Mini-review: Sweet Shadows (Tera Lynn Childs)

The Deets:
Reading Level: YA
Pages: 328
ISBN: 9780062001832
Publisher:  September 4th 2012 by Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: mythology, mystery, paranormal elements
Source: Library book



Sweet Shadows (Medusa Girls, #2)Gretchen may have known she was a descendant of Medusa long before her sisters--after all, she's spent her life fighting the monsters that escape the abyss--but that doesn't mean it will be easy to teach the other girls the ropes. Can she rely on Grace and Greer, or even trust herself to keep them safe? Greer has pressing social commitments on her plate and precious little time to train in her newfound powers. But that wretched second sight won't leave her alone, and her fabled heritage seems to be creeping into her fashionable life.

Grace has worries closer to home--like why her brother, Thane, has disappeared. He's hiding something. Could it possibly be related to the secret heritage the triplets share?

With the warring factions among the gods of Olympus coming for them, the creatures of the abyss pushing into their world, and the boys in their lives keeping secrets at every turn, the three girls must figure out where their fate will take them and how to embrace the shadows of their legacy.
 

 
I am going to start by saying most of my original predictions for this book turned out to be true. At the end of Sweet Venom, I knew there was something important about Thane's disappearance. I was right, even if we don't know what his role is yet or not. I have my theory. I also guessed Nick's role head on. Aw yeah, I am awesome.

Yes, this book took a twist that I didn't expect, but it still ended up being pretty predictable. I had such high hopes, which has left me a tiny bit disappointed. Now, don't go thinking that I didn't enjoy this book. I did. It just ended up being a typical second book in a series. Nothing spectacular, but certainly needed to move the story along.

The characters stay the same for the most part. Yes, grumpy loner Gretchen develops a soft spot. That was nice. I liked seeing her become more approachable and human-like. Greer and Grace bond and grow also. Obviously, the three sisters are the focus of the book-- which is a good thing. The jury is still out on my overall feelings toward Nick and Thane.

Tera Lynn Childs does a great job with infusing the mythology in this series. I love how fresh and original it is. The story line of Medusa's descendants being in charge of protecting a magic portal in one-of-a-kind. TLC also subtly weaves other stories from mythology into the subplots and minor characters (we meet a unicorn and a pegasus in this book). There is also a mermaid sighting in the Abyss. Of course, it's a super creepy killer mermaid, but merfolk all the same!

If you are a fan of this series, you'll probably enjoy Sweet Shadows. It's an important piece in the trilogy and certainly needed to understand the plot developments that will occur in Sweet Legacy. Unfortunately, it just didn't knock my socks off.


Cover Appeal: Dystopians Part 3

Ok, seriously. Who would have thought I could find enough pictures for an entire month's theme?

Ready for more Dystopian December action? Hope so...

by Eddie O'Bryan
 
Solar eclipse, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
 
 
 
cool shot - agreed
 
 
 


Review: Wake (Amanda Hocking)


The Deets
Reading level: upper MG or YA
Pages: 309
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (August 7, 2012)
ISBN: 978-1250008121
Source: library book


Wake (Watersong, #1)Fall under the spell of Wake—the first book in an achingly beautiful new series by celebrated author Amanda Hocking—and lose yourself to the Watersong.

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They're the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone's attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs. She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

 

I just love mermaid stories. Make it a story about killer mermaids and I'm even more entranced. I had a lot of fun reading Wake by Amanda Hocking.

While the plot didn't amaze me, I was intrigued. I hate to say this, but there is only so much you can do with a story about sirens. It was everything I expected it to be, and very little more. Now, don't take that the wrong way. I did enjoy it; it just didn't break the mold.

Gemma was a decent character. She was strong and beautiful-- perfect bait for a gang of deadly sirens. I know the majority of the story focused on Gemma and her plight, but I was really more interested in Daniel. He was mysterious and fun. He had this aura of bad-boy swirling around him that had me hooked from the beginning. Alex was that "boy next door" kind of character, which worked well with being Gemma's love interest. Gemma's sister was also decent as far as foils go. Overall, the characters were all balanced out and did a nice job of supporting one another-- but I'm still team Daniel.

What review of a book about mermaids would be complete without mentioning the main characters? These sirens were not all singing crabs and sunshine. These girls were hard-core. Penn is certainly the most vicious of the three. Talia came across as aloof and uninterested. I'm sure there will be more to that in future books. What I did enjoy about this book is that the focus really wasn't on sparkling mermaid tails. Yes, it was mentioned a few times, but not as much as you would think. There was certainly an underlying mystery that was more prevalent to the plot. The mythology that was subtly introduced was also used in a very clever way. I am curious to see how Gemma and the other unravel that mystery in future books.

Overall, Wake was a fun read. It was quick and had enough romance to make it a page turner. (Very clean romance by the way.) I feel like this was a nice introduction to the upcoming books, which will probably have more plot twists in store.


Mini-review: Enchanted Ivy (Sarah Beth Durst)

The Deets:
Reading level: older MG or YA
Pages: 310
Publisher: October 12th 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
ISBN: 9781416986454
Source: library book


Enchanted IvyWhat Lily Carter wants most in the world is to attend Princeton University just like her grandfather. When she finally visits the campus, Grandpa surprises her: She has been selected to take the top-secret Legacy Test. Passing means automatic acceptance to Princeton. Sweet!

Lily's test is to find the Ivy Key. But what is she looking for? Where does she start? As she searches, Lily is joined by Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who says he's her guard. That's weird. But things get seriously strange when a gargoyle talks to her. He tells her that there are two Princetons—the ordinary one and a magical one—and the Key opens the gate between them. But there are more secrets that surround Lily. Worse secrets.

When Lily enters the magical Princeton, she uncovers old betrayals and new dangers, and a chance at her dream becomes a fight for her life. Soon Lily is caught in a power struggle between two worlds, with her family at its center. In a place where Knights slay monsters, boys are were-tigers, and dragons might be out for blood, Lily will need all of her ingenuity and courage—and a little magic—to unite the worlds and unlock the secrets of her past and her future.

 

Have I mentioned lately how much I adore Sarah Beth Durst? Probably, but it's worth saying again. I love how each book I pick up is completely different from the one before it. Durst obviously has a talent that is above par.

While Enchanted Ivy isn't really my favorite so far, it was fun. I enjoyed Ivy's adventures at Princeton. If you couldn't tell by the synopsis, the story takes place at Princeton University-- both the real college and it's mytholigical counterpart. It was a new take on the uppity boarding school setting.

I was a bit disappointed to see that this book lacked the amazing descriptive details that I have come to love and adore with Durst's writing. This was written a few years before the other books I've read, so I think it's safe to say that she has come a long way. Drink, Slay, Love was vivid and fun, while Vessel blew me away from page one with its imagery. Unfortunately, Enchanted Ivy didn't have that same impact. It was, however, action packed. Classic Sarah Beth Durst style. I flew through the pages to see what was going to happen next.

All SBD fans will probably enjoy this one. It's worth reading. It's also squeaky clean enough for younger readers, so middle grades readers could read it too.

Review: Crimson Frost (Jennifer Estep)

The Deets:
Reading level: YA
Pages: 384
Publisher: December 24th 2012 by Kensington
ISBN: 9780758281463
Source: eARC from Netgelley



Crimson Frost (Mythos Academy, #4)I should have known that my first official date with Logan Quinn was destined to end in disaster. If we’d gotten into a swordfight, or been ambushed by Reapers, I’d have been more prepared. But getting arrested mid-sip at the local coffee hangout? I didn’t see that one coming.

I’ve been accused of purposely helping the Reapers free Loki from his prison—and the person leading the charge against me is Linus Quinn, Logan’s dad. The worst part is that pretty much everyone at Mythos Academy thinks I’m guilty. If I’m going to get out of this mess alive, I’ll have to do it myself…
 


As much as I love this series, I have to say I was a little disappointed with Crimson Frost. Maybe it's just me, but this series is dragging on. I really thought this would be the final book, and I was sad when I started... BUT, now I'm ready for a finale.

I know some stories can't be told in 3 or 4 books (um, Harry Potter?), but many of them can. Honestly. Yes, I love the mythology embedded in the Mythos Academy series, but it's getting stale. I felt like most of the action in the newest addition to the series was much of the same. A few new villains and twists added in, but otherwise more of the same.

Now, with that being said it doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy this book. I did. I think Gwen and her grandma are awesome, and Logan totally makes my heart beat faster. The other characters that I have enjoyed in the past really didn't have much of a role in this book. That was a little disappointing. Daphne and her beau were absent for the majority of the book. Bummer. A few new characters were introduced, so that might make the next book more interesting. I intrigued by the hodge-podge team of Reaper fighting whiz kids that has been put together. I hope Midnight Frost brings them all together in some way.

I think it's worth noting that the setting is what makes this series so much fun (in my opinion). Sure, we have yet another supernatural themed story taking place in a uppity boarding school. That cliche is still being used. However, this time the students are "whiz kids" with hidden talents and ties to mythology. You have gypsies like Gwen, Spartan warriors, Valkyries, and a few other mythological creatures popping up. I especially like how the various myth cultures are represented. In Crimson Frost, we meet a creature from Egyptian mythology and Apate. Loki is still lurking in the shadows and trying to take over the world. That hasn't changed.

What will Midnight Frost have instore for us? Who knows. Hopefully a conclusion to this series, because I really don't know how many more twists and turns can be added to the plot before it seems like we're reading the same story again. I'm already starting to feel that way. Thankfully, though, there was one heck of a surprise at the end that will make the next book very interesting. Jennifer Estep seems to have a way with those hook endings.

Cover Appeal: Dystopians Part 2

It's still Dystopian December. Here is round 2 of Dystopian inspired book covers for Cover Appeal.


time
 
Feelings
 
mystery
 
Lake
 
Great old barn
 
 
 

Mini-review: The Vicious Deep (Zoraida Cordova)

The Deets:
Meant for: YA readers
Pages: 384
Publisher: May 1st 2012 by Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN: 9781402265105
Source: my copy



The Vicious Deep (The Vicious Deep #1)For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave.
He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth.
His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he's heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he's suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods.
Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea...and now it wants him back.


I really have to start taking notes as I read. I read this book in one sitting then jumped right into a new book. Eight books later, I can hardly remember what I liked and didn't like about The Vicious Deep

I do remember that I liked that this story is told from a merman's point of view. I'm glad that the menfolk are getting some representation in a female dominated genre. No need to be sexist, afterall. Tristan was pretty darn funny. He was arrogant and witty, just like you would expect most teenage boys to be. He was a 100% believable narrator.

Then there is Layla. I liked her a lot. She was strong-willed and independent. She was also not a mermaid. She found out about Tristan's secret, by pure chance. Of course, since it's been like 3 months since I read this book, I forgot why exactly I liked her other than those reasons.

I also want to point out that I enjoyed the world building. The descriptions of the merworld were great. It is so important to have a believable setting-- even in a fantasy type book. The old school rules of fighting for the tritan were pretty extreme, and added to the plot. There were a few characters that I didn't care for that kept hanging around, but whatever. I'm sure they will find their place somewhere in book 2.

But what really irked me about this story was the ending. Did anyone else think it ended too abruptly? I was crusing along enjoying the quest, when BAM. End of book one. Just like that too. I had to actually flip back a few pages to make sure I didn't skip something. I really thought I had missed a chapter or two. That was a huge disappointment. I love a good cliffhanger, but not when the story seems to hit a brick wall at 65 MPH. Of course, though, I'll have to read The Savage Blue because I need to know how and if Tristan can find the rest of the trident pieces.

Review: The Maze Runner (James Dashner)

The Deets:
Reading Level: YA
Pages: 374
Publisher: October 6th 2009 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers     
ISBN: 9780385737944
Source: Library book


The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

 

When I started this book, I was completely confused. Seriously. The new lingo and the cryptic nature of the story itself had me thrown for a loop. In fact, I really didn't care for the story much because of it. But, since I picked this book for December's Dystopian themed YA book club topic, I had to finish it.... and I am glad I did!

The book starts off a little slow in my opinion. Thomas is in The Glade but he has no idea what's going on. As the reader, you have to piece the puzzle together along with him. The author gives subtle clues here and there through slipped messages or fuzzy memories. But just like Thomas, you have to decide what to make of it.

The characters didn't make a lasting impression on me. There really wasn't anything mind blowing or special about them. Seriously. Ok, two of them had telepathic powers, but that didn't even impress me. It actually felt a little weird, but given how bizarre this book was as a whole, I decided to just go with it. I will note that the creatures lurking in the maze were terrifying. I have never read anything like that before! It makes the minotaur of the Labyrinth seem like a fuzzy puppy in comparison.

After I finished reading The Maze Runner, I discovered there was a prequel. Thank goodness! I highly recommend reading The Kill Order before you start this book. I had so many questions while I read The Maze Runner. Some were answered, but most were not. I think the prequel will help set the stage and explain why the maze was actually created. The ending of The Maze Runner tried to explain it, but it was too rushed. The best part of the book was crammed into 30 pages at the end.

Which brings me to this book's saving grace: the ending. WTH. Holy crap. I was expecting some twist ending, but not exactly what I got. I really wish I could share what happened, but it would give away too much. Know this though, the "flare" that is discussed came up at Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' house. And no, it wasn't because of this book. My dad was discussing "survival tactics" due to EPM or CMB attacks... and so "that" flare was also mentioned. I was a little unnerved to think that about the amount of destruction that could be caused by an act of nature. And of course I mentioned that "I have a book for that"-- interest piqued instantly.

I think boys might enjoy this book. It seems pretty geared toward them since the MC is a teenage male living with other teenage males in a maze. There is a good amount of gore and violence, so that also seems fitting. The other books in the series might be promising too. I am interested to see what happens, but I'm leery to read on. I hate sequels that feel stale, and that might happen with book two. I already know what the premise is, so not sure how the author can pull of any surprises. I don't know though, the titles do catch my attention, so I may try to squeeze them in at some point.

Review: The Complete Maus (Art Spiegelman)


The Deets:
Reading Level: YA (for content)
Pages: 296
Publisher: October 1st 2003 by Penguin Books
ISBN: 9780141014081
Type: Graphic Novel
Source: Library book


The Complete Maus

Combined for the first time here are Maus I: A Survivor's Tale and Maus II - the complete story of Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, living and surviving in Hitler's Europe. By addressing the horror of the Holocaust through cartoons, the author captures the everyday reality of fear and is able to explore the guilt, relief and extraordinary sensation of survival - and how the children of survivors are in their own way affected by the trials of their parents. A contemporary classic of immeasurable significance.





This was different from what I expected. I wasn't sure what I would be reading when I started this book. I knew Maus was a Holocaust story, but I didn't know what type of story it would be. Calling it a "contemporary classic of immeasurable significance" is an understatement. I think powerful is a better adjective. Heartbreaking. Captivating..... those would work too.

The people in the book were depicted as various types of animals which I was both disturbed by and thankful for. I found it very interesting that the author chose to depict his "characters" as animals. The dehumanization aspect was not lost on me-- afterall, isn't that what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews?

Given the subject matter, I'm not sure how I would have taken to this book if it had the detail that most graphic novels are known for.  The drawings lacked facial expression and some detail, but the point was still made. I still cried when a baby mouse's head was smashed against it because I knew what the mouse represented.

One thing that I did find bothersome was the constant switching between the present and past. I could see it being confusing for some people. However, I thought it was important to show how the past events shaped the father into the person that he became as a survivor. It wasn't choppy per se, but some type of textual feature to indicate that the present was occuring would have been better I think.

Overall, given that this is such hard content to work with, I think the author did a nice job of sharing his father’s horrifying experience in a tasteful way that might make learning about the Holocaust more accessible to future generations. The story was focused on one family's tale, yet it managed to tell about an entire nation. It saddens me to think how little people know about this dark time in history. We are so quick to glance over it or pretend it didn't happen exactly the way history books tell us. But I have met a survivor. I have read her story; and I won't forget.

review: The Juvie Three (Gordon Korman)

The Deets:
Reading level: MG/YA
pages: 256
publisher: September 2nd 2008 by Hyperion
ISBN: 9781423101581
Source: my own copy


The Juvie ThreeGecko Fosse drove the getaway car.
Terence Florian ran with the worst gang in Chicago.
Arjay Moran killed someone.
All three boys are serving time in juvenile detention centers until they get a second chance at life in the form of Douglas Healy. A former juvenile delinquent himself, Healy is running an experimental halfway house in New York City where he wants to make a difference in the lives of kids like Gecko, Terence, and Arjay.
Things are going well, until one night Healy is accidentally knocked unconscious while trying to break up a scuffle among the boys. Terrified of the consequences, they drop him off at a hospital and run away. But when Healy awakes, he has no memory of them or the halfway house. Afraid of being sent back to Juvie, the guys hatch a crazy scheme to continue on as if the group leader never left. They will go to school, do their community service, attend therapy, and act like model citizens until Healy's memory returns and he can resume his place with them.
But life keeps getting in the way...like when Gecko finds romance. Or Arjay gets famous. Or Terence starts reverting to his old ways. If the boys are discovered, their second chance will be their last.


Another book club hit!

I was really worried when I started this one that it was going to be like a Walter Dean Meyers book. (Not that I don't love those; I do. I've just read a lot of them already.) You know the scenario. Troubled teens get a second chance, but someone blows it. Will they do the right thing or not? Very plaid out cliche in literature, I think. Well, thankfully Gordon Korman came along and gave it fresh insight.

Yes, the cliche remains, but he doesn't beat the dead horse. There are no neat little bows wrapping up the plot at the end. No rainbows and unicorns-- at least not completely. Yes, there is that obvious "happy ending" that you knew was coming (so don't whine about a spoiler). BUT somethings were not solved in the way you might think. That made it believable, and I am thankful that not everything ended up sugary sweet.

The characters are a nice compliment to one another as well. Gecko is shy but funny. Arjay is misunderstood and layered. And Terrance is your basic pain in the arse thug wannabe. They interact nicely with one another, giving the perfect combination of conflict throughout the book. There were minor characters that make appearances too, but they aren't all that memorable. Ms. Vaughn makes me laugh with her obvious stereotypes, but beyond that... bleh.

It's a quick read. I flew threw it in two sittings. Great descriptions and some seriously funny LOL moments. I think MG readers would enjoy this one if they like stories about troubled youth getting second chances.

 

Cover Appeal: Dystopians Part 1

If I wrote a YA alphabet book, D would be for Dystopians... and that's what you get this week. Dystopian book covers for Cover Appeal.


Day and Night in One Photo.
 
The end
 
photography print  The border  Original Signed by PhotographyDream, €22.00
 
.
 
 

Mini-review: Glitter Kiss (Adrianne Ambrose)

The Deets:
Reading level: YA
Pages: 160
Publisher: December 19th 2012 by Oni Press
ISBN: 9781620100820
Source: netgalley


Glitter Kiss

One kiss from Tinka's sparkling lips leads to some unexpected consequences for the callous boys of Portage High School. After a secret romance goes up in flames, she looks to a fortune teller for answers on finding true love, which leads to the summoning of some accidental--but hilarious-magic.
But in the end, Tinka has to learn to take responsibility for her own decisions, with or without the aid of magic.


This graphic novel was great! I really enjoyed it. The illustrations were great and the plot was actually good.

 What made the plot so great, you ask? The fact there was actually one! I am so tired of graphic novels that hardly have a plot. This one was fairly fleshed out (for a graphic novel). There were plot twists and an actual message. Rock on. It did end a little abruptly without offering much of a resolution for some of the characters, but it's ok. It was still enjoyable. There are some references to mature content, so it's meant for older readers.

I also enjoyed the characters themselves. You had an odd mix, but the majority of the story line centers around Tinka and her interactions with the men in her life. You can imagine how that goes with the majority of the setting taking place in high school. Typical teen age problems. There was a good amount of witty humor hidden on these pages.The one liners were hilarious and actually had me chuckling to myself. Very fitting for a bunch of high schoolers.

What would a graphic novel be without good illustrations? Well, for starters, it would be crappy. I'm glad Glitter Kiss doesn't fall into that category. The illustrations were top notch. I would love to see some of the pictures turn into color. Considering this was soley in black and white, I was impressed with the level of detail I was able to discern from the images. A+ in that department!
 

mini-review: Shadows on My Wall (Timothy Young)

The Deets:
reading level: picture book
pages: 40
Publisher:
ISBN:
Source: eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review



Shadows on My WallHow many of us remember seeing shadows on the wall when we were younger and being scared of what they could belong to? Well, that very idea is addressed in Timothy Young's picture book Shadows on My Wall.

I know as a child with an over active imagination (um, that child turned into an adult with the same problem), I would always imagine scary scenes in the dead of night. I was convinced on numerous occassions that a blood-thirsty bobcat had entered my room to eat me. Obviously that ended up being wrong, but it was still frightening as a kid! I really liked how the idea of the unknown is addressed in a kid-friendly way. The little boy in the book has the same fears that so many of us have had as wee ones and learns to change his perception.

Instead of being scared by what might be behind that shadow, he learns to take control. He scares away an angry robot and makes friends with a dangerous dragon. The little boy's lesson is a great one to share with small children that face the fear of sleeping alone.

Mini-Review: They're Coming (Thomas Young)

The Deets:
Reading Level: For the youngins (picture book)
Pages: 32
Publisher: August 1st 2012 by Schiffer Publishing
ISBN: 9780764342257
Sournce: eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review


They're Coming!
They're Coming! is a humorously creepy picture book from author/illustrator Timothy Young. It shows monsters and ghouls and various creatures from all over. Why are they coming? You'll have to read the book to find out.








I enjoy reading picture books from time to time. They are quick and fun. Plus, I love seeing my youngest son's reaction to them since this is right in pace with his age. We read Timothy Young's They're Coming together some time ago, but I'm just now getting around to writing the review. (I know, bad mommy!)

We enjoyed it. Now, as the older reader, I knew what to expect. I was certain there was a twist ending, and I was not disappointed. For a barely five-year-old though-- the intended suspense was not missed. We enjoyed flipping the pages to see who else would be coming and for what. The ended managed to wrangle a smile from my son and a semi-snort. He liked the idea of a "monster mash." (His words!)

I was particularly impressed with the illustrations. While the story was basic and didn't carry much of a plot, the pictures were great. The moon looked so realistic! I think the illustrations deserve more merit than the story in this one. The creatures are spooky without being too frightening. (I loved the Swamp Creature!) They are also familiar enough to be recognized by the youngest of readers, which is fun.

I wish I had posted the review before Halloween because this would have been a fun read for the occassion. But alas, roads are paved with my good intentions. All the same, remember this one if you have young readers at home (under 4) next October. It will be a nice pseudo-spooky Halloween story to share.

 

Cover Appeal: Camping

Cover Appeal is back! Since it's the middle of "fall" where I live (which really means a later summer), I thought fall themed book covers would be appropriate. We love camping here, so camping is my inspiration!

Camping
 
Camping
 
camping dream
 
.

Mini-review: Excalibur (Lee and Hart)

Product Details:
Reading level: MG or YA
pages: 144
publisher: March 8th 2011 by Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763646431
Source: library book


Excalibur: The Legend of King ArthurThe Arthurian legend springs to life in another powerhouse graphic novel from the creators of OUTLAW: THE LEGEND OF ROBIN HOOD.

Arthur Pendragon was raised in obscurity, but fate will not leave him to the shadows. In a moment of desperate need, he draws a legendary sword from its stonebed and commences the life he was born to lead. A series of adventures sparked by the elusive wizard Merlin launches Arthur through love and betrayal, domination and defeat, and toward the prophesied end awaiting him. Merging a faithful retelling with dynamic illustrations, EXCALIBUR invites long-time fans to relive the legend and those new to the story to experience it up close in a vivid graphic adventure.



Here is another graphic novel on the reading list of my YA book club: Excalibur by Lee and Hart. I don't think I need to justify why I picked this one. It's a King Arthur legend. 'Nuff said.

I really liked the overview of the legend of King Arthur that this graphic novel gave. Some of the finer elements of the legend were missing, but a novice wouldn't notice. All of my favorites were in the story: Morgana, Merlin, the Lady of the Lake, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The way everything fit together made the plot feel more like a well-developed story than the other graphic novels I've read.


I wasn't that impressed with the illustrations, though. They were only so-so. I found them to lack facial expression and detail. This made the pictures seem like they were better suited for a low end comic book.
 

 
 

Review: Anya's Ghost (Vera Brosgol)

Product Details:
Reading Level: YA
Pages: 221
Publisher: June 7th 2011 by First Second     
ISBN: 9781596437135
Source: Library book



Anya's GhostAnya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn't kidding about the "Forever" part...

Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.

Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya's normal life might actually be worse. She's embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she's pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.

Or so she thinks.




I am new to the genre of graphic novels. I'm really trying to break out of my reading shell. Anya's Ghost was my second graphic novel ever, and I have mixed feelings.

First off, the drawings were awesome! The author/illustrator is so talented. The characters' faces had so much great detail and expression. The color graphics made it easy to get "sucked into" this story.

Now, the plot itself... eh. The ghost story aspect was pretty clever. I did enjoy that. I thought it was a fresh take on a tired genre. Was it ground breaking or mind shattering? No. Not even close. Would younger readers like it and find it creepy enough? Probably. There was also a pretty good message about accepting who you are hidden in the mystery.

What I didn't care for was how mature this character--Anya--was for a high school student. She was drinking and smoking often. Yes, I know teenagers do that. I was one of those teenagers some of the time, but I still don't think it has a place in books. I'm just funny like that. And there is something about it being illustrated in books that doesn't sit well with me. It's much harder to glance over something or forget something that you actually see. I think taking those things out of the book wouldn't have changed the story at all. They really weren't needed. In fact, they would keep me from recommending this book to a younger reader. No sense in unneccessary exposure.


 

Cover Appeal: Thankfulness



I can't believe it's been a month since I've posted a Cover Appeal post! It's been so crazy busy around here... Since it's Thanksgiving as I write this, I thought I would do something a little different today. Instead of listing the things I'm thankful for, why not show them with pictures? And of course, these pictures would also make awesome book covers!
 
 
*
Peace and quiet
 
Sunrise in Cappadocia
Adventure
 
flowers
Nature
 
Family
 
 
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
 

Mini-Review: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

Product Details
reading level: YA
pages: 260
publisher: Ember books (October 2010)
ISBN: 9780375859
Source: library book


Dash and Lily's Book of Dares"I've left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don't, put the book back on the shelf, please."
So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the "New York Times" bestselling authors of "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist." Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

 

I'm going to upset the cosmic balance when I say that I did not enjoy this book. Gasp! I know. This is proof that sometimes there are books that aren't meant for everyone. This is my example.

I will start by saying that I thought the way the book was written was very unique. I didn't know the two authors shared the story-- and by that I mean, one wrote Lily's perspective and the other write Dash's. Considering that they weren't sitting together writing this out, it was nicely done.

I also thought the red notebook idea was a nice touch. It made for a great adventure of the literary sort. I enjoyed reading the clever clues and seeing where the story would go. I also appreciated that these characters were not perfect and living in a sugary snow globe. They had flaws.

So why did I not like this book? I don't know. I honestly can't give words to adequately capture my feelings. I couldn't connect with the characters because I have nothing in common with either of them. I'm not sugary sweet like Lily and I'm not completely "snarly" like Dash. I enjoy Christmas and believe in God. I think that may have been my biggest hurdle. I try to be open when I read, but when something is so 'in your face' from the start, it's hard.

For someone that can handle that, this would be a fun read. It's light hearted enough with just a touch of somber relationship drama. It is not, a holiday read, so don't be fooled by the back cover. I'm not even sure I would call it a romance. It's an interesting combination of many things.

Like Moonlight at Low Tide (Nicole Quigley)

Product Details:
Reading level: YA
pages: 256
publisher: Zondervan (September 11, 2012)
ISBN: 9780310723592
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Read it in 2 days



Like Moonlight at Low Tide: Sometimes the Current Is the Only Thing That Saves You For Missy Keiser, returning to Anna Maria Island, Florida, means two things: her mother made another poor decision with men, and Missy will have to reenter a world where she’s known as “Messy,” a social pariah who dared to have a crush on Sam King, the most popular boy in school.

But much has changed in the three years she’s been away. Missy’s next-door neighbor is no longer an elderly woman but Josh, an intriguing boy who seems genuinely interested in her. At school, she’s surprised to find few people remember who she once was. And any remaining taunts of Messy are silenced when Sam King gives her his nod of approval.

Just as things seem to be perfect, Josh’s sudden distance, her mother’s latest relationship implosion, and her brother’s strange behavior threaten to ruin it all. Missy is forced to decide between the boy she’s always wanted, a boy who is intent on trying to save her, and the brother she’s known all her life. And her decision could have consequences she can never undo.

 


Oh my. Two words: tragic and encouraging.

 
I had no idea what this was going to be about. None. I seriously thought it might be a mermaid tale based on the cover and title. (I was wrong!) Turns out, this is a contemporary fiction book—which is not my usual genre of choice. But, since it was set in my home state of Florida I thought I would give it a try. So glad I did.

 
The characters are great. Missy and Josh are so layered that I was instantly sucked in to their stories. All of the characters are flawed, and that’s what makes them believable. Missy comes from a dysfunctional family (understatement) and she’s trying to not be dragged down by them. I could go on and on about Missy and how she represents so many lonely girls out there… the ones that are desperate to belong somewhere. But I won’t. That would give away too much of her story. I can say that she thinks Sam King is her answer. Oh, how sad and wrong she is. Through tragic circumstances she learns that Sam is just Sam—a teenage guy—and not her savior.

 
Then there is Josh. He’s quiet, observant, and protective of Missy—but why? You don’t really get an insight into Josh’s head, but I enjoyed his presence throughout the book. You always had the sense he was lurking in the shadows—like a superhero of some sort waiting to swoop in and save the day.

The plot is not straightforward at all. For the majority of the story it seems like it’s about Missy finding who she is, but then it takes a turn. You go from typical teenage story to a story of redeeming grace. That was not typical. It wasn’t overly done or being shoved down your throat. It was subtle, and I felt it added a poignant message that so many people need to hear.

Because there is that “turn” towards the end, this book won’t be for everyone. What I found a pleasant surprise might turn the next reader off. It’s hard to say. What I can say though is that Like Moonlight at Low Tide is a fresh insight into the loneliness that plagues so many people in our society.
 
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The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (James Patterson)

Product details:
Reading level: MG
pages: 238
publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 21, 2008)
ISBN: 9780316002929
Source: my own copy
read it in 2.5 hours


The Dangerous Days of Daniel X
He was born with great power
The greatest superpower of all isn't to be part spider, part man, or to cast magic spells--the greatest power is the power to create.

Daniel X has that power.

And a deadly secret

Daniel's secret abilities - like being able to manipulate objects and animals with his mind or to recreate himself in any shape he chooses - have helped him survive. But D...moreThe Dangerous Days of Daniel X 
He was born with great power
The greatest superpower of all isn't to be part spider, part man, or to cast magic spells--the greatest power is the power to create.

Daniel X has that power.

And a deadly secret

Daniel's secret abilities - like being able to manipulate objects and animals with his mind or to recreate himself in any shape he chooses - have helped him survive. But Daniel doesn't have a normal life. He is the protector of the earth, the Alien Hunter, with a mission beyond anyone's imagining.

Now the fate of the world rests on Daniel X

From the day that his parents were brutally murdered before his very eyes, Daniel has used his unique gifts to hunt down their assassin. Finally, with the help of The List, bequeathed to him in his parents' dying breath, he is closing in on the killer.

Now, on his own, he vows to take on his father's mission - and to take vengeance in the process.

 


I admit it. I’ve never read a James Patterson book before. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X was my initiation. I had no idea what to expect from this book going into it. All I knew was that I needed to review it for my school’s student book club. Before I could do that, however, I had to steal back my copy of the book from my 10 year-old son.

 
Something you need to know about my son is that he’s a border-line nonreader. How, I have no idea. You would think it was genetically impossible, but I guess he inherited some mutated gene along the way. He loves Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and graphic novels. But to get him to read anything with more than 100 pages—forget about it. Obviously I nearly stroked out when he hijacked The Dangerous Days of Daniel X before I could read it. The appeal of alien hunters was too great for him to resist. I watched him read the book in 2 days! I saw him sneak a flashlight into his room at night, forfeit his video game time to his younger brother so he could read in the afternoon, and even read while he was eating his breakfast. My heart smiled each time.

 
I had to ask, “What’s so great about that book?” After looking at me like I was one of the aliens in the book, he simply replied, “It’s just awesome.” I pried for a bit more information since he is 10, and he informed me that the writing style is what one him over. He said everything is so detailed that he can “visualize everything in my head.” Reading teachers rejoice! He was using a reading strategy! When I read the book, I had to agree. James Patterson is very descriptive and holds nothing back. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading about a decaying cemetery or exploding alien heads—the quality of the details is the same.
 

I also enjoyed the “voice” that Daniel held throughout the book. He was a riot. Witty, sarcastic, and a bit irrational at times—he was a typical teenage boy. James Patterson did a great job of giving us insight into his thoughts and emotions. As I read, I felt like I knew Daniel. It was as if he was one of the kids walking around in my neighborhood.

 
I think I can safely say this book has massive appeal for boys of all types. It doesn’t matter if they are a reader or not, they will probably enjoy this series. It is overflowing with nonstop action, which will surely keep them flipping the pages long into the night.
 
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Cover Appeal: Monsters (Halloween edition)

Halloween is just a few days away, so I thought this week's Cover Appeal post should be all about monsters. Of course, not all monsters are scary. Some could be down right scrumptious (True Blood, anyone?).

vampire. 

#vampire

...

Werewolves - Luis Royo


and what would Halloween be without Frankenstein? In honor of my all-time favorite "monster" I had to share Neil Shusterman's cover for UnWholly. It is the ultimate modern Frankenstein

UnWholly

Cover Appeal: ghosts

Another Halloween costume staple is the ghost. It's the perfect last minute costume idea for your child, cheap and easy Halloween decor, and can be made both friendly or menacing.

This week's Cover Appeal feature is dedicated to the ghost.


The wind
ghosts.

. 
 woods
Fairest one of all
.

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