Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review - Nantucket Red (Nantucket #2) by Leila Howland

Nantucket Red (Nantucket, #2)Title: Nantucket Red
Author: Leila Howland
Series: 2nd (Nantucket Blue)
Pages: 288
Published: May 13th 2014 by Disney-Hyperion 
ISBN: 9781423160953
Source: Publisher via Netgalley






Description: When Cricket is offered the chance to earn enough cash to afford a real college experience, she heads back to Nantucket for the summer. But the faraway island challenges Cricket in ways she hadn't anticipated. It's hard to focus on earning money for next year, when she finds her world opening up in entirely new ways-to art, to travel, and, most unexpectedly, to a future completely different from the one she has been working toward her whole life. A friendship blossoms with Ben, the gorgeous surfer and bartender who encourages Cricket to be free, even as she smarts at the pain of seeing Zack, her first love, falling for her worst enemy.  But one night, when Cricket finally lets herself break all her own rules, she realizes she may have ruined her carefully constructed future with one impulsive decision. Cricket must dig deep to fight for her future, discovering that success isn't just about reaching goals, but also about listening to what she's been trying to ignore-her own heart.

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I'm a sucked for the word red in a title for some reason.  Chances are that if it's in the title, I will pick it up and read the description.  That's what happened here and realizing I needed to read Nantucket Blue first.  Well worth the mistake.

This one picks up right were the first one ended.  But, then we are rushed right through Cricket's senior year.  It kind of through me off a little at first, but I adjusted when I realized the important time frames were there.  Zack went off to an exclusive boarding and school and Cricket decided absolutely no contact (they even deleted each other off Facebook).  They saw each briefly at Thanksgiving and Zack tried to rekindle their romance.  Cricket basically blew him off, so I didn't blame him for moving on.  For Cricket to expect him to wait was putting a lot of pressure on him.  

I liked how Cricket was handed this opportunity.  She's worked really hard to earn a scholarship, but we all know Ivy League are pricey.  She's willing to live at home just to make sure she can do it.  But, she's given the chance to live the whole experience, if she can make the money to pay half the balance.   And this is were she ends up at Nantucket, because were else can she make that much money in a short summer.

I felt that Cricket really grew in this book.  She realizes what she wants in love and that maybe she was wrong to push away Zack.  I don't think she every really cared for Ben either.  I think it was the older guy thing and hoping to make Zack jealous.  And think she also learned that  you have to have a little fun in your life or you might let loose too much at the wrong time.  Every choice you make has consequences even if at the time it seems like no big deal.

A great second book in the series and a great summer beach read.  I'll have to put this author on my watch for list!

 
 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Stacking the Shelves!

For Review: 

Bitter GreensExquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle #1)Mortal Danger (Immortal Game, #1)
  • Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
  • Exquisite Captive by  Heather Demetrios 
  • Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

Library: 

Chasing the Prophecy (Beyonders, #3)
  • Chasing the Prophecy by Brandon Mull

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Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process!  It's hosted by Tynga's Reviews!
 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review - The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland

The Shadow QueenTitle: The Shadow Queen
Author:  Sandra Gulland
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 336
Published:  April 8th 2014 by Doubleday
ISBN: 9780385537520
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss





Description: Claudette’s life is like an ever-revolving stage set. From an impoverished childhood wandering the French countryside with her family’s acting troupe, Claudette finally witnesses her mother's astonishing rise to stardom in Parisian theaters. Working with playwrights Corneille, Molière and Racine, Claudette’s life is culturally rich, but like all in the theatrical world at the time, she's socially scorned.  A series of chance encounters gradually pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV and reigning "Shadow Queen." Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athénaïs offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant. Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theater only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athénaïs, who fears political enemies are plotting her ruin as young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot in the king's bed.  Indeed, Claudette's "reputable" new position is marked by spying, illicit trysts and titanic power struggles. As Athénaïs, becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King's favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her own life—and the family she loves so dearly—at risk. 

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It's a personal of mine to read a little bit more historical fiction that is not set in England.    I was intrigued by this one because of Versailles mainly and the idea of a mistress rising to such power.

I always wondered about how Claudette managed to catch the eye of Athenais.  It often seemed more like an attraction on both of their parts more than anything.  And being part of the world that Claudettee is, it would seem like their paths would very rarely cross.  I think Claudette intrigued Athenais and used her own powers of persuasion (and money) to bind Claudette to her.

I loved the inclusion of the theater world in this.  I've always loved the theater, playrights and the different world they lived in.  I think they gave up a lot to do what they loved.  The people came to see them and favor of the royalty created intense rivalries.  Yet, they had many of their basic privileges taken from them.  They lived on little despite their packed playhouses.  I admired their devotion.

Now I've obviously never been someone's mistress, but Athenais really put a lot of time and effort to catering to the King.  If I've learned anything in the many books I've read is that King's fancies can change on a whim.  Perhaps that is why she turned to spells and potions.  She knew her hold on him would never last but she was determined to be his named Queen.

I actually learned quite a bit from this book about the time period in France.  I loved being able to piece together pieces of history that I knew nothing about.  I actually went and looked up more information concerning Athenais and Louis XIV.  The book was a bit slow at times, but at only 300+ pages, it was easy to get through.
 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review - Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

Catch a Falling StarTitle: Catch A Falling Star
Author: Kim Culbertson
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 304
Published: April 29th 2014 by Point 
ISBN: 9780545627047
Source: Publisher via Netgalley





Description: Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter's town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam's girlfriend while he's in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn't at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what's real and what's fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds - her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life? 

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After a book like this, I'm always reminded that I should read more contemporary.  Or maybe it's just Kim Culbertson.  She has a knack for making me feel like a teenager again, one that's just discovered the "it" person.  It kind of makes me feel giddy.

I think Carter fully believes nothing good can ever happen to her.  Probably because she's thinks it's her personal job to save the world.  Hence her agreement with Adam Jakes to be his girlfriend while he's filming his new movie.  Adam has had a little bit of a PR problem and a little bit of the small town/girl next door might be just what he needs.  What neither of them counted on was how they might really feel about each other by the end of the summer.

I liked how this satisfied every teenage girls dream of meeting the hot superstar guy.  I liked how it made it seem real because it's not your typical boy meet girl, boy falls for girl story.  Adam has many faces and its extremely hard for Carter to see which one is real.  Plus, I completely understood that Carter feels that she can never be enough for Adam.  I also liked that Adam doesn't completely trust Carter either.  It must be hard for him to believe that she's not out for something else.

I really liked how each character how depth beyond their relationship.  Adam has to realize that his actions have consequences.  Being in the limelight means every move is analyzed beyond its original context.  Carter needs to realize that she has dreams beyond her family and her small town and it's ok to go out and fulfill them.   Fear shouldn't be what hold them back.

I'll continue to read Kim Culberston.  She has just the right blend of things I love in contemporary young adult.  

 

Review - The Taking (The Taking #1) by Kimberly Derting

The Taking (The Taking, #1)Title: The Taking
Author: Kimberly Derting
Series: 1st
Pages: 357
Published: April 29th 2014 by HarperTeen 
ISBN: 9780062293602
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss






Description: A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.  When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day. Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men. Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own? 

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  I'm not super found of alien books.  They usually just aren't my thing.  But, I wanted to give this a shot because I love Kimberly Derting.  Plus, one never knows...I might have loved it.

I really loved the premise of this story.  Kyra disappears in a flash of light and turns up 5 years later.  Her whole life is different, except in the case of her physical self.  This was a part of the story I found greatly intriguing.  She hasn't aged a day in those 5 years.  So, she stuck in a life were her family and friends have gone without her.  Nothing feels the same and she must learn to deal with it.

I was intrigued by Kyra's interactions with everyone.  She must learn to deal with the fact that her parents are divorced, her mother is remarried, she has a half brother, and her father might be considered a little crazy.  The hardest thing of all is realizing that the boy she made so plans with, had to make them without her.  I understood her anger at Austin, but I'm glad she got over it.  It was really his fault.  I absolutely adored her interactions with Tyler.  It was a little strange at first, but I just had to take in the account that Kyra was 16 despite the tie that had passed.  

What got me in the end was really the alien aspect.  Turns out Krya's dad might be entirely crazy.  Kyra did go "somewhere" for those 5 years.  There are those in secret branch of the government that are trying to contain all those who have disappeared only to return "different."   But, there are those who have experienced exactly what Krya has the are willing to help her.  It might be at Tyler's expense though, and this is were the story lost me.  

I'm not entirely positive I will read the next one.  I would like to see what happens to Tyler and I'm interested in what actually happens to those who have disappeared.  But, I'm still not sold on the alien aspect.
 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review - Great by Sara Benincasa

GreatTitle: Great
Author: Sara Benincasa
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 263
Published: April 8th 2014 by HarperTeen 
ISBN: 9780062222695
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss






Description: Naomi Rye usually dreads spending the summer with her socialite mother in East Hampton. This year is no different. She sticks out like a sore thumb among the teenagers who have been summering (a verb only the very rich use) together for years. But Naomi finds herself captivated by her mysterious next-door neighbor, Jacinta. Jacinta has her own reason for drawing close to Naomi-to meet the beautiful and untouchable Delilah Fairweather. But Jacinta's carefully constructed world is hiding something huge, a secret that could undo everything. And Naomi must decide how far she is willing to be pulled into this web of lies and deception before she is unable to escape.

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 I was a little hesitant after noticing a couple reviews.  But, I decided to give it a go anyway.  I'm ended up really enjoying the story.  Perhaps the fact that I've never read The Great Gatsby helps in that regard.  

I found Naomi to be interesting.  I wondered if she picked the opposite of what a socialite would wear, act, etc. just to see how far she could push her mother.  It seemed like she didn't want to give this world a chance at all.  It wasn't until an outsider latched on and pulled her into this world was she able to see that it might have something to offer her.  She changes the way she dresses, donning the outfits her mother has filled her closets with.  She starts to ignore her friends at home, instead complaining when Jacinta and Delilah begin to exclude her from their plans.  It made her seem shallow at times, but I think she was just confused in how to meld these two sides of her self.

Jacinta was the character I never quite understood throughout this.  She was expecting a lot in return for throwing a few wild parties.  But, I think it goes to show that sometimes old grudges and impressions run dip and that it takes more than a few years and money to look past that.  It was also a sad reminder that even the best of us are going to look out for ourselves when put under the light.  It was sad to see how this destroyed Jacinta in the process.  I wish she would have been stronger than that though.

I seem to be one of the few that thought this was pretty good.  I sometimes think that putting in the category of a contemporary retelling of a classic can put a lot of pressure on a book.   
 

Review - Dark Metropolis (Dark Metropolis #1) by Jaclyn Dolamore

Dark Metropolis (Dark Metropolis, #1)Title: Dark Metropolis
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore
Series: 1st
Pages: 304
Published:  June 17th 2014 by Disney-Hyperion 
ISBN: 9781423163329
Source: Publisher via Netgalley






Description:  Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder's mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.  Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own. Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they're not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too. Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, this is a chilling thriller with a touch of magic where the dead don't always seem to stay that way.

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I've quite enjoyed Jaclyn Dolamore's work so far.  She managed to turn her stories into something unique.  This one is no exception.  

One can't help feel sorry for Thea soon after meeting her.  Her father is dead, or so they have been told.  Without a body and her mother's decent into madness, Thea is often left wondering if he's possibly still alive.  Her mother and father were bonded through magic with their marriage, a process now considered illegal.  Without his presence,  Thea's mother is going losing touch with reality a little more everyday.  If the people in authority knew this, they would take her away.  So, Thea does what she must and works hard to keep them feed and a roof over their head.

And then she meets Freddy, whose got a lot of problems of his own.  Taken from his parents to be raised by his uncle, his life has been focused on his talent.  You see, Freddy can raise people from the dead.  He sees it as giving them a second chance of life, but his uncle has been keeping something from him.  These people aren't returned to their families, and life might be stretch at what these people are living.  They are being used to run the city and kept in their place because they need something extra from becoming zombish creatures.

I really enjoyed how this story played out.  Thea faces some crazy things throughout, but she never back down from doing what is right.  Freddy final takes the blindfold off and realizes what he has helped to create.  I know he did it unknowingly, but I can't help but wonder what the true purpose of his powers are.   There has to be something useful about it.  Especially knowing how he can control it as well.

I will be looking forward to the next one!  I'm eager to get to know these characters more! 
 
 

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