Blog Hop and Follow Friday (21)



The Feature and Follow Friday blog hop is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee. This week's question is:  
In light of the Summer Solstice. Also known as Midsummer...let's talk about fairies. What is your favorite fairy tale or story that revolves around the fae?

My all time favorite fairy tale is The Little Mermaid. Hence the obsession with all things mermaid. But I also really like The Goose Girl and The Ice Maiden. Now, as for stories that feature fairies... hmm... I can tell you my least favorite. I really did not like Carrie Jones' series (Entice, Captivate, Need). Blek. It felt like a hodge podge of mystical elements-- fairies, shape shifters, Norse mythology. Don't get me started.


Review: Stay With Me

Stay With Me
Paul Griffin

Product Details:
Reading level: Young Adult

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Dial (September 8, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0803734484
Source: copy from the author in exchange for a review
Fifteen-year-olds Cece and Mack didn't expect to fall in love. She's a sensitive A student; he's a high school dropout. But soon they're spending every moment together, bonding over a rescued dog, telling their secrets, making plans for the future. Everything is perfect. Until. Until. Mack makes a horrible mistake, and in just a few minutes, the future they'd planned becomes impossible. In this stark new reality, both of them must find meaning and hope in the memories of what they had, to survive when the person they love can't stay.




Oh. My. Goodness. This book had me laughing and crying all at once. It was so believable. I don't even know where to start...

CeCe and Mark are great. But then, so are Vic, Tony and CeCe's mom. Every character was so well written. I felt like I knew them-- like CeCe and Mack could have been my students. All of the characters are broken in some way, which makes them that much more amazing. They all deal with real issues and have to learn to live with their imperfections. It was so honest and heart breaking.

Mack has a record and has dropped out of school at 15. CeCe is a genius with a lunatic alcoholic for a mother. Together, they are to epitome of young, star-crossed lovers.

Let's start with why Mack is amazing. He's honest. He loves dogs. Despite what others' think, he is gifted. He has a loser father and a mom that has been AWOL since he was 8 or so. He is stereotyped by most of the people he meets and labeled "retarded" because he has a neurological processing disorder. Oh how my heart breaks for this kid because I knew a boy like this once. Reading this story was like reading his life story. Tragic and full of hope at the same time.

Then there is CeCe... she's a riot. Brutally honest and insecure. Plus she has a love of cheesecake that I can relate to. Her favorite book to movie adaptation is The Outsiders, which makes her awesome. Her relationship with her mother is "different." The mom seems like the child at times, which leaves CeCe having to take care of her. I know that child too.

I could talk about the plot, but it's complicated. Every character has a vital role in the story. On the surface you think the story is about CeCe and Mack (and it is), but it's more than that. Tony's role is HUGE-- and heartbreaking. I really am having a hard time finding words for this review. It was so beautiful.

Obviously, I think everyone should read this one. That should be a given at this point. Why should you read it? Why break out of your normal genre(s) of choice to pick up this book? The answer is simple. It's a beautiful story of love, loss, and redemption. I wish I had enough copies of the book so I could loan it out to everyone I know. But, I only have one and I'm guarding it with my life. This book will be a treasure for one of "those kids" that are hard to reach. I know I'll get them hooked with this book.


Review: The Wide-Awake Princess

The Wide-Awake Princess
E.D. Baker


Product Details:
Reading level: Middle Grade
Pages: 272 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (May 11, 2010)
ISBN-10: 159990487X


The Wide-Awake PrincessWhen Princess Gwen (otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty) pricks her finger and sends herself and the whole castle to sleep for one hundred years, only her younger sister, Annie, is left awake. And only--Annie--blessed (and cursed) with being resistant to magic--can venture beyond the rose-covered hedge to get help. She must find Gwen's true love to kiss her awake. But what about the one hundred years? And who is Gwen's true love? Her irritating suitor, Digby? The happy-go-lucky prince Andreas, who is holding a contest to find his bride? The conniving Clarence, whose evil motives couldn't possible spell true love? Joined by Liam, one of her father's guards, Annie travels through a fairy-tale land populated with characters both familiar and new as she tries to find the prince to rescue her sister... and perhaps even discover a true love of her own.

This was such a cute book. I think E.D. Baker always does a fabulous job with her fairy tale retellings. The Wide-Awake Princess did not disappoint me at all. It had a voice all its own. I loved Princess Annie. I thought it was such a nice touch that the heroine of the fairy tale had no magical powers at all. In fact, at her Christening, her "gift" was the gift of no magic. How appropriate, right?

As you would expect from E.D. Baker, the humor was timely and well played. Annie was a sassy and independent thing--which I loved. I get so tired of princesses being portrayed as dependent and helpless. Annie was strong-willed and resourceful. She didn't need anyone's help. In fact, she saved most of characters in the story--herself included.

The other thing that I loved about this book was the subtle (and sometimes more obvious) mentioning of other fairy tales. There was Hansel and Gretel (very original take on this story) who were dining with a witch suffering from dementia. The witch had to leave reminders for herself on conversation hearts plastered to the walls of her cottage. (She also had a large pet rat named "Fluffy" that she thought was a dog.) There was the story of Rapunzel which was pretty ironic. If you think about a girl trapped in a tower with a prince that visits everyday, but never rescues her, you can't help but wonder what the draw is. Then another prince shows up on Thursday. You start to get an idea of what kind of girl Rapunzel really is with her weekly visitors. There was also a mentioning of The Princess and the Pea and a few other lesser known tales, all of which were uniquely incorporated into the story. I loved it.

I'm a huge fan of E.D. Baker after reading her The Princess Frog series. It doesn't come as much surprise that I highly recommend this one. It's perfect for middle grade readers. It was quick and witty, but it didn't offer many twists and turns. Honestly, though, the complicated plot twists aren't needed. They story reads perfectly well being straight forward and predictable. I do hope that this will become a series. I would love to find out what happens between Annie and Liam (love them). Plus, there were a few other "items" that could develop into another book or two. You'll have to read the book to discover those, however.


Review: Hereafter

Hereafter
Tara Hudson


Product Deatils:
Genre: Paranormal Romance (YA)
Pages: 416
Publisher: HarperTeen (june 7, 2011)
ISBN: 0062026771
Source: ebook from NetGalley
Can there truly be love after death?

HereafterDrifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive. Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.

Oh my! I really enjoyed this book. A lot. It's been a while since I have stayed up all night reading a book because I couldn't (and didn't want to) put it down. It makes my heart happy that it's happened again.

Within the first few pages I was hooked. As soon as I realized that Amelia was drowning for real, but repeating her death, I became engrossed in this story. (That only took about two pages.) From there, everything just unfolded so quickly. It was very quick read. I don't know if that was because it had my attention, or if it was due to the fact that you didn't go more than two pages with out some major event occuring. That kept the story moving along at a nice pace. Honestly, I hate "slow" stories. I tend to get a little bored with a story if it takes too long to develop the plot. I'm all for character building, but I need action too.

So, the characters... What can I say? I felt so sorry for Amelia. When she learned about her parents, it made me sad. I could picture the whole scene in my head. So lonely. At the same time, however, I was excited when Joshua didn't run away from her. At first I thought it would be like a friendship thing (and I was cool with that), but it turned into a lot more. Joshua was lovable too. He seemed like the strong, silent type that had a close relationship with his family--even his maniacle grandmother.

Now, the two characters I didn't care for were Eli and Ruth. Obviously, Eli was meant to be hated. He was like the evil spawn/ henchman of the Devil. That goes without saying that you shouldn't like him too much. Plus, he makes a living (no pun intended) on killing off people--Amelia included. I'm not sure if I was supposed to dislike Ruth or not. She seemed to bossy and rude and thickheaded and... That list really could go on. She seemed slightly evil herself, but not in the same way as Eli. Ruth was hell-bent on exorcising all spirits, whether they were good or bad. She didn't even try to listen to her grandson or Amelia. I don't like people that don't listen before forming judgements. Hence my extreme dislike of Ruth.

As much as I enjoyed this book, there was one thing that kind of bothered me. I didn't fully buy into the "Oh you're a ghost but that's cool because you're really hot so I'm going to date you anyway" thing. I mean, really? Come on. That's my big complaint. I thought Josh was way too accepting and willing to overlook the HUGE difference between himself and Amelia. You can over look race, tasts in music, etc but you really can't ignore the other person being dead. How do you take her to prom? Or on a date? You would have to end up looking like a weirdo or a major perv.

Overall, I liked Tara Hudson's book Hereafter. It was a fun read and kept me turning pages. I hope there is a second book, because there are many loose ends I would like to see tied up. 

Winner!


Thank you to everyone that participated in the contest! Unfortunately, only one person could win a copy of the amazing fantasy novel, The Door to Canellin. That lucky person is Bonnie from A Backwards Story.

She will get an awesome summer read! I know she'll love it. =)

In My Mailbox (12)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

For Review:

Scar

The Scar by Michael Weiner.

Downloaded:

I think I went a little crazy at NetGalley. I downloaded these books to take with me to the lake this week:

Starcrossed Hereafter 

But I requested MANY more. I figure, between skiing and relaxing, I will read at least two books (plus what I already have on hand). No need to get click happy, right?


Mythological Mondays (5)

Mythological Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Bonnie at A Backwards Story to bring attention to all things myth related.

For this week's Mythological Mondays, I decided to showcase an older series that features a few Greek mythology characters. The Icemark Chronicles by Stuart Hill has Cronus and Medea as major characters. Of course, both of these characters are evil in the series.

I haven't read this series yet. It's still sitting on my TBR shelf collecting dust, but I am drawn to the covers. They are amazing. From what I can tell from the synopsis on each book's back cover, there is a fair blending of fantasy/paranormal with the mythology undertones.


Icemark Chronicles: The Cry of the Icemark Blade of Fire (The Icemark Chronicles 2) Icemark Chronicles: Last Battle of the Icemark

Aren't these covers amazing? Here's what the back cover of book 3 (Last Battle of the Icemark) says:

Medea Clytemnestra Strong-In-The-Arm Lindenshield: Raven-haired and with raging eyes, she has chosen a troubled path, giving herself willingly to the Darkness ruled by her grandfather, Cronus, embodiment of all evil. Tainted by his bloodline, she burns for revenge against her hated brother, Sharley. Ever since Medea's exile, the Icemark has enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity... But banishment did not kill Medea: It made her stronger. Allied with Cronus, she is raising an army of the undead to invade her family's kingdom! Does her warrior sister, Cressida, possess the strength to vanquish Medea at last? Or must her father, the warlock Oskan, summon his own black magic to stop her?
For those that don't remember, Medea was from the story of Jason and the Argonauts (and the golden fleece). She was the granddaughter of Helios, and was known to be a follower of Hectate.

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