Thursday, January 28, 2010

Review: Tithe

Book cover
Title: Tithe (A Modern Faerie Tale)
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Paranormal
Pub Date: October 2002, Simon & Schuster
Paperback, 336 pages
Book source: Purchased from


Welcome to the realm of very scary faeries!

Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother's rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms — a struggle that could very well mean her death.

My Thoughts

This is one of those occasions where, overall, I am rather neutral about this book. I really disliked some aspects and enjoyed others, but by the end I was left thinking, "eh, whatever." In fact, I finished this book a couple of days ago but it took me awhile to muster any interest in writing the review, I suppose because I had to figure out what exactly to write about.

What did I dislike? The (to me) very non-YA aspects of the book, including language and some of the content. I know that young people are exposed to some of this junk much earlier these days but that doesn't mean I think it should be written about in "YA" books. Interestingly enough, I can see myself enjoying this when I was closer to that age group, perhaps because it would have felt "rebellious" for me to read it. Now I just feel like it's silly--especially given that it all seemed very gratuitous and it wasn't as if these teenagers were learning any life lessons. The offending content and language unfortunately turned me off of about the first half of the book but I kept turning pages...

And I'm glad I did, as it kept me from having a completely negative opinion about the book. I enjoyed this look into the faery world, and when that was the focus I found myself enjoying Tithe much more. I liked Kaye and Roiben quite a bit and would have enjoyed reading a little bit more about some of the other faeries. Overall the story is fairly self-contained, though I know that this is the first book in a series. When I finished the last page, though, I honestly didn't feel a great pull to read the second book. Maybe down the road when I read through some of my large stack of TBR books. The writing is basically okay--not great--but I guess the story just didn't really grab me. I do know that many people out there loved this book and this series, so I encourage you to check out some of the other reviews listed below!

My rating: 3 stars

Other reviews of Tithe:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see your site listed here, please leave a comment with the link to your review!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Hourglass

It's been awhile since I've participated in any memes, but I recently used some Christmas money to preorder a lot of new books that will be released this year, so in honor of that, I will have a nice series of W.O.W. posts to share with all of you! First up...

Book cover
Hourglass by Claudia Gray. Release Date: March 9, 2010.


Bianca will risk everything to be with Lucas.

After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school where they met, Bianca and Lucas take refuge with Black Cross, a fanatical group of vampire hunters. Bianca must hide her supernatural heritage or risk certain death at their hands. But when Black Cross captures her friend—the vampire Balthazar—hiding is no longer an option. 

Soon, Bianca and Lucas are on the run again, pursued not only by Black Cross, but by the powerful leaders of Evernight. Yet no matter how far they travel, Bianca can't escape her destiny. 

Bianca has always believed their love could survive anything . . . but can it survive what's to come?

I am looking forward to finishing up this trilogy--I started reading it so late in the game that in the end I'll only have to have waited a couple of months for the release of this book. But I'm excited about it, nonetheless! BTW, this is also my favorite cover of the three--the model is striking and her makeup reminds me a little of Old Hollywood.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Review: Shiver

Book cover
Title: Shiver
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Paranormal
Pub Date: August 2009, Scholastic, Inc.
Hardcover, 390 pages
Book Source: purchased from


The cold.

Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why.

The heat.

Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace... until now.

The shiver. For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human--and Grace must fight to keep him--even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.

My Thoughts

(My apologies for a more spoiler-ish review than normal, as you'll see towards the end.)

Shiver was one of those books that I saw pop up suddenly and profusely on many other blogs, so much so that I decided I was going to bypass it for other books for the time being. I never even thought much of the images of the cover that were posted everywhere, until I received my copy in the mail earlier this week... For some reason I love this cover, not to mention the one for this summer's sequel, Linger. But I digress...

While part of me wishes I had read this book sooner, I can at least appreciate having finally picked it up when I did--I've been fighting a cold all week and Shiver proved to be a lovely distraction from it yesterday. In fact, I got home early from work and after lounging around with the hubby I started reading it, only stopping for dinner, then ultimately finishing it last night before bed. Stiefvater may have started with a familiar storyline but with seemingly effortless writing she ran with it. We've all read the story--girl meets boy, boy happens to be some kind of paranormal/mythical creature on the side (in this case, a werewolf), they fall in love, they fight to stay together. Sometimes the story will keep us turning pages, other times we feel like we have wasted our time. When I closed Shiver last night, I was very satisfied and I could even be happy if there were not a sequel coming out later this year. Perhaps I should be more upfront and say that I'm a bit apprehensive about it because I enjoyed this book so much and don't even feel a huge need to have the story continued.

This morning, I had to re-read the last few short chapters again, just to savor the ending. Has anyone watched Disney's Sleeping Beauty and seen the green fairy, Fauna, sigh with a tear in her eye saying, "I just love happy endings." That's how I felt after reading that book. And I'm sorry if that gives it all away for those of you who haven't read this book yet, but I promise you it is still worth the read. I found myself enjoying all the characters, including the annoying ones, and while I am normally put off by teen angst in some novels, Stiefvater has managed to portray it on a much less obnoxious level. Her writing is crisp and clear and ever so easy to read--it was almost too easy to get lost in this book. She has put a new (to me, at least) spin on werewolves and their lore. Sometimes these stories of teenage romances seem ridiculous but I found myself enjoying this one from beginning to end.

My rating: 5 stars

Other reviews of Shiver:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see your site listed above, please leave a comment with the link to your review!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Review: North of Beautiful

Book cover
Title: North of Beautiful
Author: Justina Chen Headley
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Pub Date: February 2009, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 373 pages
Book Source: gift from my sister-in-law :-)


It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper.

She's tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob's path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?

Written in lively, artful prose, award-winning author Justina Chen Headley has woven together a powerful novel about a fractured family, falling in love, travel, and the meaning of true beauty. 

My Thoughts

I figure that I must be among the last few people to read this book. It's been on my wish-list for awhile but for some reason I just never got around to it, despite seeing many great reviews out there. Perhaps I felt like it wasn't going to live up to them or be the kind of story I really enjoyed reading. Who knows? After finishing this book, I probably don't really have much to add to the other reviews you've already seen, but I'd still like to give my 2 cents worth, nonetheless.

Headley is simply able to touch your emotions, there is no doubt about it. The verdict: this book is as moving and powerful as everyone else has said it is. The story is about so much more than true beauty as it also examines Terra's family situation, her relationships with her mother, father and brothers. Now that isn't to say that it isn't generally predictable, because in truth it is. But it is the writing that grabs you and keeps you drawn into Terra's story. I can also admit that certain parts of the story brought tears to my eyes, even though I can't say that I can relate to any part of it.

There are not really any new messages in this book about beauty, family, or anything else. However, there really is nothing "North of Beautiful" about this book, either, it truly is touching and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.

My rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of North of Beautiful:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see your site listed above, please leave a comment with the link to your review!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mystery Mondays: Life Expectancy

Book cover
Title: Life Expectancy
Author: Dean Koontz
Genre: Fiction, Suspense
Pub Date: 2004, HarperCollins Publishers
Paperback (International Edition), 531 pages
Book Source: purchased at Yawn's Bookstore, our local independent bookstore.


When the hand of fate reaches out to touch an ordinary man...

In the moments before he is born, Jimmy Tock has a strange destiny thrust upon him. His dying grandfather prophesies five dark days in his grandson's life--five dates on which Jimmy will face terror and violence, malice and perversion. A storm rages. There is a chilling significance in the old man's words. The moment his grandfather dies, Jimmy emerges squalling into the world, destined to struggle against an evil so dark and pervasive only the most extraordinary of human spirits can shine through.

What dangers await Jimmy on these live dark days? What terrifying events must he survive? At each of the crisis points a mystery unfolds that will challenge his understanding of good and evil, life and death--and everything in between.

My Thoughts

Perhaps this is not a true mystery in the general sense of the genre, but there truly are several fascinating mysteries that unfold in this story. And given that it has been weeks, no, months, since I wrote a Mystery Mondays post I felt this book was worthy of one.

Several people more familiar with Koontz's works recommended that I read this one first, and I can't say that I blame them. I thoroughly enjoyed this book--so much that I finished all 500+ pages in less than two days. Not only is it an exciting, suspenseful read, this book is often humorous and sharp throughout. I honestly cannot write about any aspects of the plot, nor would I want to, but while absolutely far-fetched, it is 100% entertaining. Koontz's dialogues between the characters are spot-on if you enjoy witty banter and have a sense of the ironic. In the midst of terrifying events these exchanges provide a welcome comic relief while not taking away from the matters at hand.

While I did find myself able to predict some aspects of the story (and I have to say I was impressed with myself at times, as I frequently don't pick up on subtle clues), there were other twists that I wasn't able to see coming. I think anyone who enjoys a good suspenseful read with a healthy dose of wit would enjoy this book.

My rating: 5 stars

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your site listed here, please leave a comment with the link to your review!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Review: Captivate

Book cover
Title: Captivate
Author: Carrie Jones
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Paranormal
Pub Date: January 2010, Bloomsbury USA
Hardcover, 288 pages
Book Source: purchased from


Zara and her friends knew they hadn't solved the pixie problem for good. Far from it. The king's needs grow deeper every day he's stuck in captivity, while his control over his people gets weaker. It's made him vulnerable. And now there's a new king in town.

A turf war is imminent, since the new pixie king, Astley, is moving in quickly. Nick nearly killed him in the woods on day one, but Zara came to his rescue. Astley swears that he and Zara are destined to be together, that he's one of the good guys. Nick isn't buying it, though Zara isn't as sure -- despite herself, she wants to trust the new king. But it's a lot more than her relationship with Nick that is at stake. It's her life -- and his.

My Thoughts

Well, I am sorry to say that this sequel to Need just did not live up to my expectations. It was almost as if it were a different person writing the story this time around, in my opinion. While Need truly was captivating and left me anxious for the next book in the series, Captivate failed to do that at all for me. I found the writing, language, and many of the returning characters to be strangely annoying in this book.

But back to my comment about it feeling like this book had a different writer... The language and speech by the characters just felt so different in this book--they were suddenly overly-sophomoric, even for high-schoolers--and only on rare occasions did I see glimpses of the characters I enjoyed in Need. And to be absolutely candid, Nick and Zara made me want to throw up--several times I found myself thinking, "If he calls her "baby" one more time..." In fact, at a certain key point in the story, which I will try not to give away, I found myself actually rooting against Nick... That is a far cry different from the way I felt about him in the first book.

With respect to the returning characters there is very little character development that I could detect. I did enjoy Astley's character and what he brings to the table. Cassidy almost felt like she was thrown into the mix after the story was written. I didn't feel that she added much to the storyline at all, even though she supposedly should--for the bulk of the book she mainly served to be a cause of jealousy for Issie with respect to Devyn. One character that just wasn't used enough: Betty, Zara's grandmother. I loved her sharp wit and rough edges in Need and she was all but missing from Captivate.

The bright spot: There is still potential for the third book to be a winner, even though I found so much about this one to be disappointing. In fact, that is the one thing that really saves my rating for this book at all. Jones' plot for Captivate truly had potential, but I felt like the writing totally dropped off and there was a loss of coherency. And if one has to choose a team, which I am not usually one to do, I am most definitely Team Astley right now. I just hope that the third book resonates with me more than this one did.

My rating: 3 stars

Other reviews of Captivate:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see your site listed above, please leave a comment with the link to your review!

Friday, January 8, 2010

1st Review of 2010: Stargazer

Book cover
Title: Stargazer
Author: Claudia Gray
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Paranormal
Pub Date: March 2009, HarperTeen
Hardcover, 329 pages
Book Source: purchased from


The vampire in me was closer to the surface...

Evernight Academy: an exclusive boarding school for the most beautiful, dangerous students of all--vampires. Bianca, born to two vampires, has always been told her destiny is to become one of them.

But Bianca fell in love with Lucas--a vampire hunter sworn to destroy her kind. They were torn apart when his true identity was revealed, forcing him to flee the school.

Although they may be separated, Bianca and Lucas will not give each other up. She will risk anything for the chance to see him again, even if it means coming face-to-face with the vampire hunters of Black Cross--or deceiving the powerful vampires of Evernight. Bianca's secrets will force her to live a life of lies.

Yet Bianca isn't the only one keeping secrets. When Evernight is attacked by an evil force that seems to target her, she discovers the truth she thought she knew is only the beginning...

My Thoughts

(I will keep this review as spoiler-free as I can, but if you haven't read the first book yet, proceed with caution.)

While I certainly enjoyed Evernight, the first book in Claudia Gray's trilogy, I definitely think that Stargazer was a better read. Gray shows quite a bit of improvement with this story and leaves us hanging, anxiously waiting for Hourglass (due out in March).

Gray directed more focus on vampire and other paranormal lore and I think that definitely added to the interest of the overall story. While we find the inevitable love triangle (yes, I think they are overdone), Gray does basically dispense with it by the end of the story. Unfortunately I found myself rooting for the one who wasn't chosen--for some reason Lucas just was not appealing to me as much in this book, go figure. Maybe that storyline will improve in the third book, or perhaps the forbidden/impossible love theme is simply a bit tired at this point.

Happily, Stargazer is fast-paced and I do think that it is better developed overall in this book. I wasn't left with the feeling that the story was being rushed at the end to tie up some loose ends, the way I felt with Evernight. I am really quite interested to see where Bianca's story takes her--the minor twist in her heritage made for an interesting departure from things I have traditionally read about vampires. Speaking of twists, the one I just mentioned was really the only one of interest this time around--there weren't any truly big shockers like there were with the first book. But because the pacing was so much improved, I didn't really miss the mega plot twists.

Bottom line: If you enjoyed Evernight, I think you will like Stargazer even more--I know I did. And there is a lot of potential for the third book to be a great conclusion to the trilogy.

My rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of Stargazer:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your site listed here, please leave a comment with the link to your review!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Books Read in 2010 (By Month)





MAY (8)

JUNE (10)

JULY (3)

SEPTEMBER (in progress)




Last updated 8/29/10.