Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Today I am reading The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong. I am a fan of Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. So I was excited to see that she had started a new young adult series. This series is about mysterious things that are happening on Vancouver Island.
Here is the product description:

Strange things are happening in Maya's tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya's home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.


It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.
My teaser comes from page 11 and has three sentences:
I can't say the same for the woman clinging to the branch above the cat. She was the one screaming. The cougar -- a ragged-ear old tom I called Marv -- just stared at her, like he couldn't believe anyone would be dumb enough to climb a tree to escape a cat.

Monday, May 30, 2011

ARC Review: Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Blood Magic
Author: Tessa Gratton
Publication: Random House Books for Young Readers (May 24, 2011)


Description: This page-turning debut novel will entice fans who like their paranormal romances dark and disturbing. It's a natural next-read for fans of Stephanie Meyer, Carrie Jones, and Becca Fitzpatrick. But instead of mythical creatures, blood magic has everything to do with primal human desires like power, wealth, and immortality. Everywhere Silla Kennicott turns she sees blood. She can't stop thinking about her parents alleged murder-suicide. She is consumed by a book filled with spells that arrives mysteriously in the mail. The spells share one common ingredient: blood, and Silla is more than willing to cast a few. What's a little spilled blood if she can uncover the truth? And then there's Nick—the new guy at school who makes her pulse race. He has a few secrets of his own and is all too familiar with the lure of blood magic. Drawn together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick must find out who else in their small Missouri town knows their secret and will do anything to take the book and magic from Silla.


My Thoughts: I thought this young adult debut novel was excellent. I loved the magic and that there were no paranormal creatures. All of the heroes and villains were humans. Silla is reeling from being the one to discover her parents' bodies after what looks like a murder-suicide. She has withdrawn from friends, lost weight, hacked off her hair, and is struggling to understand what could have happened. Then she receives a spell book in the mail from someone called The Deacon and sees that it is in her father's handwriting.


Nick has come to the same small town because he inherited his grandfather's house. He didn't really know him. His few brief visits with his mother when he was a child have just about disappeared from his memory. Now his mother is gone away and he lives with his lawyer-father and his father's new wife. He is feeling upset and angry that he has been brought to this town from Chicago with only part of his senior year yet to complete.


They meet when he sees her trying out the spell book in the cemetery that is between their two houses. Silla spends a lot of time there at her parents' graves. Watching Silla brings back memories of his mother and magic that he hadn't thought about in years.


The viewpoints in the story alternate between this two characters. But there is a third voice in the story. We get a chance to see diary entries from Josephine Darly who intends to live forever. These diary entries tell about learning about magic with Philip Osborn. He was a doctor who took her - a poor factory worker - from a hospital ward where fever victims were isolated until she died. She learns and also falls in love with Philip. Through the entries we learn about Josephine's magical education and her determination to live forever no matter what the cost. 


Nick and Silla fall in love as they do a variety of spells to learn more about the magic and what happened to Silla's parents. They also have to determine who their hidden enemy is. 


I loved the characters of Silla and Nick and really loved the story. I recommend this book to young adults who love magic and romance. 


Favorite Quote:
Just like the spell book, he'd dropped into my life when I was only trying to forget everything and survive. The book tempted me with answers. With the possibility of a real explanation for my parents' deaths. With magic. What was Nick tempting me with? Everything I'd given up while kneeling in their blood? Everything that had melted out of me to make room for the smell and the fear. Fun, laughter, dating, driving fast, imagining next year and the next with hope--
I received this ARC from Amazon Vine. You can get it at Amazon in hardcover or for your Kindle. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

In My YA Mailbox (May 29, 2011)

The weekly In My Mailbox post is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is fun to see what everyone else gets in their mailboxes, shopping bags, and library visits. Click on the link to The Story Siren's site to see the rules and join in the fun.

I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets. You will discover lots of great blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.

This was a slow mailbox week for me. I just got three books for review from NetGalley--even though I said I wasn't going to get any more books for review until next fall. I just couldn't pass these up and they won't be published until Fall. I chose:
Legacy by Cayla Kluver -- This one will be published by Harlequin Teen late this summer (June 28). It is already an Amazon Encore book which is the cover that is pictured. I'll admit I like the new cover I saw at NetGalley better. This is a YA fantasy with princesses, arranged marriages and blood feuds.

The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Guay is a graphic novel that will be published  in October. I love dragons and Jane Yolen and really look forward to reading this one. I have this one on Adobe Digital Editions and from my quick glance I can say that the art is amazing. 
Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson -- I chose this one because of these lines from the book description: Once upon a time there was a girl who was special. This is not her story. Unless you count the part where I killed her. I will have to admit that I was intrigued. 

What did you get in your mailbox?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

ARC Review: Angel Burn by L. A. Weatherly

Angel Burn
Author: L. A. Weatherly
Publication: Candlewick (May 24, 2011)


Description: Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from. But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces, and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil. In the first book in an action-packed, romantic trilogy, L..A. Weatherly sends readers on a thrill-ride of a road trip - and depicts the human race at the brink of a future as catastrophic as it is deceptively beautiful. 

They’re out for your soul . . . and they don’t have heaven in mind.




My Thoughts: I have been wanting to read this story for a long time. I have read such great reviews. I was not at all disappointed. I really liked this story with its new take on angels and its very sweet romance.


Alex is 17 and a veteran hunter of angels. We meet him as he kills an angel who is preying on a drunk outside a club. We also see that those who are the angels' victims are dazzled by the experience and long to see an angel again. They don't realize that they have lost some of their life energy and are vulnerable to a host of illnesses because of it.


Willow is sixteen. She is a unique individual. She dresses in thrift shop clothing, fixes cars, and lives with her ill mother and complaining aunt. She is also psychic. She can hold someone's hand and see their past and some possible futures for them. She doesn't know who her father was. Her mother has slipped into catatonic schizophrenia and can't tell her. Willow has spent her life caring for her mother and trying to use her gift to help others.


Raziel is an angel. He is part of the vanguard of angels sent from their dimension to scout out Earth as a new home since the angels' food source on their own home is disappearing. Raziel had been coming to Earth to hunt humans and feed on their life force long before the Crisis on his world. He sees humans as cattle. 


Humans who have seen the angels are enthralled by them. Once an angel has taken energy from them, they are addicted to the sensation. Humans have started a church to worship these glorious new visitors and Raziel has taken it over and greatly expanded it. It is the fastest growing religion ever and has spread throughout the United States. Raziel is going to use the church as an entry point for the next wave of the invasion and the enthralled humans are thrilled to be a part of it. Only a few people outside of the new religion are aware of the dangers presented by the angels and are trying to stop it.


All these characters come together when Willow does a psychic reading on one of the most popular girls at her school and discovers that she has been feeding an angel. Willow sees that the girl who was once the most likely to succeed now has just two far less successful futures. She encourages Beth to stay away from the angel and choose the better of the two futures. Beth, however, can't believe that the beautiful angel who has come to her can possibly mean her any harm and tells him about Beth.


The angel comes to visit Beth to rip her life force from her and finds that she is something long thought impossible and something of great danger to the angels. She is half angel. He calls Raziel who puts out a hit on her. Alex is the one called upon to kill her. But when he arrives, he finds that she is not an evil angel sucking life from others. In fact, she doesn't even know that she is half angel.


Alex and Willow go on the run to try to figure out what is happening. Alex learns that his organization has been taken over by the angels. Willow is filled with self-loathing that she is part angel and so potentially dangerous. They have adventures and learn about each other as they flee to the only one that Alex can trust.


The closeness provided by the journey forces both Willow and Alex to reassess their beliefs. They learn to know each other and share their histories with each other. They are quietly and rather reluctantly falling in love. 


Meanwhile, others who are opposed to the invasion of Earth including some angels who don't think it is right to feed on humans are looking for Alex and Willow too. They believe that Willow might be the only one who can stop this next wave of the angel invasion. But what will it cost her?


I got completely involved in this story. I loved both Willow and Alex. I look forward to reading the rest of this series to find out what happens next. I think  young adults will really enjoy this one. 


Favorite Quote:
The creature had both hands buried deep in the woman's energy field, which was growing dimmer by the second, twisting feebly as if in protest. The angel had its head thrown back in gluttonous ecstasy as the woman's energy seeped away into its own, like water leaving a draining tub. And thanks to angel burn, she'd actually remember the angel as good and kind. Just as his mother had, before she'd been killed.
I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley. You can buy it at Amazon in hardcover, or for your Kindle, or as an audiobook in a variety of formats. I know that I will be putting this one on my next high school book order.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Beginning & Friday 56: Angel Burn by L. A. Weatherly

Happy Friday everybody!!

Book Beginnings
 
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages 

Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. 

If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.
 
The Friday 56

Rules:

  • Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
  • Turn to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Freda's Voice
  • Post a link along with your post back to Freda's Voice
Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.
My choice this week come from an eARC I recently finished and really loved. Angel Burn by L. A. Weatherly provides a whole different take an angels. These angels are bad for us. They are stealing our life energy and leaving us with angel burn. One of the effects of angel burn is that the human longs for angels and the thrill of being with them. They don't realize that the angels are killing them slowly.


The story focuses on two teens -- Willow and Alex -- who for different reasons want to stop the angels from harming humans and taking over our world.
Beginning:
"Is that your car?" asked the girl at the 7-Eleven checkout counter. "The shiny black one?"
Friday 56 (estimated because I read this on my Kindle 2 - the one without page numbers):
The conversation with Beth tugged at my mind, refusing to let go. She had seemed so anxious, as if getting a reading was the most urgent thing in the world.
I really liked this one and recommend it highly.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

ARC Review: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Mercy
Author: Rebecca Lim
Publication: Hyperion Book CH (May 17, 2011)


Description: A fallen angel haunted by her past.  Yearning for her immortal beloved. Forever searching for answers.Who will show her Mercy?

Mercy has lost herself. She can’t count how many times she’s “woken up” in a new body, and assumed a new life, only to move on again and again. During the day she survives in the human world on instinct and at night her dreams are haunted by him. Mercy’s heart would know him anywhere. But her memory refuses to cooperate.

But this time is different. When Mercy wakes up she meets Ryan, an eighteen year old reeling from the loss of his twin sister who was kidnapped two years ago. Everyone else has given up hope, but Ryan believes his sister is still alive. Using a power she doesn’t fully comprehend, Mercy realizes that Ryan is right. His sister is alive and together they can find her. For the first time since she can remember, Mercy has a purpose; she can help. So she doesn’t understand why the man in her dreams cautions her not to interfere. But as Ryan and Mercy come closer to solving the dark mystery of his sister’s disappearance, danger looms just one step behind.

Will Mercy be able to harness her true self and extraordinary power in time?

The first in a dazzling new series, Mercy masterfully weaves romance, mystery and the supernatural into a spell-binding tale.


My Thoughts: What an amazing story! From the very first, when we wake up with Mercy on a bus going to a music program and in a body unfamiliar to her, we are sucked into this first person story and learning along with Mercy. She has done this before. She drops into other girls' lives, stays a while, and then moves on. She doesn't know how or why. The only consistency in her life is that when she sleeps she meets with Luc who is urging her to find him and to stay away from the eight.


Mercy's new body belongs to a sixteen-year-old girl named Carmen who is hanging around on the outskirts of the popular crowd but who has an amazing voice. The bus is on the way to a musical exchange program. The girls will be staying with host families and performing a work by Mahler. Carmen's host family is suffering unbelievable pain. Two years before their daughter Lauren was snatched from her home and no trace of her has been found. Lauren's twin Ryan is convinced that she is still alive and has put his life on hold to search for her. Carmen (Mercy) feels compelled to help him. She has the ability to touch someone and take a look at their soul.


The story revolves around the search for Lauren and the choir rehearsals with all the attendant jealousies felt by young performers. Because Lauren was a gifted soprano, Mercy feels that someone who is practicing for the musical event knows something. Is it the retired choir director? The mousy director who wants to give Carmen special lessons? Or the beautiful Paul Stenborg who all the girls have a crush on?


Along the way Mercy also tries to figure out what is happening to her. What is she? Who is she? Why is she going from life to life?


This was an excellent, page-turning story. I didn't want to stop reading until I had reached the stunning conclusion. I very much look forward to the sequels that will be following this one. I recommend it to young adults who enjoy paranormal mysteries. I think they will be as enthralled as I was. 


Favorite Quote:
When I look into the mirror, I see this face -- mine. I have learned to recognize it, a palimpsest of a face, a ghost's face -- within another's, a stranger's. Our reflections co-existing. I am her and she is me, we, together, inhabit the same body.
I received this eARC from NetGalley. You can purchase the hardcover book and ebook for your Kindle at Amazon. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ARC Review: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Awaken
Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Publication: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (May 23, 2011)


Description: Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.



Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.


In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

My Thoughts: This was another entertaining and thought-provoking dystopia. Maddie's father is the founder of DS - the online school that all students attend. He is rich and powerful. People have shifted to doing everything online these days. Large numbers of school shootings and even some school bombings caused education to shift online. A fear campaign also keeps most people at home.


But Maddie is more restricted than most. She is on probation for something she did at age 15. She shared information from her father's files with people who tried to destroy DS by blowing up the towers that broadcast the signals. Her father's wealth and influence managed to keep her out of jail for being a terrorist but she has lost her father's trust and is constantly being monitored. She is only allowed to leave home for a very few activities -- soccer and some group tutoring.


At one tutoring session she meets Justin. He has communicated with her online and they have become friends. Justin is a rebel who thinks that people need to meet face-to-face. He is opposed to the whole idea of DS. His parents were some of the rebels who fought DS when Maddie inadvertently aided those who were striking against it. For her it was just adolescent rebellion; she had no political agenda. Justin exposes Maddie to lots of things she hasn't ever known -- live music, coffee shops, and friends. But Justin has an agenda. He wants Maddie to help bring down DS.


The relationship between Maddie and Justin grows closer when they get involved in helping some kids who are being sent to detention centers escape. But Maddie's involvement gets her sent to a detention center too. She manages to escape and sees more about how people can live without spending all their time online.


I liked watching Maddie grow and change as her eyes were opened to the world around her. I liked her conflict between her family and her friends. I thought that her indecision was realistic. I thought Justin was a great character too. He was so committed to changing society that he didn't think he could have anything for himself. It was nice to see how both characters adjusted their attitudes because of their contact with each other. 


This was a fascinating story that could really happen. It is a possible progression from the way things are today with school shootings and so many kids spending so much time online. It would be a good story for thoughtful teens. 


Favorite Quote:
I'm used to the security of living behind my online profiles and the clip art advertisements I create to define me. I can be whoever I want to be in that world. I can be funny, deep, pensive, eccentric. I can be the best version of myself. Better yet, an exaggeration of the best version of myself. I can make all the right decisions. I can delete my flaws by pressing a button.
I received this eARC from NetGalley. It is available at Amazon in hardcover or for the Kindle.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
This week I am featuring Mercy by Rebecca Lim. I just finished this story and was blown away. I loved the character and the language and the situation. It was an excellent paranormal mystery and I can hardly wait for the rest of the series to be published.

I thought I was tired of angels but this story changed my mind in a big way. I highly recommend it. 

Teaser:
If I think hard about myself, really hard, I get one word. Mercy. It's what I have taken to calling myself for want of something better. It might even actually be my name, but your guess is as good as mine.


Monday, May 23, 2011

ARC Review: The Dark City #1 (Relic Master) by Catherine Fisher

The Dark City #1 (Relic Master)
Author: Catherine Fisher
Publication: Dial (May 17, 2011)


Description: Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters-some human, some not-that also want the relic's power and will stop at nothing to get it.


My Thoughts: What a great start to this young adult epic fantasy! We journey with Galen and Raffi as they try to elude the Watch and find their way to the wounded city of Tasceron. Galen has been injured by a relic he and Raffi found and feels his only cure is there. He has lost all of his magical powers. Galen is a Relicmaster who is currently powerless and has to depend on his young scholar Raffi who is just learning to be a Relicmaster himself. The keepers have a variety of magic powers and Raffi is just developing his. 


They are being pursued by a young spy for the Watch. Carys Arrin has been raised and trained by the Watch and is determined to bring Galen in -- dead or alive.


The Order is in disarray. The Keepers have been scattered and are being hunted by the Watch. But the people still revere them. So Galen and Raffi get some help along their quest. Along the way Carys joins them - with a story that Raffi wants to believe. She journeys with them and begins to get to know what it really means to be a keeper rather than what she has been told by the Watch. 


They are captured by a bandit lord and are released on condition that they find the Sekoi who has stolen from him. The Sekoi are humanoids who are storytellers and have an ability to hypnotize their audience. Galen agrees only because the Sekoi is going where Galen wants to go anyway - Tasceron. They meet the Sekoi and join forces with him once they reach the fabled city.


This story was filled with adventures, dangers, magic, courage and treachery. I think middle grade and young adult readers will really enjoy getting to know the world and following along on the quest. 


I am eager to read the next three books myself and have already added The Lost Heiress, The Hidden Coronet, and The Margrave to my wishlist for summer reading.


Favorite Quote:
It was amazing. And infuriating. Three times now, Raffi had crossed the bridge.  Each time he came back to where he started from.

"It's impossible," he muttered. "I mean, it's not circular, it doesn't turn! I don't understand."
I received the ARC for this one through an ad in Shelf Awareness. I also received two additional copies of this one. You can get it at Amazon in hardcover or for your Kindle.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

In My YA Mailbox (May 22, 2011)

The weekly In My Mailbox post is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is fun to see what everyone else gets in their mailboxes, shopping bags, and library visits. Click on the link to The Story Siren's site to see the rules and join in the fun.

I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets. You will discover lots of great blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.

Four books were added to my TBR stack this week.

After Midnight by Lynn Viehl is her YA debut. This is the start of a new series and one reviewer said it was "Twilight crossed with Romeo and Juliet." I look forward to beginning this one.

I also got a graphic novel by Naomi Novik. Will Super Villains Be on the Final? is by the author of the Temeraire series. It sounded interesting because I like superheroes and really liked Novik's Temeraire books.
I also broke down and bought Die for Me by Amy Plum. I had been hesitating to get the debut novel because it sounded so similar to lots of the books already waiting for me on my TBR stack. The recent reviews I have been seeing encouraged me to get it.

Finally, I received a surprise package from Macmillan Children's Books. Inside was All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin and a bag of Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans. I kept the book and shared the candy with my colleagues at the Elementary School. I absolutely hate the taste of coffee and was surprised how few coffee drinkers I found when I was looking for someone to give the candy to. I left them in the lounge and hope they were enjoyed. 

That is it for me. What did you get in your mailbox?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

ARC Review: Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando

Dreamland Social Club
Author: Tara Altebrando
Publication: Dutton Juvenile (May 12, 2011)


Description: Jane has traveled the world with her father and brother, but it's not until her fractured family-still silently suffering from the loss of Jane's mother many years before-inherits a house and a history in Coney Island that she finally begins to find a home. With the help of a new community of friends, a mermaid's secrets, and a tattooed love interest with traffic-stopping good looks, the once plain Jane begins to blossom and gains the courage to explore the secrets of her mother's past.

Colorful characters, beautiful writing, and a vibrant, embattled beachfront backdrop make this the perfect summer read for anyone who has ever tried to find true love or a place to call home.



My Thoughts: I didn’t really know what to expect when I won Dreamland Social Club from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. I was pleasantly surprised to find this book an interesting and engaging coming-of-age story. Sixteen-year-old Jane has come to Coney with her father and brother because she and her brother have inherited their grandfather’s house. They never met their grandfather. Their mother died when Jane was six. Jane’s family has constantly traveled around because of her father’s job as a structural engineer who designs amusement park rides. they are used to spending just one year in a place and moving on.


Coming to Coney brings back a lot of childhood memories for Jane as she recalls games she and her mother played and songs she sang to her. The Coney culture that Jane enters is replete with those freaks and geeks who have made Coney Island their home for generations. Jane’s grandfather was known as Preemie because he was part of an exhibit of premature babies. Her grandmother had an act as a birdwoman. The house they inherit is filled with Coney Island memorabilia including a carousel horse which is chained to a radiator. The horse leads to an interesting subplot. She is harassed at school by a couple of the grandsons of the man who actually carved the carousel horse.


Jane is searching for her identity.  She sees herself as boringly normal. She makes friends with a goth dwarf, a giant, a budding contortionist and a boy with bunches of tattoos. She thinks Leo, the boy with the tattoos, is the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He also happens to be the son of her mother’s best friend. Together they explore Coney Island on the search for her mother’s secrets. Jane believes that learning more about her mother will help her learn who she is. As she explores Coney, she learns a lot of things about her mother and the other people who live there.



Tensions on Coney Island are high because a new company -- Loki -- is coming in to develop the area and forcing the old attractions out. Unfortunately, Leo’s dad owns one of the bars that Loki wants to demolish and Jane’s dad is designing a new ride for Loki.


It was fascinating to watch Jane build a place for herself on Coney. I thought that the secondary characters were interesting and well-developed. The setting of the story was interesting too. I don’t think I have ever read another book about an amusement park.


I recommend this to young adults who are also searching for their identity and who like exploring new places.


Favorite Quote:
“I know.” He nodded. “And it’s complicated stuff. Especially if you know the prople involved. But there’s really no right thing in a situation like this.”
“Doesn’t mean there isn’t a wrong thing,” she said. Then, “What do you think Mom would make of all this? The Tsunami? The redevelopment?”
“I don’t know.” He rubbed his eyes. “I only know that she loved this place and hated it, and she was justified in both of those things. Maybe the development will get rid of some of the hate for the restof us who are still here.”
I received an ARC of this book for review from LibraryThing as a part of their Early Reviewers program. The hardcover and Kindle versions are available at Amazon now.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Beginning & Friday 56: Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando

Happy Friday everybody!!


Book Beginnings

Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages


Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. 


If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.

The Friday 56


Rules:
  • Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
  • Turn to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Freda's Voice
  • Post a link along with your post back to Freda's Voice
Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.
I just began Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando. I received this book for review as part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. Here is the product description:
Jane has traveled the world with her father and brother, but it's not until her fractured family-still silently suffering from the loss of Jane's mother many years before-inherits a house and a history in Coney Island that she finally begins to find a home. With the help of a new community of friends, a mermaid's secrets, and a tattooed love interest with traffic-stopping good looks, the once plain Jane begins to blossom and gains the courage to explore the secrets of her mother's past.

Colorful characters, beautiful writing, and a vibrant, embattled beachfront backdrop make this the perfect summer read for anyone who has ever tried to find true love or a place to call home.
Beginning:
I'm at the beach but it's not the real beach; it's indoors and it's called the Ocean Dome.
Friday 56:
Whatever it was, it wasn't good.
All quotations are from the ARC and may not be final.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

ARC Review: Shine by Lauren Myracle

Shine
Author: Lauren Myracle
Publication: Amulet Books (May 1, 2011)


Description: When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice. 

Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.




My Thoughts: This was a fascinating story about a 16-year-old girl overcoming trauma to help a friend. It was a great coming of age story. Cat has withdrawn from friends and family. She was attacked by a friend of her brother's when she was 13. She feels her brother and her aunt abandoned her. 


When she was younger, her best friend was Patrick. They were together all the time. They spent time doing kid things and hanging out with Patrick's grandmother Mama Sweetie. Cat knew Patrick was gay but it didn't have any effect on their friendship. They banded together to protect each other from the bullies. After Cat was attacked, she abandoned Patrick too.


Because Patrick was attacked and left for dead in a hate crime, Cat has to rejoin life and investigate. Her investigation leads her to all kinds of secrets -- drugs, abuse, homophobia, betrayals of all sorts. But she is determined to find out what happened to her friend. 


It was wonderful to see Cat come out of her shell and take charge of her life. I liked her perseverance and determination. I understood her difficulty with trusting again after being betrayed. I liked how she gradually reached out to try to rebuild relationships that she had abandoned. 


The setting played a big part in this story. Cat's town was poor and depressed. There was a real hopeless feel to it. So many of the adults and kids seem to have given up. Her father was a housebound alcoholic; her aunt was determined to ignore anything that contradicted her view of her world. Mama Sweetie was a shining example of hope and optimism but died of diabetes leaving her grandson Patrick alone to get along as best he could at a young age. 


I would have liked to know more about Patrick from his own viewpoint. From Cat's point of view he was an amazing person. It was interesting to see how Patrick had influenced the lives of so many of the young people in the town. I liked Cat's relationship with the various members of the "redneck posse" which is what she calls her brother and his friends. 


I recommend this story to young adults who like a mystery and who like stories where good eventually triumphs over evil.


Favorite Quote:
So I'd stabbed needles into my eyes and pretended not to see certain things. Bad things. Only by turning my back on certain bad things, I ended up turning my back on my dearest friend, a betrayal I never intended.

Or so I told myself. That was the problem with lying to yourself. Sometimes you got too good at it.
I got this book from NetGalley for review. You can get your copy at Amazon in hardcover or for the Kindle.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ARC Review: No Place Like Holmes by Justin Lethcoe

No Place Like Holmes
Author: Jason Lethcoe
Publication: Thomas Nelson (May 10, 2011)

Description: The new resident in 221A Baker Street is about to give Sherlock Holmes a run for his magnifying glass!

When Griffin is sent to stay with his detective uncle at 221A Baker Street for the summer, he is certain that his uncle must be the great Sherlock Holmes! But Griffin is disappointed to discover that Holmes lives at 221B Baker Street and his uncle lives unit 221A. His uncle is a detective, just not a very good one. But when Griffin meets a woman with a case that Holmes has turned away for being too ridiculous, he and his uncle team up to help her. Along the way, Griffin shows his uncle just what it means to have true faith in God, even when the case challenges that. The woman claims that her husband was eaten by the Loch Ness Monster, but monsters aren't real-or are they?

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this middle grade historical mystery. Young Griffin comes to visit his uncle in London for the summer. He has never met him but, when he finds that he lives at 221 Baker Street, he believes that his uncle will be Sherlock Holmes. Unfortunately, his uncle Rupert Snodgrass lives at 221 A Baker Street and is an unsuccessful private investigator. Sherlock Holmes lives at 221 B Baker Street. Not only is his uncle unsuccessful but he didn't know that Griffin was coming. He had been throwing away his sister's letters because he thought they were from bill collectors.

I felt so sorry for Griffin. He was a genius with a photographic memory who was disliked at school because he always knew all the answers and couldn't help blurting out. He was bullied and beaten up by his schoolmates. He can't help being observant but he knows that it isn't helping him make friends. The situation gets even worse when he arrives at his uncle's because his uncle is very unwelcoming.

The case involves the disappearance of a clockmaker who appears to have been eaten by a monster. The case also involves stolen Chinese fireworks, dastardly villains and a complex plot. The enemy in this one is the nephew of Professor Moriarty who was Sherlock Holmes' great nemesis.

I especially enjoyed the many inventions that Griffin's Uncle created. It was funny that he included his name in each of them. His metallic butler named Watts was a great idea. The inventions gave the book a sort of steampunk flavor too.

I also liked the way the relationship between Griffin and his uncle changed during the course of the story. His uncle softened up nicely toward Griffin as the story went on.

I recommend this story to middle grade mystery lovers. Griffin is an engaging and entertaining character. Young readers may also be interested in visiting Jason Lethcoe's blog -- noplacelikeholmes.blogspot.com -- for further information about The World's Most Secret Detective.

Favorite Quote:
The other children hated him for being the teacher's pet. Answers to questions seemed to pop into his head before the schoolmaster had even finished asking them, and it was hard for Griffin to contain his excitement when he saw the solution to a problem. That never went over well with his classmates.

Griffin had the bruises to prove it.
I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley. You can purchase it at Amazon as a paperback or for your Kindle.