Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: Spellbound

Title: Spellbound
Author: Cara Lynn Shultz
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 5/5

From Goodreads:  Life hasn't been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Connor, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she's irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.

But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can't stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma's been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.

My Thoughts:  I loved this book! I couldn't put it down and couldn't wait to see what would happen with Brendan and Emma. I'm such a sucker for epic romances, and I was completely sucked into the relationship between Brendan and Emma.

At first I thought the premise was a bit too familiar. Boy and girl meet and have some strange connection. One of them usually has supernatural abilities, and they have to fight some dark force to stay together.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Spellbound was different. Yes, it's a boy-meets-girl kind of story. Yes, it's a story of doomed love, but I found the supernatural aspect to be minimal. It seemed that the forces this couple fought were of the crazy teenage variety. I enjoyed the past life twist and how it was used in the story.

I thought the writing was great, especially the way Shultz described the intense feelings and interactions between Emma and Brendan. I couldn't help but hug and kiss my husband after reading this book.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: Lost Voices

Title: Lost Voices
Author: Sarah Porter
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: July 4, 2011
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 2/5

From Goodreads:  When fourteen-year-old Luce is assaulted on the cliffs near an Alaskan village, she expects to die when she tumbles into the icy water below. Instead, she transforms into a mermaid. Luce is thrilled with her new life—until she discovers the catch.

My Thoughts: I started out liking the premise of this story. The idea of dark, murderous mermaids intrigued me. Unfortunately, I found the book to be dull and boring. It didn't keep my attention very well. I found the girls in the story to be annoying and whiney. Their petty behaviors were true to their immaturity, but it wasn't something I enjoyed reading about.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Review: The Goddess Test

Title: The Goddess Test
Author: Aimee Carter
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 4/5

From Goodreads:  It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

My Thoughts:  I really enjoyed the Greek mythology twist to this book. It was definitely something new for me. I haven't read any other books like it. The story kept me engaged and interested. I was eager to see how things would play out for Kate and Henry. There was definitely a little mystery added in, and I loved it. It kept me guessing throughout the book. I also liked how everything seemed to come together and make sense by the time the book ended. I'm eager to read the next book in the series and see where the story goes.

Friday, August 5, 2011


There have been several books that I've read in the last few months but haven't posted about.  In order to save time, I've decided to do some mini-reviews to re-cap and share what I've read.

The Hunger Games Series (1-3) by Suzanne Collins

I LOVED this series!  I had heard so much about these three books and kept telling myself I'd read them eventually.  My dad bought me all three books this past Christmas, and they sat in my bookcase for months.  I finally decided to read them.  The ladies from my online book club were beginning to talk about the upcoming Hunger Games movie, and I really wanted to know what all the excitement was about.  I flew through the three books.  The premise of the story was unique and interesting.  It could have been pregnancy hormones, but I was completely wrapped up in the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale.  I was totally Team Peeta.  Call me a sap, but the whole secret love he'd felt for Katniss since they were young just made me feel all warm and gooey inside.  I was really sad when the series ended, and I'm anxiously waiting for the movie.

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

After reading Shiver and Linger, I was eager to read Forever and find out what would happen between Sam and Grace.  I like Maggie's writing style and loved the story of Sam and Grace.  Again, maybe pregnancy hormones are getting the best of me.  I felt the ending left quite a few unanswered questions, but for this particular story that was okay with me. 

Outbreak by Robin Cook

This isn't a book that I would typically choose, but I received it in a box of used books that a relative gave to me.  I found it to be an intense murder mystery, and the fact that there was a mysterious epidemic happening just added to my intrigue.  This book was short and quick to read, which was nice.  I read it early in my pregnancy when I was tired all of the time and had trouble finishing books.  Being able to find something that held my interest and didn't take too long to read gave me a little boost.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

This book was chosen as a monthly read for my online book club.  I thought it sounded interesting, and it wasn't a paranormal YA like I'd been starting and not finishing.  I picked it up from my library and ended up having to renew my library card, which led me to getting a super cute new library card and keychain tag with a cute little bookworm pictured on it.  Still Alice is the story of a psychology professor at Harvard who learns she has early onset Alzheimer's.  I don't know much about Alzheimer's, but I've always heard about how difficult it is for the loved ones of Alzheimer's patients to deal with the progressive memory loss.  I've tried and failed to imagine what it would be like to have my grandparents or dad forget everything about me.  Still Alice, though, shares the perspective of an Alzheimer's patient.  This was all new to me.  It was difficult to read about the pieces of Alice that faded over time, but it was definitely an eye-opener.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review: Tris & Izzie

Title: Tris & Izzie
Author: Mette Ivie Harrison
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Release Date: 10/11/11
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 4/5

From Goodreads:  A modern retelling of the German fairytale "Tristan and Isolde", Tris and Izzie is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until -- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.

My Thoughts:  Let me start by saying that this cover is gorgeous!  It caught my attention before I even read the book's synopsis.  Sometimes, judging a book by its cover isn't such a bad thing.  I devoured this book in a day.  Considering how little I've been reading lately, this was a great feeling.  It could just be pregnancy hormones, but I was completely wrapped up in the love story between Tris and Izzie.  I couldn't wait to see what would play out after they met in the story.  One thing that I really liked was that the author didn't draw out the main conflict in the story.  Some books just seem to go on and on, eventually losing steam.  This author kept a great pace in telling the story, which was good for me.  It kept me from becoming bored with the story.  I also liked that the story wrapped up in a way that I felt was complete.  I've read some books lately that either leave a lot unanswered or seem rushed at the end.  Harrison told a complete story that came together nicely.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: The Twisted Thread

Title: The Twisted Thread
Author: Charlotte Bacon
Publisher: Voice
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 3/5

From Goodreads:  When beautiful but aloof Claire Harkness is found dead in her dorm room one spring morning, prestigious Armitage Academy is shaken to its core. Everyone connected to school, and to Claire, finds their lives upended, from the local police detective who has a personal history with the academy, to the various faculty and staff whose lives are immersed in the daily rituals associated with it.

Everyone wants to know how Claire died, at whose hands, and more importantly, where the baby that she recently gave birth to is a baby that almost no one, except her small innermost circle, knew she was carrying.

At the center of the investigation is Madeline Christopher, an intern in the English department who is forced to examine the nature of the relationship between the school s students and the adults meant to guide them. As the case unravels, the dark intricacies of adolescent privilege at a powerful institution are exposed, and both teachers and students emerge as suspects as the novel rushes to its thrilling conclusion.

With The Twisted Thread, Charlotte Bacon has crafted a gripping and suspenseful story in the tradition of Donna Tartt s The Secret History, one that pulls back the curtain on the lives of the young and privileged.

My Thoughts:  I had been eager to read this book based on the Goodreads summary, but it took me quite awhile to get through this.  The story kept me interested, and the mystery kept me intrigued.  My biggest complaint about the book is that I felt there were too many characters.  I had trouble keeping up with them all.  At one point, I considered making a list of all of the characters to use for quick reference.  For me, that's just too much work to read a book.  At the end of the story, I could understand how all of the characters tied together, but I still felt like it was just too much.  On a more positive note, I found myself feeling like the characters in the story.  I wanted to know how Claire died, who had done it, and why.  I kept guessing who the killer was throughout the book and was pleased to find at the end that one of my first guesses was right.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review: The Keening

Title: The Keening
Author: A. LaFaye
Release: April 1, 2010
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Overall: 3/5
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads:  Born into a family with artistry in their fingers, Lyza laments that her only talent is carving letters into wood. That is until her life is turned upside down when her mother succumbs to the influenza pandemic of 1918, which is devastating their small coastal town in Maine. With her mother gone, Lyza must protect her eccentric father, who runs the risk of being committed, especially now that he claims he’s waiting for the return of his dead wife. Can Lyza save her father and find her own path in the process?

My Thoughts:  This was an interesting story.  It was a nice change from some of the other common YA themes that I've been reading and hearing about.  I thought the book was well-written and moved at a nice pace.  There weren't too many characters or subplots.  Without giving too much away, I enjoyed how all of the details fell into place by the end of the book as we learned more about Lyza's father's claims.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Review: The Magnolia League

Title: The Magnolia League
Author: Katie Crouch
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 3/5

From Goodreads: After the death of her free-spirited mother, sixteen-year-old Alex Lee must leave her home in northern California to live with her wealthy grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful, if unwilling, member of the Magnolia League, Savannah's long-standing debutante society. She quickly discovers that the Magnolias have made a pact with a legendary hoodoo family, the Buzzards. The Magnolias enjoy youth, beauty and power. But at what price?

As in her popular adult novels, Crouch's poignant and humorous voice shines in this seductively atmospheric story about girls growing up in a magical Southern city.

My Thoughts:  I enjoyed this book.  It definitely held my interest, and I sometimes couldn't turn the page fast enough.  The premise of the story was interesting.  I did find Alex to be naive and annoying at times, but I had to remind myself that she was young and raised much differently than her new peers in Savannah.  When I began reading, I didn't realize The Magnolia League was the first book of a series.  I found myself at the end of the book with tons of unanswered questions.  Checking Goodreads reassured me that there would be another book, and I felt a little better about it.  I'm looking forward to reading the second book in the series.