Wednesday, October 31, 2012

ARC Review: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

The Lost Prince (Iron Fey)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publication: Harlequin Teen; Original edition (October 23, 2012)

Description: Don't look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.


That is Ethan Chase's unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he'd dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister's world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

My Thoughts: Julie Kagawa has done it again. She has swept me into the world of the fey. This time Ethan Chase is my tour guide. Ethan hates the fey. Ever since he was kidnapped to lure his sister Meghan into the Nevernever, Ethan has been wary of the fae. And they seem to delight in tormenting him.

As the story begins, Ethan is starting at a new school. He has quite a reputation following him. He was expelled from his last school supposedly for setting fire to the library. Only he could see the redcap motley that set the fire to force him out of the room. Now he just wants to remain inconspicuous and finish out his junior year.

Almost the first person he meets turns out to be a half-breed named Todd. He rescues him from the bullying of one of the star football players and finds himself in the principal's office. So much for inconspicuous!  Then he meets a cute and popular girl named Kenzie who is a reporter for the school newspaper and who is determined to interview him no matter how rude he is to her. 

Ethan doesn't want to get close to anyone for fear of making them a target of the fey's mischief. But neither Todd nor Kenzie are easily discouraged. When Todd gets in trouble with some fey that Ethan doesn't recognize and then when he disappears, Ethan has to do something. 

Ethan and Kenzie find themselves in the Nevernever as they try to find a way to rescue Todd and let the Summer, Winter, and Iron courts know about this new type of faerie who is kidnapping half-breeds and killing all the exiled fey. Along the way we meet a lot of characters from the earlier series including Grimalkin, Meghan, Ash, Puck and the Leanansidhe. It is interesting to see them through Ethan's very hostile eyes.

This story was both an exciting adventure and a lovely romance as Kenzie finds her way to Ethan's very guarded heart. Fans of the Iron Fey will not want to miss this latest episode.

Favorite Quote:
"That means the fey will hound you relentlessly, wanting to bargain, or make a deal, or just make your life hell. You've seen it. You know what they're capable of."

"Yes," Kenzie agreed, and suddenly took my hand sending a shiver up my arm. "But I've also spoken to a talking cat, fought a dragon, and watched the Iron Kingdom light up at night. I've seen a fairy queen, climbed the towers of a huge castle, flown on a giant metal insect, and made a deal with a legend. How many people can say that? Can you blame me for not wanting to let it go?"

"And if it gets you killed?"

She shrugged and looked away. "No one lives forever."

I had no answer for that. There was no answer for that.
I received this eARC from Harlequin TEEN via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

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 my teaser comes from The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski. I received this ARC from Macmillan. I chose it based on this description:
Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

In this smart, compulsively readable novel, master storyteller Marie Rutkoski has crafted an utterly original world, characters you won’t soon forget, and a tale full of intrigue and suspense.  
Teaser:
It's rare when you see your life changing. Usually it simply changes and you're left blinking in the aftermath, wondering how you got there.

Monday, October 29, 2012

State of the Stack (Oct. 29, 2012)

This is my monthly State of the Stack post. It is my way to keep track of my review books and to hopefully reduce the stack that I have waiting for me. I take a look at my review commitments on the last Monday of each month. Please feel free to join in and let me know the state of your stack.

Here is my Review Books Spreadsheet. Yellow highlighted books are ones past their publication date that I still haven't read and reviewed. I use pink highlights for reviews due in even numbered months so that I can see at a glance how many I have for each month. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books.  


My Physical Review Pile
Adult Books
Gold by Chris Cleave
Dangerous Waters by Toni Anderson
The Trial of Fallen Angels by James P. Kimmel Jr.
Guardians of Stone by Anita Clenney
She Can Tell by Melinda Leigh

Young Adult Books
Sapphire Blue by Kirsten Gier
Dead Girl Moon by Charlie Price
The Forsaken by Lisa Stasse
Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman
Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman
Unremembered by Jessica Brody
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Furious by Jill Wolfson

My Kindle Review Pile

I sorted these this month by their order of publication or, if they were previously published, when I plan to review them.
A Royal Pain by Megan Mulry (Nov. 1)
Running Wild by Linda Howard and Linda Jones (Nov. 27)
Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years by David A. Goodman (Dec. 4
Under the Desert Moon by Emma Meade (Aug. 1)
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (Dec. 18)
 Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder (Dec. 18)
Splintered by A. G. Howard (Jan. 1)
Cleopatra Ascending by Maureen Lipinski (Jan. 8)
Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson (March 12)
manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen (April 23)

I Read This Month

These are listed in the order I read them. Links go to my reviews for all that have been posted already. Otherwise, the date the review is scheduled for is listed.
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date received and date published are listed in parentheses.
I Am Currently Reading


The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

I feel like I am finally catching up on my review books. I had a huge number of them on my stack which were  being released in October but have only three left to read. I had a total of 23 that were released this month.

November and December have much more reasonable numbers. I am looking forward to actually reading a book I have bought.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stacking the YA Shelves (Oct. 28, 2012)


Tynga of Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

This week I added three books to my stack. All links go to Amazon where you can find book descriptions and purchasing information.
I bought a copy of The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson for two reasons. First, I really liked The Adoration of Jenna Fox and, second, because I asked for the third book in the series - Fox Forever - from Macmillan for review. I haven't received it yet but I want to be prepared when it arrives.
I also received two books for review this week. I got Furious by Jill Wolfson from Macmillan. I also got an eARC of Under the Desert Moon by Emma Meade from the author after she emailed me about the book.

What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

ARC Review: Beta by Rachel Cohn

Beta
Author: Rachel Cohn
Publication: Hyperion Book CH (October 16, 2012)

Description: Elysia is created in a laboratory, born as a sixteen-year-old girl, an empty vessel with no life experience to draw from. She is a Beta, an experimental model of a teenage clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to exist. 

Elysia’s purpose is to serve the inhabitants of Demesne, an island paradise for the wealthiest people on earth. Everything about Demesne is bioengineered for perfection. Even the air induces a strange, euphoric high, which only the island’s workers—soulless clones like Elysia—are immune to. 

At first, Elysia’s life is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne’s human residents, who should want for nothing, yearn. But for what, exactly? She also comes to realize that beneath the island’s flawless exterior, there is an under­current of discontent among Demesne’s worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care—so why are overpowering sensations cloud­ing Elysia’s mind? 

If anyone discovers that Elysia isn’t the unfeeling clone she must pretend to be, she will suffer a fate too terrible to imagine. When her one chance at happi­ness is ripped away with breathtaking cruelty, emotions she’s always had but never understood are unleashed. As rage, terror, and desire threaten to overwhelm her, Elysia must find the will to survive. 

The first in a dazzlingly original science fiction series from best-selling author Rachel Cohn, Beta is a haunting, unforgettable story of courage and love in a cor­rupted world.


My Thoughts: Beta was a science fiction exploration of slavery. Elysia was created in a lab after the death of her First. She is told she is one of the first teenage clones, a Beta. She is programmed with various microchips. One gives her basic knowledge about her life. The second is a locator chip which she first finds reassuring because it means she can't get lost. When she is just a few weeks old, she is sold to the wife of the CEO of the idyllic island of Demesne.

Demesne is the domain of the super rich. The air and water are chemically enhanced to make things perfect there. Most of the inhabitants are clones who are designed to do all the work of the island and to be aesthetically pleasing at the same time. Elisa is an excellent example of the kind of aesthetic that Demesne demands. She is beautiful, obedient, and trusting.

When she arrives at Mother's home, she is introduced to her new younger brother and sister. The brother is in training to join the corporate military. His father wants him to be the sixth generation of generals in the family. Elysia is tasked to help him become fit and ready. It is through Ivan that she meets some of the other teenagers on the island. There is Demetra who is a cutter and a neglected little rich girl, Greer who is the daughter of a military envoy, and Farzad who is the nephew of the richest man in the world. These privileged kids are living lives that essentially look perfect on the outside but are really pretty boring. They ease their boredom by taking a drug they call 'raxia which is short for ataraxia - Greek for pure happiness.

Elysia also meets her new little sister Liesel who is troubled with nightmares about bad guys who are shooting at her window. It is through her nightmares that Elysia learns that there are protesters who are against cloning. She also starts to learn that there are hints of an insurrection and possible clone revolt. She also learns that clones who are "defective" are killed. And Elysia begins to fear that she is defective. She is having flashes of memories about her First and a beautiful blond man. She has a sense of taste when most clones aren't interested in any foods except their strawberry shakes. She has feelings.

Things change when Tahir, the son of the richest man in the world, comes back to Demesne. He had been in a surfing accident but now he is well enough to be with his friends again. His friends find him terribly changed. He is not interested in any of the sporting events he did before. He seems cold and distant. Soon Elysia learns his terrible secret and is enlisted to help him. The two form a relationship because of the things they have in common and determine that they should run away but an incident happens that takes him and his family from the island before their plans can be finalized. Elysia is on her own again.

Also on the island is an Aquine who is a member of a sect of genetically engineered people and who is gathering information for the annual report to the Replicant Rights Commission. He is also the man that Elysia is having visions about and her First's great love.

Because this is the first book of a four book series, there is a lot of world building in this one. But because we are seeing the world through Elysia's innocent and naive eyes, the world unfolds gradually. The surface beauty and perfection seems to have a really nasty underside. We get various hints of it as Elysia becomes more aware.

It is interesting to watch Elysia's growth through the story from naive, innocent, and trusting to more knowledgeable and aware. Her eyes are opened through this story. I am eager to see where the next books take us. The world is fascinating and Elysia is a character that is easy to like.

I recommend this one to fans of the current crop of dystopias. It is well-written and engaging.

Favorite Quote:
I must remain a toy in order to stay alive.
I received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Memes: Beta by Rachel Cohn

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

The book I am spotlighting this week is Beta by Rachel Cohn. I received the eARC of this first book in a four book series from Hyperion Books via NetGalley. I haven't read anything by this author but was intrigued by the premise of this story. Here is the description:
Elysia is created in a laboratory, born as a sixteen-year-old girl, an empty vessel with no life experience to draw from. She is a Beta, an experimental model of a teenage clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to exist. 

Elysia’s purpose is to serve the inhabitants of Demesne, an island paradise for the wealthiest people on earth. Everything about Demesne is bioengineered for perfection. Even the air induces a strange, euphoric high, which only the island’s workers—soulless clones like Elysia—are immune to.

At first, Elysia’s life is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne’s human residents, who should want for nothing, yearn. But for what, exactly? She also comes to realize that beneath the island’s flawless exterior, there is an under­current of discontent among Demesne’s worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care—so why are overpowering sensations cloud­ing Elysia’s mind? 

If anyone discovers that Elysia isn’t the unfeeling clone she must pretend to be, she will suffer a fate too terrible to imagine. When her one chance at happi­ness is ripped away with breathtaking cruelty, emotions she’s always had but never understood are unleashed. As rage, terror, and desire threaten to overwhelm her, Elysia must find the will to survive. 

The first in a dazzlingly original science fiction series from best-selling author Rachel Cohn, Beta is a haunting, unforgettable story of courage and love in a cor­rupted world.
Beginning:
It's me she wants to purchase.

The fancy lady claims she came into the resort boutique looking to buy a sweater, but she can't take her eyes off me.
Friday 56:
I can't imagine why any girl would want to wear such a thing. It's barely a collection of strings.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

ARC Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Crewel
Author: Gennifer Albin
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (October 16, 2012)

Description: What a tangled world she weaves...

For generations, Spinsters have been called by Arras’s Manipulation Services to work the looms and determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die. Gifted with the rare ability to weave time with matter, Adelice is exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But once you become a Spinster, there is no turning back. Now caught in a web of lies and intrigue, Adelice must decide who to trust: her kind mentor, Enora; the handsome and mysterious valet Jost; or the charismatic Guild ambassador Cormac Patton. They each have secrets, but Adelice is about to unravel the deadliest one of all, a sinister truth that could destroy reality as she knows it.

In a powerful and original debut about a world where the Guild decides everything, one extraordinary girl dares to defy the power of men and the boundaries of love.

My Thoughts: Readers looking for another dystopia with a feisty but not foolhardy heroine will find much to enjoy in this beginning of a new trilogy. Adelice showed a gift for weaving matter and time from a young age but her parents have been teaching her how to conceal the gift when she is tested. Unfortunately, she loses focus for a bit and reveals much more than she should have to the testers. They come for her in the night. And, when her parents attempt to escape, her father is killed and her mother and sister's fate is not known.

Adelice is swept into the world of the Spinsters and quickly get embroiled in a number of plots. She doesn't know who she can trust. It seems that everyone from the Cormac Patton, the Coventry Ambassador for the Guild of Twelve, to her mentor Enora have hidden agendas and buried secrets. She also gains almost instant enemies in Maela, a Spinster who is hungry for power and privilege, and Pryana, another new Spinster, who is jealous of what she perceives as Adelice's privileges. Then there are the two young men in the story - Erik who seems to be Maela's boy toy, and Jost who is the head valet for the compound.

Adelice learns startling things about her world from Loricel who is the most powerful Spinster and known as the Creweler. She is surprised and dismayed to learn that she is the only one who has the power to be the next Creweler. Her hatred for the Guild and for the life that is planned for her has her looking for a way out but finding a place to go seems impossible.

This story is a portrayal of the adage that absolute power corrupts absolutely and that a pretty outside can hide unimaginable rot and evil inside. I look forward to reading the next books in this trilogy and am very eager for the second book RIGHT NOW because, although our heroine and her companions are out of immediate danger, they have entered a world they know nothing about.

I look forward to sharing this story with my students. I think that they will be glad to get to know Adelice and her companions.

Favorite Quote:
"The Guild made an example of the town." Jost's voice fades, and I lean in to hear him. "They ripped out our sisters, our mothers, our daughters..."

"Your wives," I added, and he nodded.

His head drops and the distance between us is gone. When he speaks again, his words are broken. "I saw it. You have no idea, Adelice. What it's like to see that."
I received the ARC from Macmillan in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WoW: Shards and Ashes by Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, et al.


Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. She has a linky widget at her site each week for your post and to make it easy to find posts by other people.

The purpose of the meme is to spotlight books that we are eagerly anticipating. It is fun to take a look at what others are waiting for. I have noticed that it has expanded my wishlist though. Be warned!
I was browsing Amazon recently looking for upcoming titles when I found this - Shards and Ashes by Melissa MarrKelley ArmstrongVeronica RothKami GarciaMargaret StohlRachel CaineCarrie RyanNancy Holder, and Beth Revis. There isn't a description yet. But, with that lineup of authors, I don't need one. This one is going on my wishlist right now. I just have to wait until Feb. 19, 2013 and this one will be mine.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Crewel by Gennifer Albin


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 my teaser comes from Crewel by Gennifer Albin. I received this ARC from Macmillan in exchange for an honest review. I have just begun this one but am already fascinated by the world the author is creating. Here is the description:
What a tangled world she weaves...

For generations, Spinsters have been called by Arras’s Manipulation Services to work the looms and determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die. Gifted with the rare ability to weave time with matter, Adelice is exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But once you become a Spinster, there is no turning back. Now caught in a web of lies and intrigue, Adelice must decide who to trust: her kind mentor, Enora; the handsome and mysterious valet Jost; or the charismatic Guild ambassador Cormac Patton. They each have secrets, but Adelice is about to unravel the deadliest one of all, a sinister truth that could destroy reality as she knows it.

In a powerful and original debut about a world where the Guild decides everything, one extraordinary girl dares to defy the power of men and the boundaries of love.
Teaser:
"That won't be an issue for you," she chirps, clearly trying to lighten the mood. "You should know that whatever you say to me stays between us."

This strikes me as exactly the kind of thing you say when you're a spy, but my gut wants to believe her, so I merely nod.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Stacking the YA Shelves (Oct. 21, 2012)

Tynga of Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

I think I have entered into my quiet time of the year. I took a look at the massive number of books on my TBR mountain and decided I really didn't need any more books. I did get one book that I had pre-ordered.
I am a long-time fan of P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast's House of Night books. I had to add Hidden to my stack even though I don't know when I will get a chance to read it.

What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

ARC Review: Keeping Safe the Stars by Sheila O'Connor

Keeping Safe the Stars
Author: Sheila O'Connor
Publication: Putnam Juvenile (October 11, 2012)

Description: When crisis hits, a young girl becomes the only one left to take care of her family

Pride, Nightingale and Baby are the Stars. Orphaned and living with their grandfather, Old Finn, in rural Minnesota, the children, like their grandfather, are wary of outsiders. They believe, as Old Finn taught them, in self-reliance.

But then Old Finn falls seriously ill and is taken to the hospital all the way in Duluth, leaving the children to fend for themselves. Pride, as oldest, assumes the lead. Though she makes mistakes, she keeps them afloat; they even earn money for the bus trip to Duluth. But when they finally see Old Finn, he can't walk or even say his own name, and Pride knows her days of keeping safe the Stars are drawing to a close. Self-reliance can't make Old Finn well again. But maybe, just maybe, a secret from Old Finn's past might make a way for them to stay together after all.

A poignant story about family and love, Sheila O'Connor has delivered another extraordinary and mesmerizing tale.


My Thoughts: Life has been filled with upheavals for the Stars. Their father died of cancer, their mother died in a car accident. The kids were in foster care until the grandfather they didn't really know came to get them out. He took them to his farm in Minnesota to raise. He was something of a hermit; a former history professor who got in trouble with the government for protesting the Vietnam War. He is determined to raise the kids to be independent. But when he falls suddenly ill with encephalitis, the kids are left alone to survive.

The oldest child is Pride. She is thirteen. She is a managing sort of child who is fiercely independent and distrustful. She is sure that she can take care of her younger sister Nightingale and little brother Baby. Nightingale is well-read but shy and only eleven. She got her nickname because of her constant habit of wearing nightgowns and no shoes. Baby is six and is a daredevil. One of his adventures left him with stitches on his chin which requires Pride to take him to the doctor to have them removed. The doctor asks a lot of questions about where a grown-up is and why Baby has so many injuries. Pride fends him off with more lies. 

Because their grandfather was so suspicious, the kids don't have anyone to turn to for help. The nearest neighbor Thor wants to help but Pride is constantly lying to him about the kids being alone. When a freelance journalist comes to their place to take advantage of the pony rides for his daughter, he starts asking lots of questions. Still Pride is determined to be independent and not ask for help. She has been in foster care and doesn't want to let anyone put them there again.

They pin their hopes on earning the money to get to Duluth where Old Finn is in the hospital to find out what he wants them to do. But things don't go exactly as planned and the kids find that they are not as alone as they had thought they were. 

I have read many stories like this before from the Boxcar children to Homecoming by Cynthia Voight. The Northern Minnesota setting near my childhood home - Duluth - and the time period - Nixon's resignation - made this one different. I liked the caring that was evident between the children but I was sad for them that they were so alone. 

Fans of historical fiction and stories of independent children will like this one. 

Favorite Quote:
"But I know what he wants," I said. "He wants us independent." I wasn't sure Old Finn could print out a word that big or say it when he couldn't spit out Justine.

"Of course," Justine said. "But there's lots of ways of being independent."
I received this ARC from the author. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Memes: Keeping Safe the Stars by Sheila O'Connor

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

This week I am featuring Keeping Safe the Stars by Sheila O'Connor. I was given an ARC of this middle grade story by that author when I attended the Spotlight on Books Conference last Spring. Here is a description of the story:
When crisis hits, a young girl becomes the only one left to take care of her family

Pride, Nightingale and Baby are the Stars. Orphaned and living with their grandfather, Old Finn, in rural Minnesota, the children, like their grandfather, are wary of outsiders. They believe, as Old Finn taught them, in self-reliance.

But then Old Finn falls seriously ill and is taken to the hospital all the way in Duluth, leaving the children to fend for themselves. Pride, as oldest, assumes the lead. Though she makes mistakes, she keeps them afloat; they even earn money for the bus trip to Duluth. But when they finally see Old Finn, he can't walk or even say his own name, and Pride knows her days of keeping safe the Stars are drawing to a close. Self-reliance can't make Old Finn well again. But maybe, just maybe, a secret from Old Finn's past might make a way for them to stay together after all.

A poignant story about family and love, Sheila O'Connor has delivered another extraordinary and mesmerizing tale.
Beginning:
It was Old Finn who sent us down the wood path to Miss Addie's. First he kissed us each good-bye and told us not to worry, then he said to stay put in Miss Addie's tiny trailer until he come home from St. John's.
Friday 56:
"Did you finally get to see him?" Nightingale set her crochet project in her lap. Nightingale was always crafting some new thing--knitting, stitching, weaving. I didn't have the patience to move a needle back and forth.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

ARC Review: The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab

The Opposite of Hallelujah
Author: Anna Jarzab
Publication: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (October 9, 2012)

Description: A riveting depiction of sisterhood, as one sibling's return home unleashes lies, a secret long buried, and emotional upheaval.

Caro Mitchell considers herself an only child--and she likes it that way. After all, her much older sister, Hannah, left home eight years ago, and Caro barely remembers her. So when Caro's parents drop the bombshell news that Hannah is returning to live with them, Caro feels as if an interloper is crashing her family. To her, Hannah's a total stranger, someone who haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses to talk about her life and why she went away. Caro can't understand why her parents cut Hannah so much slack, and why they're not pushing for answers. 

Unable to understand Hannah, Caro resorts to telling lies about her mysterious reappearance. But when those lies alienate her new boyfriend, friends, and put her on the outs with her parents, Caro seeks solace from an unexpected source. And as she unearths a clue from Hannah's past--one that could save Hannah from the dark secret that possesses her--Caro begins to see her sister in a whole new light.

My Thoughts: This is a big book filled with big ideas. What does it mean to be sisters? How do you deal with grief? What about jealousy? What do you think about faith and God? How do you handle change?

Caro is just about to start her junior year in high school when the sister who left to join a convent when Caro was eight comes home. Hannah comes home sick and depressed and without a plan for her life. Caro doesn't know how to cope. When she was younger she got the name Caroliar for telling her school friends that Hannah was dead. She has rebuilt her life in high school without mentioning that she even has an older sister. Naturally, her first reaction is to lie again. This time she tells her new boyfriend that Hannah was in the Peace Corps. This lie blows up when he is at the "meet the family" dinner that is a part of early dating losing her his esteem and making her parents very angry with her.

I found it hard to like Caro much of the time. She was so angry - with her parents, with her sister, with life. She seemed so self-absorbed and so self-centered. I could see flashes of caring that grew in frequency as the story continued. She seemed really young in her search for some kind of magic bullet that would make everything right for her sister Hannah. But it did fit with her rational scientist sort of personality. I was particularly intrigued with her whole relationship with God through the story. I thought that her frequent conversations with Father Bob helped us as readers think about our own relationship with God while she was clarifying her own. 

I liked seeing Caro's growth through the story. I also liked seeing how the relationship between the two sisters changed for the better. This was a very moving and thought-provoking story that should appeal to older young adults. 

Favorite Quote:
Rules and constraints comforted me; even variables had a feeling of stability to them, because they were always part of an equation that you could solve. But what if it was all variables: What if you never knew what was coming next? What if you couldn't predict which things would change and which things would stay the same?  What if there was nothing you could really count on, not even yourself. 
I received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ARC Review: Foxfire by Karen Kincy

Foxfire
Author: Karen Kincy
Publication: Flux; Original edition (October 8, 2012)

Description: Tavian and Gwen race to find a magical cure in the third thrilling Other novel

Tavian has never forgotten his real mother, a shapeshifting Japanese fox spirit like himself, who abandoned him. On a trip to Japan, his homeland, he discovers that she’s alive. But a faceless ghost warns Tavian to stay away from her. Even worse, Tavian’s magical fox powers have vanished. Finding his mother in Tokyo’s seamy underworld may be his only chance to beat back the vicious dog spirits stalking him and his girlfriend Gwen—and to recover from a fatal magical illness eroding his human side.

My Thoughts: This third book in the Others series finds Gwen and Tavian visiting his adoptive grandparents in Japan. Tavian is ill and unable to shift to his fox form. He has to find a way to get his name so that he can control his kitsune powers without destroying his human body. His grandparents take him to a temple where the fox maiden in charge offers to help him for a consideration. However, the temple foxes look down on the nogitsune - the field foxes - like Tavian's mother.

Since arriving in Japan Tavian is having dreams about the mother who abandoned him when he was six and a faceless ghost who just might be his father. This faceless ghost -- a noppera-bo -- can assume the form of anyone.

Tavian meets his mother who is still intent on keeping secrets from Tavian though she says she is protecting him. In order to get his name, Tavian needs to know his mother's true name and have some of her blood. Tavian also needs to know his father's name and have some of his blood.

Tavian also runs afoul of a group of inugami - dog spirits - who are part of the yakuza - the Japanese mafia. They are chasing him all over Tokyo both because they have a grudge against his mother and to capture him to bring him to the head of the yakuza.

Tavian learns a lot about himself in this story as he tries to unravel the secrets of his past. Gwen is here mainly as moral support and is good for a timely rescue now and again. I like the relationship between the two of them. They are clearly in love with each other.

Fans of this series and those who want a different sort of paranormal adventure will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
"Are you aware," she says, "of how rare half-breed kitsune are?"

Tsuyoshi shakes his head. "We know of no others like Octavian."

Shizuka folds her hands in her lap, her gaze downcast. "That is because the others are dead."

A jolt of alarm gives my bones a bit more solidity. "Dead?""A human body is simply too weak to contain a kisune's power. A half-breed such as yourself lives on the brink between surviving and being consumed by the magic within."
I received this eARC from Flux Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab

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 showcasing The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab. This is a contemporary which is also Jarzab's second book. Here is the description:
A riveting depiction of sisterhood, as one sibling's return home unleashes lies, a secret long buried, and emotional upheaval.

Caro Mitchell considers herself an only child--and she likes it that way. After all, her much older sister, Hannah, left home eight years ago, and Caro barely remembers her. So when Caro's parents drop the bombshell news that Hannah is returning to live with them, Caro feels as if an interloper is crashing her family. To her, Hannah's a total stranger, someone who haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses to talk about her life and why she went away. Caro can't understand why her parents cut Hannah so much slack, and why they're not pushing for answers.

Unable to understand Hannah, Caro resorts to telling lies about her mysterious reappearance. But when those lies alienate her new boyfriend, friends, and put her on the outs with her parents, Caro seeks solace from an unexpected source. And as she unearths a clue from Hannah's past--one that could save Hannah from the dark secret that possesses her--Caro begins to see her sister in a whole new light.
Teaser:
The word "vocation" made me want to barf. To me it was a synonym for "prison," for a particular kind of abandonment. I hadn't seen much of the world at that point, but I knew it was full of things I wanted. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Blogger Confessions: Scary Books (Oct. 15, 2012)


Book Blogger Confessions is a new Monday meme started by Tiger at Tiger's All-Consuming Books and Karen at For What It's Worth. With Tiger moving away and changing the focus of her blogging, Pam from Midnyte Reader will be joining with Karen to host this meme. The purpose of the meme is best stated by Karen here:
"Tiger and I thought it might be time to start a meme to discuss some of the frustrations that are unique to book bloggers. What happens when the hobby you love becomes more of a chore?
This meme will appear on the first and third Mondays of the month. One of the hosts will give us a question to respond to and a linky for sharing our responses and developing community.

This week's question is: Happy Halloween!  Do you like to read scary books?  Why or why not?  If so, what is the scariest book you ever read and why does it deserve that honor?

I really try to avoid scary books. I have too much imagination and live alone. I can scare myself enough with everyday living. I don't need to give my brain fodder for nightmares.

I don't buy books that people say are scary. If I start to read one, I am most likely to set it aside and not finish it. I avoid authors who write horror. I have never read anything by Stephen King or Peter Straub. 

Luckily, there are not too many young adult authors who write scary books. Let me know if I am wrong about this but I don't recall any young adult authors who write horror. R. L. Stine is a real favorite of my students but I find his "scary" books to be more humorous than frightening. 

I do read a lot of mysteries and sometimes the ones that feature really creepy serial killers are kind of scary. But I don't deliberately go out looking for the scary ones. I like the puzzle aspects of mysteries more than the creepy characters.

Bonus question! Just for fun – have you ever dressed as a literary character for Halloween? Brave enough to show a photo if you have one?


I haven't dressed as a literary character. I tend to dress up in my Star Trek uniform if I dress up for Halloween at all. Our school encourages wearing black or orange rather than costumes for Halloween so that the little kids don't lose pieces of their costume or wear something that interferes with the other activities of the day. 

What about you? Do you go looking for scary books?