Saturday, September 25, 2010

Review: Guardian of the Gate

Title: Guardian of the Gate
Author: Michelle Zink
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pub Date: August 2010, Little Brown
Hardcover, 340 pages
Book source: Purchased at B&N @ Ga Tech


As sixteen-year-old LIa Milthorpe searches for a way to end the prophecy that has divided her family for generations, her twin sister, Alice, works to hone the skills she'll need to defeat Lia. Alice will stop at nothing to reclaim her sister's role in the prophecy, and that's not the only thing she wants. There's also Lia's beloved, James.

The sisters always knew that the prophecy would turn those closest to them against them. But they didn't know what betrayal could lead them to do.

In the end, only one sister will be standing.

My Thoughts

There's definitely no sophomore slump for Michelle Zink with Guardian of the Gate! While I had a difficult time getting drawn into Prophecy of the Sisters (but ultimately enjoyed it), I was immediately hooked on this story. Perhaps that was because I was already familiar with what was going on from the first book, though I also think the action really started very quickly in this book.

We see quite a bit of character development with Lia and her two friends--two of the four "keys" in the prophecy. And yes, there is betrayal that is heartbreaking and potentially detrimental to their mission, but we are left with hope in the end as well. Speaking of characters, there is just one thing that bugs me about this book, and that's the introduction of Dmitri, who I feel came out of nowhere to find a place in Lia's heart. What about James?! Is he so easily forgotten? I am definitely curious to see how that storyline evolves in the third book. Don't get me wrong--I rather like Dmitri's character, I just don't know how I feel about his place in the story.

There is quite a bit more world-building in this book as well, as we follow Lia's journey to Altus and read about her time there. We've been given a few more pieces of the puzzle, yet there is still so much more to be learned about the prophecy and everyone's role in it. Overall, this was a great read that was easy to get sucked into. If you liked Prophecy of the Sisters I definitely think you will enjoy Guardian of the Gate.

My Rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of Guardian of the Gate:

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!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Review: Clockwork Angel

Title: Clockwork Angel
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pub Date: August 2010, McElderry Books
Hardcover, 478 pages
Book Source: Purchased from


Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. 

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

My Thoughts

Those of you familiar with my blog and books I've read probably know that I loved Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series. Clockwork Angel serves as a prequel to those books, and while I generally hate to see series end and look for related books, I have to admit it took me quite awhile to really get into this one.

I really can't put my finger on what it was about this book that caused me to really have to plod through nearly half of it before it clicked for me. Part of it may have been that I didn't find a lot of the characters to be very compelling (initially), or perhaps it's the fact that the story just seemed to move slowly for awhile. Whatever the case, eventually the plot found a good rhythm and I was finally pulled into the story and couldn't put it down. As always, Clare resolves some aspects of the storyline but leaves us hanging on perhaps the most interesting points. I would rather have some resolution than have the entire story left wide open, though!

Those of you who enjoyed the Mortal Instruments series will likely enjoy this book. It might be beneficial to read this one not long after finishing that series, though. I have read so many books since finishing those, that it took me awhile to get back up to speed with the premises behind the story.

My Rating: 4 stars>

Other reviews of Clockwork Angel:

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!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Review: A Scattered Life

Title: A Scattered Life
Author: Karen McQuestion
Genre: Fiction
Pub Date: August 2010, AmazonEncore
ARC Paperback, 255 pages
Book Source: Received my copy from the author for review.


Free spirit Skyla Plinka has found the love and stability she always wanted in her reliable husband Thomas. Settling into her new family and roles as wife and mother, life in rural Wisconsin is satisfying, but can't seem to quell Skyla's growing sense of restlessness. Her only reprieve is her growing friendship with neighbor Roxanne, who has five kids (and counting) and a life in constant disarray--but also a life filled with laughter and love.

Much to the dismay of her intrusive mother-in-law, Audrey, Skyla takes a part-time job at the local bookstore and slowly begins to rediscover her voice, independence, and confidence. Throughout one pivotal year in the life of three very different women, each will learn what it means to love unconditionally.

My Thoughts

While not my typical reading fare, I can see how the story in A Scattered Life would have widespread appeal. At just 255 pages it is an easy read that was a breeze to get through, although I have to admit that by the time I finished it I was a bit underwhelmed by the overall story. The potential was there for a great book (even though it would probably still not be one I would choose for myself), but I thought it fell short in several ways.

Both the characters and the plot really needed to be fleshed out in a bit more detail. So many of the characters, whether the women of focus or some of the supporting cast, really felt stereotyped and not individualized the way they could have been. Audrey was the rather annoying, meddling mother-in-law, while poor Skyla was trying to find herself and be understood by her husband and his family, and then there's the crazy new neighbor, Roxanne, her husband, and their wild group of boys. As for the story itself, it was alright, but would have been better for a bit more depth and an ending that wasn't quite so rushed. Given the relative shortness of the book, I don't think it would have hurt if it was a bit longer, if that means including more detail that adds both to the plot and to the emotional depth.

While tragedy eventually rears its ugly head (and we all know how I feel about stories like this--it was a disappointment when I realized where the story was heading), there is a glimmer of hope and happiness that peeks out at the end of the book. If only the means to the end hadn't been so scattered and ultimately heartbreaking, I would have enjoyed this book more. As noted at the beginning of this post, I received this book for review from Karen McQuestion, and would like to thank her for sending me a copy!

My Rating: 3 stars

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.

Monday, September 6, 2010

WINNER: The Life O'Reilly

It's that time! Time to announce the winner of a signed copy of The Life O'Reilly by Brian Cohen! Many thanks to all of you who entered the contest. In the end, there could only be one winner and I let choose the lucky reader. Congratulations are in order for...

Please join me in congratulating Sharon on her win! I will be sending out an email and if I don't hear back from her within 48 hours, I will choose a new winner.

Review: Mockingjay

Title: Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian fiction
Pub Date: August 2010, Scholastic, Inc.
Hardcover,  pages
Book Source: Purchased from


Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins's groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year. -- Scholastic

My Thoughts

It is so hard to believe that we have finally come to the conclusion of the Hunger Games trilogy. I can remember putting off my reading of the first book simply because I didn't know if it could live up to the hype for me. Now I am wishing that I could just keep turning the pages--though I do intend to (so to speak) down the road. I really think that this series would benefit from a straight read-through when I have the time to devote to it (and a smaller TBR pile, haha).

I have to be honest, though, and say that while I enjoyed it, Mockingjay was not my favorite book of the three--that honor still goes to The Hunger Games. As usual, I found myself completely swept up in Collins' story, alternately applauding and lamenting at the unfolding events. Overall, I really thought the story played out like it should have--though for a brief moment I really felt like she should end up on either Team Gale or Team Peeta. For most of the series I really have been a staunch supporter of Team Gale and the events of Mockingjay eventually led me to the other side. What Peeta was forced to do and experience thanks to the Capitol was unbelievably horrendous, and I was impressed with how Collins depicted his story and the other characters' reactions to what he had become. I think the biggest fault I can find with this book is the overall pacing. The third part really snowballed and ended the book much too quickly in my opinion, while there were some earlier parts that dragged a bit more than necessary.

My feelings by the time I closed the book? Satisfied, yet a tinge of sadness that the story was over. The epilogue was a nice touch, even though I yearned for a bit more from it. But perhaps that was the point in the end. I really do look forward to taking the time to read this series from start to finish sometime down the road--I think I'll appreciate this powerful story even more.

My Rating: I actually changed this to 5 stars since re-reading the series.
5 stars

Other reviews of Mockingjay:

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!