Thursday, June 30, 2011

ARC Review: Spellbound by Cara Lynn Schultz

Spellbound
Author: Cara Lynn Schultz
Publication: Harlequin; Original edition (June 21, 2011)


Description: What's a girl to do when meeting The One means she's cursed to die a horrible death?


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


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


My Thoughts: This was a great young adult romance with something for the lovers of the paranormal too. It begins with Emma starting a new school. She has moved in with her godmother in New York City. She left her home in New Jersey because she couldn't live with her stepfather anymore after he involved her in a car accident caused by his drinking. Emma is a wonderfully snarky character. I laughed more than once while reading her descriptions of things. She has had a hard life being abandoned by her father, having her twin die of meningitis, and losing her mother to cancer. But she is resilient and courageous.


Her new school year doesn't start out really well. She is hit on by a guy named Anthony who is certain that he is God's gift to women but who gives her the creeps. She makes an enemy of Kristin who wants to be Anthony's girlfriend and who is constantly spreading rumors about Emma. But she makes friends too. Angelique is a witch and something of a social outcast but is friendly to her. Her cousin Ashley is a good friend and support too. And then there is Brendan...


Brendan is hot and seemingly disinterested in the girls at school. He takes one look at Emma though and falls for her. She looks back and is just as interested. But their relationship is complicated. It is particularly complicated by a 1000 year old curse that would have them fall in love and then lose each other. It is also complicated because of the jealousy of Kirstin and the erratic, violent behavior of Anthony.


This story was wonderfully romantic and had moments of sheer terror too. Both Emma and Brendan need to explore the depths of their souls in order to win through to happiness.


I think this book would appeal to romantics and lovers of the paranormal. The writing is crisp and often humorous. The story is compelling.


Favorite Quote:
This guy had more lines than loose-leaf.

"Oh, it was all my pleasure," Legally Bland said, leering at me. I'd always heard the phrase "mentally undressing someone with your eyes: but never had I actually seen it in action. This dude's eyes could perform a freakin' CAT scan, they were so thorough.
I got this one at NetGalley for review. You can get your copy here at Amazon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WoW: Conspiracies by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It gives us a chance to spotlight books that we are eagerly anticipating and to see what others are waiting for too.

The book I'm currently waiting for is by two authors that I enjoy very much - Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill. They are most known for their adult fantasy novels but have transitioned nicely to writing for young adults. I am waiting for Conspiracies which is the second book in the Shadow Grail series.

Here is the description:
The second book in the Shadow Grail series by the New York TimesUSA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling authors Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

Spirit and her friends Burke, Loch, Muirin, and Addie have managed to defeat the evil force that has been killing students at Oakhurst Academy for the past forty years—or so they think. When a series of magical attacks disrupts the school, Doctor Ambrosius calls upon alumnus Mark Rider to secure the campus—and start training the students for war. The only student without magic, Spirit doesn’t trust Mark or his methods. She knows that Oakhurst isn’t safe. And if Spirit and her friends want to live long enough to graduate, they have to find out what is really going on—before it’s too late.
It should be arriving on my doorstep on July 5. This one has it all -- boarding schools, magic, romance, and hidden evil. It should be a fun book to read.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Spellbound by Cara Lynn Schultz

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!


I just started reading Spellbound by Cara Lynn Schultz. I got it for review from Harlequin Teen via NetGalley.  Harlequin Teen is a pretty new imprint and definitely one to watch. I have enjoyed all of the books I have read. The cover for this one wouldn't have been enough to draw me in but I have read a number of great reviews on blogs I follow.


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

But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can't stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma's been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.
Teaser:
She just shook her head and pulled out a small bottle of some random pop star's signature perfume, spritzing me with the sickly-sweet smell.

"Oh, come on, Ash, that smells like a unicorn fart," I cried, recoiling at the overpowering, candylike smell.
Don't you just have to love a character that can even think like that let alone say it? I'm still chuckling.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Winner -- Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop


Random.org has spoken (more or less) and chosen entrant number 228 -- Robin.

Robin has chosen World of Warcraft: Dungeon Companion II. I got a new one at The Book Depository and it should soon be on its way. I've got to say that this one is a complete mystery to me. I am not a gamer and don't quite get it. I hope Robin enjoys the book.

I would like to thank all 235 people who entered. I'm sorry I couldn't choose all of you. I do have another contest that you can enter if you wish. I will be giving away a finished copy of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. You can get all the details and fill out the form here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In My YA Mailbox (June 26, 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 is what I added to my massive TBR stack this week:


For Review:
I was approached by a publicist for Entangled Publishing and asked if I would read some of their new books. I chose Luck of the Devil by Patricia Eimer which is a young adult paranormal about the rebellious daughter of the devil and Ward Against Death by Melanie Card which is about a reluctant necromancer in a fantasy world asked to bring a nobleman's daughter back from death. I got these at NetGalley.

After hearing good things about it, I also asked at NetGalley for Spellbound by Cara Lynn Schultz. This one is about star-crossed lovers and a tragic curse. It is also a contemporary that takes place at a fancy private school. It was a great book!

For my Kindle:
Haint Misbehavin' by Maureen Hardegree was a free offering for my Kindle this week. It is a middle grade novel. It is the start of a series about a young teen who is attracting ghosts who really mess up her life in middle school.

I also got Six Moon Summer by SM Reine is about a girl who has three months to find a cure or she becomes a werewolf forever. This one was well-reviewed on a blog I read and so I decided to add it to my stack.

Print Books:
I got The Vampire Stalker by Alison Van Diepen because I read a really positive review about it on a blog I follow. I liked the idea of a girl falling in love with the character in a book and then finding out that he was real.

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey is her rendition of a Victoria Gothic. I like her contemporary Drake Chronicles and want to see how she handles this shift in genre. 

Those were my additions this week. What did you add to your TBR stack?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Review: Flying Blind by Deborah Cooke

Flying Blind
Author: Deborah Cooke
Publication: NAL Trade (June 7, 2011)


Description: Zoë Sorensson is perfectly normal, except she's been told she's destined for great things. Zoë's the one female dragon shapeshifter of her kind. But Zoë is at the bottom of the class when it comes to being Pyr and her powers are AWOL, so she's sent to a Pyr boot camp. 

Zoë quickly realizes that she has to master her powers yesterday, because the Pyr are in danger and boot camp is a trap. The Mages want to eliminate all shifters and the Pyr are next in line-unless Zoë and her friends can work together and save their own kind.




My Thoughts: Zoe is your typical fifteen and a half year old girl. She is worried about getting her period, growing boobs, and transforming into a dragon. Well, maybe not quite so typical. She is the only female dragon. She is the Wyvern of the Pyr but she is worried that something is wrong. Her age mates -- all boys -- including her crush Nick have been able to shift into their dragon forms for years. 


One day when her friend was being bullied and hurt by a group of the mean girls, Zoe got so angry that she did a partial shift. However, this breaks the Covenant that her father drew up for all the Pyr. Humans can know you as a dragon or as a human but not both. Zoe's dad decides that it is time for her to participate in the boot camp that they hold for the younger Pyr to work on their skills. She is excited because it will give her time with her crush Nick.


She is disappointed to find that Isabelle, the adopted human daughter of another of the Pyr, is invited to participate too. Nick takes one look at her and is smitten causing Zoe to become jealous. But Zoe is giving a motorcycle ride to the camp by the very hot Jared. He's human but seems to know more about the Pyr than Zoe does herself and he is a musician and older. Zoe develops a crush of her own. Also attending the camp is Adrian who tells the tale of a life outside the Pyr. 


The time at camp isn't a chance to improve their skills. They are cut off from the other Pyr and tensions seem to be escalating among the kids. Someone is making them suspicious of each other. Zoe is somewhat resistant to whatever is going on but she can't convince the boys that things aren't right. It is not until Jared returns that the Pyr kids learn that the mages who were an ancient enemy of the Pyr have developed a new plan to try to steel their powers.


The mages have begun by capturing all of the kids' dads. Zoe needs to get a handle on her powers as Wyvern, free the boys from the spell they are under, and rescue their fathers. In her own words, "No pressure."


This was an exciting an entertaining debut to a fantasy series. Dragon lovers will love this one. I can't wait for Winging It so that I can find out what happens next. 


Favorite Quote:
Right. "Did Donovan tell you about the Pyr?"

"No way. He'd have been breaking the Covenant."


"Then how did you find out?"


Jared hesitated a beat before he answered me. "There's this book called The Habits and Habitats of Dragons: A Compleat Guide for Slayers. I've read it through a bunch of times. I think I might have it memorized," 
I purchased the book from Amazon. Here is the buying information.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop


Welcome to the long, lazy days of summer! It is a perfect time to sit outside and read. To help you do that I am offering a book of your choice (up to $20) from The Book Depository. This hop is sponsored by Kathy at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.

The rules are pretty simple:
  • Live where the Book Depository ships
  • Be a follower of this blog
  • Fill out the form below
  • Enter by Midnight CDT June 24
Check out the list of the blogs participating in the hop here.


The winner will be chosen using Random.org and will be emailed for the title of the book they want and their shipping information on Saturday, June 25.


Book Beginning & Friday 56: Flying Blind by Deborah Cooke

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.


Today I picked Flying Blind by Deborah Cooke. This is her first young adult book but is set in the world of her adult dragon stories and is about the only female dragon who is now a teenager. I am not totally caught up on her adult series but the ones I have read have been very enjoyable. 


I chose this one because it is her Young Adult Debut and because I really like books about dragons. I have just picked it up and read little more than the first two sentences below. I am eager to find out what happens next.


Beginning:
There was a guy in my bedroom.

It was six in the morning and I didn't know him.

I'm not much of a morning person, but that woke me up fast.
Friday 56:
Donovan went into the living room and returned with a box, which he placed on the table. It was the perfect distraction. 
The first sentence startled me and was startling to the main character. The Friday 56 makes me wonder what is in the box and what it is distracting them from.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross

The Strange Case of Finley Jayne
Author: Kady Cross
Publication: Harlequin Teen (May 1, 2011)


Description: Finley Jayne knows she's not 'normal'. Normal girls don't lose time, or have something inside them that makes them capable of remarkably violent things. Her behavior has already cost her one job, so when she's offered the lofty position of companion to Phoebe, a debutante recently engaged to Lord Vincent, she accepts, despite having no experience. Lord Vincent is a man of science with his automatons and inventions, but Finley is suspicious of his motives where Phoebe is concerned. She will do anything to protect her new friend, but what she discovers is even more monstrous than anything she could have imagined…


My Thoughts: Finley Jayne loses her job when she hits the governess who is striking one of her charges. Finley let the dark side of her character out and used some of her unusual strength. She goes home while looking for another position. She is determined to be independent. Finley finds a job as companion to Lady Phoebe, a young lady of about her age, who is engaged to a much older man. Lord Vincent lost his wife in a carriage accident and seems to have chosen Phoebe because she bears a striking resemblance to his deceased wife.


Lord Vincent is an inventor who has made a number of automatons. He has even made mechanical horses. Lady Phoebe is in love with another man. But Robert is not yet 21 and doesn't have the financial advantages that Lord Vincent has. Her father is deeply in debt and Lord Vincent is covering his bills.


Lady Phoebe's mother hires Finely because of her unusual abilities to protect Phoebe. Good thing too! Lady Phoebe is caught in a runaway carriage but Finley manages to disable the automatons. Then she, Lady Phoebe and Lady Morton are attacked on the street. This leads Finley to do some investigating in Lord Vincent's home. What she discovers is a mad plot the means great danger to Lady Phoebe.

This story was a fun introduction to Finley Jayne and a great glimpse into this steampunk world. I recommend it and also recommend following it with The Girl in the Steel Corset.


Favorite Quote:
So Finley did what so many rich girls did when confronted with a situation they did not want to face. She rolled her eyes back into her head and pretended to faint.
I downloaded this free short story to my Kindle. You can get it here too. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WoW: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It gives us a chance to spotlight books that we are eagerly anticipating and to see what others are waiting for too.

My pick this week makes me part of huge crowd. I am waiting for Forever by Maggie Stiefvater. I have been waiting for this one ever since I finished the last page of Linger. It seems like it has been forever. But, now, July 12 is just around the corner.

Here is the description:
The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy from Maggie Stievater


In Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER, Grace and Sam found each other. In LINGER, they fought to be together. Now, in FOREVER, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

I plan to begin reading this one as soon as those nice folks from UPS drop it on my doorstep. I may not even get inside the door. (I hope the weather is nice.)


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross

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'm reading The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross. This is the free prequel short story that gives an introduction to her young adult debut novel - The Girl in the Steel Corset. I read it first and really enjoyed the steampunk aspects of the story. This short story is also full of steampunk goodness.

Teaser:
"I don't have a chance with him, either," Finley jumped in, hating that guilty look on her employer's face. "All I'll ever have is the memory of his backside."
I like the we keep seeing hints of the Duke of Greythorne throughout this one but Finley doesn't get a chance to meet him. It is his backside she is referring to here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Win The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland... by Catherynne M. Valente

It is time for another contest. You can win a finished copy of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. I am hosting this contest courtesy of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and Zeitghost Media.


Here is more about the book:
"Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn?t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday. With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful."
Watch this cool trailer and fill out the form below to win:





Here are the rules:
  • Follow this blog
  • Live in the US or Canada
  • Fill out the form
  • Enter by noon June 30 CDT
Here is the form.

The winner will have the book shipped by Zeitghost Media to the address on the form about three weeks after the contest ends. Good luck!

High Up on TBR Mountain

One of the questions on Friday's blog hop was "how many books do you have on your TBR stack?"

Actually, I have been sort of afraid to look. It seems like I'm adding new books every day. But I girded my loins and checked my LibraryThing account. I regularly add every book that I get to that account. I tag the books for help in organizing them.

As of Saturday morning I have 1088 books on my TBR mountain. 182 of them are Young Adult books. Here is a look at some of the newest arrivals:
Here are some of the ones that have been waiting the longest:
Even at my current book a day pace of reading, I am getting behind. I fully expect the folks from the Hoarders TV show to be giving me a call any day now. 

But I have no desire to change my ways. These are all books that I really want to read. What I'm looking for is 30 hour days so that I can get more reading done. Wish me luck!

PS. Eight out of 10 books on my TBR mountain are adult books that I really want to read too.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In My YA Mailbox (June 19, 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.



As usual, the UPS guy was a frequent visitor to my house this week. And, I added quite a few books to my Kindle too.
I got Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes because I really enjoyed Raised by Wolves and want to know what happens next for the characters.

Divergent by Veronica Roth arrived this week too. I have been hesitating to buy this one because I am a little burned out on dystopias but the numerous glowing reviews convinced me that I have to read it. 
The Lost Heiress by Catherine Fisher is the second in the Relic Master series. I really liked The Dark City and want to continue reading this epic fantasy.

Broken: A Paranormal Romance by David H. Burton was added to my Kindle this week. I recently read another book by him (Scourge) and was curious about this one.

I also visited NetGalley this week and got these books for review:
Singled Out by Sara Griffiths was chosen because it includes sports and a female athlete. This kind of book could be useful in my media center. It won't be out until October.

Circus Galacticus by Deva Fagan is a middle grade space fantasy that will be published in November.

Cinder and Ella by Melissa Lemon is a different take on a fairy tale. It will also be published in November.

Those are the books that were added to my TBR mountain this week. What did you get?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Review: After Midnight by Lynn Viehl

After Midnight
Author: Lynn Viehl
Publication: Flux (May 8, 2011)


Description: Ever since the death of their parents, Catlyn Youngblood and her two older brothers have shared a nomadic existence, always moving from place to place. When they at last settle for good in the sleepy backwoods town of Lost Lake, Florida, Cat thinks she might finally have a normal life.


While riding her horse late one night, Cat meets an enigmatic boy named Jesse Raven. Even more strange than her overpowering attraction to him is Jesse's apparent aversion to daylight. Only under the cover of darkness can they meet. As Cat and Jesse's bond grows stronger, Cat discovers an incredible secret about the Ravens' and her own family's pasts—a secret that could destroy their love. Their families, knowing the truth, conspire to keep them apart. But Cat and Jesse will risk everything to be together . . . including death.


My Thoughts: Forbidden romance! We have the star-crossed lovers in Cat and Jesse. Cat is fifteen. She lives with her brother Trick and her brother Gray. Since her parents' deaths they have been moving frequently to follow Trick's job in computers. But now they have come to Lost Lake, Florida and Trick says they can stay.


Cat and Gray settle into school which is filled with a number of stereotypical characters including the bullying captain of the football team and the mean girl head cheerleader. She is befriended by a couple of kids who aren't part of the popular crowd. Barb is friendly and has a major crush on the football captain. Ego, short for Diego, was an abandoned child who is in foster care. Since the football captain develops a fascination for her, Cat becomes the target of the mean girl head cheerleader. School is pretty uncomfortable for her.


One night, while riding her horse, she meets Jesse. They become friends but both families want them to stay away from each other. Cat's brother won't explain why. Gradually, Cat uncovers some secrets about her family that change the way she looks at them and at the world around them.

This was a story filled with romance, adventure and lots of unexpected twists and turns. I recommend it to those who like romance with a paranormal twist.


Favorite Quote:
You were acting like a girl who had fallen in love.

I stopped walking, and in that moment, I knew. While I'd been seeing Jesse, I had felt happier and more alive than I'd ever been in my life. Now, without him, I drifted through every day, miserable and hopeless. Trick was right.


I was in love with Jesse.
I bought my copy at Amazon. You can get yours there too in paperback or for the Kindle.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Beginning & Friday 56: After Midnight by Lynn Viehl

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.
This week I chose After Midnight by Lynn Viehl. This is her young adult book. I have read some of the books in her adult Darkyn series and enjoyed them. I am eager to see what I think about a young adult book by her. It has been described as Twilight crossed with Romeo & Juliet which makes it sound interesting to me.
Here is the product description:

Ever since the death of their parents, Catlyn Youngblood and her two older brothers have shared a nomadic existence, always moving from place to place. When they at last settle for good in the sleepy backwoods town of Lost Lake, Florida, Cat thinks she might finally have a normal life.


While riding her horse late one night, Cat meets an enigmatic boy named Jesse Raven. Even more strange than her overpowering attraction to him is Jesse's apparent aversion to daylight. Only under the cover of darkness can they meet. As Cat and Jesse's bond grows stronger, Cat discovers an incredible secret about the Ravens' and her own family's pasts—a secret that could destroy their love. Their families, knowing the truth, conspire to keep them apart. But Cat and Jesse will risk everything to be together . . . including death.
Beginning:
Family secrets are like terrible birthday gifts. They're always stuff you never wanted but have to keep anyway because someone you love gave them to you. 
Friday 56:
"Oatmeal." Trick looked a little guilty. "I know, you hate it, but we're out of everything else."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: The Emperor of Nihon-ja by John Flanagan

The Emperor of Nihon-ja
Author: John Flanagan
Publication: Philomel; 1 edition (April 19, 2011)


Description: Months have passed since Horace departed for the eastern nation of Nihon-Ja on a vital mission. Having received no communication from him, his friends fear the worst. Unwilling to wait a second longer, Alyss, Evanlyn, and Will leave their homeland behind and venture into an exotic land in search of their missing friend.

When they finally catch up with him, they find Horace entangled in a military coup. Determined to protect the imperial throne, Will and his band of Araluens must piece together and train a force in order to fend off the master Senji warriors intent on overthrowing the emperor.

Suspense and pulse-pounding action abound in this final adventure in the worldwide phenomenon that is Ranger's Apprentice.




My Thoughts: This was a fitting conclusion to the Ranger's Apprentice series. We get to see the characters we have known since they were young show that they are smart and honorable adults. Horace is on a mission to Nihon-ja to observe the culture and their battle techniques. He has become friends with the emperor and finds him to be a very admirable ruler. When a coup attempt happens, Horace flees with the emperor to a legendary fortress with plans to retake the empire. They are however overwhelmingly outnumbered. They need to make soldiers out of woodcrafters.


Meanwhile, Halt, Will, and Alyss are also away from home negotiating a treaty between two rival countries. When Evanlyn comes to them and says Horace is missing, all of them are determined to go to Nihon-ja to rescue him. 


Once they have all reunited, the book concentrates on the preparations of turning non-soldiers into an effective army. Along the way we see how the relationships between the four young people are developing. Horace and Evanlyn love each other but really haven't admitted it to each other. Alyss and Will are more comfortable in their relationship. However, Alyss is jealous of the friendship between Will and Evanlyn fearing that Evanlyn will try to take Will from her. There is initially a lot of jealousy between the girls which Will is oblivious to.

This is a great adventure that will satisfy war-hungry boys but there is also enough romance for most young girls too. I recommend the series to middle grade/young adult fans of fantasy adventure. And, while this series is over, young adventure lovers can continue to find out more about the world Flanagan created by reading his upcoming The Outcasts which is the first in the Brotherband Chronicles and will be out in November 2011.


Favorite Quote:
"Do you ever," the older Ranger said with great deliberation, "manage to ask just one question at a time? Or does it always have to be multiple choice with you?"

Will looked at him in surprise. "Do I do that?" he asked. "Are you sure?"

Halt said nothing. He raised his hands in a "See what I mean?" gesture and appealed to the others in the room. 
I bought this one at Amazon. I am a big fan of the series. You can get your copy at Amazon too.