Monday, August 31, 2009

Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Title: Elsewhere
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Format: Hardcover
Genre: YA/Afterlife/supernatural
Perfect For: Those who enjoy reading the many definitions authors have of life after death

Liz is dead and in the beginning, it isn't very fun.

Elsewhere really surprised me. This book was sitting on my bookshelf being unread until I was bored out of my skull and had nothing else to read but it. I'm very happy to have had to chance to read this strangely amazing book. Yes, it took a while to get used to the voice and at one point in time I wasn't quite sure where the plot was, but it was one of those books I just couldn't put down.

The book deals with acceptance, love, and the issue of moving on. It's funny, sad, and a very different view point of Heaven than past books I've read.

Here's the deal: Give Elsewhere I try. It's one of those you'll either love or you'll hate. But it's definitely worth a look.

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Format: Hardcover
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Girl Power/Adventure/Romance
Perfect For: Those suffering the 'Post Twilight Blues'

Graceling, written by a debut author, was a page-turner. Katsa, the niece of one of the Seven Kingdoms, has been Graced with the ability to fight, wound, or kill anyone in any element. It is a Grace her uncle takes full advantage of. When a prince from another kingdom enters Katsa's life making her wonder if there could be more to her life than being the kings thug, everything changes and loads of action, adventure, romance, and girl power ensue.

Graceling had me hooked from start to finish. The world in which the characters live is unique and written so the reader doesn't feel overwhelmed by the universe the author created. The characters are likable and engaging. Cashore did a great job weaving all the elements together, making the transitions between fighting scenes to romantic scenes believable.

A quick word of warning--This is a YA book and does contain some parts that are more suitable for older teens than pre or young teens. The romantic scenes that take place in this book are not vulgar or crude in any way and are probably more innocent than you'd find in current popular teen fiction.

Overall, I really liked Graceling and recommend it to both teens and adults.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Review: Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Title: Palace of Mirrors
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Young Reader/pre-teen/fantasy/fairytale
Perfect For: Pre-teens or early teens

Pretend you're a peasant who knows that she is much more than a normal girl. Pretend that for years you've been told that danger is out to get you. Pretend that danger has come and the only thing you can do is run towards your true destiny. Cecila is a strong minded girl of 14 who, along with her friend Harper, find themselves in an adventure so important the fate of the kingdom rests upon their shoulders.

Haddix has shown in the past that she has mastered the art of fairy tale and Palace of Mirrors is no exception. Her characters have a well thought out voice and are kept relatable for the preteen/teen audience. This book is funny and endearing. It was hard to put down and should be a quick read for most. What I really enjoyed about this book most, however, was the uplifting story-line and the ease of the writing style. It's not perfect. There are some bits that seem to be slightly rushed and the meaning of the title takes a while to get introduced, but overall, the pro's very much outway the cons.

This book is very much a 'happily ever after' story you don't want to miss!

Review: Need by Carrie Jones

Title: Need
Author: Carrie Jones
Format: ARC
Genre: YA/Supernatural/Romance
Perfect For: Twilight/Supernatural Romance fans

When Stephenie Meyer and Melissa Marr are mentioned in relation to a book, I have high hopes. I expect something with a good story, over the top romance, and a very addictive nature. I was not disappointed by Need. Jones delivers a 'can't put down' read with all the supernatural elements that have made teens and adults swoon since Twilight was released.

Need follows Zara, a girl whose father just passed away and has been sent to Maine to get through her grief. Zara is your typical high school girl-- athletic, sarcastic, and smart. She has some problems-- A) she's still not over her fathers' death and B) she's being stalked. Why and by whom, she has no idea. As the novel goes on, more questions pop up: Do Pixie's exist? Could her stalker be one of them? If they do, what about creatures called 'weres' that can change into animals and are the mortal enemy of the Pixie's? And the biggest question: What does Zara and her past have to do with any of those supernatural (and impossible) things?

Need grabbed my interest right away and didn't let go till I turned the final page. While there were some weak points, overall, I enjoyed the story. Jones did a good job at keeping the story upbeat and quite funny. There were multiple times when I literally laughed out loud b/c of the exchanges between characters. Her characters are distinct and easy to tell apart for the reader.

Weak points of Need? I would be lying if I didn't say that I saw the twists coming from a mile away, but, as with other novels of this genre, I didn't mind much. At this point, it would be hard not to know what's coming with this genre. The ending felt rushed and could have been a little longer for my tastes.

I think that fans of the supernatural genre, will like this YA novel and be clamoring for more by the end. Enjoy the read!

Review: Star Wars Rebel Force #1- Target

Title: Star Wars Rebel Fore #1- Target
Author: Alex Wheeler
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Reader/Sci-Fi/Star Wars
Perfect For: Star Wars fans of all ages

After years of depressing EU novels, this is a refreshing breathe of fresh air. Rebel Force: Target by Alex Wheeler is a book I am so happy to have given a shot. This series takes place shortly after A New Hope and stars our heroes Han, Luke, and Leia, along with other favorites. The series is a glimpse of what happened to get the group to get them from A New Hope to The Empire Strikes Back.

In Target, Han, Leia, Luke, and the droids are sent to Muunilinst to gather secret funds that Alderaan housed there. With Alderaan destroyed, they need them and need them soon if they are to deal with the Empire, which is on there tail. But there is an unsuspecting traitor in our heroes mist who only wants to please the Empire.

Target has what you've come to expect from Star Wars EU with out the depressing story lines and character deaths. I suggest that if you are a fan of star wars, young and old, you pick this up. Perfect for the age group it was written for (8 to 12), but also perfect for those adult EU fans who don't want to continue past NJO or LotF and want to feel the sense of escapism they found originally in the SW universe.

Review: The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer

Title: The Teashop Girls
Author: Laura Schaefer
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Young Reader/Growing Up
Perfect For: Girls 9-14

The Teashop Girls is about Annie, a girl who loves everything that has to do with tea and the tea business. After years of watching her grandmother run her local tea shop, she believes she is ready to be the ultimate tea barista. Problems arise, however, when the customers dwindle and the bills aren't getting paid. Annie knows she needs to help, but how, especially with her best friendships look like they're about to be pulled apart and barista boy may or may not have a thing for her?

This is a cute, simple story about a girl fighting to keep her passion, as well as her families passion, alive. Also in the mix is the story-line about her friendships changing into something different. On the verge of going into high school, each has their own things going for them, quite different from when they ran the Teashop Girls secret club. A realistic subplot that anyone can relate to.

Although The Teashop Girls is simple and slightly predicable, it is a good example for girls who want to read a book about a strong young teen who knows what she wants to accomplish and tries her best to do it. I recommend it for the young teen audience (9-14). It might be too simple for anyone over that, in my opinion.

Review: The Roar by Emma Clayton

Title: The Roar
Author: Emma Clayton
Format: ARC
Genre: Young Reader/Sci-Fi
Perfect For: Kids 9-14

I'll admit it-- I took my time getting to this book. The cover didn't catch me, nor did the blurb on the back. Months of it hanging over my head, I finally gave in and I'm quite glad I did! This book turned out to be much more than I expected. It was a page turner, despite the lack luster cover.

The story follows Mika, a pre-teen boy who's sister disappeared a year prior and is believed to be dead by everyone but himself, as he finds himself involved in things much larger than he ever expected. Mika lives behind the protective Wall put up fifty years ago to save people from the dreaded and highly televised animal plague. After a new Pod Fighter video game is put up at the local arcade, Mika and his classmates are encouraged to play, as well as take a nutrient drink that is supposed to help them grow big and strong. But for what? That mystery propels this young adult novel. What is behind the wall? What has the government been hiding? What is the purpose of the new 'fit' regime and, most importantly, how do Mika, his sister, and his friends fit into that plan?

I couldn't put this YA novel down and recommend it those who might not be ready for Enders Game, Hunger Games, or The Uglies Trilogy yet, but want something that is fully planted in Science Fiction.

Review: Tombstone Tea by Joanne Dahme

Title: Tombstone Tea
Author: Joanne Dahme
Format: ARC
Genre: YA/Supernatural/Fantasy
Perfect For: Teens/Adults

You know you love a book when you read the last sentence and your first thought is 'I really want a sequel'!

A surprisingly engaging title! I'm very happy I picked this book up at ALA this year. The story follows Jessie, a sophomore in a new high school, who, on a dare from the 'in' group at her new school, spends a night in an old cemetery. The visit to the cemetery opens a can of worms when her 'gift' of sight makes her quite popular with the residents of the cemetery, especially one very negative spirit. With the guidance of her friend Paul, she faces all her fear about her gift and, in doing so, learns much more than she expects about what being living is all about.

The title and cover brought me in originally, the lyrical text sucked me in, and the unique characters sealed the deal. I loved Tombstone Tea. The characters didn't seem forced and the romance, however slight, was spot on. Jessie's journey from being afraid of her gift to accepting it seemed more natural than other 'ghost seer' titles. Everything just worked.

Fans of Laura Whitcombs, 'A Certain Slant of Light' will most likely enjoy this supernatural tale. Highly recommended.

Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Format: ARC
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Perfect for: Teens/Adults

The Hunger Games was one of those `can't eat, can't sleep, must finish' kind of books for me, so like many other fans, I could hardly wait to get my hands on Catching Fire, the sequel. I had high expectations and was a little worried about this `middle' book not living up to them. Boy, was I wrong to worry.

Catching Fire surpasses The Hunger Games by a mile. We are brought back to our heroes, Katniss and Peeta, a few months after they won their Hunger Games. If their win had been as past wins were, all they'd need to worry about is getting through the Victory Tour, but unfortunately for them, their journey is not destined to be easy. Before the tour, Katniss learns that the government is mad about the duos actions during the last few minutes of their Hunger Games and is warned that any wrong move will cost not only her, but everyone around her.

What transcends is a novel that truly will surprise you. Collins takes turns that you won't see coming and, trust me, those turns are perfectly executed. Peeta and Katniss are once again joined by a unique group of characters, old and new, in this most recent adventure. Relationships are tested further to the point where, as a reader, you will choose a side. And, again, Collins writes this gruesome reality in a very clean, non-gruesome way.

If you loved The Hunger Games, then I know you don't care if I recommend it or not. You already know to read it, as well you should. This novel is better than is predecessor and highly recommended.

Welcome to the Book Blog!

Welcome, guest, to my newest endeavor--my book blog. Here you'll see reviews, written by me, on various titles in the Juvi/Teen book market. Why Juvi/Teen? I love those age groups. For some reason, even though I'm long out of high school, the juvi/teen scene still catches my attention. With this blog, I hope to let you in on upcoming and new titles, as well as some of the older titles that you might not have picked up yet!

This is still the preliminary stage of the blog, so I assure you, it will get better with time! Comments are welcome and I'm open to suggestions!

Thanks for taking a peek and spread the word, will ya?!