Month 9 Books
Publication Date: September 9, 2014

Thyra Winther’s seventeen, the Snow Queen, and immortal, but if she can’t reassemble a shattered enchanted mirror by her eighteenth birthday she’s doomed to spend eternity as a wraith.
Armed with magic granted by a ruthless wizard, Thyra schemes to survive with her mind and body intact. Unencumbered by kindness, she kidnaps local boy Kai Thorsen, whose mathematical skills rival her own. Two logical minds, Thyra calculates, are better than one. With time rapidly melting away she needs all the help she can steal.
A cruel lie ensnares Kai in her plan, but three missing mirror shards and Kai’s childhood friend, Gerda, present more formidable obstacles. Thyra’s willing to do anything – venture into uncharted lands, outwit sorcerers, or battle enchanted beasts — to reconstruct the mirror, yet her most dangerous adversary lies within her breast. Touched by the warmth of a wolf pup’s devotion and the fire of a young man’s desire, the thawing of Thyra’s frozen heart could be her ultimate undoing.
CROWN OF ICE is a YA Fantasy that reinvents Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” from the perspective of a young woman who discovers that the greatest threat to her survival may be her own humanity.
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Crown of Ice is a retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen tale The Snow Queen. I’d never read, or even heard of The Snow Queen, until I began this novel. Crown of Ice follows the frosty and calculating Thyra Winther who is tasked with assembling a broken mirror before her eighteenth birthday. If she fails Thrya will become a wraith, doomed to wander the castle. 

What I really enjoyed about Crown of Ice was watching the Snow Queen thaw. Thyra is presented as a rather cold character, willing to do anything to complete the mirror and escape a terrible fate. As the novel progressed though we began to see other sides of Thyra and by the end she was nearly unrecognizable from her former self. 

The catalyst for this change was Kai Thorsen. Kai is a boy that Thyra met before she became Snow Queen. Thyra remembers Kai as being good at math and calculations and believed he could help her assemble the mirror. She recruits Kai through lies but her feelings for him are real. 

Another reason for Thyra’s change was Kai’s childhood friend Gerda. I didn’t care for Gerda. She was kind and loyal almost to a fault. I honestly should have liked her but I felt like she kept getting in the way and hindered rather than helped the story. Gerda was a part of the original story though and I can see why she was included in Crown of Ice even if she wasn’t a favorite of mine. 

Overall, Crown of Ice was a fun re-telling with a lot of character development. I was rooting for Thyra and Kai to both finish the mirror and realize their feelings for each other the entire novel. Crown of Ice is a perfect novel to curl up with on a snowy night with a cup of tea!
About The Author
Vicki Lemp Weavil was raised in a farming community in Virginia, where her life was shaped by a wonderful family, the culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and an obsession with reading. Since obtaining her undergraduate degree in Theatre from the University of Virginia, she’s gone on to acquire two masters degrees, living in places as diverse as New York City and rural North Carolina. She’s currently the library director for a performing an visual arts university. Vicki loves good writing in any genre, and has been known to read seven books in as many days. She enjoys travel, gardening, and the arts. Vicki lives in North Carolina with her husband, son, and some very spoiled cats.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Jackaby by William Ritter

Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
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I consider myself a bit of a Sherlock Holmes buff. I’ve read all of the original Holmes stories and many other novels from the Victorian Detective Lit era so I was really excited to dive in to Jackaby which was pitched as Doctor Who meets Sherlock (two of my favorite shows). Unfortunately, Jackaby ending up falling flat.

Abigail Rook is a new arrival in New Fiddleham, New England. She leaves the comfort and safety of her wealthy family to strike off on her own and become an explorer. I admired that about her but it failed to endear her to me. After reading an entire book written from her perspective I felt like I didn’t know her at all. I actually felt like the reader got a better glimpse of Jackaby than Abigail and what I saw of Jackaby I didn’t really care for.

Jackaby was meant to be a paranormal Sherlock Holmes but I found him lacking. He felt more like a caricature of the original Holmes than his own person. I wanted to see more flair and pizzazz instead Jackaby was constantly running from place to place with seemingly no rhyme or reason.

What I love about Holmes is that he has an arrogant air which he backs up with facts and observations. Jackaby solved mysteries in much the same way as Holmes but I felt like his conclusions were always told and painstakingly explained rather than presenting the facts and letting the reader riddle it out for themselves.

Overall, I think if I hadn’t read all of the original Sherlock Holmes stories and a plethora of Holmes-esque spinoffs I might have enjoyed Jackaby. Instead, the story was fighting an uphill battle to stand out from its considerable competition and it failed to do so.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Glass Arrow

The Glass Arrow
Author: Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Expected Publication: February 10, 2015

The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.
In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.

My Thoughts: Honestly this book wasn't even on my radar until Jenna Does Books wrote a stellar review for it. Now, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy because it sounds absolutely fabulous!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Illusions of Fate
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Goodreads ♥ Amazon

As soon as I began reading Illusions of Fate I knew I was going to love it. Jessamin drew me in to her world and I couldn’t reading stop until I knew what was going to happen to her and Finn!

Jessamin was from the island, Melei, which was colonized by Albion where she attends school. Jessamin, the illegitimate daughter of a professor at the school she is attending, works and lives in a hotel unbeknownst to her class obsessed mother. The letters between Jessamin and her mother were a fun and funny aspect of the story.

Ya know what? I just loved Jessamin in general! She was funny, spunky, and really independent. She didn’t care what the upper-crust people around her thought, she was her own person and was proud of her Melei heritage.

As much as I loved Jessamin I liked Finn equally as much. He was from a completely different world than Jessamin, born to a life of titles, power, and magic. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Finn and Jessamin develop and the entire idea of shadowing someone. It added an interesting (and romantic) layer to their story.

I also appreciated that while this book had magic and fantastical elements White also included the real-world aftermath of colonization in the story. It showed what being a colonized nation really entailed and how it affected life on Melei.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Illusions of Fate it is one of my favorite reads so far this year. My only complaint is that there wasn’t more to the story. It was a little on the short side and I was sad when I learned it wasn’t part of a series. I could have curled up and lived inside the wonderful world that White created.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann

Poisoned Apples: Poems For You, My Pretty
Author: Christine Heppermann
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
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I usually don’t review poetry or short stories. I like reading them but I have a hard time justifying what I liked or didn’t in the short format. In poetry especially, I find myself making snap judgments. I either love it or I hate it, there is no in between. Christine Heppermann’s novel Poisoned Apples: Poems For You, My Pretty was no different I found myself either loving or hating each poem.

The poems were loosely based on fairytales which was one of the aspects that I really enjoyed. I liked that the author took something fantastical and brought it to the modern day struggles of teens.

The poems dealt with topics such as body image, eating disorders, substance abuse, and many other issues. I found myself really loving the poems that dealt with substance abuse and not really caring for the ones that dealt with eating disorders or confidence issues. Probably because I just couldn’t relate to the subject matter.

And therein lays the crux for why I enjoy some poems and hate others. Relatability. Either the subject matter speaks to you or it doesn’t. Some of Heppermann’s poems spoke to me while some fell flat. I think reading these poems will be a unique experience for each reader and if you’re looking for something different this might just be that something.

Overall, Poisoned Apples was a very quick read (under an hour for me). And if you like poetry or fairy tales this might just be the book for you!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Publisher: Luna
Publication Date: October 1, 2005
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I haven’t given a book 5 stars in a long time. This year I’m at an all time low for 5’s and I don’t know what it is. I’m starting to think it’s me and that the 5 star book has become my white whale. I’m afraid I won’t see it again. That is what led me to Poison Study. Many of my Goodreads friends rated it very highly and I had to see if this would finally be the one. Unfortunately it wasn’t, but it was very close. Like seeing the tail of the whale in the distance it gave me hope that a 5 was out there. I just have to keep looking!

Poison Study begins with Yelena who set to be executed for murder she readily confesses to. After a year in the dungeons she is ready to take her punishment. But when Valek offers her the position of food taster for Commander Ambrose she takes the chance of a slow poison over a quick death.

I genuinely liked Yelena she reminded me a lot of Celaena Sardothian from the Throne of Glass series with her resourcefulness and attitude. Actually Poison Study reminded me of Throne of Glass in general. There was political intrigue, a new world, and magic (which I wasn’t expecting from either novel but probably should have been).

While I liked Yelena, Valek quickly became my favorite character. I’m a sucker for tall, dark, and killer. At first I was worried he would be portrayed as a one-dimensional hero but he quickly broke out of that mold and I was rooting for both him and Yelena.

Overall, Poison Study was a gripping read. I enjoyed learning more about food tasting, poisons, and watching the relationship between Yelena and Valek develop. I will definitely be continuing the series with Magic Study. Hopefully, I will find my elusive 5 star!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication Date: Sept. 29, 2011
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When I read a book by Stephanie Perkins I expect it to be painfully cute and Lola and the Boy Next Door lived up to that standard. Lola is distraught when the Bell twins move back to town. Calliope and Lola have never gotten along and Lola has a difficult history with Cricket, one she isn’t eager to explore until she sees him again.

Lola is a truly quirky character. She is always in a different costume. She tailors her wardrobe to fit her mood or what she’s going to be doing that day. For example, one day she goes out for a picnic and wears a picnic table cloth dress. Don’t let the outfits fool you though; Lola is an exceedingly normal person who loves her parents, her best friend, and even her crappy rocker boyfriend. She was easy to like.

I liked Cricket as well! He was totally tall, dork, and handsome. Cricket is an inventor who puts his life on hold to help his sister live her figure skating dream. I liked how selfless he was and his steadfast feelings toward Lola, despite the complicated situation they were in.

My one main qualm about Lola and the Boy Next Door was that it was basically the same plot as Anna and the French Kiss except reversed. Yes, the setting and characters are different but they shared many similarities and while the story was compulsively readable it was also easily predictable.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed Lola and the Boy Next Door even though I knew what was going to happen. Lola and Cricket were fun characters to follow and I’m looking forward to reading Isla and the Happily Ever After!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

10 Book Characters That Would Be Sitting At My Lunch Table

In honor of back to school here are the top 10 YA book characters who would be sharing my lunch table! A lot of these characters are not exactly good people. Back in the day I used to keep my friends tightly compartmentalized. I had my honor's friends and my definitely not honor's friends. This list is a combination of the two lives I lead. 

1 Grayson Barrett - The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
Grayson is lacrosse captain, school royalty and loses it all when it comes out that he is a term paper pimp. Definitely someone I would have had at my table.

2 Leon Harris - Play Me Backwards by Adam Selzer
Leon likes to do the bare minimum at work, school, and life. He just wants to kick it with his best friend Satan er..Stan and hang in the Ice Cave. I think all of us know a Leon!

3 Tess- The Boys of Summer by CJ Duggan
Tess kind of reminded me of a very specific friend so I will say no more in case she ever reads this.

4 June - Legend by Marie Lu
Back in the day I was in honors and all that smarty stuff. I was friends with people just like June! Well except for the living in a dystopian society thing.

5 Kavinsky - The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
While reading The Dream Thieves Kavinsky reminded me SO MUCH of an old friend of mine. I mean down to the fuckweasel. It's like Maggie pulled this guy from my past and gave him a new name.

6 Violet - Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Tucholke
Violet is quirky and inquisitve. I always liked hanging out with people that were different and more spiritual then myself. I definitely think Violet would be at my table!

7 Jas - Second Star by Alyssa Shienmel
Teenage surfer/drug dealer. Jas and I probably would have been besties. Kavinsky would have rounded out our crazy trio.

8 Lola- Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
I used to have a friend who dressed just like Lola! She was always in a crazy outfit and I just loved her. I'm actually going to give her a call now =P

9 Richard Campbell Gansey III - The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
I think we all have that one friend who is way richer than the rest of us and we just know he's going to be a politician or change the world someday.

10 Julia - Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Julie is a straight A student who does everything right. I had a few friends who were the super good kid to my bad. I think it evened us out.