Saturday, January 29, 2011

Supernatural Saturday: Review of The Summoning

My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don't even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost -- and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won't leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a "special home" for troubled teens. Yet the home isn't what it seems. Don't tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It's up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House . . . before its skeletons come back to haunt me.

[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:   4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Anyone who EVER loved ghost stories
High point:  All the plot elements
Low point:  Everything gets campy if you look at it too closely
Reader maturity: 13+

I grew up loving ghost stories! And while this wasn't all that long ago, these weren't good ghost stories--they were quite cheesy--because these were the ones that ended up at Goodwill or a thrift store because no one wanted them anymore. (Hey, they were cheap books, and I read pretty much anything marketed for YA that I could get my hands on!) Regardless of the lack of quality, I've been hooked on ghost stories ever since, but I've had trouble finding them for a more sophisticated YA palette. Well, look no more!

The Summoning is a phenomenal ghost story--it's got ghosts (obviously), other supernaturals (for those who aren't ghost-loving-freaks) and a bunch of sociopath doctors at a group home. *insert shiver here* Doesn't that sound awesome?? I didn't realize what The Summoning was about when I started it (I don't know why I didn't just read the back...), but I thought it was about witches. Imagine my surprise when the first chapter gave me enough goosebumps that I had to turn on the light!

Ms. Armstrong is a great writer and provides the reader with an easy to follow but suitably complex main character. She--Chloe--makes reasonable mistakes and assumptions but also has, thankfully, enough little grey cells that she learns and moves forward. There's also a strange friendship triangle going on and lies and deceit everywhere.

I would break it down further for you, but when I try to separate the pieces, it all ends up sounding a little campy, like the novels I was talking about earlier. I don't mean to give you that impression because it's NOT like that. I don't know how it's not campy, but somehow everything works together to create a really fun, exciting, scary, adventurous book that, happily for me, has quite a few ghosts in it.

For the record, I cannot wait to read the sequel to this, which means I'm either going to have to give in and buy it (this is where I should invoke my "no new series" rule) or finally trek to my new city's library.

Title:  The Summoning
Author:  Kelley Armstrong
Genre:   Fiction - Supernatural
Year:   2008
Book Source:  Won from YA Books Reviewed

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Want to Read Wednesday: Warped

Tessa doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there's something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa's own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa's life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.

[from Goodreads]

With Want to Read Wednesday, 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.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2011 YA Young Adult Reading Challenge

I'm a little late signing up, but I've decided to participate in my first ever challenge--the 2011 Young Adult Reading Challenge!

I'm signing up for the MEGA Size YA Reading Challenge, 50+ YA books. Think I can do it?

This year, the challenge is being hosted by For the Love of YA, and you can sign up there if you want to join.

Supernatural Saturday: Review of Thief Eyes

After her mother mysteriously disappears, sixteen-year-old Haley convinces her father to take her to Iceland, where her mother was last seen. There, amidst the ancient fissures and crevices of that volcanic island, Haley meets gorgeous Ari, a boy with a dangerous side who appoints himself her protector.

When Haley picks up a silver coin that entangles her in a spell cast by her ancestor Hallgerd, she discovers that Hallgerd's spell and her mother's disappearance are connected to a chain of events that could unleash terrifying powers and consume the world. Haley must find a way to contain the growing fires of the spell—and her growing attraction to Ari.

Janni Lee Simner brings the fierce romance and violent passions of Iceland's medieval sagas into this twenty-first-century novel, with spellbinding results.

[from Goodreads]

Rating:   3 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Readers looking for something a little different
High point:  Icelandic mythology
Low point:  Not very gripping
Reader maturity: 13+

Thief Eyes is certainly one of the most unique YA stories I've ever had the opportunity to pick up, and I hope that it launches a trend for adventures entangled in ancient and obscure lore.

In Thief Eyes, Janni Lee Simner combines modern-day mystery with an ancient Icelandic myth, plunging the main character, Haley, into a centuries-old spell. She's stuck in the past with no one but Ari, a boy she's only just met. They journey through space and time and memory, gambling with the past and the present.

Though Thief Eyes never reached out to yank me into the story, I was nevertheless fascinated by the concept and the plot. I've never read much about Iceland, and the chance to learn about the culture and mythology was very interesting. The story kept me engaged and entertained, with a detached writing style that lent itself well to communicating Haley's confusion

I thought the ending was a little too tidy, with all but one end tied up neatly, but since I love happy endings, I won't complain too much.

Title:  Thief Eyes
Author:  Janni Lee Simner
Genre:   Fiction - Supernatural
Year:   2010
Book Source: Won from Fragments of Life

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Want to Read Wednesday: Chime

Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.
Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.


[from Goodreads]

With Want to Read Wednesday, 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, January 18, 2011

Penitence Trailer

I'm not big on posting book trailers, but I really, really want to read Penitence by Jennifer Laurens. Heavenly was one of my favorite books of 2010. (Five out of five!)

Review of It's a Mall World After All

Charlotte's job as a perfume spritzer at the mall is perfect for spying on her classmates who hang out there. So when she see her best friend's boyfriend flirting with another girl, a series of hilarious, often foiled attempts to catch him in the act of cheating follow. Through it all, the gorgeous and infuriating Colton is there laughing at her. But when Charlotte and Colton dress up as Santa and his elf for a charity event at the mall, they get more attention than they bargained for-leading to a mall brawl, a moment of truth, and the realization that being right isn't always a one-size-fits solution.
[from Goodreads]
 

Rating:   2.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Teens...or anyone else who remembers high school
High point: Decently amusing
Low point:  Typical contemporary YA
Reader maturity: 15+

When I first saw the cover of It's a Mall World After All, I just knew I wasn't going to like it. But since I won it, I gave it a shot, and it's evidence that I shouldn't judge a book solely by its cover (or title).

If you've been reading my reviews here for a while, you probably realize that I don't love contemporary novels, and It's a Mall World After All is no exception, but it made great strides towards trying to get me to love it, which I think means that people who regularly enjoy contemporary YA would like it a lot.

As it is, it's a decent fluffy contemporary novel. There are no egregious plot errors, no glaringly annoying cliches or poorly developed characters. Though I didn't quite understand the attraction between the MC and her love interest, I liked that the MC had a great heart and her friends in mind at all times. The ending was satisfactory and appropriate.

It's a Mall World should be appropriate for mid-to-older YA readers and will probably be best enjoyed by that age group as well.

Title:  It's a Mall World After All
Author:  Janette Rallison
Genre:   Fiction - Contemporary
Year:   2006
Book Source:  Won from Squeaky Books

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Supernatural Saturday: Review of Dark of the Moon

I've loved him forever, but he can never be mine.

BRITTANY is determined to prove herself to the Dark Guardians. And yet she's been keeping a devastating secret: She hasn't experienced any of the intense, early signs of change that mark a Dark Guardian's transformation. The only intense feelings she has are for Connor—and she's kept that a secret, too. But she knows she'll never truly have Connor's love if she's not a Shifter like him.
At the first full moon after her birthday, her greatest fear is realized: She doesn't transform. Brittany is so desperate to become a wolf that she'll go to extremes she never thought possible . . . and put all the Dark Guardians in incredible danger.

 [from Goodreads]
 
Rating:   4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Teens, anyone wanting a solid paranormal
High point:  Brittany--she turned out to be amaaazing
Low point:  This series still feels fluffy
Reader maturity: 13+ 

Dark of the Moon completely redeemed the Dark Guardian series!

After my disappointment with the 2nd book, Full Moon, I was concerned to start Dark of the Moon, knowing that it centered around Brittany, who was my least favorite of the three girls of the series. However, I think Brittany's story may be even better than the 1st in the series, Moonlight.

So what turned my opinion of the series back around?

Well, for one thing, there was very little emotional waffling going on. Brittany did a lot of things that weren't, perhaps, the nicest things to do, but she had the pack's best interests at heart. She also had a plan and acted on it with certainty. There's a love story, of course, because that's how these books work, but it didn't feel as contrived or tortuous as the one[s] in Full Moon.

Also, Brittany is one hardcore female MC! She's ready to get in there and fight with the big boys, but she also knows when to hold back for the sake of her fellow Guardians. I also really liked Kayla's return in this one as the concerned friend, as well as Connor's role in the story. He didn't impress me much in Full Moon, but here in Dark of the Moon, I could finally see his appeal. He turned out to be pretty cool too.

If you enjoyed Moonlight or didn't enjoy Full Moon, I recommend you give the Dark Guardians another chance with Dark of the Moon.

Title:  Dark of the Moon
Author:  Rachel Hawthorne
Genre:   Fiction - Supernatural
Year:   2009
Book Source:  Won from YA Books Reviewed

Friday, January 14, 2011

There's a Library?!

I moved a while back (actually, I wrote this post so long ago, it's more like a WHILE while back). I am learning to love this town (and I say it that way, not because I didn't like it, but because I'm used to a much bigger city), but I get frustrated sometimes when I'm trying to shop or eat or chill out. Why?

My new town doesn't have a Chicken Express.
It doesn't have a Borders.
It doesn't have a Half Price Books.
It doesn't have a QT.
It doesn't have an Ulta...or a Sephora. (*collective gasp*)

But it does have a library. In my former town, for residents outside the city limits (I lived "in the county"), library cards are insanely expensive, and I believe you also have to pay by the book. Umm...no, thanks. I'll buy my own.

Now, I get to go to the library. Can you believe it? I got to do that during my summers of interning during college, and it was so much fun! The library wasn't even that great, but I read like crazy and for free.

Don't take your local library for granted. Take advantage of the opportunity and support them whenever you can.

Do you love your library? How often do you go?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Want to Read Wednesday: Unearthly

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

[from Goodreads]

With Want to Read Wednesday, 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, January 11, 2011

Review of Pegasus

A gorgeously written fantasy about the friendship between a princess and her Pegasus. 
  
Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pagasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own Pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.

But its different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close-so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo-and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.

New York Times bestselling Robin McKinley weaves an unforgettable tale of unbreakable friendship, mythical creatures and courtly drama destined to become a classic.

[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:   4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Those who never tire of fairytales
High point: The gorgeous imagery
Low point:  Pegasus don't really exist so I can't have one
Reader maturity: 13+

Pegasus is one of the best YA books I've read all year and, without a doubt, lives up to all the high praise it has received. A grown-up version of a beautiful fairytale, it will captivate and entertain audiences of all ages.

Spanning several years, Pegasus tells the story of a princess and her pegasus. Their unique bond unites them, even as it threatens to tear apart the fragile threads of the treaty between pegasus and man. Oftentimes, novels that cover so many years begin to drag but not so with Pegasus. I was hooked, eagerly turning page after page. Sylvi's joys and pains were so real to me, like being immersed in the action. I wanted to visit the Pegasi caves and see the Dreaming Sea. The imagery in Pegasus is beautiful; Ms. McKinley's words paint stunning watercolor pictures across the pages.

Sylvi's story moved rather slowly to me, but she was so involved in learning about the pegasus that I completely forgot that her land was being threatened by invaders. My only complaint--other than not having my own pegasus--is that I was hoping for more closure regarding that issue. Hopefully there's a sequel!

Title:  Pegasus
Author:  Robin McKinley
Genre:   Fiction - Fantasy
Year:   2010
Book Source:  Won from Carol's Prints

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Supernatural Saturday: Review of The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney

 How do you ignore a ghost? Sparrow Delaney absolutely, positively does not want to be a medium like her six older sisters, her mother, and her grandmother. She does not want to see, hear, smell, or talk to ghosts. If she sticks to her rules and doesn't let anyone know that she can do all those things—everywhere, all the time—Sparrow just might pass as a normal tenth grader at her new high school. She makes a new best friend and meets an irritatingly appealing guy in her history class. But when another boy catches her eye, all Sparrow's dreams of being ordinary go up in smoke. Because this boy is a dead one—a persistent, charming, infuriating ghost, who won't let her be until she agrees to help him Move On.
[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:   3.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Younger teens bored with contemporary
High point:  Sparrow
Low point:  The predictable "mystery"
Reader maturity: 10+

The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney is a super-cute novel about a teenage medium who's pretending not to be. A medium, that is. She's obviously a teenager, experiencing her first crush and first true best-friendship at her new high school.

I went into The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney thinking that it was MG and was pleasantly surprised when it wasn't. The characters were fun--it was hard to keep all of Sparrow's sisters straight--and the crazy environment floated off the pages until I felt like I was there with Sparrow, just trying to pretend to be normal.  I had Sparrow's persistent ghost figured out almost immediately, but the ghostly mystery isn't the main issue of the book--it's Sparrow, trying to find her place in Lily Dale and the world at large.

At times funny and at other times a little sad and wistful, this novel provided me with a few hours of great entertainment and escape, and other than dealing with death and ghosts (obviously), the novel is completely clean, making it a good pick for younger YA readers.

If you're looking for a light-hearted ghost story with some light boy problems thrown in for good measure, The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney would be a great book to pick up.

Title:  The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney
Author:  Suzanne Harper
Genre:   Fiction - Supernatural
Year:   2007
Book Source:  Purchased

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Want to Read Wednesday: Timeless

When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.


[from Goodreads]

With Want to Read Wednesday, 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, January 4, 2011

It's a Bookish 1st Blogoversary Giveaway! [CLOSED]

I've been here in the Box for one whole year!! I can't believe it! To add to my list of firsts that this wonderful year has brought me, I now have the chance to host my first blogoversary giveaway! Let's get down to the prizes.

Prize Pack #1:

Prize Pack #2:

Prize Pack #3:

In list form (and with links to my reviews):
All books have been read at least once. Most of the ARCS were received from other bloggers, and they're a little worn but still in good condition.
    Rules in a Box:

    1. You MUST be a follower.
    2. You must be 13 or older to enter.
    3. This giveaway is US only. (I love my international readers, but I'm taking care of shipping so...)
    4. Ends at 11:59 pm CST January 31st, 2011.
    5. Winners will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond.
    6. Entries will only be accepted using the FORM, and you MUST include your email address so I can contact you. No email = no books.
    7. Winner will be chosen using a spreadsheet random number generator. 
    I reserve the right to amend the rules as needed. (Hopefully this won't happen, but just in case...) If you have any questions, feel free to email me or leave a comment. GOOD LUCK!

    Extra points in a Box:
    1. +1 for tweeting. Leave a link or it doesn't count. (You only get points for one tweet, but you're free to do more! My Twitter name is @bookishinabox if you want to include that.)
    2. +1 each for Facebooking/blogging/linking anywhere else. Leave a link or it doesn't count. (You get points for up to 3 links.)

    The Bookish Year

    Wow.

    This has been a crazy, amazing, wonderful, exhilarating, surprising year, and I'm not just talking books. It's been quite the journey, and I'm pleased with where I ended up.

    As for Bookish in a Box, here's what I've accomplished this year:
    • 281 followers
    • 109 reviews
    • 6 books received from author/publisher/publicist for review
    • 3 giveaways
    I also finished a novel, started another one (or two or three...), got a job, moved and realized that I might be just a leeettle addicted to reading. There are worse vices, right?

    It's been a great year, and I'm looking forward to the next one!!

    [Stay tuned for an epic giveaway!]