Saturday, July 31, 2010

Supernatural Saturday: Review of Moonlight

I see him and know what this turmoil inside of me means: He's the one. My forever.
Kayla is the nature lover, the all-American beauty who can't understand why she's so drawn to distant, brooding Lucas. Adopted as a young child, she has no way of knowing that she's inherited a terrifying—and thrilling—gene that will change her life forever.
 

Lucas is dangerous, gorgeous...and a werewolf. As leader of the Dark Guardians, shape-shifters who gather deep within the state park, he has sworn to protect his pack. But when Lucas finds his true soul mate, his love could put them all in harm's way.

As Lucas and Kayla struggle with their feelings for each other, a greater danger lurks: Humans have discovered the Dark Guardians and are planning their destruction. Kayla must choose between the life she knows and the love she feels certain is her destiny.

[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:   4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Teens, anyone wanting a solid paranormal
High point:  The brooding, mysterious Lucas
Low point:  The bad guys
Reader maturity:  13+

Sometimes it's nice to read a book that doesn't shock you, one with no twists and turns and angsty love triangles. This is one of those books. It's good, don't get me wrong, but there isn't anything novel about it...and that's why I enjoyed it so much.

Moonlight is a good, solid werewolf story, told from Kayla's point of view. She's uncertain and scared, excited and intelligent. Lucas is the mysterious one, watching and waiting pensively, all while being cool, collected and undeniably attractive. There are the friends, the rest of the pack, thrown into the mix to round out the story. Then, of course, there are the bad guys. While the rest of the novel is satisfyingly predictable, the bad guys were a little too stereotypical, but somehow it all balances out.

Moonlight was a light, quick read that left me wanting to know more about the Dark Guardians and wishing that I, too, could join their pack. I can't wait to pick up the other novels in the series because, even though they're not anything new, they're still something special.

Title:  Moonlight
Author:  Rachel Hawthorne
Genre:   Contemporary Romance
Year:   2009
Book Source:  Won from Midnight Glance

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Friday 56: The Pack

Closest Book:  The Pack

Author:  L. M. Preston
Page 56, sentence 4 (there is no sentence 5 on page 56):  " 'Ladies and gentleman, please take the injection from the vial administered by the robotic arm in the seat in front of you. It will speed up the adjustment to Earth's gravitational pull,' the voice on the speaker said cheerfully."






Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
*Post a link along with your post back to Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Book Blogger Hop 7/30

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books so that readers and bloggers can get to know each other a little better.
In Jennifer's words:
This is a weekly event where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read.  It's a great way to network with other bloggers and make new friends!  Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!
So head over to the Blog Hop and have some fun! Thanks for stopping by!

To answer this week's CRAZY question:

My favorite new-to-me author this year is Leanna Renee Heiber. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker was a lot of fun, and I can't wait to read the sequel!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review of The Reluctant Heiress

Being an heiress in 1920s Austria with nothing but a broken-down castle to your name and nary a penny in your purse could be frustrating for anyone but the Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein. “Tessa,” however, is thrilled with her situation, as it allows her to concentrate on her love of the arts—and no one in the Viennese opera company need know that their delightful and charming under-wardrobe mistress is really a princess. But when the dashing self-made millionaire Guy Farne arrives at the opera in search of suitable entertainment for his high society guests, Tessa realizes that there may be more to life—and love—than just music. But while the attraction between them in undeniable, Guy’s insufferable snob of a fiancée only solidifies Tessa’s determination to keep her true identity a secret. Yet, after a chance meeting with the handsome Englishman, Tessa’s reserve begins to melt, and she starts to wonder if it’s not too late for a fairytale ending…
[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:  4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Teens, clean romance readers, anyone seeking something comfortable
High point:  The fairytale
Low point:  The in-the-way fiancée
Reader maturity: 13+

The problem with reading so many books by the same author is that they run together after a while. I've almost run out of things to say about Eva Ibbotson's historical novels. As per the usual, it's gorgeously written with page-jumping descriptions, the main character is almost too perfect, the love interest is continually thwarted and ravishingly moody, the obstacle--in this case, a fiancée--is despicable and hilariously, over-the-top evil.

The supporting characters are amusing, and as ever, the heroine is lovable and charming, even in her near-perfection. It's a tale with drama, adventure, miscommunication and predestined love. It's predictable but doesn't disappoint. The Reluctant Heiress isn't my favorite Ibbotson novel--that honor goes to The Morning Gift--but it's an enjoyable light read. If you want a historical with a fairy-tale ending to occupy a few pleasant hours, I recommend The Reluctant Heiress.

Title:  The Reluctant Heiress
Author:  Eva Ibbotson
Genre:   Teen Fiction - Romance & Friendship
Year:   1982
Book Source:  Purchased

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Want to Read Wednesday: The Ghosts of Ashbury High

This is the story of Amelia and Riley, bad kids from bad Brookfield High who have transferred to Ashbury High for their final year. They've been in love since they were fourteen, they go out dancing every night, and sleep through school all day. And Ashbury can't get enough of them.

Everyone's trying to get their attention; even teachers are dressing differently, trying to make their classes more interesting. Everyone wants to be cooler, tougher, funnier, hoping to be invited into their cool, self-contained world.

But they don't know that all Amelia can think about is her past -- an idyllic time before she ran away from home. Riley thinks he's losing her to the past, maybe even to a place further back in time. He turns to the students of Ashbury for help, and things get much, much worse.

In the tradition of the gothic novel, this is a story about ghosts, secrets, madness, passion, locked doors, femmes fatales, and that terrifying moment in the final year of high school when you realise that the future's come to get you.

[from Goodreads]

This meme is hosted by Boy with Books. I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

Monday, July 26, 2010

To New Bloggers, Part 2

I realized after I posted my advice To New Bloggers that I left a few things out. Many of the commenters had advice of their own to add so I thought I'd compile it here, in part 2.

Things I left out:

1. Don't advertise. Not at first anyway. I'll admit, I finally added Google Adsense to my blog, but it's only (or should only be) a small text ad on the bottom left of the page. It's unobtrusive...and it doesn't earn much. Eventually I'm hoping it will help pay shipping costs so I can host more contests. Don't hop on the bandwagon too early though; establish yourself as a reliable, in-this-for-the-long-haul blogger first.

2. Don't embarrass your readers. Okay, okay, I've read elsewhere that you're not supposed to call commenters out in your posts. For the most part, I agree with that, but I'm going to break this rule today and let my readers tell the things they've learned from blogging. I tried to write it in my own words while giving them credit, but it just didn't feel right to do it that way. So, I'm just giving it to you straight from them.

What Bookish in a Box readers want to add:

1. Well, pretty much all of them agreed that you shouldn't have too many memes!

2. AngelGoneMad of Supernatural Bookworm gave an example of how she does her reviews to save time. It's worth a look!
Posts don't take long if you prepare them beforehand e.g. IMM - I add the books into my weekly IMM post as I get them, so I don't have so many to do at the end of the week when it comes to posting time.
   That's a great idea! It's always overwhelming to get behind, whether it be reviews or IMM posts. She also had this to say, which I think perfectly sums up what I was trying to say with "find your niche".
At the end of the day, your blog is about you. What you write/review/read is down to your selection. Don't feel pressured to read books that you think everyone wants to read about...Just be you when you write, put your own stamp on things. I think just being you is a big factor in a successful blog. 
Exactly! Thanks for putting that so well. :-)

3. Clarissa of Listen to the Voices encouraged new bloggers to use Twitter and Facebook to gain more readers. She also suggested asking questions at the end of posts to engage the reader. That last bit is a really great piece of advice. I always forget to do that...

4. April of Good Books and Good Wine mentioned one that catches me too!
Also, OMG one thing new bloggers should not do is embedded captcha, you know, where the page refreshes and you have to do captcha. I almost always click out, thinking I commented.
Yeah, that happens to me on occasion as well...If you're going to use word verification, use the built-in with blogger, where it shows up on the page without a refresh. Or moderate comments if you have to, but I would bet you'd lose some commenters that way.

5. Tiffany of Tiffany's Bookshelf had some advice on how to get review copies.
I too feel a little sheepish asking for review copies and have only done it a couple of times. What I found helpful was I joined a couple of ancillary book sites and mentioned I was open to reviews for authors, as well as tweeting an open invitation to authors. It worked so well, I have had about ten authors approach me so far, and when I provide them with a review, I always tell them to feel free to pass my name along to fellow writers in need of review.

I also give authors willing to give me books a lot of free reign with my review, allowing them to tweet it, facebook it, and post it on their blogs or websites. It helps them by making positive reviews more visible, and it helps drive traffic to my blog!
6. And Alison of Alison Can Read left a nice comment about her book blog that I'll use to close this out.
I want it to thrive but never to feel like a job. So balance is vitally important.
Agreed. :-)

What do you guys think? Do y'all have anything else to add or anything you thought of that wasn't mentioned in part 1 or part 2?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Supernatural Saturday: Review of The Eternal Ones

What if love refused to die?

Haven Moore can’t control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan, and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother’s house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is, and who she was.

In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept into an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Iain is suspected of murdering a rock star and Haven wonders, could he have murdered her in a past life? She visits the Ouroboros Society and discovers a murky world of reincarnation that stretches across millennia. Haven must discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves¸ before all is lost and the cycle begins again.

[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:   3.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Teens tired of bloodsucking immortals
High point: The emotional twists
Low point: The shaky mythology
Reader maturity: 15+

Several people likened this book to The Immortals series by Alyson Noel, which I really enjoyed. That said, a word of warning:  this is not Evermore. The Eternal Ones is what happens when you take the teenage angst and drama out of the immortal equation. That's not better or worse; it's just different, so be prepared.

It's hard to look at The Eternal Ones without likening it to another series, but it's worth a try because The Eternal Ones certainly stands on its own. About 100 pages in, I finally realized that I needed to appreciate it for itself, without comparison.

I'm intrigued by immortals stories--they're a nice change from vampires and other supernatural creatures--but The Eternal Ones left me wishing for a little something more. The book follows Haven from her crazy, small town roots to New York and abroad as she chases after a hint of memory from a life before. I didn't quite follow the mythology and the supporting cast/storyline was a little shaky, but Kirsten Miller did a great job of twisting the reader's emotions. The close-mindedness and fanaticism of the members of Haven's hometown chilled me, especially since I was riding through the middle of nowhere while reading.

Just like Haven, I didn't know who to trust or where to go or which was up or down. With every twist in the story, especially concerning the Ouroboros members), I felt just as suspicious and jaded as Haven...and then just as elated when proven wrong. I didn't think the love interest was anything special, but the spark between him and Haven and the mystery of their relationship makes up for flaws in the backstory. I loved the historical flashbacks; they were like all the good bits of historical fiction thrown into a paranormal. How could you not love that?

Though I was hoping for something with a little more grace and flow (and I would've loved to learn more about the mysterious Ouroboros Society), overall I enjoyed The Eternal Ones and would recommend it to anyone looking for a paranormal change of pace. Keep in mind that this is a book for older teens. There's nothing explicit, but the suggestions and language might be a little much for the younger ones.

[I'm not really sure where this book came from. It just showed up in the mail one day, presumably from the publisher. Thank you, Razorbill, for sending me an ARC for review!]

Title:  The Eternal Ones
Author:  Kirsten Miller
Genre:   Teen Fiction - Romance & Friendship
Year:   2010
Book Source:  Received ARC from Razorbill for review

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Friday 56: Heavenly

Closest Book:  Heavenly

Author:  Jennifer Laurens
Page 56, sentence 5:  " 'Thanks for driving me home, by the way,' I told her. She cocked her head. 'From the party? I didn't drive you home.' 'You didn't?' My breath stalled in my chest. 'Are you sure?' "









Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
*Post a link along with your post back to Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Book Blogger Hop 7/23

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books so that readers and bloggers can get to know each other a little better.
In Jennifer's words:
This is a weekly event where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read.  It's a great way to network with other bloggers and make new friends!  Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!
So head over to the Blog Hop and have some fun! Thanks for stopping by!

To answer this week's CRAZY question:

The books I'm reading right now are Take Me There by Susane Colasanti, That Summer by Sarah Dessen and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Take Me There is a fun summer romance, That Summer is typical Sarah Dessen--that is, real and emotional--and Beautiful Creatures is a witchy paranormal.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Want to Read Wednesday: The Secret of the Pink Carnation

Deciding that true romantic heroes are a thing of the past, Eloise Kelly, an intelligent American who always manages to wear her Jimmy Choo suede boots on the day it rains, leaves Harvard's Widener Library bound for England to finish her dissertation on the dashing pair of spies the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. What she discovers is something the finest historians have missed: a secret history that begins with a letter dated 1803. Eloise has found the secret history of the Pink Carnation the most elusive spy of all time, the spy who single-handedly saved England from Napoleon's invasion.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, a wildly imaginative and highly adventurous debut, opens with the story of a modern-day heroine but soon becomes a book within a book. Eloise Kelly settles in to read the secret history hoping to unmask the Pink Carnation's identity, but before she can make this discovery, she uncovers a passionate romance within the pages of the secret history that almost threw off the course of world events. How did the Pink Carnation save England? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly find a hero of her own?

[from Goodreads]

This meme is hosted by Boy with Books. I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Swag Board

I have something that I call a swag board. It's a place to display the different swag I've gotten through giveaways and other venues.

Originally it looked like this.
That corkboard held a lot of high school memories, and my mom suggested that I use it to display some swag, which was, at the time, all in a sad gallon-size freezer bag. I liked the way the board looked in theory, but it was kind of sad...

Then I moved and got a chance to redecorate and here's the swag board now.
It's still a little bare, but it's smaller (and made of seagrass) and there's a little more swag so it looks better, I think. I'll be updating it as I get more swag!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Friday 56: Lock and Key

Closest Book:  Lock and Key

Author:  Sarah Dessen
Page 56, sentence 5:  "When my dad left, my mom slowly began to withdraw from my daily routine--waking me up in the morning, getting me ready for school, walking me to the bus stop, telling me to brush my teeth--and Cora stepped in to take her place. This, too, was never decided officially or announced. It just happened, the same way my mom just happened to start sleeping more and smiling less and singing late at night, her voice wavering and haunting and always finding a way to reach my ears, even when I rolled myself against the wall tight and tried to think of something else, anything else."

Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
*Post a link along with your post back to Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book Blogger Hop 7/9

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books so that readers and bloggers can get to know each other a little better.
In Jennifer's words:
This is a weekly event where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read.  It's a great way to network with other bloggers and make new friends!  Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!
So head over to the Blog Hop and have some fun! Thanks for stopping by!

To answer this week's CRAZY question:

My favorite authors in alphabetical order are Ray Bradbury, Kate Chopin, Michael Crichton and Stephen King. For the pretty version, I'm going to refer you to this post because I think my reasons came out pretty lyrically.
  • In a nutshell, Ray Bradbury writes classic literature in a sci-fi setting. I love the twist on the tried-and-true, and I discover something new every time I re-read his stories. Every. Time. That's amazing to me. I discovered him through Fahrenheit 459 but I Sing the Body Electric! is my favorite (and actually I discovered it first, but I had no idea who Ray Bradbury was at the time). Also, we share a birthday so obviously the admiration was meant to be.
  • Kate Chopin was a great feminist author of her time, very pro-women and pro-independence, but since she lived so long ago, her writing doesn't veer into what I would consider radical territory. Basically, she's saying "Women are just as good/responsible/capable as men." The end. She's probably most famous for The Awakening, but her short stories are amazing too; I highly recommend that you read the "other stories" in The Awakening and Other Stories.
  • Michael Crichton...wow. I read (and re-read and RE-read) Jurassic Park looong before I was allowed to see the movie. His books were my first foray into grown-up literature, and they are the standard to which I hold all the others. Timeline is one of my all-time favorites, followed closely by Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain.
  • Things that go bump in the night, shivers that crawl up my spine, bugs that go boo! from under the bed--that's why I read Stephen King. I think if he didn't write horror, he would be considered one of the greatest novelists of our time. His writing has a poetic quality to it, and he explores the root of human fears in his writing, giving it an authenticity and an eerily spooky quality. I love The Shining most of all (I love the movie too, but the book is, as usual, infinitely better), and his short stories are great. (I'm beginning to see a trend here...) I also recommend Firestarter and Carrie, especially if you're in the mood for literary camp.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Want to Read Wednesday: Leviathan

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

[from Goodreads]

This meme is hosted by Boy with Books. I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review of Lock and Key

"Ruby, where is your mother?" Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she's been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return. That's how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn't seen in ten years, and Cora's husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future—it's a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?
[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:  4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Teens, clean romance readers
High point:  Ruby's brother-in-law
Low point:  Ruby's old friends
Reader maturity: 13+

Lock and Key wasn't the mind-blowing experience that The Truth About Forever was, but it was emotional and poignant just the same, perhaps even more so. I didn't connect with Ruby the same way I did with the main character from The Truth About Forever, but Ruby is still a strong, 3-dimensional powerhouse.

Lock and Key was painful. It was hard to read about so much heartbreak, but that's the beautiful thing about Sarah Dessen's novels--there's a happy, or at least happier, ending in sight. On the back of the book, the ending of the synopsis says this:
Sometimes, in order to save yourself, you've got to reach out to someone else.
That sums up Lock and Key perfectly. Ruby is withdrawn and unattached, and she likes it that way...or so she thinks. Gradually though, she lets her defenses down and finds out that even though that means getting hurt, getting hurt is better than not feeling anything at all.

Ruby's relationship with her older sister, Cora, was picture perfect (I assume, as someone who has no sisters). Cora is angry and withdrawn herself but tries so hard to give Ruby the life she was never able to have. Cora's husband is the heart of this novel--the patient, kind, understanding Jamie. He provides the stability and protection that Ruby never received from anyone else. Without him, there would be no novel and no happy ending. Ruby and her distant-but-patient love interest hit a lot of bumps on the road, but in the end, it's a typical Sarah Dessen ending--predictable but appreciated all the same.

As usual, Lock and Key is well-written and appeals to teens and adults of many different ages and backgrounds. It's not groundbreaking, but it isn't supposed to be.

Title:  Lock and Key
Author:  Sarah Dessen
Genre:  Teen Fiction - Girls & Young Women
Year:   2008
Book Source:  Purchased

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wannabe Writers #23

Wannabe Writers is a meme created by Sarah of Confessions of the Un-published!

One of my goals right now is to move my literary ambitions out of the box and onto the shelf, by which I mean that I no longer want to ignore  how   much I enjoy writing. I love the idea of this meme, and I'll quote from Sarah's post here:

I often find myself searching the web for information during my struggles as a new writer.   So I wanted to start a place where us future young-adult authors can come together to  ask those questions, share our stories, and get feedback.


Where I am in the writing process:  I was back on summer break this week. :-) I know that I won't be able to write the next two weeks either, which makes me sad, even though I haven't been writing that much anyway.

My current problems:  None. I'm good. :-)

Question(s) this week:  Overcomplicating vs. Undercomplicating.  I'm afraid sub-plots in my novel are going to take the main focus.  How much is too much? 

Well, I have the exact opposite problem. I spend so much time developing the main character and the main storyline that all my little subplots end up like loose threads on a sweater. And boy, are they everywhere! I've been going back and trying to clean them up, but I'm afraid I'm going to forget where some of them are.

Personally, I like novels with several subplots, especially if they all tie together in a unique or meaningful way. On the other hand, having too many subplots can take away from the main plot. As for too much, I'd say if your reader can't tell which one is the main plot, you have too many subplots. In the end, I don't think it can really be pinned down; it all depends on the novel and the plots.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Supernatural Saturday: Review of The Subtle Knife

The intrepid young Lyra has passed through a shimmering portal in the sky and finds herself in a beautiful, haunted otherworld--Cittagazze, where soul-eating Specters stalk the streets and wingbeats of distant angels sound against the sky. But she is not without allies:  twelve-year-old Will Parry, fleeing for his life after taking another's, has also stumbled into this strange new realm.
On a perilous journey from world to world, Lyra and Will uncover a deadly secret:  an object of extraordinary and devastating power. With every step, they move closer to an even greater threat--and the shattering of truth of their own destiny.
[from the back cover of The Subtle Knife]
 



Rating: 3.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience: Harry Potter fans, LOTR fans, anyone who wants a fantasy tale in diet form
High point: The world
Low point: Lyra
Reader maturity: 13+

I've had a lot of luck with 2nd novels lately. Often they fall victim to the 2nd novel curse:  a bridge between books, as I read somewhere today. The Subtle Knife is definitely a bridge...but you don't have to know (or like) what happens in The Golden Compass to appreciate the actions in The Subtle Knife.

Lyra makes less of an impact in The Subtle Knife, which is probably one of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much more. Aside from sharing the spotlight with the charming and mature Will, she's also grown up somewhat and recognizes that people other than herself matter. (That's a HUGE step for her.)

The Subtle Knife was filled with nonstop action and scary new creatures. The witches feature more heavily here, adding, in a strange way, a more human element. Of course, Lyra's mother and a strange, evil man make an appearance in a normal and yet extremely threatening way. The two children deal with very adult problems--lies, deception, subterfuge--and they handle it all very well, making mistakes along the way but learning important lessons about real life. Will has a bright future ahead of him, and I'm excited to see what he and Lyra can accomplish next.

Title:  The Subtle Knife
Author:  Philip Pullman
Genre:  Fantasy Fiction
Year:  1997
Book Source:  Purchased

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Friday 56: The Truth About Forever

Closest Book:  The Truth About Forever

Author:  Sarah Dessen
Page 56, sentence 5:  "More than our old house, or our Wildflower Ridge place, the beach shack was my dad. I knew if he was haunting any place, it would be there, and for that reason, I'd stayed away."









Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
*Post a link along with your post back to Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Book Blogger Hop 7/2

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books so that readers and bloggers can get to know each other a little better.
In Jennifer's words:
This is a weekly event where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read.  It's a great way to network with other bloggers and make new friends!  Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!
So head over to the Blog Hop and have some fun! Thanks for stopping by!

To answer this week's CRAZY question:

My name is Erin, and I'm bookish...in a box...

I think I summed it up pretty nicely here, in my very first post as a newbie. It wasn't that long ago, but I think the blog has come a long way since then.
It all started with a couple of wins. You see, I never intended to review books. I consider myself squarely in the science category. Books are just a diversion, a pastime, an imaginary vacation from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. However, I won a few books, and to be courteous, I reviewed them to promote the author and then I won some more books that I felt it would be polite to review and...well, I need somewhere to put them all in one place.
Bookish in a Box just kind of took off from there! I mean, yeah, there's been quite a bit of "work" involved (in quotations because it's fun work!), but I've loved every minute of it. I hope to keep growing my little piece of the web, and I hope you enjoy the ride!

Review of She Walks in Beauty

For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage in the late 1890s, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor. Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling. Yet Clara wonders if this is the life she really wants, especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries. When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is, and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her heart at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.
[from Goodreads]

Rating:  4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Historical fiction fans
High point: Learning about a society debut
Low point: Confused Clara
Reader maturity: 13+

She Walks in Beauty is a gorgeous book, seamlessly blending a history lesson about the 1890s with a girl's modern desire for independence and true love.

This is a book to be consumed in one sitting, maybe two. Unfortunately, I had to read it in 15-minute bits and pieces, ruining some of the flow of the novel. Nevertheless, I was impressed by Siri Mitchell's candid and graceful writing style and the captivating Clara. Clara was stubborn and smart, and the only issue I had with her is her refusal to actually make a decision regarding her future. She thought she had...but she hadn't. That, I guess, is part of the point of the novel though, watching Clara grow into a true woman.

The supporting cast was delightful, especially Clara's best friend. I really thought that Lizzie was going to turn out differently and was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. If it weren't for her flightiness, Lizzie could have stolen the show. The two main eligible bachelors of the book were fun characters too, making me wish I had my own personal Harry (Franklin's brother).

Aunt is the character that stood out to me the most. She is presented to the reader (and Clara) as a headstrong, bullying matron, intent at marrying Clara off at any cost. That's true...to a point. Eventually Aunt is shown to possess a loving heart, and the transition is natural and one of the best character expositions I have ever read. It was subtle and believable, and nothing about the 180 degree change felt unrealistic.

I'm a bit of a history buff, and I really enjoyed learning about the debut process in detail, from dress-fittings to the family politics involved. She Walks in Beauty employs a method of exposition that uses two fake newspaper clippings of the day to show two different views of one event, one from The New York Journal and one from The Tattler. I really enjoyed that small piece of immersion.

She Walks in Beauty is considered Christian fiction (which I don't usually read), and other than a few paragraphs here and there (maybe 3 or 4 in the whole novel), it was mainstream YA and completely clean, which I appreciated. I hadn't heard of Siri Mitchell before receiving this book for review, but I will be seeking out more of her work.

Title:  She Walks in Beauty
Author:  Siri Mitchell
Genre:  Christian Historical Fiction
Year:  2010
Book Source:  Received for review from Bethany House Publishers