The Kiss of Deception

I love books with strong women at the forefront. I adore fantasy. I’ve also been known to enjoy a good love triangle. Well, I got all that and more in The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, but…let’s just say it took me a while to get into this book.

My copy of The Kiss of Deception is an uncorrected galley (thanks to NetGalley), so I’m hoping that some of the things I had issues with will be worked out in editing. The book is scheduled to be released on July 15th, so I may have to pick up another copy to see if anything changed. Now, I’m not saying it was a bad book. Trust me, I’ve read LOADS of bad books, and this one definitely has the potential to be a truly outstanding book in a promising new series.

Our story begins with Lia, the Princess of Morrighan, preparing for her wedding to the prince of a neighboring kingdom. She’s never met the prince, but Lia wants no part of a marriage where love is never considered and she’s viewed as little more than a broodmare. So, on the eve of her wedding, Lia and her maid Pauline make a run for it.

Lia and Pauline evade everyone looking for them–soldiers, barbarians, bounty hunters–and arrive in Pauline’s hometown of Terravin. Here, the two are no longer princess and maid. They are now girls who work in an inn for their wages…and Lia has never been happier. She’s finally escaped a destiny that was mapped out for her, and she’s the one in charge of her life.

What Lia barely considers, however, is that there are people out there looking for her…and two have found her.  The prince she left at the altar and an assassin sent to end her life.  They have tracked young Lia to the inn where she now lives and works, and each of them is determined to see his own agenda through…but they don’t count on their own feelings for this girl. Lia has captivated both young men, Kaden and Rafe, and it seems they will do nearly anything to earn her favor. But what will Lia do when she discovers who these young men truly are? Will she be able to trust either of them when so many lies stand between them?

Soon Lia is faced with an untenable choice. Should she stay in her somewhat comfortable life in Terravin, or should she come out of hiding and face her past and her future? Lia does what she must in the hopes of preventing war, but that choice will lead her into troubles that she could scarcely have foreseen, troubles that could endanger her very life.

Will she be able to get out of alive? Who can she trust to help her? And what will Lia do when she realizes that she’s more important than anyone ever thought? Is she strong enough to fight–and win–the battles in front of her?

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So, in the little recap above, I think I’ve made The Kiss of Deception sound pretty good, and I’ve captured the highlights without giving too much away.  It is a good book, but here are a few things that bugged me a little:

  • I didn’t figure out what a Remnant was or what was so special about it until about halfway through the book. Since this is book one in The Remnant Chronicles, I thought a little more explanation at the beginning of the book would have been nice.
  • Sometimes, the story seemed to drag on. There was a lot of time spent on donkey- or horse-back, and I felt like I experienced every single one of those miles. I could have done without some of that.
  • A pronunciation or translation guide would have been helpful for all of the foreign words and phrases in the book. Sometimes, they just weren’t explained adequately by using context clues.
  • It wasn’t exactly clear where or when this book was set. Is it post-apocalyptic Earth? Is it an alternate history? I just wasn’t sure, and that was a little aggravating.

All that being said, I do think the main character, Lia, is one to be admired. That girl has a backbone of steel, and I’ll probably read the rest of this series just to see her make mincemeat of the Neanderthals around her. (The next book, by the way, is The Heart of Betrayal and will be out sometime in 2015.)

I also liked reading the chapters from the prince’s and assassin’s points of view. Eventually, we learned their names, but it was still unclear which one was the royal and which was the killer. Personally, I had the two mixed up, so the big reveal was a bit of a shock for me. I’m sure other readers will feel the same way.

I hope you’ll give The Kiss of Deception a try.  I’ve been impressed with a couple of Mary E. Pearson’s other books (The Adoration of Jenna Fox, The Fox Inheritance), so I knew this would be a good book. With a little polishing, I think it could be a great one.

Published in: on April 4, 2014 at 4:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Aviary

Greetings, dear readers! It’s been a while since my last post, and I apologize for that. I’ve been trying to get through my latest read for a while, and let’s just say that it was extremely slow-going at first. So slow, in fact, that I read at least six other books while I was trying to get into this one. Why did I continue trying, you ask? Well, this book, The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell, is a nominee for the 13-14 South Carolina Children’s Book Award, and I felt I had to read it if I plan to promote it to my students. A few minutes ago, I finally finished The Aviary, and, while it took what seemed like forever for me to get invested in the story, the last half of the book flew by. (Pun intended.)

Even though The Aviary a work of historical fiction (not my favorite genre) that involves birds, which I’m not a huge fan of (which is odd considering that both of my college alma maters have birds as mascots), I do still plan to recommend this book to my students. It’s a good story, and I think it will spark the imaginations of upper elementary and middle grade readers.

Clara Dooley has been cooped up in the Glendoveer mansion her entire life. Her mother takes care of the house, and young Clara, who has a weak heart, has lessons with the aging Mrs. Glendoveer, widow to the famed magician, the Great Glendoveer. The Glendoveers were once a big, happy family, but tragedy struck–the Glendoveer children were kidnapped and killed–and the family was reduced to little but tears, bitterness, and a longing for times past.

The Glendoveer mansion is shrouded in mystery, a mystery made even more strange by the birds that inhabit the house’s aviary. These birds have lived longer than any birds should, and they have some odd connection to the Glendoveer family. Clara has always been a bit frightened of the birds–who squawk madly whenever she’s near–and her fear reaches a new level when one of the birds speaks a name–Elliot.

As one would imagine, Clara is intrigued by this, and she asks elderly Mrs. Glendoveer if she knows anyone by the name of Elliot. That seemingly simple question starts Clara down a path that will eventually unravel the mystery of what really happened  to the Glendoveer children…and how the birds in the aviary–and Clara herself–fit into the puzzle she’s attempting to solve. But how can Clara hope to figure out what happened if she can’t even leave the house? Well, she’ll have a little help from a new friend, and Clara may just discover that she’s stronger than anyone ever realized…

What really happened to the Glendoveer children? Who is Elliot? What is so special about the birds in the aviary? Why is so important that Clara be the one to uncover the truth? And can this young girl solve a mystery that has puzzled everyone for decades and help the Glendoveer family finally find peace? Answer these questions and many more when you read The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell!

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I think that any reader who really sits down and gives The Aviary a bit of time to get going will be pleasantly surprised by the journey. That being said, I do have a few issues with this book. First of all, it felt like it dragged at the beginning. It usually doesn’t take me quite so long to get into a book, and, honestly, if I hadn’t had to read this book, I would have stopped reading it entirely. Secondly, I didn’t find the cover appealing at all. (I freely admit that I judge a book by its cover.) I found the cover to be kind of boring, and that may have given me some preconceived notions about the book. Finally, the book featured letters from several characters, and those were printed in very difficult to read fonts. Given that many of my students can barely write–much less read–cursive, these letters may be hard to decifer (which is a shame since most of them add quite a bit to the story).

If you’d like more information about this book, check out the official Facebook page or the author’s website. You may also enjoy the book trailer below. Maybe if I’d watched this first, I would have gone into this book with little more excitement. (It doesn’t give away anything, but the music sets the perfect mood for this book.)

Published in: on July 18, 2013 at 10:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Tiger Lily

I’ve been kind of inundated with Peter Pan lately. Eighteen of my current students have been involved in a local high school’s production of the play. (Several former students were also involved.) For the past couple of months, all I’ve heard about is Peter Pan. The classic Disney movie has also been playing on cable. In this case, I decided to join in the madness by not only seeing my students in the play (which was fabulous, by the way), but I also moved Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Tiger Lily to the top of my reading list.

If you know anything about the story of Peter Pan, you can probably figure out that this book focuses on Tiger Lily, one of the natives of Neverland. In this book, she is the adopted daughter of a shaman (not the chief’s daughter like she’s been portrayed in the past). This novel, told from Tinker Bell’s perspective, gives readers a glimpse of a character that has often been overlooked. Sure, everyone loves to focus on Peter, Tink, Wendy, Hook, and the Lost Boys, but Tiger Lily often gets shoved to the background. Tiger Lily brings this mysterious character to the forefront and shows us the struggles she encounters. We also learn that, before Wendy even entered the picture, another girl stole the heart of Peter Pan…

Tiger Lily–of the tribe of Sky Eaters in Neverland–is no ordinary girl. She is tough, she keeps to herself, and she has few friends. She is close to her adopted father, Tik Tok, the tribe’s shaman, but she knows she doesn’t really fit with the rest of the tribe. In fact, they often seem a bit scared of her. (She’s not the scary one. That honor goes to Giant, the massive man who she is promised to marry.)

Tiger Lily is dreading the day that she is forced to marry a man she despises, but she does have an escape from her worries. That escape comes in the form of a strange boy…a boy that her tribe has always thought is surely a monster. Peter Pan. With Peter, Tiger Lily can let her worries go, if only for a little while. She’s still holding parts of herself back, but she gradually grows to love Peter, his freedom, and even the Lost Boys who are always ready for a new game or adventure. Soon, the time will come when Tiger Lily will have to choose between her love for Peter and her duty to her tribe. Will she choose love over duty, or will that choice even be hers to make?

Changes are coming to Neverland. Some of them are dangerous and have the power to completely destroy Tiger Lily’s life as she knows it. One such change comes in the form of a girl. Wendy Darling. Who is this dainty English girl who has so captivated Peter and the Lost Boys? How could Peter so easily forget Tiger Lily in the presence of this new girl? And what will Tiger Lily do to recapture Peter’s attention? How far is she willing to go–and what alliances is she willing to make–to get rid of this girl?

Journey to Neverland to discover the story of Tiger Lily, the girl who first loved Peter Pan. Yes, this is a fairy tale in the strictest sense of the phrase. (It is told by a fairy, so there you go.) It may not be the happily ever after we’ve always expected, though. What really happened to Peter Pan, Wendy, the Lost Boys, Hook, Smee, and Tiger Lily? The answers may surprise you, but, I promise, you’ll never look at this classic story quite the same way again.

I always enjoy books–particularly YA books–with strong female characters, and Tiger Lily definitely fits the bill. At some points, Tiger Lily could even be considered too strong, and readers will want her to bend a little, but you have to respect someone who is so strong-willed. Tiger Lily was determined to live life on her terms, and, even when she did what others wanted, she still retained her will, determination, courage, and tenacity. Things didn’t always go the way she would have wanted, but Tiger Lily endured.

Tiger Lily is told from Tinker Bell’s perspective, which I think is kind of cool. Tink, though she’s always been portrayed as totally loyal to Peter Pan, was a faithful companion to Tiger Lily in this novel. Yes, she did spend some time with Peter and the Lost Boys, and she even did a little recon to gain information from the pirates, but she always returned to Tiger Lily. In this book, we experience Tink’s frustration with the situations around her and how little she could do to change things. Tink sees and hears all, but she can’t really communicate that with the people she’s come to care about. It’s up to them to figure things out.

Tiger Lily turns the beloved Peter Pan story on its ear, and I think that’s a good thing. I like it when familiar stories are shaken up a bit, and I’ve always been a fan of fairy tale retellings. This new perspective could help to reintroduce this familiar story to teen (and adult) readers who want to experience just a little of their childhoods all over again. Yes, the story is a little different, but, now that we’ve grown a little older, so are we. (Notice I didn’t say that we’ve grown up. I, for one, plan to stay young at heart forever. “Growing old is mandatory.  Growing up is optional.”)

For more information about Tiger Lily, author Jodi Lynn Anderson, and her other books, visit her Facebook or Twitter pages.

Published in: on April 29, 2013 at 10:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Carrier of the Mark

Before I dive into my latest read, I’d like to give a quick shout-out to all of my family members celebrating stuff today.  Happy 35th anniversary to my wonderful parents, happy birthday to my cousins Ally and Kade, and Happy Fathers’ Day to my delightful father and my brother-in-law Tony, who enjoyed his first Fathers’ Day celebration.  You guys are awesome!

Now, let’s move on to the reason we’re all here–books.  Today, after all of the festivities came to an end, I was able to finish a book that had been on my to-read list for a while, Leigh Fallon’s Carrier of the Mark.  I started this book last night, and I fully expected to be blown away.  Sadly, the book fell a bit short of my expectations.  That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book.  I did, but it didn’t really “wow” me.  I thoroughly enjoyed the setting–Ireland, or, as I refer to it, the Motherland–and I was interested in how the main characters could make their relationship work despite the odds, but it just felt like there was something missing.  Maybe I’m being overly critical, but I really wish this book had lived up to what I hoped it would be.

Megan Rosenberg is an American teen who has just moved to Ireland. One would think that she’d feel completely out of place in this new environment. But one would be wrong. For the first time in years, Megan feels completely at home, but she’s not entirely sure why. It may have something to do with the new friends she’s making so easily. Or it could be the connection she feels with the enigmatic Adam DeRís, a mysterious guy who seems to be as drawn to Megan as she is to him.

Megan’s new friends notice her attraction to Adam, and they tell her some pretty unsettling stories about the entire DeRís family–stories involving Druids, curses, and powerful magic.  Megan just shrugs the tales off…until she realizes that there may be some truth to them.  Megan’s a little freaked out, but things are about to get even weirder.  As it turns out, her own destiny is inextricably linked to Adam and his family.

Adam and his siblings are Marked.  They represent three of the four elements that exist on earth:  water, fire, and earth.  Guess who is Marked as the fourth element?  That’s right.  Much to her dismay, Megan discovers that she is also Marked, and her element is air.  What does this mean?  Well, it’s a little complicated, but, basically, it means that each of the Marked controls their respective element, and they must perform an aligning ritual very soon to have any hope of balancing these volatile elements.  (The whys and hows of this are still confusing to me.  I’m hoping this will be cleared up in future books.)

As Megan deals with this new part of her life, she’s also faced with a love she’s never known and never expected.  She and Adam grow closer, but forces are at work that could drive them apart forever.  After all, when elements collide, sometimes things get destroyed.  Can Megan find a way to harness her newfound power while holding fast to the boy she loves?  Or will dark forces–or well-meaning allies–rip everything apart?

I haven’t done a very good job explaining what happens in this book, but I think part of that stems from the fact that I’m still confused about a lot of it.  I don’t really know why Megan was marked, what’s so super-duper special about her, why her relationship with Adam is such a no-no, what it really means to be a Carrier of the Mark, or what the agenda of their supposed enemies truly is.  I feel like a lot of things could have been explained better.  Sometimes the writing seemed a bit choppy, and that didn’t help matters either.

I really, really wanted to love this book, but I’m sorry to say that isn’t the case.  It was okay, but it definitely won’t be one of my stand-out reads of the summer.  Feel free to disagree with me.  In fact, let me know in the comments what I’m missing about this book.  I’ll be happy to give it a reread if you can convince me that I’m wrong–which almost never happens ;-).

There are two more books due in this series.  Book two is Shadow of the Mark, and book three is Age of the Fifth.  Both books are scheduled to be released in 2013.  I’m not sure if I’ll continue with this series–unless someone can convince me otherwise.  I may change my mind.  Things were left a bit up in the air (pun intended) in Carrier of the Mark, and I am a little curious about how that will play out in future books.  I just don’t know if that curiosity is enough to keep me interested.  We’ll have to see…

For more information on Carrier of the Mark and author Leigh Fallon, visit http://leighfallon.com/.

Published in: on June 17, 2012 at 10:15 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Girl of Fire and Thorns

It’s not often that I’m so enthralled by a book that it follows me into my dreams.  Well, that’s what happened with Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns.  I started reading this book earlier this week, and, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t get into it at first.  The past few days, however, I found myself eager to return to the world created in this amazing novel.  Last night, my dreams were fitful and centered around what the main character was going through and how she might prevail in the end.  As soon as I woke up this morning, I started reading again, and, with the exception of lunch, potty breaks, and a short nap, I read all day.  I finished the book a couple of hours ago, and I’m super eager to get my hands on the second book, The Crown of Embers.  For now, though, I must be content with reliving what happened in The Girl of Fire and Thorns.  Join me, won’t you?

At first glance, there’s really nothing special about Elisa.  Sure, she’s a princess, but she’s also chubby, not very graceful, has few talents to speak of, and she’s constantly compared to her beautiful, poised older sister. One thing, though, sets Elisa apart from everyone. She is the bearer of the Godstone–a stone in her naval that is believed to have been placed there by God Himself.  For this reason, she is destined to do great things…but she’s not sure what that means or if she can live up to her calling.

On her sixteenth birthday, Elisa’s life undergoes a drastic change.  She marries the handsome King Alejandro and leaves her comfortable life to journey to a new land and eventually become their queen.  Why was she chosen and not her sister?  Elisa is not sure, but she unites with Alejandro in an alliance that will benefit both of their homelands.

As Elisa travels to her new home, she is made aware of just how important she may be.  When enemies and allies alike learn that she is the bearer of the Godstone, it is made abundantly clear just why she was chosen to be Alejandro’s bride…and that her destiny is not one that will be easy.  There are those that would kill her for the power she possesses.  There are also those who would die to protect it…and her.

With war coming–and a powerful, horrific magic with it–it may be up to one scared but determined sixteen-year-old girl to save everyone and everything.  She will have help along the way, but, ultimately, Elisa must keep her faith alive and trust that the God who entrusted her with the precious Godstone will give her the strength and power she needs to live up to her destiny.

I haven’t done a very good job of explaining the events of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but it’s simply because it’s hard to put into words how excellent this book truly is.  It reminded me of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling books and even, at times, the tremendous works of J.R.R. Tolkein.  (Highest praise I can possibly give.) 

I loved how the heroine of the story was not your typical thin, waif-like, silly girl.  Elisa had some meat on her bones, she liked to eat, and she was often concerned with where her next meal was coming from.  (Finally, a character I can really relate to.)  She wasn’t the most confident person.  In fact, she was scared most of the time, but she showed those around her just what perseverance and bravery meant.  She kept on even though she doubted herself.

I don’t often say this about the YA fantasy that I come across, but, in addition to being a great book for high school libraries, I think The Girl of Fire and Thorns could find a place in church libraries.  Elisa is a character that many Christian teens and adults will identify with.  Even though she doubts herself and God on occasion, she keeps her faith strong and is in a constant state of prayer.  Even when things are bleakest, she trusts that God will see her through.  It’s a powerful message.

As you may have already figured out, The Girl of Fire and Thorns is the first book in a trilogy.  The second book, The Crown of Embers, will be out in the fall of this year, and the third book, The Bitter Kingdom, is due out in the fall of 2013.  There will also be an eBook novella, The Shadow Cats, which will be available on July 17th.  For more information, visit http://www.raecarson.com/ or follow the author on Twitter @raecarson.

Published in: on June 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Taken at Dusk

Warning!  Proceed with caution if you haven’t already read C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls series:  Born at Midnight, Awake at Dawn, the ebook novella Turned at Dark, and the latest installment, Taken at Dusk.  Spoilers ahead!

By now you’ve no doubt gathered that I’ve finished reading Taken at Dusk, C.C. Hunter’s newest Shadow Falls novel.  I was so intrigued by what happened at the end of Awake at Dawn that I had to make Taken at Dusk my next YA read.  (I also made time to read Della’s story in Turned at Dark.  It was very enlightening.)  Anyway, Taken at Dusk picks up immediately where Awake at Dawn left off–which can be a bit jarring if there’s a lot of time in between books.  If it’s been a while since you read Awake at Dawn, you may want to reread the last chapter before picking up the next book.  Let’s dive in, shall we?

Kylie Galen is a mystery, and she’s a little sick of it.  She’s doing her best to find the truth about what she is and where her family came from, but answers are hard to find when everyone–even those closest to her–want to keep some things hidden. 

It doesn’t help matters that Kylie is being haunted by an amnesiac ghost with a cryptic message.  Someone lives, and someone dies.  At first, that’s all Kylie gets from her mysterious visitor.  As time goes on, however, Kylie learns more about the ghost, and what she learns may shake the very foundation of her world and force her to reexamine who should–or shouldn’t–be trusted.

Kylie’s also dealing with something that is the plague of nearly every teenage girl.  Boys.  Two boys, actually.  Lucas, a werewolf, wants to be with Kylie, but his pack may have other ideas.  Derek, who is half-Fae, sort of wants to be with Kylie, but he’s having issues of his own.  Kylie is torn between the both of them, and she doesn’t know how to resolve things so that no one gets hurt.  Is that even possible?

On top of all of this drama, really evil dudes still seem determined to kill Kylie.  Why?  What’s so important about her?  Kylie doesn’t know, but she’s determined to solve the puzzle that her life has become.  Will she be able to find the truth and still save those she loves?  It’s unclear, but one thing is certain…Kylie’s journey is far from over.

Taken at Dusk is a great read for anyone who enjoys great supernatural YA fiction.  I was on the edge of my seat for most of this book, and I’m still a little tense because I’m anticipating what might happen in the next book, Whispers at Moonrise, which is scheduled for an October 2nd release.

I would especially recommend C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls books if you’re a fan of books like Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy trilogy, Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall trilogy, or Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Creatures series.  Each of these series gave me the same kind of vibe that Shadow Falls did, and none of them are to be missed!

Published in: on June 1, 2012 at 10:58 pm  Comments (1)  
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City of Lost Souls

Warning!  There may be City of Lost Souls spoilers ahead!

After work on Tuesday, I rushed to the closest Barnes & Noble to pick up a book I waited on for far too long—City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare.  I started reading it as soon as I got home, but, sadly, I wasn’t able to finish it until yesterday.  (Lots of things kept getting in the way—work, my regular TV schedule, meetings, and my need for naps.)  But finish it I did, and I was absolutely blown away.

Like the other books in Clare’s Mortal Instruments series (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, and City of Fallen Angels) and her Infernal Devices series (Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince), City of Lost Souls had me hooked before I even opened the book.  And I think a part of me was reluctant to finish the book, partly because I wanted to prolong the time I spent with my favorite characters, and partly because I knew this book would end on a cliffhanger, and I’d have a long time to worry about how things would be resolved.  How right I was.

I’m not going to tell you much about what happens in City of Lost Souls because I don’t want to spoil things for you.  This series means too much to me to ruin it for other fans.  I will say, however, that I am an emotional wreck after reading this book.  Sacrifices and deals are made—or at least considered—that change the entire fabric of this world.  The relationships between the characters have me tied up in knots, and I’m hoping against hope that things get better for everyone in the next book, City of Heavenly Fire.  I even found myself hoping that there was some way to “fix” Sebastian.  When you read this book, you’ll see why that hope was rather short-lived. 

While reading City of Lost Souls, I was always for clues about what might happen in Clockwork Princess.  (For those that don’t know, Clockwork Princess is the third book in the Infernal Devices, the prequel trilogy to Mortal Instruments.)  I think I may have found at least one clue, but it’s so out there that I don’t want to say anything in case I’m wrong (but I don’t think I am).  I also looked for things we might see in the next Shadowhunter series, Dark Artifices, which will take place a few years in the future at the Los Angeles Institute.  Based on things I’ve heard from Cassie Clare and the YA blogging community, I encountered a few characters that I know I’ll see again.

In short, I LOVED this book just as much as everything else Cassandra Clare has written.  I am totally invested in what happens to these characters that I’ve come to love and think of as my friends.  (Most of my best friends are fictional characters.)  I am eagerly anticipating the final book in the Mortal Instruments saga, City of Heavenly Fire, which won’t be released until March of 2014.  (Yep.  You read that right.  Nearly two years away.  Let the temper tantrum begin.)  Clockwork Princess will tide me over for a bit, but it won’t be out until March 19th of next year, so I’ve still got about ten months to stew.  Curses!

There is, however, something I’m looking forward to that will ease the pain of waiting.  Cassie Clare is coming to South Carolinain November!!!!  I got to meet her late last year during her Clockwork Prince tour (and she’s as awesome as you’d think she would be), and I was thrilled this week when I heard she’d be coming back to my fair state.  She, along with dozens of other bestselling authors—including Holly Black, Stephanie Perkins, Gayle Forman,  Margaret Stohl, Andrea Cremer, Kim Derting, and too many others to name—will be coming to Charleston for YALLFest (http://yallfest.org/), the Charleston Young Adult Book Festival.  The event will be November 9-10, and I am so there!  I’m so excited about this that I can barely contain my joy!

So, while the wait to find out what happens to Jace, Clary, Simon, Alec, Magnus, Isabelle, and even Sebastian, is way too long for me, there’s plenty going on that will tide me over (including hearing more about the middle-grade series by Cassie Clare and Holly Black that’s currently in the works). 

If you’d like more information about all of Cassandra Clare’s amazing books, check out her website (http://www.cassandraclare.com/), her tumblr site (http://cassandraclare.tumblr.com/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/cassieclare), and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Cassandraclare).  You may also want to check out my favorite fansite, Mundie Moms (http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/).  Also, if you haven’t seen it already (I’ve watched it about five thousand times), here’s the official City of Lost Souls book trailer.  If this video doesn’t make you want to read this outstanding book, nothing will.  Enjoy!

Published in: on May 13, 2012 at 10:06 am  Comments (4)  
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The Serpent’s Shadow

Spoiler alert!  If you haven’t read The Red Pyramid or The Throne of Fire, turn back now!  If you don’t want to know what happens in the third book of Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles, The Serpent’s Shadow, turn back now!  This will be your only warning.

Last night, I finished reading the third and final book in The Kane Chronicles.  This book is The Serpent’s Shadow, and it’s already getting a lot of buzz at my school.  (Honestly, Rick Riordan could write a book about almost anything, and my students would have a fit over it.)  The book has only been out a week, and I’m already getting offers of food, school supplies, and money to have certain students moved to the top of the list to check it out.  (One kid offered up his dog.)  While I cannot be bribed (yet), I am thrilled that this book is so in demand.  Like Riordan’s other books, The Serpent’s Shadow is a great read and will appeal to readers from third grade on up.  It’s full of action, suspense, intrigue, humor, a heavy dose of Egyptian mythology, and even a little bit of romance.  Everyone will find something to enjoy.

Normal is not a word that the Carter and Sadie Kane are familiar with.  They are magicians descended from Egyptian pharaohs, and they often communicate and take on the forms of Horus and Isis, gods of ancient Egypt.  They run a school for young magicians out of their house in Brooklyn, their dad is Osiris (god of the afterlife), and their mom is a ghost.  Sadie has feelings for two different guys:  Walt, a descendent of King Tut who is cursed with a very short lifespan; and Anubis, god of the dead who tends to take on the form of a really attractive teenage boy.  Carter is enamored of a fellow magician, Zia, who spends most of her time babysitting Ra, a senile sun god.

As if life is not abnormal enough, add in a god of chaos, Apophis, who wants to swallow the sun and destroy the entire world.  The incredibly ginormous job of stopping him falls to Carter and Sadie and their merry band of misfits.  It’s up to them to unite magicians and gods in fighting Apophis and his minions, but how can they possibly destroy something so huge, terrifying, and powerful?  Well, they may have found a way, but it involves trusting an evil psychopath (not usually a smart move) and risking their own lives (also not preferable).  Carter and Sadie will have to face unbelievable horrors to save the world, and it still might not be enough.

Can the Kanes defeat the god of chaos without losing themselves?  Can they save those they love in the process?  Is there any hope for a normal life if their longshot of a plan actually works?  Probably not, but they have to try.  In a world that is falling into chaos, it’s up to two teenagers to restore order.  (I was laughing as I wrote that last bit.)  Read The Serpent’s Shadow to find out if their completely crazy heroic quest saves the world or destroys it forever.

Like The Red Pyramid and The Throne of Fire before it, I can’t say enough good things about The Serpent’s Shadow.  The humor alone was enough to keep me reading.  When you throw in a whole bunch of action and, you know, destroying stuff, I’m totally hooked.  This book was the perfect conclusion to The Kane Chronicles, but it definitely left the door open for more of Carter and Sadie Kane and friends.  (I’m hoping we’ll see them in some Percy Jackson crossover kind of thing…maybe in The Mark of Athena—the third book in The Heroes of Olympus series—which comes out this fall.)

To learn more about Rick Riordan, The Kane Chronicles, and Riordan’s other fabulous books, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/home.aspx or follow the author on Twitter @camphalfblood.  You may also want to check out this book trailer for The Serpent’s Shadow from Puffin Books.   It’s short, the cover is different (at least, it’s different from my copy), and the trailer gives nothing away, but it still may be worth a look.  Enjoy!

Spell Bound

If you haven’t read the first two books in Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall trilogy (Hex Hall and Demonglass), do that before reading this post.  If the title of the post didn’t clue you in, I’ll be talking about the third book in this series, Spell Bound, and it will be very spoilery if you haven’t read the previous books.  This will be your only warning!

I love sarcastic characters—in movies, TV shows, and, most especially, books.  Sarcasm is my first language, so I enjoy characters who share that characteristic.  If you’re familiar with the Hex Hall series at all, you probably know that Sophie Mercer has a special place in my heart.  She is so delightfully sarcastic that it can be kind of difficult to determine if/when she’s actually being serious.  (A problem I also have from time to time.)  Even when the entire world is about to explode around her, she faces nearly everything with a joke, witticism, or snarky remark.  I like that.  I wish I had been more like her as a teenager (except for the whole being-a-demon thing) instead of waiting until early adulthood to let my sarcastic side out to play.  I think I would have had a lot more fun.

Sophie Mercer was just getting used to being a demon (if that’s even possible) when her powers were bound inside of her.  She can’t use them at the moment, and that’s not exactly a good thing.  If she could, she might be able to figure out what’s happened to her dad (who’s been totally stripped of his powers), her boyfriend Archer (who’s part of an organization that wants to destroy supernatural creatures—kind of a mood-killer), her vampire best friend Jenna, and her fiancé Cal.  (Never let it be said that Sophie’s life is uncomplicated.)  She’s also got to worry about the evil Casnoff witches who seem determined to create a demon army.  Add to that, Sophie has just found herself immersed in the Brannick compound.  Sophie’s been taught that the Brannicks want to kill her kind, but that may not necessarily be true.  If it were, would her mother be one of them?

The Brannicks know that war is coming to all Prodigium (magic folk), and Sophie may be their only hope to win the war.  But how can that be true when her powers are locked inside of her?  Well, there may be a way to “unleash the beast,” so to speak.  Unfortunately, it involves going back to Hex Hall, something that may be a bit more difficult that they had hoped…or easier, depending on your point of view.  When Sophie, Archer, Jenna, and Cal are mysteriously transported back to Hex Hall, they know that something is majorly wrong.  The question is what can they do about it?  Magic is not working against the protections the Casnoffs have placed around the school, so what hope do they have of breaking such powerful spells?  (Hint:  A sarcastic-in-her-own-right ghost will lead the charge.)

Sophie and company will do whatever it takes to stop the Casnoffs from turning their classmates into demons, even if it means entering the Underworld itself.  They’ll receive help from unexpected sources, but will it be enough?  Does Sophie have the power to stop this war before everything—and everyone—she loves is sucked into the abyss?  And can she figure out her love life somewhere along the way?  Read Spell Bound, the trilling conclusion in Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall trilogy, to find out!

If you love heroines who kick major butt and manage to say all the stuff you wish you could say, you’ll love Sophie Mercer and the entire Hex Hall trilogy.  I found Sophie even more delightful in this book than in the first two.  In fact, my new favorite phrase is probably “holy hell weasel.”  (Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?)  Sophie’s story was wrapped up rather nicely in Spell Bound, but it may not be the last time we see her.  There are some rumors of a spin-off series, so I can only hope that we’ll see more of the fabulous Sophie Mercer—and the hotness that is Archer—in the future.

Until we see Sophie again, we can learn more about author Rachel Hawkins, the Hex Hall trilogy, and future books, at http://readingwritingrachel.blogspot.com/.  You can also “like” the Hex Hall trilogy on Facebook, and follow the author on Twitter @LadyHawkins.

Published in: on April 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Liesl & Po

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Lauren Oliver.  I loved Before I Fall, Delirium, and Pandemonium.  When I first heard that she was coming out with a novel for younger readers, I knew it would be as awesome as her young adult novels.  Well, I finished reading Liesl & Po this morning (I started it last night.), and it was even better than I thought it would be.  I’m going to give it the highest praise I can think of:  It reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.  (I love Neil Gaiman…a lot.)  This book is sure to be a hit with elementary readers up through adults.  Anyone who enjoys stories filled with magic, sadness, and, most importantly, hope, will find Liesl & Po to be as enchanting as I did.

All sunshine has gone out of the world.  Life is dull and gray for everyone, especially two children, Liesl and Will, who want nothing more than the hope that things will get better…

Liesl spends her days and nights trapped in an attic by her vile stepmother. Her father passed away three days ago, and Liesl feels more alone than ever before. That’s about to change, though. When a ghost named Po–and his ghost pet Bundle–begin to visit Liesl from the Other Side, she doesn’t feel quite so alone. She even begins to hope that her life can change a little and that she can even find some way to reconnect with her father.

Will is an apprentice to an alchemist. He spends his days doing errands, assisting with potions, and never getting anything right. (He’s beginning to think his name is really “Useless.”) The only bright spot in Will’s life is looking at the girl in the attic window and wondering what it would be like if they were to ever meet. As fate would have it, he is about to find out…

When Will mistakenly switches a box full of powerful magic with the box that contains Liesl’s father’s ashes, forces collide that take Liesl, Po, Bundle, and Will on a path that will lead them to each other.  They will fight against evil, cruelty, loss, sadness, and some misunderstandings to get to something better than what they’ve known.  In the process, they will discover friendships that cross the boundary of death.  They may even find a way to make the world a brighter place for everyone.  After all, when magic and hope are involved, anything is possible.

I urge any and all librarians who work with children and young adults to add Liesl & Po book to your collections.  For those of you who aren’t librarians, add this book to your reading list.  It’s a wonderful book about overcoming loss and sadness and restoring color to a dull, gray existence.  Even in the darkest times, there is a sense of hope in this book and its characters that I think we could all use a dose of.  Read this book!  You won’t be sorry.

If you’re still not convinced, check out this awesome book trailer for Liesl & Po (from HarperKids):

For more information on Lauren Oliver and all of her amazing books, visit http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/.  You can also follow her on Twitter @OliverBooks.

Published in: on March 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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