Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday #4

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Sapphique (Incarceron, #2)
by Catherine Fisher

Publication Date: January 4th 2011

Finn has escaped from the terrible living Prison of Incarceron, but its memory torments him, because his brother Keiro is still inside. Outside, Claudia insists he must be king, but Finn doubts even his own identity. Is he the lost prince Giles? Or are his memories no more than another construct of his imprisonment? And can you be free if your friends are still captive? Can you be free if your world is frozen in time? Can you be free if you don't even know who you are? Inside Incarceron, has the crazy sorcerer Rix really found the Glove of Sapphique, the only man the Prison ever loved. Sapphique, whose image fires Incarceron with the desire to escape its own nature. If Keiro steals the glove, will he bring destruction to the world? Inside. Outside. All seeking freedom. Like Sapphique.

After I finished Incarceron, I couldn't wait to get my hands on Sapphique and when I saw a publication date - January 4th 2011, everything went blank in my mind. I knew that I had to read it; I had to get it earlier than almost in a year. So I ordered it from Amazon UK and I recently received it, just in time for my birthday. But I’m still waiting for USA publication, because this cover is so much better.

P.S. Happy Birthday to me!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg - Book Review #12

Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Lonely Hearts Club
by Elizabeth Eulberg

Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows: no more. It's a personal choice. . .and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born: The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways . . . which is too bad, because there's this certain boy she can't help but like. . . .
What an inspirational book it was! Lonely Hearts Club is very up-lifting, funny and sweet. I was literally laughing, dancing and singing while I was reading it. It was one of the cutest, heart and soul warming book I’ve read so far in 2010.

Lonely Hearts Club is about self-empowerment and friendship, especially a friendship while you are in the relationship. So basically, it is about fundamental things and fundamental feelings that we all sometimes tend to ignore in favor of something that actually not important – an attention from the hottest guy in the school or popularity.

Elizabeth Eulberg created some very strong female characters, characters you want to be, characters you want to follow. The author is teaching us through them to take in considerations our own interests, hobbies and friends first and not only live and breathe with what our boyfriends are interested in.

She also created a moving and dynamic story. It is absolutely fascinating how from a tiny personal choice of one girl, like a snow avalanche, such a huge movement was born. And oh, how desperately those who were against it were trying to stop it, trying to prevent a revolution, revolution in the average insecure high school girl’s mind.

In the ocean of YA books where a main female character is falling so desperately and hard in love that can’t literally live without some hot paranormal creature – this book is definitely a breath of fresh air. Lonely Hearts Club is fabulous debut and I’m looking forward to read Elizabeth Eulberg’s other books.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fallen by Lauren Kate - Book Review #11

Monday, March 29, 2010
by Lauren Kate

There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

For a very long time I haven't fail to pick a book for myself. For a very long time all books I’ve read I liked. The difference was only in a degree of liking. But once in a while your senses will fail you, leaving you shocked, disgusted and frustrated. And this is precisely how I felt while I was reading Fallen and after I finished. Why did I finish it? I don’t know, I guess I was hoping throughout the book that it will become better. I was telling myself that it should become better, it must and it will, because I’ve read so many rapturous reviews. But unfortunately miracle never happened.

This book… no I can’t call IT neither a book, no a novel… This piece of writing is so wrong and awful on so many levels that I can’t stop wondering how, oh how, for the god’s name, it got published? Was publisher so desperate to print at least anything? In our time, when every woman from age twelve until eighty two are writing a paranormal young adult romance novel, I’m sure that publishers should have a big variety to choose from. Or why publisher was in such a hurry to get this book out on the shelves? Why the manuscript wasn’t written and rewritten, polished and adjusted until it would at least remotely resemble the novel? Why author wasn’t made to work harder or at least just work on the plot, the characters development, style and on the structure? Because Fallen, like almost everything else have a potential. I guess I would never have those questions answered.

Fallen has no structure. There is no The Beginning where the readers should be introduced to the characters and to the scene. The only thing that Lauren Kate does – is bringing up a lot of characters that do not play any role later on in the story. There is no The Middle that should be full of small crisis; no the Middle which should eventually lead to The Climax; no the Middle where the readers should witness a character and story development. Fallen doesn’t have any of it. It is just big nothing – nothing is happening and the story is not moving. We only see the sequence of days main character is living through and meaningful to the story events. The main battle – the beauty and the center of attention of any book is taking place off-scene. And the sense of the battle is completely obscure to me. Also, there is no The End. There is no resolution for The Climax – Fallen didn’t have any. There is no resolution for the loose ends, because, once again, there weren’t any. And at the end the author is only starting to raise questions, building the base for the sequel, leaving us, readers, with no answers at all, with no resolution, however small and insignificant to the story it might be.

The differentiation between show and tell in Fallen is so huge, you can’t wrap your mind around it. For instance, we are told that Luce – the main character – is a smart girl, she has good grades, but in her actions, we can only see stupidity and irrationality.

I can continue ranting about Fallen, full of imperfections, about confidence level of publishers, but I’d rather stop here. I’m most probably will be reading second book in the Fallen series - Torment , because for ones, I’m an optimist and also, I like watching authors developing their writing skills and sense of the story. I really hope to see a lot of improvements in the second book.

P.S. I absolutely adored the cover.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cracked up to be by Courtney Summers - Book Review #10

Thursday, March 18, 2010
Cracked up to be
by Courtney Summers

What's the worst thing you've ever done?

When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

Cracked up to be is definitely a novel to remember long after you close it. It is dark, frightening, sarcastic and cruelly honest. It is certainly not for light-hearted. The book is filled with serious conflict and it will leave you guessing until the end. I though I have it figured out, but … oh… how wrong I was.

I guess this book was greatly underrated because main character – Parker is not one of your usual lovely and sweet, innocent and smiley girl. However I think this is precisely what makes this book so unique and mind blowing. Parker’s twisted little world wrapping you around so tight you can barely breathe till the end of the book. Her hard exterior is carefully masked her very broken interior and not allowing anyone, no characters, neither reader inside until the very end. Parker is making a fantastic character in her witticisms and confusion and self-exploration.

Cracked up to be will keep pages and mind turning, until everything comes together in the explosion of WOW.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Keith Thompson (Illustrator) - Book Review #9

Thursday, March 11, 2010

by Scott Westerfeld,
Keith Thompson (Illustrator)

It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way...taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever.

Leviathan is a carefully measured bland of alternative history and Steampunk with the elements of fantasy. It has stunning book design and breathtaking illustrations. Leviathan’s book design took me back to my childhood and made me remember books from my grandfather’s library that were published in 50th, 60th and 70th.

I love alternative history for how the skillful writer could mix the real history with the fantasy and you could never be sure where the fact has ended and where the tale has began. Scott Westerfeld definitely is a skillful writer. He was not only able to mix real history and fantasy, but he also created unforgettable, beautifully detailed world that you can see, feel, touch, smell and even taste.

Scott Westerfeld’s writing style was also very impressive. Shifting point of view between Alexandr and Deryn let the reader to find out more about the characters themselves, but also about Chlankers – Germans and Austro-Hungarians that created steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunitions; and Darwinists – British, French and Russians that custom-tailored – genetically altered animals to create ships and weapons.

This book is not only must read, but also must have for your on private library. Such a beautiful editions of those types of books tend to become classics in their own genre. And I could only hope that some day my own grandchildren would snick this book out of my library, as I myself used to take books from my grandfather’s library.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Red is for Remembrance by Laurie Faria Stolarz - Book Review #8

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Red is for Remembrance
by Laurie Faria Stolarz

I know you're alone . . .

Since Jacob's disappearance, Stacey has been trying to move on with her life. With a full scholarship, she begins classes at Beacon University, which her best friend Amber is also attending. But Stacey still misses Jacob and can't quite accept that she'll never see him again.

The president of Beacon introduces Stacey to his fourteen-year-old daughter Portia, who is struggling with her own nightmares that foretell murder. The two become friends as Stacey helps the young girl cope with her frightening premonitions. They work together to find the boy in Portia's dreams—locating him in a cult-like community. Despite their innocent goal to live peacefully without technology and material goods, there's a dark side to this community. And one of the members, Shell, looks remarkably like someone Stacey used to know . . .

Red is for Remembrance the fourth and the final book in the Blue is for Nightmare series was a bit of set back, comparing to the third book – Silver is for Secrets, but nevertheless I enjoyed this book and think it was a good ending for the series.

One of the setbacks was the lack of mystery – on the third page, I knew for ninety percent how the book is going to end. And on the thirtieth page, I knew that for one hundred percent. However it didn’t repel me from the book and I was still interested how the characters will get to the point that I thought they would get at the end of the book.

In general, I did like the whole series and I don’t regret buying all four books almost blindly. At that point I didn’t know what the book where about, but titles of the books and covers cought my eye. I was instantly in love with covers – elegant, simple and unusual. And titles made me want to read those books without first reading the synopsis on the back cover, it made me want to find out for myself what Blue is for Nightmare, White is for Magic, Silver is for Secrets and Red is for Remembrance actually meant.

Also this series were appealing to me, because it introduced me to the concept of Wicca. Yes, I never heard about it – I live in my own world. Of course I saw Practical Magic movie, but I never knew that there was the whole religion… movement going on.

I would definitely recommend those books to any teenagers or young at hearts who loves mystery and romance, horror and humor and also to those who is interested in witchcraft. Yes, those books have it all.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Silver is for Secrets by Laurie Faria Stolarz -Book Review #7

Friday, March 5, 2010
Silver is for Secrets
by Laurie Faria Stolarz

I'll make you pay ...

After graduation, spending the summer at the beach seems like the perfect vacation. All Stacey wants to do is relax, hang out with Jacob (her new boyfriend), and enjoy the ocean with her friends. But this proves to be impossible when her nightmares return, this time accompanied by annoying nosebleeds and a dreadful feeling that danger is lurking.
Stacey senses that Clara, a fifteen-year-old staying down the beach from them, is in deadly trouble. Cute, flirtatious, and rumored to be a boyfriend-stealer, Clara is not exactly popular with the girls. And Stacey is finding it difficult to help Clara when she's obviously hiding something. What is her mysterious secret? Why is she telling lies about Jacob and Chad? Can Stacey solve the mystery before someone gets hurt?

The third installment of Blue is for Nightmares series – Silver is for Secrets is a book of mystery, thrill and love. The book was very emotional, fabulous, chilling, funny and heartbreaking at the same time. It was unexpected and exciting.

Writing style was much more mature. The author - Laurie Faria Stolarz – is the living example that good writing takes practice. This book is significantly different from the first two. There was almost nothing that was shallow, flat or trivial. Everything had multi layers or meanings, though those layers sometimes were too obvious.

In the third book I actually liked Stacy. I could actually feel for her and see how she is getting wrapped up in all the problems and issues that are happening around her. I could see her running after something, but be always one step behind. Drea didn’t annoy me as much as in the previous books. Amber, P.J. and their relationship kept amusing me – they are definitely my favorite characters from those series.

Epilogue was something really amazing – the writing style was like a beat of the blood in your veins. It was like a slide show in the dark room – still picture that captures only the essence and then light goes down, after a complete dark the flash of light and another picture that has nothing irrelevant on it, only the core – unforgettable.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

White is for Magic by Laurie Faria Stolarz - Book Review #6

Thursday, March 4, 2010

White is for Magic
by Laurie Faria Stolarz

It's been a year since Stacey rescued her best friend Drea from being murdered. Now, Stacey is experiencing another series of nightmares that foretell of murder, and this time Stacey is the one in danger! To make matters worse, Drea is flirting with Stacey's boyfriend; creepy transfer students are obsessed with last year's murder; and Stacey is receiving threatening notes that prove her premonitions are true.

With help from her mother and her grandmother's spells, Stacey gains the strength and wisdom to face her fears and past demons. But will it be enough to find the killer in time to save her life?

The second book in the Blue is for Nightmare series – White is for Magic was much better then the first one. We are witnessing some character development – Stacy and her friends now seem more alive and not as two-dimensional as in the first book.

I really liked the new addition to the characters crew – Jacob. He was a breath of a fresh air and intrigue around him was very juicy and interesting. As for the old characters – I continued to hate Drea and kept wondering how Stacy can put up with such an obnoxious and self-centered girl. Even after Stacy finding out that Drea was hitting on her boyfriend, she still continued to call Drea her friend.

Mystery part was definitely written and presented much better in the White is for Magic. It even made me wonder what going to happen with characters at the end. However story still seems to rush and I wish author would spend more time describing motives and feeling, character’s relationships and their thoughts. Also, I think that it would’ve add some atmosphere to the book, if Stacy’s involvement with the Wicca would’ve been described more thoroughly – more spells, more ingredients, more rituals.

So when I finished first book, I didn’t have any hopes for the second one. However now, when I’m done with second, I’m looking forward to read the third one and suddenly I’m glad I bought all four books from the series.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday #3

Wednesday, March 3, 2010
"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

by Stefan Petrucha

Publication Date: March 16th 2010

Sliding Doors meets Fight Club, when one teen’s life is split in two very different directions.

Wade Jackson has always felt split, his love for playing and writing music competing with his ambition to do well in school. But when his mother dies, this need for order competes with his desire to leave it all behind. What follows is a split in his consciousness that takes him to two very different worlds.

Told in alternating chapters that together form one cohesive story, Split follows both Wades as they pursue what they think is the correct path. One Wade continues working hard in school, pulling all-nighters to write a computer code he believes will save the world. The other Wade pursues the dream of being a dive-bar singer, pulling all-nighters to party, gamble, and live on the edge. But when these two worlds begin to collide, each Wade will need to find a balance between control and abandon, order and chaos, life missed and life lost, in order to save himself.