Review: Blue Moon by Alyson Noel (The Immortals Series)

To me Noel’s second book was stronger than her first. In Evermore the main character Ever annoyed me a bit. She seemed so dependent and weak to me. A bit over annoying and self pitying. Her parents died yes, but the pity party was a bit much.
In Blue Moon Ever is secure in her own skin. Damen and Ever’s relationship is strong and will probably withstand the tests of eternity. Roman a new bad boy in town gives Ever the creeps. Damen, Miles, or Haven notice nothing and even accuse Ever of just not liking new people. Figuring they are right Ever tries to open up to Roman to devestating consequences. Ever begins a race against time to save her friends and her true love. Will the Summerland give her the answers she is looking for?
Ever made some really bad decisions in this book. I would normally slam the book for the turns this took. It gets a bit outlandish, but it all works together well to end the book and makes me anticipate the time when I pick up the third book in the series. I have to know how all of this Damen / Ever stuff works out. If Miles becomes a pop star, if Haven and Josh’s relationship survives.
However what I do not need to see is Ever’s Aunt bumbling through like an idiot. I love YA books where the adults actually have a clue and aren’t complete idiots. Not every teen, or every teen who reads hates their parents. Ever seems to feel gratitude to her Aunt but not much real love going on there.
I missed the presence of Riley but adding the creepy twins Romy and Rayne made me miss her a bit less.
Ever grew up a lot in this book. I was very happy with her development. I would however like to see some development in the other characters in the third book.
If you like Shiver, The Mortal Instruments Series, or The Dark Guardian Series you will like Evermore and Blue Moon.

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Unsung YA

So Kelley from over at YAnnabe had an awesome idea, the most epic of awesome ideas I have heard this year so far. I was tripping over myself running to her comment box to ask if I could also participate.

The idea is to share your top five or ten or twenty favorite unsung YA. You need to be a LibraryThing user to participate.

After the kid lit award announcements on Monday, I daydreamed about how those authors’ lives will never be the same. Their winning books will forever more sport a shiny badge, reserving them a spot on crowded bookstore shelves. And other books the authors write? “By Newbery Medal winner Rebecca Stead” certainly won’t hurt sales.

But the flip side of all this is that many wonderful books get published every year without registering a ripple, let alone a splash. And in the YA world specifically, the vast majority of great books don’t approach anywhere NEAR the fervor of Twil—er, The-Series-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. The Cybils help spread the love a little. As does the Nerds Heart YA tourney.

So head on over to Kelly’s post to see her list and get more info.

My unsung YA:

Warrior Princess by Frewin Jones (whom you will see later in the list again). I loved this book for well the only thing I can call it is historical fantasy. I just made that up but still if it exists then please pretend I did not just make that up. Midievel Wales, princess, losing family to Saxons. Beautiful story and number one in a series of I think three. You can check out Frewin and his work by clicking that link and heading to his official site.

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble. Anastasia survived the Romanov massacre that rocked Russia and ended the era of the Tsar. Since then she has been stuck in a hut with creepy evil witch Baba Yaga whose house runs around on chicken legs. It is up to Ethan who has remained 18 for all of these years to find the one who can save Anastasia. A decedent of the Romanov line, a young girl obsessed with her dreams of Anastasia and Russia. Can Ethan and the girl race against time to save Anastasia? This book had me immensely interested. Really this story has it all!

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner. Dystopian fans how did you miss this one? The apocalypse has come and gone. Faeries slipped through the veil into our world, destroyed most of our race and left behind magic that makes even the plants dangerous to be around. Liza lives in one of the smaller towns left. Day dreaming about a world long gone with cars and television. Her father rules the town and Liza with an iron fist. Any child born with the least bit of magic is ‘dealt with’. When Liza begins to realize she has some magic of her own she risks escape.

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. George is swiftly becoming one of my favorite authors. Her fairy tale re-telling of Grimm’s Twelve Dancing Princesses knocked my socks off. I am forever championing this book to those who enjoy a good re-telling. I always wanted more from this Grimm story as a child and George has filled in those gaps for me. I also loved her Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, a revision on the Scandinavian Polar Bear Prince story.

What’s a girl to do when she realizes her boyfriend is a powerful faerie who has came to the mortal world only to guard her until she realizes and accepts she is the daughter of Oberon and Titania. A princess in the realm of faerie and medieval world parallel to our own. I love The Faerie Path and really anything from Frewin Jones. I loved the urban feel of London and the old feel of the Faerie world. I love the characters, especially the bookish sister Sancha.

So there you have it my unsung YA, what’s yours? Have you read any of these books?

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Review: Graceling by Kristen Cashore

Graceling was a book that had been showing up a lot on Twitter and in my recommendations on Amazon. I hadn’t really wanted to read it and I think it was the cover art that was holding me back. At some point there were so many great things said about the book that I did pick it up, and read it in a couple of days. For me the story line and plot were refreshing.

Graceling follows Katsa through a coming of age story. She find out at an early age she is graced. Gracelings are born with different color eyes, the king takes in all gracelings and when their grace is revealed usually around 9 or 10 the king then decides if the grace is beneficial to him. If not the child is sent home and lives a horrible life. People naturally fear the graced. Katsa is graced with fighting and killing she is unstoppable. Until she meets Po who is a prince of a strange kingdom, his grace is also fighting and while Katsa wins the battles she has to work hard to overcome. Po’s sister and niece Bitterblue live yet again in another kingdom with the kindest king in the realm but when things start going wrong, Po and Katsa set out to learn the truth. Maybe there is a grace out there that can overcome Katsa.

I gave this book three instead of four stars due to the fact that the language at times fit the setting. Other times it was way too modern and broke me from the story and it took a few pages to get back in. Other than that a delightful read.

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Top 15 books of 2009

2009 has been an awesome year for young adult books. I have had the pleasure of this being my first year book blogging as well. I have poured over my list of books I have read this year (around 200 in all), and my top ten quickly became a top twenty. Since all my favorites can’t be mentioned I had to stop the buck somewhere and leave some off.

In no certain order:

Cashore had a hit with me in this novel. A prequel to Graceling which I did like but not really love, Fire follows a girl through finding safety and love while dealing with her past. A father who was literally a monster and what that meant to the way she wanted to live her life. It also explains how the Graced King in Graceling came to be what he was.

I can relate so much to Ethan, oh so much. Growing up in a small town in the very southern tip of Virginia. Ethan’s town of Gatlin sounds like a big city. We had one stop light, civil war reinactments, and the sign coming into the town even says “Welcome to Saltville the salt capitol of the confedercy”. Oh the ways I can relate to a teenager who loves to read growing up in a confederate town. However Gatlin has something Saltville never could, beautiful creatures known as casters. Lena doesn’t know anything about herself but is coming to the realization that her sweet sixteen is (I can’t resist, gonna throw some southern at ya) gonna be a doozy of a birthday. Will she strive for what is right or take her fate with the dark?

First things first, I cannot gush enough about the cover of this book, it still leaves you with some room to imagine the character. While all the time drawing you to those perfect lips. Also I have to say, my husband being Dutch and ‘van’ being in my name there is a problem with this book. Any Dutch name with van in it the van will always be lowercase. It is a prelude to the last name, and unimportant part of it. Mine is van Hylckama Vlieg, and the van in van Alen should also be lower cased. Now that I have had my mini rant about proper Dutch form. Hello! The fourth installment of the Blue Bloods books by de la Cruz are amazing. I could not put this book down. I stayed up a whole night, I had to know what was going to happen next. If you didn’t read this in 09 or you haven’t picked up the series I suggest you do, vampires with a HUGE twist. Heaven Hell, Fallen Angels and Lucifer, blue and silver blood. Amazing.

Gayle Forman has a masterpiece in this one. Not the same old teenage angst novel here. The main character was completely stable in her mental state, and loved her parents and thought they were awesome. Normalcy to the max and I ate that up like strawberries and cream. It was so refreshing to have a story which turned to be pseudo heartbreaking, while also showing a strong sense of family. If I stay is not to be missed.

On this one I should probably just say “SQUEEE” and move on. I mean we have all surely read and loved the latest Suzanne Collins? Nod your head if you are with me? Catching Fire is just as if not even more amazing than it’s predecessor The Hunger Games. I didn’t want to read either of these books, I told myself they are too wildly popular you will never like them, it will just be a dissapointment and you will have to tell all your tweeps (that’s the language of cool for twitter friends) that you didn’t like it and everyone would be like 0_o at you. However I read The Hunger Games mostly do to Michelle over at GalleySmith.com and loved it. I was crying about having to wait a month for Catching Fire when Trish from Hey Lady let me borrow her awesomely pristine ARC. Please if you haven’t read it and you read nothing else from this list let it be Catching Fire.

The end to one of the most lovely series ever written. Clare wrote a trilogy so haunting, and so real it was like you could feel yourself developing battle wounds. The characters were likable and well thought out and although I would have loved for it never to end the way she sewed up even the smallest of plot made me dance for joy. If there is one thing I cannot stand its the end of a series with gaping holes that will go unanswered for eternity. Keep an eye out for a new trilogy from Clare set in Victorian England.

If you read this blog on a regular basis you will know that LJ Smith is a staple here. From The Vampire Diaries, Secret Circle, Dark Visions, and Nightworld. This series is my definitive favorite. LJ has so many fun creatures running around these books with the main focus of course being vampires. The apocalypse is nigh and there are only a few wild powers around to right the wrongs of the Nightworld residents. Sabotage is the name of the game and with the next installment we will know who wins!

I guess this is more middle grade but I just cannot get enough of Septimus Heap and his little band of misfits! This spot was a toss up between Percy Jackson and the Olympians and this, but not every one of the books I have read can make this list. Septimus always has a good sense of right and wrong and a lot of empathy for those less fortunate. The stories read fast and have a good pace. I usually cannot wait to finish the book once I am started. The books feature adorable little illustrations and maps of the lands Septimus and friends will visit.

Another Middle Grade book, again about a wizard but Bran Hambric is much more than wizardry. Bran lives in a town where magic is feared to the point of hatred and finding out he is a mage himself and how to deal with that are the focus of the books. Can Bran race against time and find out about his real parents and right the wrongs they unleashed into the world, or will Bran himself create more evil and not worry about the cost to his soul? A really great read. To the point, quick, and with little plot twists all through out the novel.

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble was quite the little delight. A teen historical fiction focusing on the last Tsar family of Russia it was full of historical content as well as folk tales and stories from the region. Told chapter by chapter by a teen-aged boy and girl protagonists Dreaming Anastasia deals with love, magic, fate, and death in a neat little package. If you like YA fiction and you like it historical and missed this one than I suggest you running out and getting a copy to read over the holiday break.

I admit I am a little late to the game with Laurie Halse Anderson. I found her this year, with this exact book that I won from Get Glue. I have since back read her entire catalog and I cannot say enough wonderful things about this author and the issues for teens that she tackles. Constantly battling her books from being banned in libraries through out the nation. Anderson is a beam of light that sheds truth one book at a time and deserves an award for helping our children learn more about the world and themselves, rather than the fear mongering and banning she faces almost daily. The disturbingly delicious plot of Wintergirls follows two teen girls on their quest to be a true winter girl. The girl who is so skinny she is almost dead but not quite. Hovering in the borderlands. This book also gets the best book trailer of the year award from me. A powerful read.

I have this thing about zombies. I dislike them horribly. I do not like zombie movies. I thought I would not like zombie books. Watching everyone’s tweets did however make me pick up this book. I am so glad that I did. I was late in reading it and late reviewing it but it really is a must read of 2009. Don’t get me wrong, this book has major disadvantages. Their are plot holes the size of an ocean in this book but I think the next book will take care of those. If you can get over that fact the story in its own right is amazing. Growing up in a post zombie apocalyptic setting Mary really has only known one life. You do not marry for love, you marry to procreate. In kind of a communist setting, everything is given and taken away by the sisters, a fanatic religious group that keeps the town in order. No one knows what lies beyond the fence until ‘the fast one’ shows up and ruins the only life that Mary knows. She dreams of seeing the ocean but does the ocean really exist anymore?

There is one thing you may (or may not) know about me and that is I love The Grimm Brothers. So a retelling of one of their classics already has a negative vibe from me. George floored me with her telling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. She took the greatest things from the original tale and elaborated and sewed in so many beautiful and heartbreaking plots that the reader ends up in tears. The author took my negativity and turned me into an absolute fan of her retelling and made me wonder why the Grimm Brothers didn’t add so much of the creativity into their story. A fantastic read.

One of my favorite covers of the year. I love when the author and publishing company leave absolutely everything to my imagination. I really do not need you to slap faces and towns on the cover for me. Reading is my creative escapism, learn a lesson from this cover and let me be the pilot of what I envision from your words! Another post apocalyptic novel. This time however magic and faeries have ruined our planet. Again a small town who is scared of magic, and any children born with magic in their veins are immediately killed when the parents are certain. Magic is left everywhere in this world. In the bushes and grass, constantly afraid of being bled to death by an apple tree is really no way to live. The character however manages to find her way in this overly religious and over zealous community and I love her spunk and style.

Another great understatement of a cover. Oh how I loved this book. It took me through so many deep and dark twists and turns I didn’t know which way was up anymore. The love story was phenomenal and how the characters met and what they didn’t know about each other said it all. The end of the book had me a complete mess on the couch in tears wish a plague of locusts on the author when she bumps it around and has me singing her praises all over the living room. A wonderful quick paced read.

So there we have it my top 15 posts. My top adult read of this year goes to Follow Me by Joanna Scott. Some of the runner ups that got left off mostly for plot holes or just because they didn’t move me the way these did are Blood Promise, Warrior Princess to mention a couple. I hope you made it through this meandering post and that you read and liked some of the same. If you have a top books of 2009 post please link me to it on twitter or here in the comments I am curious to see the favorite reads of all of you. If you do not have a blog just write in the comments your favorite books of this year.

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Review: Tempted (House of Night Novel) by P.C. Cast

So we all know by my review of Hunted that I have a love / hate relationship with the House of Night novels. I felt that book five spent too much time rehashing books one through four and the amount of relationships Zoey holds onto became annoying. When other characters though she was a ho, I tended to agree. Book six however was a major improvement.

Cast begins Tempted right where Hunted left off. Kalona and Neferet are banished from Tulsa and the fledglings red and blue are looking to Zoey to lead them back to the House of Night. Zoey although she still has the major boy problems and too many relationships does grow up a bit in this book and her character becomes mildly likable for me again. I was going to rail against this book also. Although it wasn’t just a rehash of the other novels, I felt it dragged quite a bit. If you aren’t a fan of the series or haven’t read any of the other books, I do not recommend you start, but if you are vampire crazy and reading House of Night then Tempted is not to be missed! The last three chapters brings so much together and a major event happens that I still cannot believe happened, and I never saw it coming! Let me know if you have read it and what you think.

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