Review: Dust Girl (Sarah Zettel)

Product Details:
Reading Level: upper MG or YA
Pages: 304
Publisher: June 26th 2012 by Random House Children's Books
ISBN: 9780375869389
Source: Netgalley
Read it in 2 days


Dust Girl (The American Fairy Trilogy, #1)Callie LeRoux lives in Slow Run, Kansas, helping her mother run their small hotel and trying not to think about the father she’s never met. Lately all of her energy is spent battling the constant storms plaguing the Dust Bowl and their effects on her health. Callie is left alone when her mother goes missing in a dust storm. Her only hope comes from a mysterious man offering a few clues about her destiny and the path she must take to find her parents in "the golden hills of the west": California.

Along the way she meets Jack, a young hobo boy who is happy to keep her company — there are dangerous, desperate people at every turn. And there’s also an otherworldly threat to Callie. Warring fae factions, attached to the creative communities of American society, are very much aware of the role this half-mortal, half-fae teenage girl plays in their fate.

I’m going to go ahead and admit that I am not a fan of fairy books. I like them about as much as I like vampires and zombies. Knowing that, I was a little apprehensive about reading Dust Girl because it was marketed as a Fae story. While that was true, there were other elements that kept this from feeling like a stale fairy tale (no pun intended).

One of the things I noticed right away was the original setting. I can only recall reading one other book set in the Dust Bowl during the early 1900s. I think this is partly because of the difficulty with describing the setting in historically accurate detail. Now, take that insanely challenging setting and imagine adding a paranormal twist. That is a pretty hefty challenge for an author. Did the author pull it off? I think so. There were many subtle details that I recalled learning from my history classes and other historical books along the way (yeah, I’m a nerd like that). There were also new details that I had never heard about before. I had fun learning something new from a fictional story. (You know I looked those details up to check the accuracy! That’s the teacher in me.)

I also enjoyed the characters. Callie is bi-racial during a time when that was not socially acceptable. Her father was a black Jazz musician, or so she thought, while her mother was a white hotel worker. What Callie doesn’t realize is that the term “bi-racial” takes on a whole new meaning for her because her father is actually a Fae prince. Dun dun dun… Cue the drama. I can’t mention much of the role her father and his people have in the story because that is the majority of the conflict, but I can say how much I enjoyed that slowly developing conflict. I had the chance to meet many interesting characters in this story. I just wish I could have spent more time with some of them. (I guess that’s what book 2 is for.)

Finally, I really enjoyed the subtle mythology in this story. I think Native American mythology is not represented enough. So when a character that resembled Coyote made an appearance, I was instantly intrigued. The only thing I wondered about was that Coyote is typically described as a trickster, but the character that represented Coyote did not appear to fit that mold. Makes me wonder what will happen as this story develops more.

If you want a book that wraps up tightly and leaves you well satisfied, you should probably skip this one. There is a cliff hanger ending that left me with a lot of questions. I enjoyed my time reading through this story because the author has a great writing style. It’s very conversational in tone, which made it a smooth read.  
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Mini-review: Circle of Blood (Forensic Mystery #3) by Alane Ferguson

Product Details:

Reading Level: YA
Pages: 256
Publisher: February 28th 2008 by Viking Juvenile
ISBN: 9780670060566
Source: friend's copy
Product link on Amazon and Goodreads.
Link: The Christopher Killer (book 1) and Angel of Death (book 2)


The Circle of Blood (Forensic Mystery, # 3)
As the assistant to her father, the county coroner of Silverton, Colorado, Cameryn Mahoney gets to witness all aspects of death, including the autopsy room. Yet somehow that feels easy, compared to her personal life. Now that her long-lost mother has made a surprise return, Cameryn�s more confused than ever. Things only get worse when she and her mother pick up a mysterious young hitchhiker. Cameryn senses that the girl is running away from something, but before she can find out more, the girl is found dead a gun in her hand. Is it suicide? Or something even more sinister?

Once again I can say that I am so proud of myself for reading outside of my normal genre. I have been continuing to read The Christopher Killer series because a co-worker told me how good these books are. Circle of Blood is the third book in the series and is a hauntingly realistic forensic murder mystery… A far cry from my normal fantasy books.

Like all of the books in this series, this one was extremely detailed. If I were writing a forensic mystery novel, I would base my entire content off of what I saw on CSI and Law and Order. Seriously. The author spent a lot of time doing her homework to make sure that her details and facts were accurate and believable. That really made the difference in this book, but it also made my stomach churn at times. Some of the descriptions are really graphic! And my over-active imagination had a field day with the visualization.

Also like the other books in the series, the plot in Cirlce of Blood was well developed and had a nice twist. The characters complimented one another nicely and were believable. Cammie is continuing to grow as a character, and also learning to face her difficult past. I'm finding myself engrossed in the side stories as much as the murder mysteries.

If you are the type like always gravitates towards contemporary reads, you might want to give this series a try. It’s not a mushy summer romance book, but it is 100% believable (and that’s scary). If you’re like me and tend to stick with one specific genre, it’s time to branch out and try something new. Live on the edge!

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Review: Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins)

Product Details:
Reading Level: YA
Pages: 372
Publisher: December 2nd 2010 by Dutton
ISBN: 9780525423270
Source: ARC from forever ago
Read it in 2 days.



Anna and the French KissAnna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home. As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?

I am going to do the unthinkable and say that I have mixed feelings about this review. Ack. Go ahead and gasp and tell me how horrid I am. I’m ready for it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this book; however, there were some things that keep me from proclaiming my undying love for it.

First off, I’m one of those pesky people that want all lose ends wrapped up. So when I didn’t find out what happened with the Dave and Amanda situation, it left me a little disappointed. Of course, this was such a minor element in the story that it didn’t take away from the overall book, but still. There were a few other minor things, but they aren’t really worth mentioning. Besides, I’m pretty sure it’s just me. I honestly think it’s my lack of interest in contemporary novels that kept me from proclaiming the utter and complete awesomeness of this book. For me to say that a contemporary read is phenomenal, slap yourself wonderful, it has to leave me speechless. Anna and the French Kiss did not leave me speechless, but it did make me smile at times.

What did I love about this book? Many, many things! First off, the setting. OMG. The author did such an amazing job with the setting. It was like I was back in France. Every little detail was so wonderfully descriptive. I could picture everything in my mind as I read. Instant love. In fact, it made me wish I was catching a flight to Paris right now so I could relive everything Anna and Etienne experienced. The way the catacombs in Notre Dame were described was perfect. The author was spot on… the entire time. I think I can safely say that Stephanie Perkins did one of the best jobs EVER in setting the stage for a novel.

She did an equally amazing job with the characters. Seriously, what is there not to adore about Anna and her crew? Anna was witty and self-conscious. She was great. I loved her and her raisin sized front tooth gap. Then there is Etienne St. Clair. Le sigh. Simply charming. I swear he makes me want to go around calling everyone “mate” and “bloke” while I wear knickers and stare at wankers. So much fun! He is a perfect book boyfriend. The remainder of the crew is also fun… very Joyluck Club-ish. They were a perfect complement to one another.

I also think it’s worth mentioning that there is a subtle theme in this story. It was a little unclear at first, but it became clear by the end of the story. I also loved that the English Literature teacher helped deliver this theme. Her lectures on translated works helped Anna discover a huge secret about herself, which translates beautifully to real life.

This was a great contemporary read. I’m not a huge fan of contemporary works, but I did enjoy Anna and the French Kiss. It’s a well-developed story with fantastic characters. A perfect beach read.



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Random Thoughts: Awesome Book Covers-- Fairytales

How rotten would I be if I didn't do this again? =) I think this will be my new weekly Sunday post. (You're welcome.)

I'm finding it strangely theraputic to look through Pinterest for pictures that might make great book covers. Of course, it's also making me covet these beautiful dresses!

I thought these pictures really capture the essence of fairytales. And of course, my over active imagination is spinning away thinking about the would-be story behind each of them.

The Frog Prince:

Princess


12 Dancing Princesses:

.

Cinderella:

princess fairytale Adorable

Snow White:

Snow White by *konishkichen Fairytale...

Sleeping Beauty:

Sleeping beauty Fairytale Fairytale

.


Rapunzel:

Alfred Angelo Bridal/Disney/Rapunzel 214 Beautiful flower head pieces can make the look of the day.

Random Fairytales: Help me think of the stories for these! My mind went blank, but I know there are stories for these.

The swing of dreams . fairy


Next week: contemporary covers

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