Sunday, April 25, 2010

Review: The Grimm Collection by Polly Shulman

The Title: The Grimm Collection/The Grimm Legacy*
Author:  Polly Shulman
Genre: YA, Pre-teen, supernatural, romance, mystery
Format: ARC
Release Date: July 2010
Perfect for: those who need a break from angst

Elizabeth's life is far from a fairytale.  She has no friends at her new school, a stepmother who doesn't 'get' her, and no prospective boyfriends in the scene.  That all changes when she is hired at a fantastic library-- a library that doesn't deal in books, but items-- some normal and some magical.  When items from the special collection of Brothers Grimm artifacts go missing, all the library 'pages' must band together to figure out who is stealing, while trying to stay alive.

I enjoyed 'The Grimm Collection'.  It was something I would classify as a 'fun' read-- nothing heavy or over dramatic, just plain old fun.  Elizabeth's POV sucked me in with its friendly tone and touch of humor.  The secondary characters (basketball star Mark,  beautiful Anjali, and awkward Aaron) were easy to figure out, but added to the story nicely.  I like that this is an ensemble book and not one that focuses solely on the main character.

As a side note, I really like the cover on this book.  It really connects well with the story as opposed to other titles where you have to wonder how or why they decided this or that would be appropriate on their cover!

While the romantic entanglements were few and pretty easy to spot, I found them cute and more innocent compared to typical YA titles. This is definitely a book that pre-teens or young readers with higher reading levels can safely pick up with no worries of it becoming too 'mature'.

The charm of this story is the overall concept.  I love the library the four teens work at.  Heck, I'd love to work at that library!  So many stories can stem from just the setting alone.  I mean, just think of all the things that could happen with the other special collections!  That being said, I wonder if this is meant to be a stand alone novel.  Most of the major plot elements were tied up nicely, but some smaller ones were left open.

Personally, I'd like to see more of the library and the characters.  It was a fun romp and I think that Elizabeth, Aaron, Anjali, and Mark still have enough life in them for a sequel.  I recommend 'The Grimm Collection'.  It's perfect reading for a lazy day when you don't want to read anything too heavy, but just want to immerse yourself in a world filled with magic and mayhem.

*Note: My ARC is titled 'The Grimm Collection', Goodreads has this labeled as 'The Grimm Legacy'.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Too Many Books, Too Little Time!

I've been slow on reviews as of late.  Never fear, the next review is coming soon (within the next few days).  I've put 'The Thin Executioner' on hold and have started reading 'The Grimm Collection' by Polly Shulman.  'The Grimm Collection' follows a girl who gets a job as a library page in an amazing library.  Instead of books, her library holds objects-- ordinary AND magical.  I'm halfway through it and so far it's been a fun read.

In other news, Aprilynne Pike's 'Spells', sequel to 'Wings' comes out in less than 10 days!  Wow, did that one sneak up on me.  I enjoyed 'Wings' enough that I am looking forward to getting my hands on this sequel.   Find out more about the title at her blog.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Book Trailer's You Might Like...

I love book trailers.  Matter of fact, I wish I was making them.  Alas, I'm not as of yet, but maybe one day...

Here are a few I found while scouring the internet!

The Lost Days: Emily the Strange Graphic Novel

I love the animation in this one. Emily the Strange definitely stands out on a crowded bookshelf!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Article: Book Recommendations From You!

Hi readers!

First, thank to all those who hit the 'follow' button.  I appreciate it!

Second, I need your help!  My bookstore is looking to expand the teen dept. and I'm on a look out for teen titles of all genre's that you love, but might not see on bookstore shelves frequently.  If a title's been in the top ten for weeks, then we already have it.  I'm looking for those 'diamond in the ruff' books and series that readers will love!

Thanks for your help!

Review: Kristy's Great Idea by Ann M. Martin

Title: Kristy's Great Idea
Author: Ann M. Martin
Release Date: April 2010
Genre: pre-teen, juvi, friendship, self esteem, coming of age
Perfect for: kids 8 and up who like more 'school' or 'general life' titles and less fantasy/sci-fi themes

Set after 'The Summer Before', 'Kristy's Great Idea' follows pre-teens Kristy (tom boy), Claudia (artist), Mary Anne (quiet and studious), and Stacey (fashion/boy expert) as they decide to start a club based around baby-sitting-- The Baby-Sitters Club.

Short description for this title, as I think that one sentence pretty much says all you need to know about the first book in the Baby-Sitters Club series.  Edited for todays generation, 'Kristy's Great Idea' should have no trouble catching the interest of pre-teen girls, as well as those us who just want to 'catch up' with the gang after years of being out of print!

Since the boom of fantasy and sci-fi titles in juvi fiction, it's been hard for me to really find titles for the younger set that have a good story and lots of heart.  'Kristy's Great Idea' has both of those qualities and more.  'Kristy's Great Idea' is a quick read with interesting characters and a great premise.  Girls will find it easy to relate to any one of the four main characters featured in this novel as they are all unique and likable.  The story is equally great as it has a definite girl power theme to it.  Also, in this day and age where most kids get huge allowances (or on the opposite end, no allowance at all), 'Kristy's Great Idea' might just inspire kids to work on something like this in real life.

As mentioned above, this is officially the first book in the Baby-Sitters Club series, not to be confused with the recently released prequel, 'The Summer Before'.  There are pro's and cons to reading one before the other.  'The Summer Before' gives you a nice introduction to the characters, but 'Kristy's Great Idea' has a bit more action.

'Kristy's Great Idea' is a great book for any pre-teen girl interested in a more 'real life' storyline.  Even though it was originally published in the late 80's, it reads (thanks to small edits) like it was written for todays audience.  Highly recommended for those looking for a good girl power, coming of age series!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Title: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: March 2010
Genre: YA, Supernatural, Romance, High School
Perfect for: those looking for something new in their supernatural romances

Sixteen-year-old Sophie Mercer is a witch, at least half witch.  When a love spell goes drastically wrong at her school prom, Sophie is sentenced to Hex Hall (aka reform school for monsters) for her remaining years of school.  Mingling for the first time with other supernatural creatures like the fae, werewolves, shifters, and even a few vampires, Sophie finds out that she has a lot to learn about the magical world she was born into. To add to it, Sophie finds herself falling for a boy who is perfect, but unavailable.  When dark witches start being attacked, Sophie finds her vampire roommate accused and starts looking for answers;  Answers that will lead her to an even bigger secret about who she truly is and how powerful she could become.

I almost judged this book by its cover.  I admit it, I saw this in the bookstore and passed it by because I wasn't a fan of the cover art.  It wasn't until I stumbled upon this book as an ARC that I decided to give it a shot, not knowing it was the book I passed up a few days earlier.  Well, needless to say, 6 hours after opening the front cover of 'Hex Hall', I finished, having read it cover to cover in practically one sitting, wanting more!

Let's start off first with the story/voice.  Told from Sophie's point of view, 'Hex Hall' moves quickly.  The writing style is similar to Carrie Jones 'Need' or Lauren Kate's 'Fallen' and has a good mix of witty dialogue, light action, steamy moments, and quirky pop culture references. The writing flowed nicely from chapter to chapter and (for me) had an addictive feeling to it similar to when I read 'Twilight' or 'Fallen'.

The characters are likable and entertaining to read.  Sophie is your typical strong female heroine.  Her past, largely unknown to her, should make for an interesting series.  I loved Archer, the hot bad boy of 'Hex Hall'.  So many things can play out when it comes to him.  I'm excited to see what happens between him and Sophie in future books.  And then there is Sophie's roommate Jenna...  She could have easily been annoying, but is actually pretty likable.  Maybe it's because, unlike some other sidekicks, her character actually has a role to play in the story more than just confidante.

A quick warning to readers-- it has a cliff hanger ending.  You'll want more!  Overall, I loved this book and can't wait for the next installment. It should appeal to the vast majority of YA supernatural romance readers.  Take my advice-- ignore the cover and give this book a shot!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Review: The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin

Title: The Summer Before- A BSC Prequel
Author: Ann M. Martin
Release: April 1st, 2010
Genre: Juvi, pre-teen, friendship, coming of age
Perfect for: 8 and up, kids looking for fun, friendship reads, and those twenty somethings who loved the series as kids

It's the summer before 7th grade and Kristy, Claudia, and Mary Anne are psyched.  Set before 'Kristy's Great Idea', 'The Summer Before' shows us the trio transitioning into teens, or at least pre-teens.  Kristy is dealing with her moms growing attachment to boyfriend Watson, Claudia feels she is 'growing out' of her friends, and Mary Anne is trying to break out of her shell while dealing with an over protective father.  Meanwhile, Stacey is getting ready for a big move from New York City to Suburban Stoneybrook, CT after recently being diagnosed with Diabetes.

It was fun revisiting the Baby-Sitters Club (BSC) gang-- at least the four featured in this book.  It's been years since I've read this Ann M. Martin series but I am pleased to say it read (felt) like revisiting an old friend.  The style and rhythm felt natural and the story was quick and entertaining.  It's a short, light story, so those who want to read it out of nostalgia should have no problem.

Off all four story lines, Stacey's was the most interesting to me.  I don't remember the original series going much into the reason for her move other than a quick sentence or two (though it's been a while-- I could be wrong). In pure BSC fashion, the message that you shouldn't be scared of friends with health issues came across very clear due to Stacey's story.

While I would have preferred a sequel, a prequel makes more sense when it comes to re-branding this story for this generation.  'The Summer Before' gives us a good look at how the members of the (soon to be formed) BSC stay friends, even though they are all maturing in different ways.  'The Summer Before' is available now online or at your local bookstore!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Welcome Back, BSC!

My next review is going to be on the prequel to the Baby-Sitters Club (BSC) series, so I thought, why not write a bit about the original series for those who may not have lived through its original heyday.

Here are a few fun BSC series facts!

-The first book came out in 1986 and was called "Kristy's Great Idea"
-The series follows a group of best friends who decide to form a 'Baby-Sitters Club'.
-The girls are in 7th grade in the beginning of the series and eventually move into eighth grade.
-Including specials, there are over 200 books in the series!
-In 1990, a short lived TV show was made.  Embeded is a YT clip from my favorite episode!

- In 1991/92, a line of fashion dolls were made of the gang.
-In 1995, a movie was made based on the BSC with a cast that went on to make many other popular movies. Trailer is here!
-In 1998, more dolls were made!  From Kenner, they were 12" tall.
-In 2000, the last BSC book was published (Graduation Day).  Since then, the series slowly has gone out of print.

This new prequel, "The Summer Before", should bring a whole new audience to the series.  Along with this new book, the original series is also being slowly re-vamped and re-printed! Yay!  My personal hope is that this spawns not only a new legion of fans, but also a new tv show or new reunion novels down the line!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Review: Morpheus Road: The Light by D.J. MacHale

Title: Morpheus Road: The Light
Author: D.J. MacHale

Format: ARC
Release Date: April 20, 2010
Genre: YA, supernatural, ghost story, action/adventure
Perfect for: fans of ghost stories who love series

Sixteen-year-old Marshall led a pretty normal life-- that is, until two key things happened. First, his best friend Cooper disappeared while at his families lake house. Second, he began being haunted. Worse, he's being haunted by a ghost who looks exactly like the creepy 'Gravedigger' he's been drawing for months. Together with Coopers' sister Sydney, Marsh takes it upon himself to find his friend, while trying to survive 'Gravedigger'.

As a fan of D.J. MacHale's Pendragon series, I was pretty hungry for this book! 'Morpheus Road: The Light' was a quick, action packed read. It definitely has a supernatural, spooky feeling to it that should please those who like to scare themselves with RL Stine or Christopher Pike.

The pro's of this book? I like the characters. I think Marsh and Sydney have good chemistry. Whether or not it will go the romantic chemistry route is still yet to be seen, but the two play off each other well. Coopers character is great because he is so different from Marsh. Where Marsh is still interested in shooting rockets and drawing, Cooper is more into, well, getting in and out of troubling situations. Their friendship brings in an interesting dynamic-- two best friends who are the opposite poles (if you will) of teenage-hood.

It was interesting reading a ghostly tale by DJ. Being so used to his fantasy worlds, I was a bit worried. Thankfully, 'Morpheus Road: The Light' didn't come out cliche, like other ghost stories directed at pre-teens and the ya audience. Worried about how scary it may be? While spooky at times, it never crosses the line into frightening. It seems just right for kids twelve and up.

The cons of this book? Like the first 'Pendragon' book, you can tell this is the 'introduction' book. Its goal? Tell the readers 'who', 'what', and 'where'. It has a story with a beginning middle, and end, but a lot of it is focused on learning about the series environment. Questions are thrown at you and you really don't get many answers to most of them. It took me almost half the book to really get into this supernatural tale, so expect a slow beginning. ('Merchant of Death', the first book in the 'Pendragon' series read similarly for me, but eventually became one of my favorite series.)

Overall, I enjoyed 'Morpheus Road: The Light'. It looks to me like D.J. has a solid series on his hands. While not everything in the book impressed me, I enjoyed it enough that I will definitely keep an eye out for future books.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Book Trailer: Morpheus Road: The Light by DJ Machale

I'm currently reading this book and enjoying it so far.  While waiting for my review (coming as soon as I finish the book!), check out this book trailer!