Saturday, March 31, 2012

Supernatural Saturday Review: My Soul to Keep (Soul Screamers #3)

Kaylee has one addiction: her very hot, very popular boyfriend, Nash. A banshee like Kaylee, Nash understands her like no one else. Nothing can come between them.
 
Until something does.
 
Demon breath. No, not the toothpaste-challenged kind. The Netherworld kind. The kind that really can kill you. Somehow the super-addictive substance has made its way to the human world. But how? Kaylee and Nash have to cut off the source and protect their friends--one of whom is already hooked.
 
And so is someone else...
[from Goodreads]
   
Rating:   2.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Paranormal fans, anyone hiding bean sidhe secrets 
High point:  Banshees are unusual in the YA genre 
Low point:   Insta-love!
Reader maturity: 13+

Ahahaha! I was right about Nash! Do I have uncanny, superhuman-reader-sleuth abilities or what? And I don't care what was causing it--that only amplifies what was already there. During the first part of My Soul to Keep, I finally gained a little respect for Kaylee, once I discovered that she could, in fact, say no. And she was a lot nicer to Tod this time around.

But as the story wore on...Kaylee really ticked me off. Perhaps I'm unsympathetic, but she should have involved Nash's mom and her dad from the beginning. Every time she was in a scene with one of them, I hoped that she'd finally get some adult help, but she kept hiding the Demon Breath secret, at first innocently but then intentionally, which was not only dumb but had serious consequences for those around her.

Another thing that bugged me was that Kaylee let Nash control and manipulate her on multiple occasions and then gave up being mad to feel sorry for him. It's great that she's not holding a grudge, but he needs to be held accountable for his actions. And she needs to stop keeping secrets! So while there was something potentially satisfying at the end, it was overshadowed by the weaker points of Kaylee's personality.

Will I read the next book in the series? Yeah, if it lands on my bookshelf. Will I seek it out? Probably not. This series doesn't quite fit my reading style.

Title:  My Soul to Keep (Soul Screamers #3)
Author:  Rachel Vincent
Genre:   Fiction - Paranormal
Year:   2010
Book Source:  Won from I Like These Books

Friday, March 30, 2012

Kindred Review: The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem and Sicily

Love of reading (and history) runs in the family! Today, I'm featuring one of my mom's recent reads. (I reviewed this title in 2010, and you can find my review here.)

The riveting history of a beautiful queen, a shocking murder, a papal trial—and a reign as triumphant as any in the Middle Ages. On March 15, 1348, Joanna I , Queen of Naples, stood trial for her life before the Pope and his court in Avignon. She was twenty-two years old. Her cousin and husband, Prince Andrew of Hungary, had recently been murdered, and Joanna was the chief suspect. Determined to defend herself—Joanna won her acquittal against enormous odds. Returning to Naples, she ruled over one of Europe’s most prestigious courts for more than thirty years—until she was herself murdered.
As courageous as Eleanor of Aquitaine, as astute and determined as Elizabeth I of England, Joanna was the only female monarch in her time to rule in her own name. She was notorious: The taint of her husband’s death never quite left her. But she was also widely admired: Dedicated to the welfare of her subjects and realm, she reduced crime, built hospitals and churches, and encouraged the licensing of women physicians. While a procession of the most important artists and writers of her day found patronage at her glittering court, the turmoil of her times swirled around her: war, plague, intrigue, and the treachery that would, ultimately, bring her down. As she did in her acclaimed Four Queens, Nancy Goldstone takes us back to the turbulent and colorful Middle Ages, and with skill and passion brings fully to life one of history’s most remarkable women. Her research is impeccable, her eye for detail unerring, and in The Lady Queen she paints a captivating portrait of medieval royalty in all its incandescent complexity.
 [from Goodreads]

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 boxes

As I read the first chapter, I had a sinking feeling that this book was going to be as long and drawn out as the title. As the author introduced the reader to various supporting characters and their relationship to each other and the Queen and which countries they ruled or would like to rule or had at one time ruled, I became a bit overwhelmed. I continued reading because I am interested in history and am glad I did.

The book follows the Queen’s life from the time she was a child to her death. The author did an excellent job connecting Joanna to the reader. As her life story progressed, I sympathized with her sacrifices, took pride in her strength and cringed at her death. The book gave a fascinating glimpse into the very controlling role of the Pope in Medieval politics and individual lives, a subculture of “companies” who controlled goods and acted as paid mercenaries, the cultural role of monarchies whose duty it was to do whatever benefited the kingdom including using their children as pawns to acquire other kingdoms and the role of the arts and learning in royal courts.

Though the book remained heavy in some places while explaining relationships and political background, I found myself wanting to know what happened next in Joanna’s life and anxiously reading on. This book takes effort to follow, but I found it worth the effort. I was left with the reminder that though politics, religion, and culture might differ through the ages, human nature--our wants, our needs, our emotions--remain the same.

Title:  The Lady Queen:  The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem and Sicily
Author:  Nancy Goldstone
Genre:  Biography, European History
Year:  2009
Book Source:  Borrowed

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Want to Read Wednesday: Pandemonium (Delirium #2)

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

[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, March 27, 2012

Review of Scribbler of Dreams

Kaitlin Malone has been raised to hate the Crutchfields, relatives the Malones have feuded with for as long as Kaitlin can remember. This legacy of hatred has never been questioned—until Kaitlin meets a boy and begins to fall in love with him before she discovers that he is a Crutchfield . . . and the son of the man her father has gone to prison for killing.

To give the relationship a chance, Kaitlin lies about her identity. But what was supposed to be one temporary untruth leads to yet another, and soon she finds herself tangled in a complicated web of deceit. In the course of her deception, she discovers an even bigger lie: The Crutchfields are not the monsters her family has always portrayed them to be. When Maggie Crutchfield, the matriarch who started the feud, reaches out from the past to right a wrong, she offers Kaitlin a legacy worth holding on to-if she can.
[from Goodreads]
   
Rating:  1.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Readers with a serious grudge
High point: When Kaitlin finally stands up to her family
Low point: The hatred and the lying
Reader maturity: 13+

I love a good feuding families forbidden romance (Lorna Doone, anyone?) and I enjoyed The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, but Scribbler of Dreams was filled with so much hatred that it ruined my reading experience. Even if the book description failed, the first few lines should have tipped me off:
"'I hate the Crutchfields!'
I had always hated the Crutchfields.
I was born to hate the Crutchfields."
And so it continued, for 223 pages. While the saving grace of novels such as these is supposed to be that the main characters discover they were wrong and set about making things right, Scribbler of Dreams failed to convince me of the sincerity required to make that change believable. Kaitlin, shallow and immature, defied my sympathy, as did her family. I don't understand hating someone just because someone else tells you to or automatically believing something suspicious just because you love the person who tells you it's true. Along with page after page of misdirected anger, Kaitlin also takes to lying--a lot. Mistaken identity is frequently a plot point in literature, but Kaitlin took the lies to a whole new level by risking the reputations of the few people she called friends.

Obviously, this wasn't the right kind of book for me, but it received about 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads so I've included the link if you'd like to check out some other opinions:  Goodreads--Scribbler of Dreams

Title:  Scribbler of Dreams
Author:  Mary E. Pearson
Genre:   Fiction - Contemporary
Year:   2001
Book Source:  Purchased

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Amaranthine Review: Anne of Avonlea

At sixteen Anne is grown up. . . almost. Her gray eyes shine like evening stars, but her red hair is still as peppery as her temper. In the years since she arrived at Green Gables as a freckle-faced orphan, she has earned the love of the people of Avonlea and a reputation for getting into scrapes. But when Anne begins her job as the new schoolteacher, the real test of her character begins. Along with teaching the three Rs, she is learning how complicated life can be when she meddles in someone else's romance, finds two new orphans at Green Gables, and wonders about the strange behavior of the very handsome Gilbert Blythe. As Anne enters womanhood, her adventures touch the heart and the funny bone.
[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:   5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Girls of all ages
High point:  Anne Shirley growing up
Low point:  None whatsoever
Reader maturity: 8+

Favorite quotes:  "Well, one can't get over the habit of being a little girl all at once."

"At seventeen, dreams DO satisfy because you think the realities are waiting for you farther on."

Anne of Avonlea follows Anne through her time teaching at the school in Avonlea and enjoying the golden years of her youth with friends and her adopted family (which got quite the extension with the addition of Dora and Davy). No other book comes close to so beautifully chronicling the bittersweet coming-of-age period in every person's life. Anne has to learn to find satisfaction in reality instead of pinning her happiness on the hopes and dreams of tomorrow.

This chapter in Anne's life begins to include more of life in Avonlea, rather than focusing on Anne's foibles and dramas. As a schoolteacher and surrogate parent to Dora and Davy, Anne's starting to have life figured out, although a few of Avonlea's characters surprise her. A few of Anne's friends from Queen's figure into this novel, and I appreciated the inclusion of Priscilla. Diana is a good friend to Anne, but, while she may be a kindred spirit, she doesn't have much of an imagination. Losing myself in Anne's and Priscilla's (and Paul's and Miss Lavender's) verbiose speeches during their rambles is almost like being there myself.

As for the rest of the people in Anne's life, Marilla starts to show herself to the reader as the kindhearted woman that Anne sees, and she remains the voice of reason, although a softer version than before. Paul Irving and Davy play counterpoints, and both are charming in their own way. And Mr. Harrison! I'd completely forgotten about him, but he's one of the most amusing and crotchety "bachelors" in literature.

My only problem now is that I want to skip straight to Anne of Windy Poplars!

Title:  Anne of Avonlea
Author:  L. M. Montgomery
Genre:  Children's Fiction & Literature
Year:  1909
Book Source:  Purchased

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Want to Read Wednesday: Wanderlove

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

[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, March 20, 2012

Review of Along for the Ride

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.
[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:  4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Teens, clean romance readers
High point:  The character development
Low point:  Auden seemed a little cold
Reader maturity: 13+

I love Sarah Dessen's novels, and Along for the Ride is no exception. The great thing about her books is their ability to create an emotional connection between the main character and the reader. And there's always something in the overarching theme that makes me stop and think.

Auden is a perfectionist and an introvert, two traits that are well-represented in YA, but are examined under a curious and nonjudgmental microscope as Auden learns to let go and live, mostly through bike-riding, but also through midnight jaunts to coffee shops. She was a little more emotionally immature and distant than I would have expected, even given her background, but her tendency to be closed off sets the stage nicely for all of the subplots. So many of the characters and subplots of Along for the Ride have been used to the point of being cliches, but they're handled with individuality in mind. Heidi, Auden's stepmother, turns out to have greater depths beneath her perky exterior than meet the eye. Maggie is more than an angry ex-girlfriend. Auden's mother has a few surprises lurking beneath her cold heart. The transition of the characters from Auden's original perspective to the people that they become (or allow her to see) by the end of the summer is delicate and complex. Sarah Dessen chips away at their layers gradually, revealing something more than Auden could have imagined possible.

The words have a poetry, and the story is simple, yet beautiful. If you enjoy any of her earlier work, then you're definitely going to like Along for the Ride, and if you haven't picked one up yet, Along for the Ride would be a great place to start.

Title:  Along for the Ride
Author:  Sarah Dessen
Genre:  Teen Fiction - Girls & Young Women
Year:   2009
Book Source:  Purchased

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Amaranthine Review: Anne of Green Gables

As soon as Anne Shirley arrived at the snug,  white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she  wanted to stay forever... but would the Cuthberts  send her back to the orphanage? Anne knows she's not  what they expected -- a skinny girl with decidedly  red hair and a temper to match. If only she could  convince them to let her stay, she'd try very hard  not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes or blurt  out the very first thing she had to say. Anne was  not like anybody else, everyone at Green Gables  agreed; she was special -- a girl with an enormous  imagination. This orphan girl dreamed of the day  when she could call herself Anne of Green Gables.
[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:   5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Girls of all ages
High point:  Anne Shirley and her imagination
Low point:  None whatsoever
Reader maturity: 8+

Favorite quotes:  "There's such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I'm such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn't be half so interesting."

"Marilla, isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"

Oh, how I love this book! Anne is the quintessential coming-of-age character and provided as much empathetic comfort on my most recent read-through as she did on my first.

Technically, I'm impressed by the skill of Ms. Montgomery's pen. When Anne is the focal character, the descriptions are flowery and bountiful; when Marilla, the style changes to one more succinct and raw. The passages describing Anne's activities and surroundings even become more sedate over teh course of the novel, just as Anne's flights of fancy are tempered.

I believe every girl, young or old, can find something in Anne Shirley with which to relate.She has many admirable characteristics interspersed with realistic flaws which she must cope with or learn how to turn into strengths. One of my favorite things about Anne is that, although she had a stroke of luck (or Providence), in her appearance at Green Gables, she takes that one opportunity and runs with it, working hard to achieve her goals and make Marilla and Matthew proud.

Her girlish troubles and girlish dreams are evidence that even after 100 years, the pains and elations of growing up haven't really changed, and we can rest assured that, no matter what happens or how life treats us, Anne and Green Gables will always be willing to welcome us home.

Title:  Anne of Green Gables
Author:  L. M. Montgomery
Genre:  Children's Fiction & Literature
Year:  1908
Book Source:  Purchased

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Want to Read Wednesday: The Calling (Darkness Rising #2)

Maya Delaney’s paw-print birthmark is the sign of what she truly is—a skin-walker. She can run faster, climb higher, and see better than nearly anyone else. Experiencing intense connections with the animals that roam the woods outside her home, Maya knows it’s only a matter of time before she’s able to Shift and become one of them. And she believes there may be others in her small town with surprising talents.

Now, Maya and her friends have been forced to flee from their homes during a forest fire they suspect was deliberately set. Then they’re kidnapped, and after a chilling helicopter crash, they find themselves in the Vancouver Island wilderness with nothing but their extraordinary abilities to help them get back home.

[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, March 13, 2012

Review of Cinder

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl... Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future.
[from Goodreads]
   
Rating:  5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience: Science fiction, fantasy, YA, fairytale or dystopian devotees
High point: Cinder's depth and personality
Low point: That the 2nd book isn't out yet!! (So...none, really.)
Reader maturity: 13+

When I started reading Cinder, I had no idea it would become one of my favorite books of 2012 (maybe the favorite book but the year is still young). I don't remember much hype surrounding its release, and if there wasn't any, there should've been some!

Cinder is a girl after my own heart--a mechanic, practical, uncomfortable in a ballroom (though with her head held high), keeper of a million and one secrets...I clicked with her instantly, mourning when Peony died and falling for Kai right alongside her.

The characters in Cinder are superb. Peony makes a huge impact is a very short amount of time, as does Kai. But one of the best ones is Dr. Erland (he's a researcher of the plague). He kept me guessing for a long time. Is he a good guy? A bad guy? Does he have selfish motives? Is he lying? Is he not lying?! I love when a character can surprise me but still feel true to itself and the story.

The plot, too, was impressive. It's not easy to take an existing framework (Cinderella, prince, stepfamily, royal ball, etc.) and make a new and exciting story, but Cinder succeeds. All of the elements that make Cinderella such a timeless fairytale exist in Cinder but they're amped up with science fiction and intrigue.

Still more impressive are the seamless ways Marissa Myer transports the reader into the mind of a cyborg. The little mentions of wiring, circuits and real-time retina displays of information made Cinder come to life (figuratively speaking).

The end of the book left me hungry for more, and I will definitely be adding Cinder to my permanent collection...So run, walk, hobble on your too-small foot to get your hands on a copy!

Title:  Cinder
Author:  Marissa Meyer
Genre:   Fiction - Science Fiction
Year:   2012
Book Source:  Won an ARC from Book Dreaming

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Supernatural Saturday Review: My Soul to Save (Soul Screamers #2)

When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.

So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn't wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can't cry for someone who has no soul.

The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad's ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend's loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld—a consequence they can't possibly understand.
Kaylee can't let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk….
[from Goodreads]
   
Rating:   2.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Paranormal fans, anyone hiding bean sidhe secrets 
High point:  Banshees are unusual in the YA genre 
Low point:   Insta-love!
Reader maturity: 13+

My Soul to Save was the expected sequel to My Soul to Take and left me yearning, again, for the story that almost was. Due to a greater inclusion of Tod in this portion of Kaylee's tale, the potential was realized to a greater extent than in the first novel. Tod (ironically, a reaper) brings heart to the novel and elicits a deeper, more thoughtful Kaylee than does his brother (and Kaylee's boyfriend), Nash.

My main complaint--and I'm sure you'll ALL be surprised by this--is the relationship between Kaylee and Nash. (Teensy spoiler alert:  can you see that itty bitty blurb up there on the cover? I'm not a fan of that series, so I can't say for sure, but I'll bet Kirkus Reviews is right.) There are also some, erm, steamy scenes that made me uncomfortable enough to skip through as much as I could. And the most aggravating thing? They were a completely unnecessary addition.

As for Nash-by-himself (as opposed to Kaylee-and-Nash), I have a baaad feeling about him, but I can't tell if the novel is written that way on purpose or if I'm just imagining it. He's just...too perfect, y'know? That never bodes well for the heroine...

Tod's still my favorite, but he did something particularly heinous that disappointed me at first, until I realized that this sets him up for redemption and as a possible claimant to Kaylee's heart (if Nash turns to be the wolf in sheep's clothing that I suspect he is). I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Title:  My Soul to Save (Soul Screamers #2)
Author:  Rachel Vincent
Genre:   Fiction - Paranormal
Year:   2009
Book Source:  Won from I Like These Books

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Want to Read Wednesday: The Gathering (Darkness Rising #1)

Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn't know much about her background - the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip - but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.
Until now.

Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town - from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend's hidden talent for "feeling" out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . . different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya's biological parents and it's easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.

[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, March 6, 2012

Review of The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind

Sonia's entire village believes she has a gift, but it's only in leaving home that she finds out who she truly is. A compelling tale from a rich new voice in young adult fiction.

Sixteen-year-old Sonia Ocampo was born on the night of the worst storm Tres Montes had ever seen. And when the winds mercifully stopped, an unshakable belief in the girl's protective powers began. All her life, Sonia has been asked to pray for sick mothers or missing sons, as worried parents and friends press silver milagros in her hands. Sonia knows she has no special powers, but how can she disappoint those who look to her for solace? Still, her conscience is heavy, so when she gets a chance to travel to the city and work in the home of a wealthy woman, she seizes it. At first, Sonia feels freedom in being treated like all the other girls. But when news arrives that her beloved brother has disappeared while looking for work, she learns to her sorrow that she can never truly leave the past or her family behind. With deeply realized characters, a keen sense of place, a hint of magical realism, and a flush of young romance, Meg Medina tells the tale of a strongwilled, warmhearted girl who dares to face life's harsh truths as she finds her real power.
[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:  4  out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Readers looking for a YA book that's an experience
High point: The writing style
Low point:  Didn't connect with Sonia
Reader maturity:  13+

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind is a beautiful book (and how could it not be, with such a lyrical title?). I'll admit, I hesitated when I requested it for review--I often don't like magical realism and it seemed wrong somehow to ask to review a book that I felt I was predisposed to dislike. But I'm so glad I took the chance!

One of my favorite things about this book is that it manages to set a distinct cultural tone without alienating the reader. This is done mainly through a formal speaking style and narrative tone, with the addition of a foreign set of cultural mores that are quickly and cleanly established. This method can easily have the unintended effect of being condescending or forced but it flawlessly executed in The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind. Another writing technique that Ms. Medina manages to implement beautifully is the use of simple descriptions. Where others might wax poetic about shadows and darkness and morbid tales of woe, Ms. Medina captures an eerie location in two short sentences that speak volumes.
"[The Haunted Valley] was a long and deserted stretch between mountain peaks that belched plumes of smoke. No Gypsy ever crossed La Fuente; they cleaimed it was filled with the restless spirits of all who died there." (ARC of The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina, pg. 89)
The whole of The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind is written in that style, and it works splendidly with the tone and plot. My only complaint is that Sonia seemed a little standoffish and didn't invite companionship with the reader. Even though I didn't connect with her character, I still enjoyed the story and wanted to see what happened next.

On the surface, this is one of the simplest YA novels I've read, but digging a little deeper reveals hidden depths and an underlying complexity of emotion. I don't know that this is one I'll read again and again, but I would definitely recommend it. With touches of magical realism, a strong cultural vibe and a reflective main character, there's something in The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind for almost anyone to enjoy.

Title:  The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind
Author:   Meg Medina
Genre:   Teen Fiction - Magical Realism
Year:   2012
Book Source:  Received an ARC for review from Candlewick Press

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Supernatural Saturday Review: Carrier of the Mark

From the moment she sets foot at her new school in Ireland, Megan is inexplicably drawn to the darkly handsome Adam DeRis. But Megan soon discovers that her feelings for Adam are tied to a supernatural fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that unites them could be their ultimate destruction.
[from Goodreads]
   
Rating:   2 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:Sparkly vampire fans looking to branch out to other mythological creatures
High point: The cover
Low point: Megan and Adam's relationship
Reader maturity: 13+

You would think that as a book blogger, I would learn to more frequently look past the allure of a beautiful cover and pay attention to my fellow readers' reviews. Due to my own oversight, Carrier of the Mark was already in my possession--paid for with my own hard-earned money--before I noticed the comments remarking on the similarity between this book and a particular one involving sparkly vampires.

My two main complaints are that Megan and Adam "fell in love" almost at first sight, and they're willing to risk the fate of thousands so that they don't have to be separated. Additionally, the romantic Irish setting turned out to be a nominal mention of location combined with names unfamiliar to an American tongue. The characters spoke like American teenagers with American slang. Along with the cover, part of my drive to read this novel rode on the promise of the Irish landscape; I was sorely disappointed.

The things I've mentioned are merely personal preferences but by aversion was strong enough that those issues clouded the other aspects of the novel. Others may enjoy Carrier of the Mark, but my vision was too clouded to see beyond my critiques.

Title:  Carrier of the Mark
Author:  Leigh Fallon
Genre:   Fiction - Paranormal
Year:   2011
Book Source:  Purchased