review: The Caged Graves (Dianne Salerni)

The Deets:
Audience: YA
pages: 336
publisher: May 14th 2013 by Clarion Books
ISBN: 780547868530
genre: historical fiction, mystery
source: ARC from publisher in exchange for an honest review



The Caged Graves
17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery. Nobody in town will explain why, but Verity hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out . . . or to keep the women in. Determined to understand, Verity finds herself in a life-and-death struggle with people she trusted.



The idea behind caged graves really had me intrigued. Add in a hint of something reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials and I was on it for sure! I really thought this would be about witches, but I was wrong. Instead, I discovered an interesting story about the depths one will go to achieve their goals-- and I don't mean that in an afternoon special sort of way, either.

I loved the setting. I got the feelings associated with a closed-minded small town instantly. I also adore this time period. It's one of my favorites to read about. There were so many elements in this story that reminded me of Pride and Prejudice. I even found a worthy imitation of Mr. Darcy.

There was also a certain element of mystery in The Caged Graves. Verity is trying to discover her place in this small town while also seeking to uncover the reason behind her mother's death. During this process, though, she discovers there is a lot at stake. She has to fight for her engagement to the town's hottest bachelor, while trying to stay alive... because you know there is always something lurking in the shadows.


If you enjoy historical fiction, you'll probably want to read this one. I do not typically read anything in the historical fiction genre, but this one called to me. I was pleased with the result, so I feel pretty confident recommending this one to others.


Cover Reveal: UnSouled (Unwind #3) Neal Shusterman

THIS is THE #1 most anticipated book of 2013 on my list. This entire series is amazing. Beyond words, it's so fantastic. I swear, it will BLOW YOU AWAY. Unwind and UnWholly are like NOTHING you have read before.

In a genre with so many repeats and copycats it's something special to be one-of-a-kind. Neal Shusterman does not disappoint.

As I was trolling through my TBR list on Goodreads (prepping for my library visit later today), I came across the cover for UnSouled and nearly fell out of my chair. I love it. Hard core.


There is no synopsis yet. (sigh) and you'll also have to wait until October to get your hands on this one. (double sigh) But I can promise you, it is worth waiting for (and reading).



UnSouled (Unwind, #3)
 
 
Pretty creepy, right? You better believe it! I do not think it is just a coincidence that one face has its eyes wide open. (hint: major theme in this series)


Review: The Last Academy (Anne Applegate)

The Deets:
Audience: YA
Pages: 320
Publisher: April 30th 2013 by Point
ISBN: 9780545502047
Genre: mystery, mythology
Source: eARC from the publisher via Netgalley



The Last Academy
What is this prep school preparing them for?

Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known. There are gorgeous, preppy boys wielding tennis rackets, and circles of girls with secrets to spare. Only . . . something is not quite right. One of Cam's new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don't seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what? The answer will leave Cam—and readers—stunned and breathless, in this thrilling debut novel.






Hmm... This one left my brain feeling as cloudy as that fog on the cover. I really wasn't sure what I was reading 2/3 of the time. I found myself very confused in places. They felt patchy-- as if there were key parts of the plot that were removed like a missing puzzle piece. I knew there was something important going on, but I just couldn't put my finger on what it was exactly. I found that very frustrating at times. It didn't feel like a mystery; it felt like a gap.

None of the characters impressed me much. They all had this sense of mystery about them that was more annoying than intriguing. Brynn was way too wishy-washy, so I couldn't figure out what her deal was really. Nora was a little off as well. I never could connect, not even with the main character. The one character that does stand out is Mark, but in a really creepy way. I am not sure if he was supposed to cross into that weird creeper territory or not, but he sure made me feel that way. That scene with his mom... and the bed... bah! Way creepy. I did not recover from that.

I probably would have bumped this down a notch or two, but I did appreciate the mythology element. I thought I knew what was up with the one character haunting everyone, and it turns out I was correct. Of course, I had to make it through the whole book to find that validation. I did not get a sense of closure after finishing The Last Academy, which is a little disappointing. I (sometimes) appreciate open ended endings, but I want to feel complete when I get to those. I do not like wondering, "Well, what now?" Unfortunately, that's how I feel. I can assume what happens with Cameron, but I want to know what happens with the other characters. (Ok, again, I can assume, but I really want something finite!)

Overall, it had a nice spooky feeling to it. I'm sure younger readings will devour it for the creepiness factor, I just worry they might not be willing to muddle through the gaps to finish.


Review: Spies and Prejudice (Talia Vance)

The Deets:
Audience: YA
Pages: 304
Publisher: June 11th 2013 by Egmont
ISBN:  9781606842607
Genre: contemporary, mystery, retellings
Source: eARC from the publisher via Netgalley


Spies and PrejudicePride & Prejudice meets Veronica Mars in this slick romantic spy-thriller where nothing’s as it seems.

Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She's busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she's sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.

So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her "nothing amazing," it's no loss for Berry. She'll forget him in no time. She's more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother's death.

But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can't Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?



My relationship with this book is rather complicated. As a retelling of JA's Pride and Prejudice, it was fun. There were, however, some plot flaws that irked me along the way.

I think of myself as a JA connoisseur. Therefore, it is my duty to read all things JA related. That can be retellings, biographies, or spoofs-- it really does not matter. I also tend to love these books just for the mere fact that they are based on stories by one of my most beloved authors. Spies and Prejudice falls into the 'cute' category in the retelling department. It was highly original, so that made it fun. Tanner was mysterious enough, but he was no Mr. Darcy. Sorry! There were some similarities, but it's hard to duplicate such a perfect character.

While the plot of Spies and Prejudice follows Pride and Prejudice, there was one thing that hindered me from thinking this was a fantastic read. The romance between the characters really spoiled this for me. I was moving along with the story, really enjoying it, and then BAM! I was hit with the L-word. it made me go, "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!" Way too sudden. From that moment on, I was rolling my eyes any time two certain characters interacted. Very disappointing. The use of the L-word in a book should not feel like a sucker punch. There needs to be something backing that up. I just wasn't buying it with the characters, and I never did--even on the last page. Extreme 'like'? I would have gone with that. Infatuation? Also believable. You are my long lost soulmate that I need to be with for eternity? Pah-lease.

If you are like me and feel compelled to read any book that so much as looks like a JA retelling, go for it. You will find enough similarities in Spies and Prejudice to make you happy. You won't, however, find Mr. Darcy's twin or a very believable relationship. (But the first half of the book is solid enough.)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone read-along: Week 2

We're rockin' and rollin'! Week 2 baby! This week we are reading up to page 160, or up to chapter 24 in Daughter of Smoke and Bone.


Here is your mission, should you choose to accept it. (But don't worry, no self-destruct feature here!)

Consider this conversation between Brimstone and Karou:

B: Wishes are not for foolery, child.
K: Well, what do you use them for?
B: Nothing. I do not wish.
K: What? Never? But you could have anything you wanted--
B: Not anything. There are things bigger than any wish.
K: Like what?
B: Most things that matter.

In your opinion, why does Brimstone offer such a pognant perspective on wishes? Do you agree with his assessment?



For week 3, we will be continuing our reading in Daughter of Smoke and Bone (pg 161-244). I will post the discussion questions next Sunday, so check back then to post! Remember, you get 2 entries in the giveaway for every comment you leave on the blog, plus an additional 1 entry for posting on the Facebook page (LINK HERE). So don't be shy! It doesn't matter when you post either, just as long as it's before we finish the book.

Happy reading!

Links to previous discussion posts:

Discussion question for week 1


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