Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mini Vacation plus Check Out Giveaway!

In case you didn't notice, One Book At A Time has been on hiatus this past week.  I was on vacation with the family in Chicago.  I honestly meant to have posts done and also to get a few more up while I was gone.  That did not happen.  

Since we are just getting home, and the next few days are packed already (why did I schedule so much stuff right after vacation?), I've decided to let the post hiatus continue.  One Book At A Time will be back to it's regular schedule on Sunday :)

In the mean time, I think an important post got lost in the holiday shuffle.  I had a guest post with Mary Lindsey that included a giveaway for an adorable stuffed sheep.  No one has entered :(  So go and check it out HERE

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mary Lindsey's Writing Buddy, Beeyaaa plus Giveaway!!

Mary's writing is a natural expression of her love of reading and a fascination with the flexibility of the human imagination. Books make the impossible possible.

Prior to attending University of Houston Law School, Mary received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Drama from the University of Houston. She has taught drama and playwriting in a large public high school and English in a private school. Currently, Mary teaches acting to children and teens at a private studio in Houston, Texas.

She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Mary lives in Houston with her husband, three kids, two dogs, her daughter's pet rats, an Australian Bearded Dragon and dozens of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. (The roaches are long story—don't ask.)

I’m often asked if I need certain things around me in order to write. I think all writers have idiosyncratic needs and I’m no exception.

My needs are pretty simple:
1) I need a caffeine source,
 2) I must be showered,
3) I like to have my hair up,
4) I need silence to write, and
5) I need my plush sheep, Beeyaaa.

Now, unlike caffeine, Beeyaaa isn’t a necessity, but he has become my lucky charm of sorts.

When I got the call from my agent, he was sitting on my desk. When I got the call that an offer had been made for my book, he was in my lap. Soooooo, the kids decided it was Beeyaaa, not me, who contained the writing mojo.

He’s cute and cuddly and I like having him around. I like him so much, in fact, I own him in three different sizes. The huge one stays at home, the medium one lives at my river house, and the little one travels with me. Yes, I'm just that silly.

Here he is at the cemetery featured in Shattered Souls:

Beeyaaa likes living dangerously: 

And he's adventurous. A pioneer, if you will:

 And like me, he loves to read:

So, in honor of being only weeks away from the release of Shattered Souls, I’m giving away a Beeyaaa to a lucky commenter on this blog.
Tell me what you like to have around when you read or write, and your name will be put into the drawing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review - Everlasting (The Immortals #6) by Alyson Noel

Everlasting (Immortals Series #6)Title: Everlasting
Author: Alyson Noel
Series: 6th (Evermore, Blue Moon, 
Pages: 320
Published: June 7, 2011 by St. Martins Press
ISBN: 9780312642075
 Source: Library

Description: Their darkest enemies now defeated, Damen and Ever are free to embark upon their final quest—to free Damen from the poison lingering in his body.  If they can just find the antidote, they’ll finally be able to feel each other’s touch—and experience the passionate night they’ve been longing for.  But their fight to be together will lead them into the most formidable terrain yet…into the dark heart of Summerland.  Here in a land of scorched earth and endless rain, Ever and Damen will discover their relationship’s hidden origins, expose a secret history they never imagined…and come face to face with the true reason fate keeps tearing them apart.  Only then, when the final mystery is unraveled and the last secret revealed, Ever and Damen’s future will hinge on one ultimate decision that will put everything at stake….even eternity.

I Give This ...

I'm not sure how I feel about this series overall.  For awhile there, I thought we were going in circles and not a single character was showing any growth.  I knew that I would eventually read this final installment, but I also knew that I wasn't in any rush to get to it.

Ever actually surprised me during this story.  It's like a light finally came on and she realized all the damage she's done to the people around her.  Most of the story was focused on the idea of karma.  I found this to be highly appropriate for the story.  Many of the characters having being paying for their sins for centuries.  I liked the journey that Ever has to go on the find this out.  It really opens her eyes to the meaning of true immortality.

Up until the very end, I was afraid the Damen wasn't going to learn the same lesson.  He seemed content to hold on the past and the way things have always been.  I was surprised at that considering the lengths he has gone to to be with Ever.  But, the final step proved to be harder step for him to take.

The odd thing with this story was that I found it very slow and sometimes boring.  It lacked the spark that the other books had.  While I sometimes found the characters infuriating in other books, I kept reading.  This one did have that as much.    Still, an overall satisfying end to the series.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. Click on the picture to be taken to Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books!
It feels like the holiday season is here.  We've had our first round of holiday ballet performances in this house, the big (did I say big, I meant huge) school fundraiser, and my oldest daughter's birthday.   Now it's Thanksgiving week and we leave on Tuesday for Chicago for a week.  With so much to do, it's not wonder it feels like I have so little time for reading.

Read Last Week: 
  • Everlasting by Alyson Noel
  • The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Currently Reading: 
  • Vanish by Sophie Jordan
 Up This Week:  
  • Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
  • Drink Slay Love by Sarah Beth Durst

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In My Mailbox!

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren and she was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie!
Not much in the mailbox this week....
The Poison Throne (The Moorehawke Trilogy, #1)
  • The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Author Interview with Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Little Women and MeI'm very pleased to have Lauren Baratz-Logsted here at One Book At A Time.  Lauren is the author of several book such as Crazy Beautiful, The Education of Bet, and her latest novel Little Women and Me.

With a degree in psychology, did you want to do something different besides writing? 
From the time I was 10, I thought I wanted to be a psychologist. But somewhere near the end of my college career, I realized it wasn't for me. I finished the degree with that major anyway but I always had as many English credits as Psych credits, so the degree could have gone either way. The only career I'm interested in now outside of anything to do with books is Mayor of Danbury. I'd really like to one day be Mayor of Danbury.

How hard was it to take a chance on writing?
Extremely hard and extremely easy! It was hard in that I walked away from a day job I'd loved for 11 years - I was an independent bookseller - and walking away also meant losing a good salary, full medical benefits and four weeks of paid vacation a year. But it was also easy in that for a long time I'd wanted to write a novel and it was time to take my chance.   

How does it feel to look back and see how far you’ve come?

It feels amazing...even if I'm the only one saying so! After quitting my day job, it took me nearly eight years during which I wrote seven novels, holding down as many as four part-time jobs at once to support myself, before I finally sold the sixth on my own. Since 2003, I've had 22 books published for adults, teens and young children. My publishers have included Bloomsbury, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Simon & Schuster, Random House, and Red Dress Ink, and the books have been published in 13 countries. So yes, it seems pretty amazing to me. 

Do you have a favorite character from any book you’ve written?
  It's like making a parent choose a favorite child! But if you're going to hold a gun to my head, then I have to go with Kit, the boy next door from The Twin's Daughter. I tend to write flawed characters - often deeply flawed! - and Kit was the first purely noble character I ever created.

One thing you love about being a writer? 

Just one? When something I've written makes a connection with real-live people. There's a series for young readers called The Sisters 8 - - that I created with my husband and daughter. Getting to work on a series with my family has been wonderful in its own right. And then there are the letters we get from young readers - every day there are letters and the kids are just gaga for the books. It's a great feeling.

Does your daughter read your books?

She's 11 years old so some are still a bit too mature in content but she has read The Education of Bet and Little Women and Me. Near the end of Little Women and Me, she was on the couch reading the climactic scene in the book and she just started screaming. It took a while for me to realize she was screaming in happy shock. That was a pretty great moment for me to be a writer too.


Lauren Baratz-LogstedLauren grew up in Monroe, CT, where her father owned a drugstore at which her mother was the pharmacist. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where she majored in psychology. She also has what she calls her “half-Masters” in English from Western Connecticut State University (five courses down, another five to go…someday!).

Throughout college, she worked semester breaks as a doughnut salesperson, a job that she swears gave her white lung disease from all the powdered sugar she breathed.

Upon graduation, she began work at the venerable independent bookseller, now sadly defunct as such, Klein’s of Westport. There, she bought and sold for the better part of 11 years.

In November 1994, Lauren left the bookstore to finally take a chance on herself as a writer. Success did not happen over night. Between 1994 and May 2002 – when Red Dress Ink called with an offer to buy THE THIN PINK LINE – Lauren worked as a book reviewer, a freelance editor and writer, and a window washer, making her arguably the only woman in the world who has ever both hosted a book signing party and washed the windows of the late best-selling novelist Robert Ludlum.

Since Red Dress Ink’s call in 2002, Lauren has been kept very busy with writing more novels and checking her Amazon ranking on a daily basis. She still lives in Danbury, with her husband and daughter, where she has lived since 1991.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review - Little Women and Me by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Little Women and MeTitle: Little Women and Me
Author: Laruen Baratz-Logsted
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 336
Published: November 8, 2011 by Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781599905143
Source: Teen Book Scene Tour

Description: Emily is sick and tired of being a middle sister. So when she gets an assignment to describe what she'd change about a classic novel, Emily pounces on Little Women. After all, if she can't change things in her own family, maybe she can bring a little justice to the March sisters. (Kill off Beth? Have cute Laurie wind up with Amy instead of Jo? What was Louisa May Alcott thinking?!) But when Emily gets mysteriously transported into the world of the book, she discovers that righting fictional wrongs won't be easy. And after being immersed in a time and place so different from her own, it may be Emily-not the four March sisters-who undergoes the most surprising change of all.

I Give This ...

I was really excited to start this book.  I liked the writing assignment.  It sounded like something that I would have liked to have done in junior/high school.  But, this story missed its overall mark with me for some reason.

I actually liked Emily in present time.  She really struggling with who she is.  I imagine it's hard to be the middle sister (I have no idea).  I also really enjoyed the comparisons she makes between her family and the sister in Little Women and also to the Bronte sisters.  But I struggled with her after she's transported into the novel.

Emily seems to adapt to world of Little Women a little to easily.  The only trouble she seems to have is with key plot points.  I think I would have more trouble with actually getting use to the differences.  I also have to be honest in saying while I enjoyed reading Little Women, I can't say that it would be a book that I would read over and over.  So, I was a little bored with basically reading the story again in this format.

 I did have fun with the very modern things that Emily did in the story.  The way her sisters reacted to her was just great.  I also like the twist with Amy and Father, it was unexpected.  I also like Emily's reasoning in the end on what she would change in the story.  It was a very sound judgement and I liked it.  It also left me wondering who really does end up with Lauri (I could not remember for some reason lol).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday - Eternal Starling

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
Eternal StarlingTitle: Eternal Starling
Author: Angela Corbett
Release Date: December 6
Evie Starling has lived a relatively uneventful life hanging out with friends, gossiping about boys, and driving her 1966 Mustang. All of that changes when she moves to Gunnison, Colorado, to start college and meets two mysterious men.  For centuries, Alex Night and Emil Stone have yearned for Evie—but they each have their own reasons for wanting to be with her. When both men claim to be her soul mate and tell her about an unbelievable past, Evie learns that she's not the person she thought she was. Soon, Evie finds herself in the middle of an age-old battle between the Amaranthine Society—the soul protectors, and the Daevos Resistance—the soul destroyers. With a past she doesn't understand, and a future rife with danger, Evie has to decide who she can trust. But Alex and Emil aren't the only ones who want Evie, and her soul is about to become the rope in an eternal tug-of-war

This just sounds like it might be interesting.  I would be really curious if it's another story about reincarnation (it sounds like it).  The new thing....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review - Incarnate (Newsoul #1) by Jodi Meadows

Incarnate (Incarnate, #1)Title: Incarnate
Author: Jodi Meadows
Series: 1st in Newsouls
Pages: 384
Published: January 31, 2012 by Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780062060754
Source: Around The World Tours 

Description: Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.   Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?  Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?  

I Give This ...

I couldn't resist the beautiful cover.  I also really like the idea of reincarnation and wondered how the story would present it.  The concept was something I don't think I've read in young adult fiction.  I was pleasantly surprised by this book.

Ana was a different sort of character.  She's sarcastic, defensive, and self reliantBut, she's learned how to be these things at the hands of her mother.  Her entire life, her mother has made in painfully clear this she dislikes Ana with every fiber of her being.  She's a replacement for someone her mother has known for thousands of years.  Her mother believes Ana has no soul, and therefore she is not worth the time and effort.  Amazingly, Ana has survived this upbringing.  She's curious as to who she is, why she came, and if she might expect to reincarnate as well.

The city of Heart was interesting for me to learn about.  For the most part, the entire population that reincarnates lives there (or has a house there).  Each soul has a special "frequency" that the gates of the city recognize.  When Ana is granted residence, the council requires her to learn as many skill sets as possible.  I think it hopes that if she does reincarnate she can prove useful and find a niche.  But, not everyone is willing to give Ana a chance.  In fact, quite a few people believe the same as Ana's mother.  They are afraid that there are more no souls out there just waiting to take the place of one of the reincarnates.  

I thought the idea of reincarnation was well done in this book.  I'm not positive it's something I believe in.  But, the fact that past lives could be remembered so acutely was interesting.  It never dawned on me that they could relive all the happiness and the pain of each past life.  Even at time reliving their past deaths.  It made me realize that reincarnation is not all that great.  But there were points that were really sweet, like the idea of soul mates.  That no matter what  gender the body was, certain souls would always recognize each other.  I also loved that this also worked with close friendships as well.

Overall, a fantastic book.  It's a totally new concept in the young adult genre. It's refreshing to see an author stretch the boundaries like this!  I'm thinking this fits more into the fantasy genre than paranormal.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. Click on the picture to be taken to Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books!
I, once again, feel like I didn't get much reading done.  I struggled with finishing a book.   Plus, we had a mini vacation this weekend.  Hard to sit and read a book when there's other things to do.  Hoping to get to all 3 scheduled book this week.  It's also my oldest daughter's birthday today!   I can't believe she's 6!
Read Last Week: 
  • Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
  • Little Women and Me by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Currently Reading: 
  • Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson  
 Up This Week:  
  • The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
  • Everlasting by Alyson Noel

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In My Mailbox!

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren and she was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie!

For Review: 

Hallowed (Unearthly, #2)Under the Never Sky
  • Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
  • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Friday, November 11, 2011

Review - The Dark and Hollow Places (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #3) by Carrie Ryan

The Dark and Hollow Places (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #3)Title: The Dark and Hollow Places
Author: Carrie Ryan
Pages: 374
Published: March 22, 2011 by Delacorte Books
ISBN: 9780385738590
Source: Library

Description: There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.  Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again. But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?

I Give This ...

I've been looking forward to the conclusion of this series for awhile.  I never thought I would enjoy a series about zombies.  But, this story is so much more than that.  It's about the basic need to survive.

While overall I enjoyed this last book, I think Annah is my least favorite character.  While she tries to come across as being tough and able to survive on her own, she's also very needy.  She's constantly seeking approval or love.  I think she's lived with guilt for so long, that she doesn't know how to function without it.  It was interesting to watch her discover and deal with the idea that her twin sister doesn't remember an event that Annah has struggled with her entire life.  I think she's also reckless at times.

But, I enjoyed the story arc.  I liked watching Elias and Gabry's relationship progress.  I liked reading about Gabry and Annah build a relationship that had been lost.  I think my favorite though was the relationship between Annah and Catcher.  Annah really had to learn that she isn't always overshadowed by her sister.  She is capable of being loved for who she is.  

I'm still not completely sure of how the zombies came about and if there's hope for a future either with them or without.  But, I'm happy with this ending if this is the final book.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review - Lie by Caroline Bock

LieTitle: Lie
Author: Caroline Bock
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 224
Published: August 30, 2011
ISBN: 9780312668327

Description: Everybody knows, nobody’s talking. . . . Seventeen-year-old Skylar Thompson is being questioned by the police. Her boyfriend, Jimmy, stands accused of brutally assaulting two young El Salvadoran immigrants from a neighboring town, and she’s the prime witness. Skylar is keeping quiet about what she’s seen, but how long can she keep it up?  But Jimmy was her savior. . . .  When her mother died, he was the only person who made her feel safe, protected from the world. But when she begins to appreciate the enormity of what has happened, especially when Carlos Cortez, one of the victims, steps up to demand justice, she starts to have second thoughts about protecting Jimmy. Jimmy’s accomplice, Sean, is facing his own moral quandary. He’s out on bail and has been offered a plea in exchange for testifying against Jimmy.  The truth must be told. . . .Sean must decide whether or not to turn on his friend in order to save himself. But most important, both he and Skylar need to figure out why they would follow someone like Jimmy in the first place.

I Give This ...

I expected this book to make me uncomfortable, after all it's about a hate crime.  But, I really didn't expect to dislike the way I did. 

I think my main problem was with the way people rallied around Jimmy.  Everyone seemed to think he was this great guy and there was no way that he could have attacked anybody, let alone kill them.  But, it's like they are all delusional to his true character.  As the story comes out, we realize that people are great about seeing what they want to see.  This story is also a perfect example of how hate breeds more hate.  In the end, I disliked Jimmy's dad way more than I disliked him.  

I actually disliked Lisa Marie a lot too.  I couldn't understand her motive for being on Jimmy's side.  She didn't even see what really happened.  She was down right nasty to Skylar, who is suppose to be her best friend.  I think part of it stems from jealousy, but she really rubbed me the wrong way.

I also thought this story had way to many viewpoints.  Someone new would be thrown in just for a short little section never to be heard from again.  It was trying to paint a picture of the kind of person Jimmy (and his dad) was.  But, all it did for me was make the story feel disconnected.

A let down for sure.  It could have been great!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books That I Read That Were Outside Of My Comfort Zone

I've been meaning to participate in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish for awhile now.  If your curious about this meme, visit Top Ten Tuesday where they have previous topics and upcoming topics listed as well.

This weeks topic is:

Ten Books That I Read That Were Outside Of My Comfort Zone

Twilight (Twilight, #1)1. Twilight by Stephenie Meyers - This really was out of my comfort zone when I initially read it.  I stuck to mystery/thrillers for the most part.  But, I kept picking up the book at the store and never bought it.  When the movie trailers came out, I wanted it now!  The rest is history.

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by J.K. Rowling - I was dragged to this movie back in what 2001.  My roommate at the time was in love with the books but I had never heard of them.  I really had no desire to see the movie (it seemed so childish).  Needless to say, I asked for the first 4 for Christmas that year!

3. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz - I read this at the recommendation of a friend.  Way out of my comfort zone.  Turned out the was a reason why.  I didn't really like it.  Which was a disappointment because said friend has never given me a bad recommendation.

Outlander (Outlander, #1)4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - When I first started to step out of my comfort zone, I did a couple challenges.  Finding a best seller that was not one of my "typical" books was hard.  I settled on this one even though I don't do romance (very often) and the size scared the hell out of me.  I was hooked.

5. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean - I mentioned I don't read romances...but this one kept popping up with rave reviews.  I gave it a shot and loved it!   Makes me rethink my romance stance!

6. Dead Until Dark - I was never into paranormal (urban fantasy).  But thought I would give it a try based on my thoughts on other books.  Turns out I was missing a great genre.

House of Leaves7. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski -  The premise of this book was fascinating and unlike anything I've ever read or will read again.  It was really worth the time I put into reading it.

8. The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall -  A recommendation based on my enjoyment of the House of Leaves.  I guess I just didn't get this one as much.  I was really confused in the end.

9. Left Behind by Tim LaHaye - I have no idea why I read these books.  I think it was because we did a study on the book of Revelation in high school.  I devoured most of this series.  Some of it botheres me, some of it I find really interesting.

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty 10. The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty -  I'm sure these are outside of MOST peoples comfort zones.  I heard about these somehow and admit I was intrigued.  I knew that they were erotica, but I think these need a big warning than that.  I liked them overall, but had some of it was just so over the top.

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. Click on the picture to be taken to Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books!

I had a hard time with reading this week.  Lie was a really tough book for me to get through.  I took me until Friday to finish it.  I'm glad that The Dark and Hollow Places made up for it.  Hoping this week is better!
Read Last Week: 
  • Lie by Caroline Bock 
  • The Dark and Hallow Places by Carrie Ryan
Currently Reading: 
  • Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Up This Week: 
  • Little Women and Me by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
  • Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In My Mailbox!

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren and she was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie

For Review: 

Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy, #2)Incarnate (Incarnate #1)
  • Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep
  • Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

The Trust (Secret Society, #2)
  • The Trust by Tom Doby

Friday, November 4, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

RevolutionTitle: Revolution
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 496
Published: July 26, 2011 by Random House
ISBN: 9780385737647
Source: Purchased

Description: Two girls, two centuries and an ocean apart, are thrust together in this gripping novel by the award-winning author of A Northern Light. Brooklyn high school student Andi Alpers feels at the end of several tethers when her father rescues her for a winter break excursion to France. When the ever-curious Andi discovers the ragged journal of an ill-fated Parisian actress, she falls under its thrall. When that emotional connection jolts into the presence, Alpers matures in sudden, unexpected ways.

I Give This ...

I've wanted to read this for awhile, but I think I was hesitate because it deals with the French Revolution.  I haven't been overly impressed with what I've read concerning that time period so far.  Honestly, I think this was the voice that I had been missing all along.  

I initially had a hard time getting into the book.  The beginning is really slow and I was wondering if I was missing something everyone else picked up on.  But, the minute Andi arrives in Paris, I was hooked.  It was like Andi needed the change of scenery to being to live again.  Donnelly really manages to bring Paris to life for me.  It's not the everyday tourist locations in this story.  It's Paris as the French see it (both in the past and the present).  I loved the parts with the catacombs.  I confess I don't know much about them and they sound fascinating. 

Andi herself was an interesting character.  I've read other books were the character is depressed and even ones that are slightly suicidal.   Andi takes all of this to a brand new level.  I really felt her despair.  I might not have agreed with her thought processes sometimes, but I understood what lead her there.  I loved watching her interact with Virgil.  It's one of the most subtle and sweetest romances I've seen in YA fiction.  Their connections through music was awesome!  It was great to see Andi open up to someone.  She's closed herself off for too long. 

I think my favorite parts were the voice of Alex through her diaries.  She's what I had been missing in those stories about the French Revolution.  I think she truly lived in the horror of it.  She saw both sides and knew the fine line she was walking.  But, she also cared for the Royal Family and especially the young dauphin.  In the end she was willing to risk her life to show him that there was someone out there who still cared about him.  Her story was really touching.

I'm a music and history person, so this really was the right combination for me.  I didn't tear through it like I normally do a 5 star book.  But, the story touched me and it's one that I likely won't forget anytime soon.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review - The Unwanteds (Unwanteds #1) by Lisa McMann

The UnwantedsTitle: The Unwanteds
Author: Lisa McMann
Series: 1st in series
Pages: 390
Published: August 30, 2011 by Alladin
ISBN: 9781442407688
Source: Galley Grab

Descrption: Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths.
Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret—behind the mirage of the "death farm" there is instead a place called Artime.
In Artime, each child is taught to cultivate their creative abilities and learn how to use them magically, weaving spells through paintbrushes and musical instruments. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it's a wondrous transformation.  But it's a rare, unique occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron's bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle.

I Give This ...

I was excited to read this.  I've enjoyed Lisa McMann's other books.  Plus, this seemed to fit into a genre that I enjoy...middle grade fantasy.  I think it's a worthy ready for those who enjoy the category (adults and kids alike).  But, I'm not sure it has the power to become the next big thing.

I liked Alex at first, but I had a hard time identify with his need to contact his twin.  I got that they were identical twins.  And I know that twins have a special bond.  But, it bothered me that the separation seemed to bother Alex more than it bothered Aaron.  I was strange to watch Alex convince himself that Aaron really wanted and needed to be with him.  He completely disregarded what it might do to the people that inhabited Artime.

I did think the idea of Artime was fascinating, but oddly explained.  The castle (mansion?) itself seemed really intriguing.  But, the descriptions of it seemed unimportant.  I loved the idea of taking blackboards, tubes to get you to certain parts of the castle, and instructions tailored to your strong suits.  But, the story focuses some much on Alex and his desire to contact Aaron.  I feel like so much more could have been done with this story.

So for me this wasn't the next things for middle grade fantasy lovers.  I'll keep looking.  Although, I'm sure I will read the next one if give then chance.  I don't feel the story is completely done yet.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review - The Iron Knight (Iron Fey #4) by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Knight (Iron Fey, #4)Title: The Iron Knight
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: 4th (The Iron King, The Iron Daughter, The Iron Queen)
Pages: 361
Published: October 25, 2011 by Harlequin Teen
ISBN: 9780373210367
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Description: My name—my True Name—is Ashallayn'darkmyr Tallyn.  I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her.My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl…

I Give This ...

I would have been ok had this series ended with The Iron Queen.   Maybe not thrilled, but the ending made sense to me.  I was overjoyed to hear about this final edition to the series told from Ash's point of view.  I was hoping it would make a satisfying ending to a wonderful series.

I have to be honest and say that Ash's point of view was not what I was expecting.  But, his character has changed so much from the beginning of the series.  He's lost everything he has ever known.  He's no longer the cold-hearted Unseelie prince we met at the beginning.  He's willing to literally go to the end of the earth to find a way to be with Meghan.  I was wondering if he had the courage and love to really go through with it all.  I think this was a great story about the true depths of human emotions. 

There was some twists and turns in the story that I was not expecting.  I feel we learn a great deal about Ash that we never really knew before.  There are lots of moments and events that made him the person (fey) we know and love.  I also loved that Puck was along for the ride.  Their friendship/hatred has so many levels to it that I really longed to understand how it all started.  I finally get that.  I also get great closure on their feud.  Just what I hoped for!

I enjoyed the trials that Ash goes through to prove that he is worthy of a human soul.  The third trial left me feeling a little off at first though.  I wasn't sure if it was real or not, and I wasn't happy initially with the chain of events.  I felt things were really glossed over.  When I realized what the point was, I was much better.  I also think it showed an amazing side of Ash.  I was happy to have the end be that he might have the best of both worlds.

I enjoyed the story overall.  I wish we would have got a little more of Meghan.  But, I loved getting to see another side of Ash and Puck.  I also enjoyed getting to see a bit more of characters that have been little more that shadows in previous books.  I'm sad to see this series end, but will be revisiting it again soon!


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