Sunday, December 18, 2011

Review: Frost by Marianna Baer

Title: Frost
Author: Marianna Baer
Genre: Horror Fiction, Supernatural Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Elements: Ghosts
Publisher: Balzer + Bray, Harper Collins
ISBN-13: 9780061799495
Release: September 13, 2011
Rating: 3.5/5

Tagline(s): ~None~


Summary:

Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school starts with a cruel shock: Frost House, the cozy Victorian dorm where she and her best friends live, has been assigned an unexpected roommate—eccentric Celeste Lazar. 

What Celeste lacks in social grace, however, her brother, David, a recent transfer student, makes up for in good looks and charm. But while he and Leena hit it off immediately, Leena finds herself struggling to balance her growing attraction with her fear of getting hurt.

As classes get under way, strange happenings begin to bedevil Frost House: frames falling off walls, doors locking themselves, furniture toppling over. Celeste blames the housemates, convinced they want to scare her into leaving. And although Leena strives to be the peacekeeper, soon the eerie happenings in the dorm, an intense romance between Leena and Celeste’s brother, David, and the reawakening of childhood fears all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. But does the threat lie with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind…or in Frost House itself? 

Frost is a stunning and surprising tale of suspense from debut author Marianna Baer.

Review:   

Characters

Leena Thomas was looking forward to living her senior year in Frost House with her best friends, but a classmate's unfortunate accident caused her to be assigned to Frost House, too. Celeste Lazar is known for her eccentricities. While collecting a bird's nest for a project, Celeste broke her leg causing her to need a first floor room and was assigned to Frost House as Leena's roommate. When Leena goes to check out her room she meets David Lazar, Celeste's brother, while he was setting up Celeste's side of the room. David recently transferred to Barcroft and he immediately hits it off with Leena. As strange things begin happening in Frost House; stress, jealousy, and fear put an strain on the relationships of the dorm residents and those around them.

Theme

At the core of the story, the theme of Frost is fear. Each character is driven by their fear of events happening around them. Leena's fear of being hurt and the stress of Celeste's situation cause her to take drastic measures to calm down. Celeste fears Frost House itself and the strange things happening there and to herself. This fear causes her behavior to become even more erratic. David fears what people will think of his sister and himself considering their family's history of psychosis. To prevent that and protect his sister, David plans something potentially dangerous to get her moved out of Frost House.

Whether these fears are caused by something supernatural or psychological, the outcomes are dangerous and potentially life-threatening.

Plot 

Told from Leena's point of view, Frost takes us through her first semester of senior year and the strange happenings at Frost House. We never really find out whether the cause of the events is supernatural, psychological, or some other factor. Some could argue that it was the ghost of the woman who died there trying to get Celeste to leave and Leena to stay. Or some could argue that it was totally psychological and their minds were playing tricks on them. Frost keeps you guessing well after the last page. 

Setting

Frost House is an old Victorian house that was later converted into a boy's dorm. After feeling a need to live there, Leena talked to the dean to see if her and her friends could be assigned to live there their senior year. Permission was granted and Frost House was changed to a girl's dorm, but they also got an unexpected roommate in Celeste.

For Leena, Frost House is a refuge. She feels comfortable and safe there.The place she's most drawn to in Frost House is the closet in her room. The smell and feel bring feelings of nostalgia; memories of a better, happier time. 

For Celeste, Frost House is hell on earth. She's tortured and abused by unknown forces. It gets to the point where she feels she'll die if she stays and believes the house is haunted by the woman who had died there so long ago. 

For one girl, Frost House brings peace and safety, for the other it brings only fear and torment.


My Final Thoughts:

I like how we are left to come to our own conclusion on what was really causing the events in Frost House. We are never told one way or the other. I think it was a little of both: part supernatural, part psychological, with a little help from some carbon monoxide. I think the CO weakened Leena and Celeste's minds so much that it opened a doorway for the ghost to communicate. But that's just my opinion. 

Quote:

Chapter 42, Page 396

Part of me is still there, I believe. In that way, Frost House will always be my home. But not the rest of me.

About this Author:

Marianna Baer received an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA in art from Oberlin College. She also attended boarding school, where she lived in a tiny dorm called Frost House, which was subsequently torn down. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. Frost is her first novel.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review: Lord of the Vampires by Gena Showalter

Title: Lord of the Vampires
Series: Royal House of Shadows #1
Author: Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Elements: Vampires, Witches, Ogres
Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne, Harlequin Books
ISBN-13: 9780373618668
Release: August 23, 2011
Rating: 4.5/5



Tagline(s): Once upon a dark time, they were the only hope to bring their kingdom back to the light.

Summary:

Once upon a time...the Blood Sorcerer vanquished the kingdom of Elden. To save their children, the queen scattered them to safety and the king filled them with vengeance. Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs...and time is running out....

Nicolai the Vampire was renowned for his virility, but in a twist of fate "The Dark Seducer" had become a sex slave in the kingdom of Delfina---stripped of his precious timepiece and his memory. All that remained was a primal need for freedom, revenge---and the only woman who could help him.

In her dreams, a wanton vampire called to Jane Parker, drawing her to his dark sexuality and his magical realm. But for a human, all was not a fairy tale in Delfina. Jane was the key to Nicolai's memory...but exploiting her meant dooming the only mortal he craved.

Review:

Characters

Nicolai is the eldest son of King Aelfric and Queen Alvina; and the crown prince of the kingdom of Elden. Having lost his memory and freedom after the fall of Elden, Nicolai has become a sex slave in the kingdom of Delfina. Knowing only that he must leave Delfina and go to Elden to kill the Blood Sorcerer, Nicolai enlists the help of Jane Parker.

Jane Parker recently regained the use of her legs after a terrible car accident that took the lives of her family and left her scarred. She's been dreaming of a vampire named Nicolai who oozes sexuality. After reading a book about him and his captivity, Jane wakes up in a place she doesn't recognize and Nicolai is very real.

Theme

One theme in this book is Nicolai (and to a point, Jane's) memory loss. Nicolai's memory is wiped clean by the evil princesses sexually abusing him. Jane suspects that she's met Nicolai before since some things in his world look familiar, but she can't remember meeting him before she ended up in Delfina. We find out later about who erased their memories and why.

Another theme is Nicolai's burning need to kill the Blood Sorcerer. Before dying, his father cast a spell filling all four of the royal heirs with the need for vengeance. I'm sure they would all feel the need to avenge their parents and kingdom even without the spell, but the spell ensures it. The timepiece Nicolai has tells him how much time he has left to kill the Blood Sorcerer, but having been in the palace of the kingdom of Delfina where time moves slower, twenty years have passed and time is running out.

Plot

The plot is told from the alternating perspectives of Nicolai and Jane.

Their memory loss adds the element of mystery to the story. Past events, first meetings, and other memories are slowly revealed as Nicolai starts remembering everything. His powers also start resurfacing as Jane's blood undoes the magic spell concealing his memory and powers. We also learn a little tidbit about Jane that even she doesn't remember. So we're along for the ride as events come to a head. There's even a few surprises to look forward to.

Setting

Delfina is ruled by the Queen of Hearts and her vile daughters, Odette and Laila. Nicolai is held captive as a sex slave and repeatedly abused by the princesses. I'm sure if Nicolai wasn't being driven to return to Elden, he would destroy the entire kingdom instead of just it's rulers. The place fills him with so much hate and rage that the only thing keeping him from a full blown rampage is Jane and the need to escape and protect her.

And Delfina is definitely not a friendly place for humans. They are used and abused almost as badly as the servants and sex slaves, if not worse.

My Final Thoughts:

The story and character relationships seem to move pretty fast, but actually started way before the first line and meeting. We just don't know it because the characters themselves don't know it yet. I love how everything just fits together. Some people might think that Nicolai's possessiveness is a major turn off, but it's really not. It seems that with vampire and werewolf/shapeshifter characters that their possessiveness is so not a turn off at all. I think it makes the story and relationship between Nicolai and Jane more intense. I also thought it was cool how Jane slowly (**SPOILER, SPOILER**) turns into a vampire after that first time drinking Nicolai's blood. A lot of other cool things happen because of Nicolai's blood. I just really loved this book. It's a great start to the Royal House of Shadows series.

Quotes:

Chapter 11, Page 161

She's mine. Mine! You will die for touching what's mine.

Chapter 18, Page 249

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but I might be a vampire so I don't give a shit. I'll heal.

About this Author:

Gena Showalter sold her first book at the age of 27 and now, four years later, is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirteen books, with eleven more on the way in a thrilling blend of genres: breathtaking paranormal and contemporary romances, cutting edge young adult novels, and stunning urban fantasy.

Her novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine, MTV, Seventeen Magazine, and have been translated in French, Italian and Korean. The critics have called her books "sizzling page-turners" and "utterly spellbinding stories", while Showalter herself has been called “a star on the rise”. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

GNA Review: Twilight: The Graphic Novel Volume 2

Title: Twilight: The Graphic Novel Volume 2
Series: Twilight: The Graphic Novel #2
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Adapter & Artist: Young Kim
Genre: Young Adult Graphic Novel Adaptations, Supernatural
Elements: Vampires, Psychic Abilities
Publisher: Yen Press, Hachette Book Group
ISBN-13: 9780316133197
Release: October 11, 2011
Rating: 5/5

Tagline(s): ~None~

Summary:

Having uncovered the dark secret of her enigmatic classmate, Edward Cullen, Bella Swan embraces her feelings for him, trusting Edward to keep her safe despite the risks. When a rival clan of vampires makes its way into Forks, though, the danger to Bella has never been more real. Will she make the ultimate sacrifice to protect the people dearest to her?

The second volume of Twilight: The Graphic Novel completes the visual adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's worldwide bestselling debut novel and is a must-have for any collector's library.


Review:

Adaptation

The adaptation of the story was expertly done. With some graphic novel adaptation of novels such as Twilight, the story ends up watered down which causes holes in the story. With this adaptation that story ran smoothly and didn't leave me wondering how it got from one point to the next.

Art

The art, oh my goodness, the art. I think Young Kim's art is the most beautiful art I have ever had the pleasure to look at in a graphic novel. She took the descriptions of the characters from the book and really brought them to life with her art. To be completely honest, that characters in the graphic novel turned out looking exactly as I imagined they did. I love how the flashbacks, the first meeting with James' coven, and the end were done in color. Now, I usually don't like graphic novels done in color, but in this adaptation the color in the moments I mentioned adds depth, character, and drama to the scenes. It adds to the art instead of taking away from it.

My Final Thoughts:

From my review I'm sure you already know how much I loved the adaptation and art, so I won't comment on that anymore. I just want to say that any Twilight fan would have to be stupid not to check out the graphic novel adaptation. It's something no fan of Twilight should miss. I absolutely loved it!

About this Author:

Stephenie Meyer's life changed dramatically on June 2, 2003. The stay-at-home mother of three young sons woke up from a dream featuring seemingly real characters that she could not get out of her head.

"Though I had a million things to do, I stayed in bed, thinking about the dream. Unwillingly, I eventually got up and did the immediate necessities, and then put everything that I possibly could on the back burner and sat down at the computer to write—something I hadn't done in so long that I wondered why I was bothering."

Meyer invented the plot during the day through swim lessons and potty training, and wrote it out late at night when the house was quiet. Three months later she finished her first novel, Twilight. With encouragement from her older sister (the only other person who knew she had written a book), Meyer submitted her manuscript to various literary agencies. Twilight was picked out of a slush pile at Writer's House and eventually made its way to the publishing company Little, Brown where everyone fell immediately in love with the gripping, star-crossed lovers.

Twilight was one of 2005's most talked about novels and within weeks of its release the book debuted at #5 on The New York Times bestseller list. Among its many accolades, Twilight was named an "ALA Top Ten Books for Young Adults," an Amazon.com "Best Book of the Decade...So Far", and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year.

The highly-anticipated sequel, New Moon, was released in September 2006, and spent more than 25 weeks at the #1 position on The New York Times bestseller list.

In 2007, Eclipse literally landed around the world and fans made the Twilight Saga a worldwide phenomenon! With midnight parties and vampire-themed proms the enthusiasm for the series continued to grow.

On May 6, 2008, Little, Brown and Company released The Host, Meyer's highly-anticipated novel for adults which debuted at #1 on The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. The Host still remains a staple on the bestseller lists more than a year after its debut.

On August 2, 2008, the final book in the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn was released at 12:01 midnight. Stephenie made another appearance on "Good Morning America" and was featured in many national media outlets, including Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, People Magazine and Variety. Stephenie headlined the Breaking Dawn Concert Series with Justin Furstenfeld (lead singer of Blue October) to celebrate the release in four major markets across the US. Breaking Dawn sold 1.3 million copies in its first 24 hours.

The Twilight movie, directed by Catherine Hardwicke and starring Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, was released on November 21, 2008. Twilight debuted at #1 at the box office with $70 million, making it the highest grossing opening weekend for a female director.

Stephenie lives in Arizona with her husband and three sons.

Here is a list of interviews with Stephenie Meyer, and links to the text, audio, or video.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron Knight
Series: The Iron Fey #4
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Young Adult Supernatural, Fantasy
Elements: Fae
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN, Harlequin Books
ISBN-13: 9780373210367
Release: October 25, 2011
Rating: 5/5

Tagline(s): Soulless. Banished. But never forgotten.

Summary:

Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing. 

Unless he can earn a soul. 

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Review:

Characters

Ash is kind enough to introduce himself to us:

"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..."

Ash gave up everything for Meghan...and lost it all when hse became the Iron Queen. To get it all back, Ash will travel to the End of the World in order to gain a soul.

Joining him in his quest is the mischievious Puck, the grumbling Grimalkin, and the totally unexpected Big Bad Wolf and thought-to-be-dead Ariella.

Theme

This is a classic star-crossed lovers story. In order to save Ash's life, Meghan---using his True Name---commands Ash to leave the Iron Realm and never come back. Ash vowed to find a way back to her side, and that's where the story of The Iron Knight comes in. The Iron Knight is Ash's journey to the End of the World, his trials, his tribulations---all to gain a soul so he can enter the Iron Realm unharmed, and ultimately be with Meghan again.

Plot

Since this is Ash's story I'm sure you know it takes place from his POV. We get a really good look into Ash's mind, his past. We see what he's able to hide so well under that Winter Prince mask.

And for those who have read the other books in the Iron Fey series---which are from Meghan's POV---where we wonder what could possibly be going on inside Ash's head---this book is a miracle.

Setting

There are a number of settings along Ash's journey: from the wyldwood to the Deep Wyld; the River of Dreams to the village of Phaed; the Testing Grounds to, finally, the End of the World.

Out of all these places, I think that the End of the World has the most impact. From it's floating islands and castle to the many awe-inspiring creatures; the End of the World is full of things you've never seen and will never see again.

This is where Ash is tested to see if he's worthy of a soul. He learns all the things it means to be human: weakness of the flesh, conscience, and mortality. And with this knowledge he has to choose whether or not he truly wants a soul. Does he want to remain an immortal, soulless fey or become a weak, mortal human? But if he chooses to become human, there is a price.

My Final Thoughts:

I loved being able to see things from Ash's point of view. It was really cool seeing his memories of the past, his feelings toward Meghan, Puck, and Ariella. The visions of the future---what Ash would become if he didn't gain a soul, his possible future with Meghan. It was just a great experience being in Ash's head. Though the parting with Puck was kind of sad, since he can't go into the Iron Realm, the ending (or beginning) for Ash and Meghan was a happy tear-jerker.

Quotes:

Chapter 22, Page 332

"Knight. Do not discount the gift you have been givven. The soul of a Winter fey resides within you. You are no longer part of Faery, but neither are you completely mortal. You are...unique. We shall have to see where it takes you."

Epilogue, Pages 357-358


"I have come from the End of the World. From the River of Dreams, through the gauntlet and the Briars and the Deep Wyld, in order to stand before you today. I have but one request---to take my place at you side. To resume my duty as your knight, and to protect you and your kingdom for as long as I draw breath. I am still yours, my queen. If you'll have me." 

About this Author:

Julie Kagawa was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.

When not swimming for her life, Julie immersed herself in books, often to the chagrin of her schoolteachers, who would find she hid novels behind her Math textbooks during class. Her love of reading led her to pen some very dark and gruesome stories, complete with colored illustrations, to shock her hapless teachers. The gory tales faded with time, but the passion for writing remained, long after she graduated and was supposed to get a real job.

To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dogtrainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full-time.

Julie now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where the frequency of shark attacks are at an all time low. She lives with her husband, two obnoxious cats, one Australian Shepherd who is too smart for his own good, and the latest addition, a hyper-active Papillon puppy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Review: Destined by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Title: Destined
Series: House of Night #9
Author(s): P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Genre: Young Adult Supernatural
Elements: Vampyres, Deities, Immortals
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN-13: 9780312650254
Release:October 25, 2011
Rating: 5/5

Tagline(s): Can love win when it is tested by the very soul of Darkness?

Summary:

Zoey is finally home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side, and preparing to face off against Neferet -- which would be a whole lot easier if the High Council saw the ex-High Priestess for what she really is. Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim, and, through Nyx's gift of a human form, Rephaim and Stevie Rae are finally able to be together -- if he can truly walk the path of the Goddess and stay free of his father's shadow.

But there are new forces at work at the House of Night. An influx of humans, including Lenobia's handsome horse whisperer, threatens their precarious stability. And then there's the mysterious Aurox, a jaw-droppingly gorgeous teen boy who is actually more -- or possibly less -- than human. Only Neferet knows he was created to be her greatest weapon. But Zoey can sense the part of his soul that remains human, the compassion that wars with his Dark calling. And there's something strangely familiar about him...

Will Neferet's true nature be revealed before she succeeds at extinguishing Light? And will Zoey be able to touch Aurox's humanity in time to protect them all? Find out what's destined in the next thrilling chapter of the House of Night series.


Review: 

Characters 

(Because there are so many characters to summarize I'm going to try to keep the summaries as short as possible.)

Zoey Redbird and her Circle (in elemental order):

Damien has the affinity for Air. He's usually breezy and upbeat, but Jack's death has brought him down.

Shaunee has the affinity for Fire. She's a very warm and passionate person, but she's feeling a little lost after realizing that she wants to be 'Shaunee' and not 'Twin' anymore.

Erin has the affinity for Water. Erin is usually a calm and refreshing person, but after a fight with Shaunee she wonders if she's really just frozen and cold.

Stevie Rae has the affinity for Earth. She has a strong, nurturing nature. Being the first Red Vampyre and High Priestess has put a lot of pressure on her, and recent events are leaving her shaken.

Zoey has an affinity for all five of the elements, but is most closely linked to Spirit. She is the leader and heart of the group. She can see past a person's outer facade and see them for who they really are. Zoey has been richly blessed by Nyx with great power and responsibility---whether she wants that responsibility or not---for such a young fledgling. This makes her a very special---and sometimes envied and hated---fledgling High Priestess.

Those on the Side of Light and Truth:

Stark is Zoey's Guardian Warrior and boyfriend. He's recently been plagued by bad dreams which have kept him from getting any proper sleep. Zoey helps as much as she can by using Spirit to calm his dreams. 

Darius is Aphrodite's Warrior and boyfriend. He's ever vigilant in his duty as protector. Though deadly in his skill with knives, he's gentle and caring with Aphrodite.

Rephaim was recently forgiven by Nyx and gifted with the form of a human boy, though during the day he takes the form of a raven as punishment for his past crimes. He is Stevie Rae's Consort and acts as her protector.

Lenobia is the House of Night's Horse Mistress. She has battled with Darkness in the past and can see how deep in Darkness Neferet is. She provides wise council for Zoey and her circle.

Thanatos is a member of the Vampyre High Council, the governing power of the Vampyre people. She has come to the Tulsa House of Night to be the High Council's eyes and ears. She has an affinity for Death and is a seeker of Truth.

Aphrodite is a Prophetess of Nyx. Her visions have been pivotal in the success of Zoey and her circle. Though the visions are painful and draining, they have prevented many disasters and deaths in the group. Having visions that only portend death and destruction is both physically and emotionally draining, and they have been getting worse, which worries Zoey and Darius.

Kramisha is a Poet Laureate. Her prophetic poems, though most of the time are confusing, have helped Zoey and everyone prepare for their battles with Darkness. Sometimes they are messages for individual people.

Those on the Side of Darkness and Deceit:

Neferet was once the respected High Priestess of the Tulsa House of Night, though certain of those around her suspected something wasn't quite right. Though Zoey and her group know Neferet's true colors, Neferet has still been able to deceive everyone else.

The White Bull is the physical form of Darkness. He enjoys death, destruction, and chaos.

Aurox is the vessel Darkness created for Neferet with the sacrifice of Zoey's mother, Linda, who Neferet murdered. Because the sacrifice was imperfect, Nyx was able to interfere by asking Heath if he'd rather be reborn or help Zoey by having is soul put into the vessel. With the imperfect sacrifice and Heath's soul in Aurox, he's beginning to think and feel, which he was never meant to do. Though he was made by Darkness to serve Darkness, he is leaning toward Light, if not a middle ground.

Those in the Middle:

Dragon is the Sword Master of the Tulsa House of Night. With the loss of his mate, Anastasia, Dragon has decided to be on the side of neither Nyx or Darkness, only himself. Having lost himself with the death of Anastasia, he claims he only has the dragon to be, and a dragon shows no mercy.

Erik Night is Zoey's ex-boyfriend and the Tulsa House of Night's new Tracker. He Marks his first assignment, Shaylin, in red instead of blue. She was blind, but after being Marked, can see and has the gift of True Sight. This definitely frazzles him. He hasn't made it clear where he stands in the fight between Light and Darkness, but remains in the middle.

Theme

During the ritual on Grandma Redbird's lavender farm, each of the circle members bring an object that represents a truth about them that no one else knows. Each of these truths are things that people go through everyday. 

Feeling the weight of a loved one's death; loneliness and wanting to rise above the fear of being alone; feeling empty and frozen to everything; fear of the unknown; and feeling like your going to break and fearing you'll never be the same again.

The overall theme of the book, as well as the series as a whole, is the battle between good and evil. We see this in many stories so it's nothing new. Zoey says that she feels as though she'll shatter all over again from the pressure of her role as the leader of her group. What I think she needs to do is when the pressure is too much, step back and let her friends help her. She's not alone in this battle.

Plot

The plot of Destined is written in the alternating POV's of Zoey, Aurox, Kalona, Rephaim, Erik, Stevie Rae, Lenobia, Stark, Shaunee , Neferet, and Dragon.

This gives readers more insight into the characters and their parts in the story. We see a lot of character development, especially with Kalona and Shaunee. We see a more human side to Kalona and a more independent side to Shaunee.

It was great seeing more of Dragons after having rad Dragon's Oath. The conclusion to Dragon's story is bittersweet, but I think the sweet outweighs the bitter.

Lenobia's point of view in Destined is a great introduction to her novella, Lenobia's Vow.

In regards to the fight between Shaunee and Erin, it would have been nice to see Erin's side and what was going through her head. But we only see one side of the Twin split in Shaunee's POV.

Setting

*ATTENTION!!*
*THERE ARE SPOILERS AFTER THIS POINT!!*

(For the setting I'm only going to mention Grandma Redbird's lavender farm.)

The lavender farm is the setting for the reveal ritual Thanatos casts invoking Death to reveal the truth of Zoey's mother's murder. This is not the only thing that happens at the farm while the ritual is happening, though.

Through the ritual the truth of Linda's murder is revealed, as well as the truth of Neferet's true allegiances. Dragons shows up and protects Rephaim from Aurox's attacks, but is ultimately killed. But in protecting Rephaim, Dragon is able to show mercy and ultimately Anastasia and Nyx. Zoey looks through her seer stone after prompting from Nyx and sees that Aurox has Heath's soul, and protects him using Earth from Stark and Darius' attack. Kalona arrives after receiving a call from Stevie Rae to help Rephaim. Kalona shows his love for his son and asks Nyx not to take him. After Rephaim is healed, Thanatos declares herself the Tulsa House of Night's new High Priestess and Kalona gives her his Warrior's Oath, which she accepts. And as they are leaving to return to the House of Night, Nyx leaves them with a warning.

As you can see, a lot happens in this short amount of time. So much is learned and so much is felt; it's like emotional overload.

My Final Thoughts:

I love all the revelations and character development that happens in Destined. With Neferet finally outed, it's going to be interesting to see what happens next. I'm really curious about what's going to happen between Zoey and Aurox now that she knows the truth about him, or at least part of the truth. I have a feeling things are really going to heat up with all that's been revealed in this book. I can't wait to read Book 10.

Quotes:

Chapter 13, Page 137

"Wow, you would not believe all the colors. Eek, and there's the Dead Fish Eye Lady, so gross!"

Chapter 22, Page 237

"I have seen Darkness. I have seen its carnage, its waste, its wages. I recognize its threads and shadows all too well. Perhaps it is because I have watched it for so long that I can also see that which is its opposite---that which causes the strength of Darkness to weaken, to falter. You, Zoey Redbird. There is something about you that cannot be touched by Darkness; therefore, it is your fate to stand in the Light and lead the battle against evil."

Chapter 26, Page 289

"Darkness does not always equate to evil. Light does not always bring good."

Chapter 27, Page 291

"Yes, I feel! I do feel, even though Priestess says I do not. I feel her sadness. I feel her fear. I feel her loneliness. Why? Why does Zoey Redbird make me feel?"

Chapter 29, Page 324

"The Tulsa House of Night has a new High Priestess, and she is Death."

About these Authors:

P.C. Cast was born in the Midwest, and grew up being shuttled back-and-forth between Illinois and Oklahoma, which is where she fell in love with Quarter Horses and mythology (at about the same time). After high school she joined the United States Air Force and began public speaking and writing. After her tour in the USAF, she taught high school for 15 years before retiring to write full time.  Ms. Cast is a New York Times Best-Selling author and a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame.  Her novels have been awarded the prestigious: Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Prism, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers’ Best, and the Laurel Wreath. P.C. Cast is an experienced teacher and talented speaker. If your organization is interested in information about her workshops or presentations, please contact her personal assistant, Camden Clark, at camdenclark.pa@gmail.com. If the request is specific to her young adult series, you may contact her St. Martin’s publicist, Rachel Ekstrom, at rachel.eckstrom@stmartins.com. Ms. Cast lives in Oklahoma with her fabulous daughter, her spoiled cat, and her adorable Scotties!

Kristin Cast is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author who teams with her mother to write the House of Night YA series. She has stand alone stories in several anthologies, as well as editorial credits. Currently Kristin attends college in Oklahoma where she is focusing on attaining her dream of opening a no kill dog rescue shelter in midtown Tulsa.

GNA Review: Vampire Academy: A Graphic Novel

Title: Vampire Academy: A Graphic Novel
Series: Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel #1
Author: Richelle Mead
Adapter: Leigh Dragoon
Artist: Emma Vieceli
Genre: Young Adult Graphic Novel Adaptations, Supernatural
Elements: Vampires, Dhampirs, Magic
Publisher: Razorbill, Penguin Group
ISBN-13: 9781595144294
Release: August 23, 2011
Rating: 2/5

Tagline(s): Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies...

Summary:

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from the Strigoi, the fiercest vampires---the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

Review:

Adaptation

There's nothing wrong with the wording, it's all taken straight from the book. But it's like the adapter only took the bare minimum of the story to put in the graphic novel. All of the juicy, meaty parts are left out. There are a lot of events and conversations not even included. I think the story part of this graphic novel would have been better with more substance to it.

Art

To be perfectly honest, I don't really like the art. I also don't like that it's in color. When I read graphic novels I prefer them to be in black and white. The art doesn't really add much character to the faces. Maybe it's just that I don't like American-looking art styles in manga.

My Final Thoughts:

I was sort of disappointed with the whole graphic novel. I thought it could have been much better.

When graphic novels are done in color, for me, it takes something away. It doesn't look as deep as it could be if it were in black and white. And with the pages being glossy it adds a glare that makes it difficult to read.

The adaptation wasn't any better. The story was so watered down that all the depth was sucked out of the story.

If I had to choose between reading the original book or the graphic novel, I'd choose the original hands down.

About this Author:

Scorpio Richelle Mead is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy books for both adults and teens. Originally from Michigan, Richelle now lives in Seattle, Washington where she works on her three series full-time: Georgina Kincaid, Dark Swan, and Vampire Academy.

A life-long reader, Richelle has always loved mythology and folklore. When she can actually tear herself away from books (either reading or writing them), she enjoys bad reality TV, traveling, trying interesting cocktails, and shopping for dresses. She's a self-professed coffee addict and has a passion for all things wacky and humorous. 


About this Artist:

Emma Vieceli (born June 13, 1979, in Essex) is a professional British comics artist of Italian-English heritage. She is currently a resident of a small village in Cambridgeshire, England.

Vieceli joined Sweatdrop Studios in 2002, and through the group released her own comic series, 'Dragon Heir'. She has also contributed to anthology titles including Boiled Spoons, Cold Sweat, Love, Sweat & Tears, Pink is for Girls and Planet Manga (A&I Covermount) and in 2005 she achieved a runner up position in the first Rising Stars of Manga United Kingdom & Ireland Competition, with her 15-page shōjo entry, "Between the Lines". She included cameo appearances of various titles being published under Sweatdrop Studios in her short story; Looking for the Sun, Once upon a Time, Fantastic Cat, as well as Dragon Heir.

She has worked on comic adaptations of William Shakespeare's Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing for Self Made Hero. Amongst other projects, has worked on the art and design of the collectible card game Herocard Cyberspace from Tablestar Games and was also of the head contributors to Draw Manga Sweatdrop Studios from New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd. Vieceli has worked with Spacedog Entertainment, illustrating the cover to eV, a short story in Princess Ai: Rumors From The Other Side, both published by Tokyopop, and a story in Tori Amos' Comic Book Tattoo a 480 page anthology published by Image Comics on July 3, 2008. In addition, she created Violet for The DFC, which was previewed in The Guardian Comic on May 31, 2008. In 2011, Vieceli provided the art for the Vampire Academy graphic novel, based on the novels of the same name.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

GNA Review: Manga Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice

Title: The Merchant of Venice
Series: Manga Shakespeare
Author: William Shakespeare
Adapter: Richard Appignanesi
Artist: Faye Yong
Genre: Young Adult Graphic Novel Adaptations
Publisher: Amulet Books, ABRAMS Books
ISBN-13: 9780810997172
ISBN: 0810997177
Release: March 1, 2011
Rating: 3/5

Tagline(s): All that glisters is not gold.

Summary: 

In one of the Bard's most enduring plays, Bassanio seeks the hand of the heiress Portia, but needs money to make a good impression. He and his friend Antonio borrow from the sinister banker Shylock, whose famous terms require a pound of flesh in forfeit if the money isn't paid back. Featuring one of literature's most famous courtroom scenes, and full of high-stakes drama, this manga interpretation is sure to grip readers and not let go.

Review: 

Adaptation

With most of Shakespeare's writings, it can be difficult to understand. The Manga Shakespeare series is supposed to use the original text and art to make it easier to understand and more fun.

I think personally, having never read The Merchant of Venice before, that the play would have been easier to understand if the adapter had used modern English. I think with a mix of modern language and the art depiction the play can be very easy to understand. But by using the original text you're still not making it any easier to understand. I had to use a Spark Notes No Fear Shakespeare version of the play while reading the graphic novel so I could understand what was being said.

Art

Though I don't like the word adaptation I really love the art. The artist depicts the characters as looking elvish; though the prince of Arragon looks more like a mer person and the prince of Morocco reminds me of a snake.

There is a distinct difference between the depictions of the Christians and the Jews. The Christians have light countenances and clothing, while the Jews are dark haired and wear dark clothing.

Faye Yong's are is just really beautiful and pleasing to look at.

My Final Thoughts:

Though I didn't like the adaptation and comprehension was as difficult for me as any Shakespeare play or poem, the art made up for it. I really enjoyed looking at Faye Yong's depictions of the characters. Her art is really beautiful.

About this Author:

William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language, and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who bore him three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592 he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of the playing company the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.

Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. Next he wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest examples in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime, and in 1623, two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's.

Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the nineteenth century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare's genius, and the Victorians hero-worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called "bardolatry". In the twentieth century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are consistently performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.
 

About this Artist:

A former pianist left Malaysia to pursue an Illustration degree in the UK. Faye has a weakness for shoujo manga and anything with a happy ending and is on a lifelong quest to improve her artistic & storytelling skills. Her main influences and inspirations include Japanese manga, fashion & fabulous looking people. She works primarily with Photoshop, Manga Studio, Illustrator and her Intuos tablet.

Faye placed third in the hotly contested Rising Stars of Manga UK and; Ireland 3 in 2008 and; won the People's Choice Award in the same year.

Bassanio and Antonio
Portia and Nerissa




Shylock and Jessica

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: Fury by Elizabeth Miles

Title: Fury
Series: The Fury Trilogy #1
Author: Elizabeth Miles
Genre: Young Adult Supernatural
Elements: Furies
Publisher: Simon Pulse, Simon and Schuster Inc.
ISBN-13: 9781442422247
ISBN: 1442422246 
Release: August 30, 2011
Rating: 3/5


Tagline(s): Sometimes sorry isn't enough. / What goes around comes around.

Summary:

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems...

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better--the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.

Em and Chase have been chosen. 

Review: 

Characters

Emily Winters is one of the IN crowd. She could have any guy she wants. But the guy she does want just happens to be her best friend's boyfriend. And he's showing an interest he really shouldn't be showing. When Em's BFF goes on vacation, she spends some quality time with the BF. And as they get closer strange things start happening. Em better watch out, or she's gonna get burned.

Chase Singer seemingly has it all---he's popular, quarterback of the football team, and recently met the most beautiful girl. But behind that facade is the real Chase---he lives in a trailer, doesn't have much money, and has a terrible secret. As his carefully constructed mask begins to crumble around him, Chase starts to come unraveled himself.

Ty, Meg, and Ali are the furies, or the Angry Ones. Tisiphone, Megaera, and Alecto. The furies are merciless in their pursuit of punishment. And the punishment must fit the crime. You definitely don't want to ever gain the attention of these three girls. 

Theme

There are three themes that correspond with the three characters I mentioned earlier.
 

In Em's case, she betrays her best friend and cheats with said best friend's boyfriend. I guess, technically, that's two themes, but I'm putting them together as one. Em knows what she's doing is wrong and that is will hurt her BFF, but she truly believes that the BF, Zach, really cares for her. When she finds out that he's just been playing her, she ends it, but the damage has already been done.

The theme in Chase's case is, you could say, a type of bullying. I can't say too much or I might give something away, but Chase does something that drove an old childhood friend to suicide.

And it's obvious that with Ty, Meg, and Ali the theme is vengeance or punishment. As it is a fury's job to punish those who have done something wrong, they go after Em and Chase respectively for the wrong they both have done.

Plot

The plot switches between the POV's of Emily and Chase.

I think I would describe this book as a psychological thriller with elements of horror and the supernatural.

The mythology of the furies was used expertly in the character names, personalities, and behaviors. Though their names are shortened and modernized, you can still tell who is who. Ty is Tisiphone, Meg is Megaera, and Ali is Alecto. Their personalities and behaviors match up pretty well with their legendary selves as well.

Tisiphone is known as the avenging one who is the voice of revenge and the avenger of murder. So it makes sense how Ty in Fury is the spear point in exacting revenge against Chase who ultimately caused a suicide.

Megaera is known as the grudging or unwilling one who burns with envious anger and punishes for infidelity. Meg and Ali are the ones who exact punishment against Em for her cheating and betrayal.

Alecto is known as the unceasing one who is never-ending in her anger and castigates mortal crimes. Ali really is relentless when she interacts with Em, and seeing as infidelity can be considered a moral crime, it only makes sense that Meg and Ali work together to punish Em.

Setting

The story is set in Maine during the winter. Winter is sort of eery in itself. It's cold, ruthless, unrelenting, and quiet. The earth in its rest. It's easy to imagine something scary happening in such a setting. Winter is hauntingly beautiful, just like the furies are in the story. The furies themselves are like Winter; cold, ruthless, and quiet. Unrelenting in their purpose. For a story such as Fury, it doesn't seem right for it to takes place in any other season.

My Final Thoughts:

I thought that the beginning of the book was a little slow, which made it hard to really get into the story. Once the story started to pick up and more action was happening, it was really enjoyable. I love the mythology of the furies and how it's used in the book. The author has them appear in a modern setting and modernized their names, so it's like old meets new. I like how Em grows a backbone after her encounter with the furies. It's going to be interesting to see what happens in the next book, Envy, with Zach. He definitely deserves the wrath of the furies.

Quotes:

Chapter 16, Page 248

"It just seems like...everything comes full circle."

Chapter 24, Page 356

"It's much better this way, Em dear. It's perfect, really. The punishment has to fit the crime, you know." 

Chapter 25, Page 363

"This is wrong. You know it. You must know it. This is not justice. This is not karma. This isn't helping anything. You're not teaching anything. Ty. Please. What you did to Chase---what you're doing to me. It doesn't make any sense. It's not right. This isn't how the world should work."

About this Author:

Elizabeth Miles grew up in Chappaqua, New York, not far from New York City. She graduated from Boston University in 2004, and has worked ever since as a journalist for an alternative newsweekly. She has been honored by the New England Press Association and the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. Elizabeth serves on the board of trustees of Portland Players, a community theater and second home. She loves pizza; she can often be found running around on stage while scantily clad; and a cold winter night in Maine is one of the creepiest and most beautiful things she can think of. Fury is Elizabeth’s first novel.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review: If I Die by Rachel Vincent

Title: If I Die
Series: Soul Screamers #5
Author: Rachel Vincent
Genre: Young Adult Supernatural
Elements: Bean sidhes, Reapers, Incubi, Demons
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN, Harlequin Books
ISBN-13: 9780373210329
ISBN: 0373210329 
Release: September 20, 2011
Rating: 5/5

Tagline(s): The last thing you hear before you die. / Nobody wants to be this teachers pet.

Summary:

The entire school's talking about the gorgeous new math teacher, Mr. Beck. Everyone except Kaylee Cavanaugh. After all, Kaylee's no ordinary high-school junior. She's a banshee—she screams when someone dies.

But the next scream might be for Kaylee.

Yeah—it's a shock to her, too. So to distract herself, Kaylee's going to save every girl in school. Because that hot new teacher is really an incubus who feeds on the desire of unsuspecting students. The only girls immune to his lure are Kaylee and Sabine, her boyfriend's needy ex-girlfriend. Now the unlikely allies have to get rid of Mr. Beck…before he discovers they aren't quite human, either.

But Kaylee's borrowed lifeline is nearing its end. And those who care about her will do anything to save her life.

Anything.


Review: 

Characters 

Kaylee Cavanaugh is a bean sidhe. She screams---or sings---for the souls of the dying. She's beaten and endured many challenges, but this time she may not be so lucky. With less than a week left of her borrowed lifeline, Kaylee will have to, somehow, get rid of the incubus pretending to be her math teacher, and come to terms with her own impending death.

Tod Hudson is a reaper---and when he was living, a male bean sidhe. Tod has been trying to get Kaylee to realize that Nash (his younger brother) is not the right person Kaylee should be with. Tod will do pretty much anything for Kaylee. His feelings for her make his sadness over not being able to prevent her death even more unbearable. 

Nash Hudson is Kaylee's boyfriend and Tod's younger brother. Being a male bean sidhe, Nash thought he would have hundreds of years to be with Kaylee. But the news of her impending death causes Nash to jump back on the frost bandwagon. 

Sabine Campbell is a mara---a nightmare. She's Nash's ex-girlfriend, but she's still in love with him and trying to get him back. She's always there for Nash when Kaylee isn't. Especially when Nash was going through withdrawal from frost. Where Kaylee can't trust or accept Nash as he is now, Sabine does without question. With Kaylee's death on the horizon, Sabine is hoping to finally get Nash back. 

Emma Marshall is Kaylee's best friend and 100% human. She's fallen victim to the supernatural elements in Kaylee's life countless times, and this time is no different. Emma falls under Mr. Beck's influence with ease until Kaylee comes to the rescue. But all the Netherworld creatures would never be able to tear Emma from Kaylee's side. The news of Kaylee's death hits Emma pretty hard when she realizes all the things they'll never be able to do together. 

Mr. Beck is the new math teacher who just happens to be an incubus---another Netherworld nasty. He's very determined to have a son and will impregnate as many girls as it takes for him to finally have that son. But when Kaylee messes up his careful planning for the soul of his unborn son, he goes after Kaylee's. 

Theme 

Knowledge and acceptance of one's own death is one theme in If I Die. When Kaylee first learns that her borrowed lifeline is nearing it's expiration date, she's completely shocked and quickly goes into denial. As the initial shock wears off, she slowly begins to accept that there is nothing that can be done to stop her death. So she sets about doing one last thing to help those around her. This is her way of accepting and dealing with the knowledge that she's going to die. 

Another theme is grief. Though Kaylee is not dead yet, her loved ones are in some stage of the grief process. Kaylee's father is in the denial stage and tries to find some way to keep her from dying. In his mind, she is NOT going to die. Tod is in the guilt stage because there is no way that he can prevent Kaylee's death. That causes him great pain and guilt. Nash is in the anger stage and tries to gain more time with Kaylee. He even goes so far as to use his Influence on Kaylee to get more alone time with her. Emma is in the depression stage and reflects on all that she'll never be able to do with Kaylee. This causes Emma to feel the loneliness Kaylee's absence will leave behind. And finally, Kaylee is in the acceptance stage. She knows there's no way to prevent her death. So she accepts it for what it is and tries to make it easier for those around her. 

Plot 

The plot leading up to the climax of the story is full of suspense and drama. If the wait for the release of the book wasn't enough, we're kept waiting even longer for the part everyone's waited for. But that's not a bad thing. The drama and suspense build up the excitement for the finale. 

After we learn Kaylee's fate at the end, we're left wondering what could possibly happen next. 

I like the use of the Dylan Thomas poem when Tod is speaking to Kaylee about her death:
"It's just a relief to hear you sounding less than rational and perfectly accepting of your own death. For a while it looked like you were going to 'go gentle into that good night,' or whatever. And that's not you, Kaylee."
"You like it better when I 'rage, rage against the dying of the light?'"
"I like it when you 'rage, rage' against anything. It makes you look fierce and...alive."
The poem itself has a message that no matter how one has lived their life or what one feels at the end they should die fighting. It implies that one should not die without fighting for one's life, or after life. That death is unavoidable, but one should fight death. Not for one's own sake, but for the hope and closure for those they leave behind. 

For those who have never read this poem or don't know the meaning of it, it may seem meaningless and unimportant. But for those who do know the poem and message, they will see the significance. 

Tod is telling Kaylee that she shouldn't be so accepting of her death. That she should be fighting to the very end, instead of just sitting back and waiting for it to happen. That even though her death is unavoidable, she should fight in the face of death, just as the always fought through life. And fight she does.  

Setting

**ATTENTION!!**
**THERE ARE SPOILERS AFTER THIS POINT!!**

The school is the place where a lot of Netherworld activity is centered. It's also where Emma almost gets trapped by Mr. Beck before Kaylee interferes. It's the place where Kaylee kisses Tod and Nash finds them in the act. Kaylee feels humiliated after the very public fight.

The Netherworld is a place that Kaylee never wants to go back to if it can be helped. A place full of supernatural creatures. But Kaylee must cross over if she wants to save Emma from Mr. Beck. What she discovers there is something she never would have thought could happen. Tod has handed the reaper charged with reaping Kaylee's soul over to the hellion Avari. This is when Kaylee first recognizes her growing feelings for Tod, but she also feels regret for realizing it too late.

Lakeside is another place Kaylee never wants to go back to. Lakeside is the portion of the hospital that houses mental patients. It's the place Kaylee was sent for her "panic attacks." And even though she now knows she's not crazy, Lakeside still instills that fear in her that she really is. But if Kaylee wants to get rid of Mr. Beck, she needs to sneak in and speak to a former "student" of his. With Tod's help and support, she's able to accomplish what she set out to do.

And finally, there's Kaylee's home---specifically her bedroom. This is where Mr. Beck attacks Kaylee, fatally wounding her. But she does manage to pull the knife out of her stomach and kill the incubus. She's able to call Tod and he gets her to the hospital. On the way, Kaylee is more scared of seeing Tod crying than knowing that she's dying. Because reapers don't cry and she made Tod cry.

My Final Thoughts:

I truly believe that If I Die is the best book in the Soul Screamers series so far. It's full of suspense and drama, emotional overload, and hope in the face of death. It's going to take a lot to beat this one. What could possibly happen in the next book?

I really love the developments between Kaylee and Tod. When I first started reading the Soul Screamers series I was all for Nash, but once he started using frost he just became annoying. I really believe what Tod said when he told Kaylee that Nash wasn't the right person for her. I'm glad that Kaylee finally realized that as the truth. Team Tod forever! Kaylee is one lucky girl, that's for sure.

Quotes:

Chapter 10, Pages 136-137

"I'm not a saint, and I don't want to be. I just want to be normal. I want to have fights with my dad, and secrets with my best friend, and sex with my boyfriend. But most of all, I want to not be dead in a few days. I'm not done living! And I can't fit everything else I want to do into the next ninety-six hours, and no matter how many dying wishes I make, that's not going to change. And I hate it!"

Chapter 16, Page 244

"There's a good kind of crazy, Kaylee. It's the kind that makes you think about things that make your head hurt, because not thinking about them is the coward's way out. The kind that makes you touch people who bruise your soul, just because they need to be touched. This is the kind of crazy that lets you stare out into the darkness and rage at eternity, while it stares back at you, ready to swallow you whole. I've seen you fight, Kaylee. I've seen you step into that darkness for someone else, then claw your way out, bruised, but still standing. You're that kind of crazy, and I live in that darkness. Together, we'd take crazy to a whole new level." 

About this Author: 

A resident of San Antonio, Rachel Vincent has a BA in English and an overactive imagination, and consistently finds the latter to be more practical. She shares her workspace with two black cats (Kaci and Nyx) and her # 1 fan. Rachel is older than she looks-seriously-and younger than she feels, but remains convinced that for every day she spends writing, one more day will be added to her lifespan.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: Dead Rules by Randy Russell

Title: Dead Rules
Author: Randy Russell
Genre: Young Adult Supernatural
Elements: Ghosts, Spirits
Publisher: Harper TEEN, Harper Collins
ISBN-13: 9780061986703
ISBN: 0061986704
Release: June 21, 2011
Rating: 4/5




Tagline(s): She loved her boyfriend to death.

Summary:


Till death

Jana Webster and Michael Haynes were in love. They were destined to be together forever.

Do

But Jana's destiny was fatally flawed. And now she's in Dead School, where Mars Dreamcote lurks in the back of the classroom, with his beguiling blue eyes, mysterious smile, and irresistibly warm touch.

Us

Michael and Jana were incomplete without each other. There was no room for Mars in Jana's life—or death—story. Jana was sure Michael would rush to her side soon.

Part

But things aren't going according to Jana's plan. So Jana decides to do whatever it takes to make her dreams come true—no matter what rules she has to break.

Review:

Characters

Jana Webster, one-half of Webster and Haynes, is helplessly in love with her boyfriend, Michael. They had a future, they were going places. But now Jana's dead and attending a new school, Dead School. Some say her death was an accident, others say it was murder. But Jana doesn't care about how it happened, she just wants Michael to join her soon. And she'll do anything to get him to her side.

Michael Haynes never expected a harmless joke would result in Jana's death. Neither did he expect the trouble it would cause him. He just wants to move on and move toward his Ivy League future. But other forces won't let him move on, they want him to pay.

Mars Dreamcote wants to save a life after his own death took not only his life, but someone else's too. He was at the bowling alley when Jana's accident happened, and he tried to save her life, but was not able to in time. Even though it goes against his feelings for Jana, he helps her become a Slider so she can go through with her plan to get Michael.

Wyatt is another Slider who was killed when Mars's car clipped his motorcycle when Mars tried to avoid him in the accident that resulted in both their deaths. Wyatt helps Mars and Jana when she wants to contact Michael and when she wants to become a Slider. He also tries to make Jana realize that Michael isn't who she thinks he is. He was also at the bowling alley with Mars when Jana's accident happened. He becomes pretty good friends with Jana by the end of the book.

Theme

One theme is Jana's obsessive, if not delusional, love for Michael. She's so in love with Michael that she doesn't see the truth of their relationship. She believes that their love is on par with that of Romeo and Juliet, and that Michael should be so distraught over her death that he'll join her in death. And when she finally learns the truth about Michael she's completely shocked. It's never healthy to mistake obsession for love. Her love may have been true, but she became so blinded by it that she couldn't see the truth.

Another theme that everyone in Dead School experiences is the need to feel alive. The girls use makeup to feel alive, to feel normal. The Sliders use jumping to feel that rush of adrenaline. Everyone wants to feel alive. Whether they are living, or in the case of this book, dead. Whether they are Risers or Sliders. Whether it's frivolous or dangerous. Otherwise, you feel empty and dead---or deader.

Plot

The main plot of this book is told from Jana's point of view. Then there are sub-plots told from others---Mars, Wyatt, Michael, Nathan, Sherry---point of view.

I like how the author chose to have the plot involve what's happening on the Planet---from Michael, Nathan, and Sherry's points of view---as well as that of Dead School where Jana, Mars, and Wyatt are.

It was also fun reading about when those two worlds collided. When Jana, Mars, and Wyatt payed Nathan, Sherry, and Michael visits, trying to get them to confess to what they did.

Because of this, I think the plot has a perfect balance between the events happening on the Planet and at Dead School. Otherwise, we'd only be getting two-thirds of the plot.

Setting

First there's Dead School, which is actually located on the Planet, but in like a different dimension. Every student at Dead School is, as you know, dead. But while they are in the school, they have bodies. So while they know they're dead, they don't feel that way completely. Students, particularly Risers, are not allowed to leave campus without permission. Although Sliders leave campus all the time to go to the Planet.

The Planet is where the living, well, live. Sliders go to the Planet to go jumping and just feel alive in general. On the Planet, Sliders are able to naturalize---be seen and heard---but Risers aren't able to do that unless they are touching a Slider. So where Sliders are more like ghosts on the Planet---able to move things, touch things, be heard and seen---Risers are like spirits, pretty much can only do what comes naturally---sit, walk, run. etc.

Final Thoughts:

I really liked this book. It was a really fun story to read. I liked being able to see both sides of the story---the living and the dead. I thought it was hilarious when Mars and Wyatt mess with Nathan and Sherry, trying to get them to confess. Mars and Jana are really cute, Michael was just annoying, and Wyatt is just awesome.

Quote:

Chapter Fifteen, Page 173

Mars knew that love wasn't all red-paper valentines and candy hearts. Love wasn't always joy. Love could be hot-blooded pain down to the bone. Sometimes love was despair. And sometimes love was wrong. Jana loved Michael enough to kill him for it. Jana loved Michael to death.

About this Author:


Randy Russell has believed in ghosts since having to take the trash out at night when he was 12 and being chased back to the house by “something” in the darkness.

The Edgar-nominated author of five published novels for adults, two books of short stories about ghosts, and two volumes of Southern Appalachia folklore, Randy’s first paranormal novel, Dead Rules , was released in hardcover by HarperTeen on June 21, 2011.

Randy is an academically trained folklorist who has collected hundreds of first-person accounts of ghost experiences from across the South. He presents regularly on “True Ghost Stories of the South” based on his interviews of people who have encountered ghosts.

Randy lives outside Asheville, North Carolina, near the end of a shady mountain cove road marked by a sign that reads “No Exit.” Randy thinks this means he will live forever.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review: Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Title: Perfect
Series: Impulse #2
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Poetry
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books, Simon and Schuster Inc.
ISBN-13: 9781416983248
ISBN: 1416983244
Release: September 13, 2011
Rating: 5/5


Tagline(s): ~None~

Summary:

Everyone has something, someone, somewhere else that they’d rather be. For four high-school seniors, their goals of perfection are just as different as the paths they take to get there.

Cara’s parents’ unrealistic expectations have already sent her twin brother Conner spiraling toward suicide. For her, perfect means rejecting their ideals to take a chance on a new kind of love. Kendra covets the perfect face and body—no matter what surgeries and drugs she needs to get there. To score his perfect home run—on the field and off—Sean will sacrifice more than he can ever win back. And Andre realizes that to follow his heart and achieve his perfect performance, he’ll be living a life his ancestors would never have understood.

Everyone wants to be perfect, but when perfection loses its meaning, how far will you go? What would you give up to be perfect?

A riveting and startling companion to the bestselling Impulse, Ellen Hopkins's Perfect exposes the harsh truths about what it takes to grow up and grow into our own skins, our own selves.

Review:

Characters

Cara Sykes, Kendra Mathieson, Sean O'Connell, and Andre Kane all have on thing in common: their expectations for perfection. Whether those expectations are from their parents or self-imposed.

After her brother's failed suicide attempt, Cara ends up on an unexpected journey of self-discovery. But what she finds could shatter her facade of perfection. Cara will have to choose between taking a chance on what she discovered or continuing to live behind that facade and under her parent's expectations.

Kendra wants the perfect face and the perfect body that will take her career from the pageant stages to the model runways. But for Kendra, that perfection comes with a price. A price that could eventually cost her everything. Will she be willing to pay it?

Sean has everything planned around his relationship with Cara. Even getting a baseball scholarship to Stanford. But in order to get there, his batting needs to be perfect. And what better way to ensure that than using steroids? But when things with Cara take a nosedive and his future plans are disrupted, Sean is a little more than upset and decides to get even.

Andre's ancestors struggled from the ground up to be successful, and his parents expect him to be just as successful. But where Andre's passions lie don't exactly fit with his parent's idea of the perfect career. Andre will need to choose whether to follow his heart or a future of discontent.

Theme

As the title of the book suggests, a theme of this story is perfection. Perfection that's imposed upon them by others or perfection that is imposed upon them by themselves. The perfect lifestyle, the perfect body, the perfect future, or the perfect career. But perfection comes at a price. Sometimes it's low, sometimes it's high, and sometimes the price is too high. Cara, Kendra, Sean, and Andre will have to choose whether they are willing to pay the price, no matter the cost. Is perfection important enough to risk everything for?

Though perfection is an obvious theme, as you read you will notice another theme: the absence of love. Cara's parents are distant and don't show much affection toward their children. Because of this, Cara doesn't understand love and doesn't think she could really love anyone. After Kendra's parents divorced, her father payed very little attention to her and her sister, Jenna. That lack of attention has deadly consequences for one of the sister. Sean loves Cara with all his heart, but when Cara doesn't return that love after almost a year together, it sends Sean spiraling downward. And when Jenna can't return Andre's love and he realizes he can't help Jenna before she falls, they break up.

Love is essential. When there's too little or too much of it, it can break us.

Plot

Perfect is written in verse. A lot of people would think that a book that's written more like a poem than a novel wouldn't have much depth. But they would be wrong. Perfect has a lot of depth and many powerful messages.

This book addresses many issues that teens face everyday. Sexual orientation, suicide, eating disorders, alcohol abuse, drug use, etc. It shows how they happen and the consequences of them.

The author does an amazing job telling each teens story---their issues, the complications and resolutions of those issues, and the consequences of them---all in verse.

My Final Thoughts:

I love how this book is so powerful. It has a powerful message about real life issues. You would think that a book written in verse would be simple, but it's not. It has a lot of depth to the story. I was so into this book that I couldn't put it down.

Quote:

Cara Sierra Sykes, Page 1

"Perfect?
How do you define a word without concrete meaning? To each his own, the saying goes, so why push to attain an ideal state of being that no two random people will agree is where you want to be? Faultless. Finished. Incomparable. People can never be these, and anyway, when did creating a flawless facade become a more vital goal than learning to love the person who lives inside your skin? The outside belongs to others. Only you should decide for you---what is perfect."

About this Author:


Ellen Hopkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, and Identical. She lives in Carson City, Nevada, with her husband and son. Hopkin's MySpace and Facebook pages get thousands of hits from teens who claim Hopkins is the "only one who understands me", and she can be visited at ellenhopkins.com.

Okay, as promised, I was adopted as
a baby and grew up in Palm Springs,
California. I went to a great private
school, where my teachers
convinced me I could become
anything I wanted. I knew from age 9,
when I published my first poem in the
Palm Springs Desert Sun, that I
wanted to be a writer. -Ellen Hopkins