Monday, December 22, 2008

Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

Rose is back in this third Vampire Academy novel. Back at school after the events in Frostbite where Rose's good friend Mason was killed, Rose and her classmates are preparing for their field experience, where they protect their Moroi assignments from attack. To her surprise, Rose is assigned to Christian, Lissa's boyfriend, instead of Lissa herself.

But other things are going on at St. Vladmir's as well. For one, Rose is beginning to think she is going crazy as Mason periodically appears in front of her. Her temperament is even worse than it always has been. And Victor, the man who tortured Lissa and the reason Rose and Lissa ran away in the first place, may be let out of prison and be a free man once again.

And before you know it, Strigoi attack the school and Rose just may have to decide between the Moroi she has sworn with her life to protect, and the man she has come to love.

Vampire Diaries, volume 2 by L.J. Smith

The Fury
Elena has been changed in ways she will never be able to reverse. But that's not all that's changed. Something seems out to get her and her friends, as well as everyone in town. Stefan and Damon have no experience with this--in fact--they don't have any experience in helping each other out either, but Elena is determined to be their common ground and convinces them they need each other in order to save her family, friends, and town. But will they figure things out in time?

The Dark Reunion
Without giving away what happens in the previous book, this fourth book of the Vampire Diaries series begins with Bonnie and Meredith confused about recent events going on around them. Something is once again reeking havoc on the town, and no one is sure what's going on. It seems necessary to bring Stefan back, and with him, Damon, to once again save Fells Church.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

"Alice" was abducted from an aquarium when she was 10 and kept tightly controlled by Ray. Now, at the age of 15, she is getting too old for Ray, as he steadily controls how much she eats, puts her on birth control, and restricts when she can leave their apartment. Ray dreams of finding another young girl he can 'train' and keep. Alice's continual growing annoys him.

Alice can't wait for him to find a new girl as well--fully knowing the end is coming for her. Even though Ray promises they'll be a 'family' with a new young girl for him to focus on, Alice knows better. She knows Ray is going to kill her as soon as he gets his next victim, and she cannot wait for a way to escape this life. Which is why she offers to find his next young girl. But as events unfold and she is faced with the ultimate decision, what will she do?

Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

Charlotte Usher has always been invisible. She has no friends, no fashion, and no social standing with anyone in her school.

But she begins her sophomore year thinking that will all change. Determined to get the boy she's been dreaming about for two years--Damen--she embarks on a complete makeover to become what she thinks he wants. And he seems to notice her on the first day--mostly because they are lab partners in Physics.

Then tragedy strikes. Charlotte, waiting to talk to Damen after class, chokes on a gummy bear while everyone else ignores her. Now Charlotte is truly invisible to everyone but Scarlet, Damen's girlfriend's little sister. Does she accept the inevitable and stop trying to get Damen to notice her, or just try harder as he starts to notice Scarlet as more than a pest?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval (658.4 Kap)

I am not a huge fan of non-fiction, but this book reads easily. The authors head up their own advertising agency--The Kaplan Thaler Group--and so use their own experiences with their business and their clients to add detail and examples to this short book. The language is to the point and easy to follow.

The authors point out the ways and reasons to be nice in the business world, and back up their advice with tried and true examples from their own lives. Each chapter also comes with exercises to try to become a "nicer" person, and to practice being nice at home, work, and to strangers on the street. Each chapter is well organized into shorter sections, making it easy to read and find places to stop and absorb. A powerful book for something so small and simple to read.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Vampirates: Blood Captain by Justin Somper

Connor and Grace are back yet again in another chapter of their adventure. Grace is back on the Vampirates' ship, The Nocturne, while Connor is living a pirate's life aboard The Diablo. Grace is struggling to help Lorcan, the vampirate who rescued her from the sea and went blind while trying to brave the sunlight to save her in Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean. Now they are traveling to Sanctuary, a place where vampires tired of the evil they do come to join others who can control their bloodlust.

Connor is having problems of his own, as he struggles with having killed a man in cold blood. He never thought it would happen the way it has, and he doesn't know if he can continue in his life as a pirate. Broken, he runs away from the life he once enthusiastically embraced, and attempts to find his own path, knowing he cannot join his sister.

However, there is mutiny on the vampirate's ship, from Connor's own friend and ally. The Captain is in grave danger, and the vampires are revolting. What will happen to the world with renegade vampirates on the high seas?

Another fantastic novel. Well-written and action-packed, there is enough here for everyone. Yet another book will follow...

Lily Dale: Believing by Wendy Corsi Staub

Lily Dale: Believing is the sequel to Lily Dale: Awakening, and continues the story of Calla, a young woman who moved to Lily Dale to live with her grandmother after her mother's death and her father's move to California from their home in Florida.

Life for Calla has not changed much from the summer spent in Lily Dale. She convinced her father to let her stay there for at least the beginning of the year, and her skills as a medium are growing, despite her grandmother's concerns about using them. Calla is desperate to contact her mother beyond the grave. However, Kaitlyn, the young woman Calla "saw" in the first book is back, with another request: "Stop him". At a loss as to how to precede, Calla is caught between her father's visit, boys, and her problems at school (not to mention having a dead person talking to you while you're in math class...)

When Calla seems to become the target of the man who killed Kaitlyn and dumped yet another young woman, things start to become more dangerous, and Calla starts to realize how careful she needs to be with her gift...

This is an excellent second novel. The spirits Calla sees feel new and authentic, and Lily Dale comes alive once again. Keep an eye out for the third book in this series..

Red Fire by Deidre Knight

Red Fire is not your typical historical fantasy romance. Sure, the legendary heroes from Sparta (all featured in the recent movie 300) are there, but there are some subtle twists to the story.

For instance, this historical romance actually takes place in present day. The figures from history have moved forward in time, having become immortal after their death. And oh yeah, they can shape-shift.

As the first book in the "Gods of Midnight" series, Ajax Petrakos, Spartan warrior, is given a test to end all tests. He is pitted against an ancient foe, one who destroyed his family. And Ajax, who had been promised his soul mate by the elusive Oracle, must once again go out in battle to save what little humanity he has left. Until he finds Shay is his soul mate, and the target of his ancient foe's deadly game. It is up to him, and him alone, to save her and the world without losing his own soul in the process.

If you're a fan of Christina Dodd, Laurell Hamilton, Sherrilyn Kenyon, or Kim Harrison, you will love this novel!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Vampire Diaries vol 1 by L.J. Smith

The Awakening
Elena seems to have it all, despite the fact that her parents just died. She and her younger sister live with their aunt, and the school year starts off just as it normally would. Elena is the most popular girl in school, and everyone wants to be her or be with her. After spending the summer in France, Elena is ready to face the coming year and be the "Queen" once again.

But things are not going to go the way she wants. First, there is a new mysterious guy--Stefan--who seems immune to her charms. Determined to catch him, she and her friends begin a campaign to make him hers. And then the real trouble begins...

The Struggle
The second book of the Vampire Diaries series begins right as the first one leaves off. Elena and Stefan are now together, but odd things begin to happen. There are attacks on the citizens of Fell's Church--ever since Stefan arrived--but they begin to tie back to him more now than ever before. Elena knows his secrets, but can she confide hers to him? How would he react to what his brother has been doing? And how he has also been targetting her?

An exciting beginning to an interesting series. I would suggest having all of the volumes before getting into the series--I can't wait to read what happens next!

Playing with Fire by Derek Landy

Playing With Fire is the sequel to Landy's first novel, Skulduggery Pleasant. And Skulduggery and Valkyrie, aka Stephanie, are back in another action-packed adventure. Learning how to use her powers, Valkyrie, now 13, has the added stress of school and appearing normal to her family and friends on the outside. She and Skulduggery chase after bad guys at night, but often during the day as well.

Meanwhile, Baron Vengeous has escaped from his prison, bent on bringing the Faceless Ones back to life. The Baron has only been captured once before, and it was by Skulduggery. Once again, Skulduggery is called in to recapture the Baron and bring him to justice, Valkyrie at his side. But things seem to go wrong from the very beginning. Valkyrie is one of the Baron's main targets, and he sets a vampire and other beings out to capture her. It also appears someone very high on the "good" side is leaking information to the Baron. Will they be able to save the day?

Written with the same humor as the first book, Landy has created yet another exciting adventure.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thirsty by M.T. Anderson

In Chris's hometown, vampires are the norm. There's a ritual every year to keep the dark vampire lord in his prison, and the vampires in the area are usually hunted down and killed before they kill too many people. But the vampires are uneasy and beginning to form alliances in order to free their lord from his prison.

But Chris can't worry about that right now. Torn between daydreaming about Rebecca, wanting to be popular, and hanging out with his two friends, Chris has more important issues. Like a thirst he cannot seem to satisfy. And teeth that grow whenever he thinks about blood. Whatever is happening to him, it cannot be good.

A quick and fun novel, full of action, humor, and vampires.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Ice Cream Con by Jimmy Docherty

Jake and his friends live in the Projects--a poor, rundown area full of crime. When the local crime boss admits to Jake he stole Jake's money (and the only way to feed himself and his grandmother), Jake decides to get even.

Enter the Big Baresi. Soon, every major crime in the Projects is said to be the Big Baresi's work. And all Jake and his friends had to do was scatter some flyers around and scare a few big thugs who terrorize the neighborhood. Or so Jake thought. As long as everyone fears the Big Baresi, his enemies increase and his life expectancy decreases. And with it, Jake fears for his and his friends' lives as well.

So he comes up with a daring plot to save them all. And catch the big crime lords in the process...

An interesting story with action. Some things are a little unbelievable but the story as a whole is very entertaining.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pope Joan by Donna Cross

Pope Joan tells the legend of Joan, a young woman who poses as her brother and makes her way up to the most powerful position in the Catholic Church--Pope. Set in the 800s, Joan grows up in the middle of the Dark Ages where few people know how to read or write and women are seen as mere property and worthless.

Joan, however, strives to be different, at a very young age. Her father is a canon and marries a pagon. As she grows, Joan's mother teaches her about her religion as her father instructs her and her brothers in the Catholic faith. Joan's thirst for knowledge increases as she grows along with her father's anger towards her. When tragedy strikes and Joan's brother is killed, she decides to take his place rather than become someone's prize or slave. Her thirst for knowledge and quick wits keep her alive and her secret hidden until the very end.

The novel itself questions whether Joan actually existed. The author explains in her afterword why she believes this legend, even with the arguments against it. A great historical fiction!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Benevolence, or Ben as she is called, is a young girl whose life changes tragically when her mother is killed and her father disappears. Ben is the heir to the throne--her uncle, the king, was murdered along with her mother. Ben is moved to the palace from the only home she has ever known and forced into "queen" training by the queen regent, her aunt. Waiting desperately for her father to come home, she rebels any way she can. Including the ball her aunt plans in order to present her to the neighboring kingdoms--and available princes.

Then Ben is trapped behind enemy lines, and forced to see herself and her behavior from another perspective. Will it wake her up to do her duty and save her kingdom? Or will she be too late?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Evernight by Claudia Gray

Bianca has just started a new school--a boarding school--with her parents as teachers. She struggles with some of the classes, and with her fellow classmates. The one person she feels she made a connection with seems leery of developing a friendship with her. The other students who have always gone to Evernight treat her with disdain, while the new students don't know what to make of her either. And then one night, everything changes.

Another view at the world of vampires. You aren't sure just who is or isn't one until someone gets bitten.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

In this sequel to Wicked Lovely, Marr brings back the main characters Aislynn, Seth, and Keenan, but only as minor characters.

The past year of Leslie's life has been terrible. Her mother ran out on her family, her dad drowns in a bottle of alcohol everyday, and her brother Ren hops from one drug to another, searching for the next high. The family is crumbling, and Leslie is the only one that strives for responsibility--she pays the bills with her waitressing job, and can't wait to graduate from high school and move to college.

The only thing Leslie looks forward to is the tattoo she hopes to get and the marking it will giver her body that it is hers--and hers alone.

What she doesn't know is the tattoo has its own way of making her body a prisoner.

Another fantastic novel by an accomplished author.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Up All Night

Up All Night is an anthology of work from some of today's best authors. The stories all cover different topics and characters, but they all revolve around the characters discovering something about themselves or the world around them--late at night.

Peter Abrahams' story "Phase 2" tells the story of a family waiting for their father to return home to begin "Phase 2" of their lives.

Libba Bray's story "Not Just for Breakfast Anymore" is the story of Maggie and her friends, on their way to a concert and Maggie's attempts at hiding her father's secret life.

David Levithan's "The Vulnerable Hours" portrays a wide cast of teens, all at crossroads in their life, and how the hours between midnight and dawn are powerful at revealing strengths and weaknesses.

"Orange Alert" by Patricia McCormick is the first person narrative of a 15-year old girl wanting her driver's license and the freedom being away from an abusive step father and an ignorant mother.

"Superman Is Dead" by Sarah Weeks is a story within a story--the main character is telling his friend the story he wrote for an English project while his mother is gone and he's babysitting his brother. His story reflects his real life--something he would like to be away from.

Gene Luen Yang's "The Motherless One" is a manga depiction of a monkey who learns he has no mother, and the search to find out why.

Ever by Gail Carson Levine

As with Levine's other books, Ever takes a fairytale and turns it on its head.

Kezi is a young girl living with her family. They are a devote family, praying to their god Admat and following his laws. But one day, Kezi's mother becomes sick. Kezi's father, in an attempt to cure his wife, promises to kill the first person who congratulates him on his wife's recovery in a sacrifice to Admat. In their world, an oath is no longer valid after three days, so after Kezi's mother becomes well, the family lives in fear as to who will congratulate her father.

Olus is a young god from another country, fascinated with humans. He has longed for a friend his whole life, but he never imagines he'd fall in love with Kezi. As he watches their life, he becomes more infatuated with her, even daring to introduce himself and save her at one point. When fate intervenes, Olus is determined the two of them can overcome destiny to write their own.

This tale is told in both Kezi and Olus' point of view. Each chapter alternates, but the story is powerful and amusing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio tells the story of Evelyn Ryan and her family, told by her daughter. The family of 12 never had much in the way of money or possessions, but they had a mother determined to make their life meaningful. Evelyn entered as many contests as she could, writing jingles, rhymes, and poems to bring in money to feed and clothe her growing household. She won large and small contests, sometimes earning $1 for her writing, sometimes trips and cars, all sold to bring money into their simple lifestyle.

Terry Ryan, Evelyn's sixth child, tells the story of their life growing up with an amazing woman--a woman all the children call their hero for everything she did to make their lives happy. Evelyn, as reported by Ryan, took every situation life threw at her in stride, with confidence and optimism that things would work out. Raising 10 children practically on her own, she struggled and sacrificed to keep their house together. This is the true story of one amazing woman's life, and the impact she made on her children and their community.

A fantastic read. The subject matter seems depressing, but the book is written in love and humor. Many laugh-out-loud moments throughout, especially when reading the limericks, jingles, and rhymes Evelyn came up with to win. This non-fiction reads like fiction.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Market by J.M. Steele

Kate is a senior at Millbank High School, and not happy with her life, but content. Then she finds out that every senior girl is ranked online through a system called the Millbank Social Stock Market, and becomes obsessed. She's number 71 of 140 girls.

So Kate and her friends Dev and Cal get together to change her stock. They change her image and she changes her attitude in the last few weeks of high school to see what they can do to change her stock. They also join the stock market--at $500 a pop--to invest in her. The winner gets $25,000, and they're hoping they can accomplish that.

This is not your typical chick lit book, however. There is a sort of happy ending, but not the typical-girl-wins-guy-and-everyone-is-happy ending. However, this is a very interesting story and ending.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mad Kestrel by Misty Massey

Kestrel has had a hard life. Her parents were murdered when she was four, and she has been on the run since then. Having magical Promise in her world ensures a quick trip to the Danisoba--one that you never return from.

But Kestrel has one more talent. Water nullifies magic--all except hers. In order to stay safe, she became a pirate, hiding her secret from the crew and living under the protection of her captain. Until he is arrested for a crime he didn't actually commit. Now with the threat of his hanging over her head, Kestrel embarks on a daring mission that will reveal her abilities to her enemies and her friends. She must try to save the captain and the king without falling victim to those who hunt her for their own reasons.

The ending of this novel wrapped up a bit too quickly, but the story itself was action-packed and well described. An interesting tale of a strong young woman determined to make her own destiny.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Earth has been taken over by aliens who call themselves souls. They take over human bodies (the organism that effects the environment the most) and live out their life in that guise.

Wanderer, one of the most experienced souls, has requested an adult body, almost unheard of in her day. Adults are the more difficult to control, as they have been influenced by outside forces for longer than children. As one of the strongest souls in their society, Wanderer is expected to use her new body to find the hidden pockets of resistance and help make Earth more peaceful.

What no one expects is that Melanie is very much alive in her own body. Shunted off to the side by Wanderer's soul, Melanie clutches on to her very being--unwilling or unable to let go completely. As she and Wanderer spend more time together, however, Wanderer begins to understand the complexities behind human existence. Forced to see the evil nature of her own species through the eyes of the very organisms she has been trained to discard, Wanderer cannot resist Melanie's pull to find her family and help them survive.

Even though this book is primarily science fiction, it has appeal across all genres as it examines what it means to be human. There are definitely some slower parts to the novel--Meyer has written three teen novels--this is her first adult attempt. The examination of what makes us human, and what can still be admired about our own species is a nice change from everyday life.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin

Lavinia tells the story of Lavinia, a young woman in the early days of Italy. She is the foretold wife of Aeneas, one of the survivors of the Trojan War. Virgil spoke of her in his epic poem, The Aeneid, but she had no voice.

Le Guin has corrected that error and tells Lavinia's story in her own voice. Lavinia is the daughter of a king, and must choose between a horde of suitors all wanting her lands and her wealth. Lavinia, however, knows there is a foreigner coming for her, one from a distant land. She knows this because she has been visited by someone she calls 'the poet'--Virgil. After speaking with her, Virgil wishes he had corrected his story when he had the chance.

Lavinia's story is a story of love, passion, politics, religion, and the strength of a young woman determined to decide her own fate.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Rose and Lissa are back in the next installment of the Vampire Academy series. This time, something threatens the safety of all Moroi everywhere. Strigoi are attacking Moroi--heavily guarded Moroi--and killing them. Instead of students being sent home for the holidays, all students are sent to a ski lodge to meet up with their families and stay in the protection of a larger group of guardians.

But Rose still seems to get into trouble. Not only has her mother shown up for the first time in five years, but boys are coming in from all sides. And now, Rose may know the location of the Strigoi that are attacking Moroi families--a location she lets slip to some of her peers. What's a girl to do?

Suck It Up by Brian Meehl

Morning McCobb is a vampire. No seriously. He is. No one believes him either, not at first. Morning is the first vampire to come out. He's a Leaguer. A Leaguer is a vampire that doesn't follow the old rules--killing humans. In fact, Morning has never had human or animal blood. Nope. He only drinks blood made from soy products. He's the perfect spokesperson for the International Vampire League (or IVL for short).

Then things just get complicated. Morning demonstrates his vampire abilities on television across the nation, and he becomes a target for the Loners, or old type of vampires. Not to mention, his publicist's daughter is very attractive, and he begins to crave her blood. In order for humans to accept the Leaguers into their society, they have to be convinced of their safety. Can Morning resist temptation and escape the plotting of the Loners as well?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mistik Lake by Martha Brooks

Sally was involved in the accident on Mistik Lake when she was a teenager, and the only survivor. No one blames her but herself.

Odella, Sally's oldest daughter, never understood her mom. And when her mom runs away with another man, she really doesn't understand her at all. Who would abandon 3 daughters and a husband? But as Odella's family begins to heal from this betrayal, Sally dies, leaving the four of them remembering last words and bitter feelings.

They all react in different ways. Odella begins lashing out, not understanding why her mom did the things she did. Her great aunt, Gloria, tries to explain things but cannot. And soon, the whole family realizes there are too many secrets left--too many to keep quiet anymore.

This book is told in third person, but it focuses on three different characters throughout, Odella, Gloria, and Jimmy, Odella's boyfriend. There are many elements that are pulled back in towards the end of the book.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

What would you do if you suddenly couldn't remember the last 4 years of your life?

Naomi is having a typical day when she falls down a flight of stairs at school--and gets amnesia. Now, she's missing the last four years of her life--years where many things happened. She has to be told about her parents' divorce and her mother's remarriage. She has to be told about her boyfriend and her best friend. And while people are trying to fill the holes in her memory, they also tell her how she should be acting, feeling, and talking.

All except James. And what will happen if she gets her memory back?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Airman by Eoin Colfer

Conor has always had his eyes on the sky. Being born in a hot air balloon will do that to you. From an early age, he has wanted to fly and be free. It seems he will have that opportunity to discover how to fly.

Then tragedy strikes--he witnesses a murder. Not just any murder--the murder of his king and his mentor. The murderer then locks him away in prison with no one knowing what happened to him. Conor must find a way to conquer the sky and rescue himself and his family from danger that lurks around every corner.

A fascinating read, staged in Ireland around the time of the discovery of flight. Conor is an energetic and determined teen thrown into some harrowing and frustrating circumstances. This book is action-packed!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lessons From a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles

Laine has not always had an easy life. When she was young, she wanted to be Leah's best friend--Leah being the most popular girl in school. And magically, it seems to happen! Laine is pulled into the popular circle--much to the dismay of everyone else.

But Laine and Leah share a secret. One that Laine fears will come out. And as they age, Leah and Laine grow apart--and Leah becomes more dangerous. Leah's secret is even worse than the one they share. Leah's self-destructive behavior pushes both girls closer to the edge...until Leah jumps off. Her death begins Laine's recollections of their childhood together, and the lessons she's learned from a dead girl.

The Spell Book of Listen Taylor by Jaclyn Moriarty

This book centers around the Zing family, and what the Zing family centers itself around. Each main character is followed by the third-person narrator's voice, yet it is told in the alternating style as other books are.

You see Fancy, the oldest Zing child, with her husband Radcliffe and their daughter Cassie. Fancy is a writer and aspires to write something better than wilderness romances.

You see Marbie, the other Zing child, who is dating and living with Nathaniel and Listen Taylor. Listen discovers a spell book the first week she lives with Marbie, and starts to follow all the spells. And what's strange--they seem to work!

Cassie's 2nd grade teacher also plays an important role in this book--Cath Murphy. Inbetween all of these is the story of Fancy and Marbie's parents--how they met, and what brought them together.

The Zing family has a secret though. One no one must know about.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Jennifer and Cameron were best friends in elementary school. Always the target for bullies, they stuck together to survive it all. Then one day, Cameron disappears. The kids at school tell Jennifer he died, and her mother doesn't refute the story.

But Cameron didn't die. And Jennifer, now Jenna and 17, thinks she's losing her mind. She's completely changed since Cameron went away. Gone is the chubby little girl no one liked. She changed schools and is popular. But she feels it's all fake--and Cameron brings back her memories of what she was like before he left.

With the conflict Jenna now feels, can things go back the way they were?

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Rose and Lissa escaped from their school almost 2 years ago. Since then, they've been wary of being hunted by guardians of the Moroi, and the Strigoi. Until one night, when it seems they can't escape.

But they're captured by the guardians, who only want to return the girls to the academy, not the Strigoi who would kill or convert them. Well, convert Lissa. Rose is her guardian and a dhampir. Both need to finish their schooling so they're prepared for the outside world full of Strigoi.

Rose and Lissa both have a hard time fitting back into their routine. There are rumors floating around about why they ran and what Lissa can do with her powers. And someone seems to have it out for Lissa, and if Rose can't find out who, they'll both be in more danger.

An exciting read. The ending more than makes up for the slower pace in the middle of the book.

Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

The authors of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist are back in another alternative voice book. Naomi and Ely have lived across the hall in their New York apartment building for their entire lives. They both understand each other in a way no one else does. Until the unthinkable happens. Ely kisses Naomi's boyfriend.

Now Naomi has lost her trust in Ely. Even though she wasn't all that happy with Bruce the Second, she can't believe Ely kissed her boyfriend. He wasn't on their No Kiss List, but he should have been! Both Naomi and Ely are left floundering without the other. And everyone else is affected by the separation.

This is a great book told from many different points of view. Sometimes confusing, it's still laughable and intriguing, all in one.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Highwayman's Footsteps by Nichola Morgan

Will is a young aristocrat in Britain, fed up with his life and the direction his parents want it to go. He runs away, straight into the guns of Bess, a young common woman, who is out to seek revenge on the people who killed her parents--an entire army!

Together, these two will face unbeatable odds. They face red coats at every turn. They steal, lie, cheat, and make things up as they go along. And Bess is determined to avenge her parents' deaths--and forces Will to face the one man he fears the most--his father.

If you have never read "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes, you should. Then read this book.

Read this book anyway--there is action, drama, and the good guy's attempt to triumph..will they?

The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year I Truly, Completely Lost It by Lisa Shanahan

Gemma lives in a small Australian town. Her mother crochets--a lot, her sister is a little out there, and her dad is obsessed with grass. Then Debbie, Gemma's sister, announces her engagement to Brian, the guy she's been dating for a month. And things begin to change.

For one, Gemma's crush, Nick, notices her--but only to get her to try out for the school play. But Gemma has issues with public speaking--it makes her throw up. But she goes out anyway. And then Raven deHead, a delinquent from her class, goes out for the play as well. And the two of them get partnered together. And Gemma sees how the poorer families live in her town.

But Gemma likes Nick, right? So why does she find him so annoying now? And will she ever figure out what she wants?

Sight by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

Dylan has a big secret. She can see things happen. Most of the time, she tries to hide her sight--and hide from it. But sometimes...she sees dead children. And only after they're dead.

The first time it happened, she was five years old, and her classmate, Clarence, was missing. She saw him--saw where he was buried. But she didn't tell anyone, not until after they found the body. After that, she went to the police whenever she got a vision.

Things are changing now. The man that killed Clarence, the man they called the Drifter, is back, and killing children again. If Dylan can force herself to see what happens before another child dies, she might be able to catch him. But secrets have a way of coming out. And life is not always what it seems in her little town.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mob Princess: For Money and Love by Todd Strasser

Kate has an unusual life. She tries to be a normal junior in high school, but it never quite happens.

Most of the people in her hometown think they know what her dad does. They aren't sure, but they think so. So when her boyfriend tells her she's not meeting his needs, he worries about her dad coming after him. Thanks to the Sopranos, everyone assumes they know what happens when you cross the Blessing family.

But Kate has bigger problems. Her mom decides to leave her dad after one too many infidelities. Her dad is about to lose control over his "crew". And the family is falling apart. Unless Kate can do something to save it. And she has other problems now too--she's fallen for her father's biggest enemy's son.

A great short read--some action, some romance, and a quick read!

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

Are you a fan of Gossip Girls? You might like this book then!

Elizabeth is a young aristocrat in New York in 1899. She is the heiress of a family name--and only a family name. She must marry Henry, a young man of a rich family, who has a playboy image. Through marriage, she will save her family and their name.

But Elizabeth is in love with Will, the stablehand. Her maid, Lina, is also in love with him, and would rather do anything than serve Elizabeth. Diana, Elizabeth's younger sister, is in love with Henry, who begins to share her feelings back for him. In the background is Penelope, Elizabeth's best friend and biggest rival--who also wants Henry for her own. The solution to all of their problems is unclear, and all mentioned are set to being miserable for the rest of their lives. Until it appears Elizabeth has died....

Dusssie by Nancy Springer

Dussie wakes up one morning to find two things wrong with her life. She's started her period..and her hair has turned into snakes. 27 snakes, to be exact.

Not sure which is worse, Dussie desperately tries to find a way to get rid of her snakes. Not only do they move around on her head almost constantly, they accidentally turn the boy she likes into stone. But only partial stone. As she struggles with finding a solution to her problem, Dussie starts to see her snakes as part of her personality. Telling the shrink she's hearing voices doesn't help either--although it does get her out of school for a while. Dussie learns things about herself and her family--especially her mom, as she struggles to come to terms with her new 'hair'.

A great, short read.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What-the-Dickens: A Rogue Tooth Fairy by Gregory Maguire

Unlike other skibbereen (or tooth fairies, as we know them), What-the-Dickens was born without siblings, and without knowing his purpose. His only motivation is finding a gift for the cat that tried to eat him (and see how confusing that could be), he embarks on a tale that brings him into contact with birds, tigers, humans, and other skibbereen. That's how he meets Pepper, in the middle of her job, exchanging a tooth for a coin. He is dragged back to headquarters with her, but soon discovers the world he knew nothing about isn't as welcoming as it first appeared. Many mishaps and adventures come from his own lack of knowledge.

What-the-Dickens' tale is told to distract Dinah, Zeke, and Rebecca Ruth from the terrible truth of the storm outside--a storm that has wiped out all contact with the outside world--and the fact their parents are missing. The book switches between present time, and What-the-Dickens' story.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lily Dale: Awakening by Wendy Corsi Staub

Calla cannot believe what has happened. First, her boyfriend of two years breaks up with her by text message, then two weeks later, her mother dies in a freak accident in their home. Her life is in shambles.

Instead of going with her dad to California, Calla decides to head with her grandmother to Lily Dale, the small town where her mother grew up. Once inside this gated town, she realizes she didn't know her mother at all. Lily Dale is full of mediums. All kinds of mediums. And Calla's grandmother is very well known and a registered medium as well. Calla wonders what this means for her and the strange people only she seems to see. Maybe she's a medium as well.

As Calla's three weeks in Lily Dale come to a close, she wonders if there's more to her mother's past than she's ever known. Could staying in Lily Dale be the only way to learn?

Lily Dale: Awakening is the first book in the series. Keep an eye out for Lily Dale: Believing.

If I Pay Thee Not in Gold by Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey

Mazonia is a country completely opposite ours. The women have all the power, and men are mere slaves. You see, women can conjure, and men cannot. So that gives women more power.

Xylina is a young Mazonian, about to do her trial to see if she's fit to be a full citizen. Her trial consists of fighting unarmed an unarmed man. If she succeeds, she has the right to be a full citizen in the Mazonian society.

But Xylina doesn't really care. Her mother is gone and a curse is upon her head to bring harm to any who care for her. And after she becomes a citizen, it certainly seems the curse is in full force. Or is there someone behind the curse, threatened by the ease in which Xylina can conjure?

An interesting tale with twists throughout from two great fantasy authors. Xylina is an engaging and emphathetic character.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Quad by C. G. Watson

Someone is out shooting people in the quad of the high school. But who?

Everyone has their own theory about who it could be. None of them guess the right answer. All they know is someone is out in the middle of the quad with a gun, and at least one person is dead. But no one knows why. Not yet.

A great book about the pressures high school students go under everyday--especially from their peers, and what it might take for them to crack. Who could you have pushed a little too far?

The Moon Riders by Theresa Tomlinson

Myrina has always wanted to be a Moon Rider, what the Achaeons call Amazons. This isn't the traditional story of Amazons, however, as the Moon Riders marry and move out of the tribe after seven years.

Myrina gets her chance to train with the Moon Riders but she is not alone. Along with the other trainees, Cassandra--princess of Troy--joins the group. She can't stay for the whole seven years, but is looking for something new. The events in Troy, though, change the future of the Moon Riders forever.

This is a great retelling of the beginning of the Trojan War. Even if you know what's coming!

Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner

This is the story of Helen of Troy, who was first Helen of Sparta. She is not your typical princess, though. Helen wants to learn how to fight and hunt with her brothers, and has no patience for indoor activities with her twin sister. Her mother realizes her need for adventure, as she has it too.

Helen embarks on an adventure of her lifetime when she escorts her sister to Mycenae where she'll wed Agamemnon.

Helen's story is vastly different from the story of Helen of Troy. Helen's story is amusing and adventurous, perfect for anyone looking for something more action-packed.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Liesel is a young German girl during World War II. Left in foster care after her brother's death, she steals books when she wants to feel better. Hans, her foster father, teaches her how to read and makes her feel welcome in her new home.

Hans has a few secrets as well. He owed a favor to a Jewish family and must keep his promise.

Max is a Jewish man on the run from the concentration camps. His life intertwines with Liesel and Hans as the war continues, and Liesel learns more about the war than she ever thought possible.

This is a moving story narrated by Death as he moves throughout Liesel's life. Provides a different perspective on World War II and the poorer Germans who had no say in what happened in their own country.

Anahita's Woven Riddle by Meghan Sayres

Anahita is a nomad living in Iran, and is approaching the age where she must marry. But she doesn't want her life to change. In a society where her family's livelihood is at stake, she requests she be allowed to choose her husband. The local khan, who controls the landowners and local city where Anahita's tribe depend for water and goods want her hand and punishes her tribe when her father consents to a riddle contest.

What riddle does she weave? And who will be the man to solve it?

A different viewpoint of a society completely unlike our own. Anahita's struggle for independence in a country where women are to be quiet, covered, and above all, obedient. A little unrealistic, considering her family is mistreated because of her decision to choose her husband instead of him being chosen for her. However, the story is fantastic.

How It's Done by Christine Kole MacLean

Grace is 18 and ready to start out on her own, as soon as she finishes high school. Pushed by her conservative Christian parents, she tries to be good and stay on the straight and narrow. Then she meets Mark, a 26-year old college professor, and everything beings to change. Grace feels the need to follow her heart, but will it lead her off the path?

This is a strong story demonstrating the importance of thinking for oneself, to make clear decisions based on personal beliefs, and to stand strong against outside pressure. And yet, we all know that following your beliefs when they've never been tested is not easy. A great book about consequences, especially hard ones.

Hello, Groin by Beth Goobie

Dylan thinks there is something wrong with her. She has been dating Cam for months, but feels nothing when he kisses her. However, anytime Dylan is with her best friend Joc, her feelings explode. Convinced she is screwed up somehow, Dylan tries to fight her feelings and her true self.

Meanwhile, she is asked to put together a display at school of book covers, in the shape of a girl and boy. Without considering the consequences, she puts Foxfire over the girl's groin, a book about an all-women gang. Now she must worry about her secret getting out.

A thought-provoking novel about being different, feeling wrong, and how much happier you can be when you stop hiding and fighting what you really are. There are some unrealistic moments, like when Dylan and Joc come out, life goes on as normal.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Bloodline: Reckoning by Kate Cary

This is the sequel to Bloodline. While I won't say much about it, I once again enjoyed the story and Quincey Harker's personality change from the first story to the sequel. Once again told in journal entries, Mary's life is still in danger from an unforeseen source.

Bloodline by Kate Cary

Told in journal entries by various characters.

John is a young soldier in the British army during WWI when he meets Captain Harker. Little does John know what will happen when he goes out on a night raid with his CO, but the consequences land him in a hospital back home with Mary Seward as his nurse. The two fall in love, but when Captain Harker follows John back and sweeps John's sister Lily off her feet, John and Mary are determined to save each other and Lilly. Which means following Harker and Lily back to Transylvania.

I liked the format of the book very much, and enjoyed a different take on the Dracula story.

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

Keturah lives in a small village in a little kingdom. She lives with her grandmother, who midwives many of the women in the village. Keturah one day, wanders into the forest, following the hart the Lord of the village has been trying to hunt down. She soon gets lost and can't find her way home.

Lord Death finds her but Keturah tricks him to giving her one more day to live. They continue this pattern while Keturah frantically searches and bargains with Lord Death. As the days pass, Keturah learns her entire village will soon be dead as well, and she must also focus on saving their lives as well.

An engrossing tale of seeing what's right in front of you. There are a lot of fairy tale elements here, and I could barely put the book down.

Companions of the Night by Vivan Vande Velde

Kerry is a pretty typical teenager living with her brother and father after her mother left. She's never been in any real danger before, until she enters the 24-hour laundromat and stumbles on vampire hunters and their victim.

Ethan, the vampire and victim, is badly beaten. Kerry helps him to escape, finding herself a target as well, now that she's helped Ethan. Thrown together, they must learn who has kidnapped her family and murdered Ethan's friend--before it's too late.

Fairly believable and somewhat predictable. Thrilling tale and a warm if not happy ending. Kerry doesn't actually believe Ethan's a vampire until he shows her proof, and even then, she believes he's a good guy. I knew some of what was going to happen, but not everything.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Junior lives on a reservation in Washington state. When he decides (after throwing a book at his teacher) to get off the 'rez' and try his luck in the 'white man's world', he could never imagine how his life would change--and how he would be treated by other people on the reservation.

Not to mention how he's treated at his new school.

This story is told in the first person, with some of Junior's (or Arnold as he's called off the reservation) cartoons thrown in for illustration. Junior paints a vivid tale of heartache, poverty, and perseverance.

Uninvited by Amanda Marrone

You think you know vampires? You don't know vampires like this one!

Jordan has a very crappy life. Her mother and stepfather barely pay attention to her, she has no real friends, and her ex-boyfriend--the only guy who appears to care for her--is dead. Or so she thought. Michael begins to appear at her window every night, begging to be let in. For 3 months! Jordan tries to deny him. Every night she gets a little weaker as he begs and pleads with her to let him in.

And then, for the first night in 3 months, she isn't home when he comes. But her former best friend is there, and sees him. She accidently tells him where Jordan is--at a party--and then frantically tries to get ahold of Jordan to warn her. Is Jordan safe outside when she's barely safe indoors?

Looking for a thriller? This story takes a bit to get going, but by the end, you'll swear someone's knocking on your window.

Wizard's Daughter by Catherine Coulter

Wizard's Daughter begins with Nicholas Vail, a newly titled earl who goes to London to seek out a specific young woman. Why he does this, he is unsure--he just knows he has to meet her. And she turns out to be Rosalind de La Fontaine, a beautiful 18-year old who has no real idea who she is. Found beaten and bloody when she was quite young, the only thing she remembered was the bit to a song.

Nicholas and Rosalind quickly marry and return to Nicholas' house, where all sorts of things begin to happen. There's a ghost living in the library. Books appear, books that only Rosalind can read. And a nagging sense that Rosalind is not her real name--and her history is tied up with mysterious tales of the Pale.

An engrossing read, although the ending was added a little too easily. The novel is long, and some of the details are confusing, but the overall story is engaging.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Good Girls by Laura Ruby

Audrey is 16 but jumped ahead a grade, so she's now a senior in high school. She has friends, goes to parties, and has what she thinks is a friends-with-benefits relationship with one of the hottest guys in school. Before she ends their relationship, she decides to give him one last parting gift.

But someone takes a picture of the intimate moment between her and Luke, and sends it to the entire student body. Where she was once popular, Audrey is now a social outcast from her friends and pretty much anyone but the girls who have already been labeled slutty.

A great story illustrating how damaging a 'bad' reputation can be--not just to someone who was good turned bad, but for those judged 'bad' in the first place. Audrey has to change her friends and her social life completely due to one badly-timed cell phone picture.

Gallows Hill by Lois Duncan

Sarah and her mom move to a small Midwest community, so her mom can be close to the married man she wants to marry--when his divorce is final.

Sarah has her own problems to worry about--she's an outcast at school for being from California, liking New Age music, and speaking her mind.

She is asked to be the fortune teller at the Senior Carnival, but little does she realize she'll open herself to psychic abilities that leave her questioning strange possibilities and her neck in a noose.

This book is full of karma, reincarnation, and the Salem witch trials. I love Lois Duncan--she manages to weave a story along with terror and drama.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

The first book in a series, A Great and Terrible Beauty begins with Gemma and her mother, walking through the market in India, where Gemma's family has lived for most of her life. The plan to move back to England has been set in motion, and Gemma can't wait.

Then Gemma's mother is attacked and killed--right in the market. Gemma is sped back to England, and into a finishing school her mother didn't want her to go to. Now Gemma not only has to worry about her father's health, and the mean popular girls at school pulling pranks on her, but she discovers a diary that tells of a secret power just waiting for the taking. And Gemma starts to have visions of things that could happen. Not to mention the mysterious events right before her mother died. Will she figure things out in time?

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Josh feels like an outcast in his small town. At eighteen, he's still suffering with the aftermath of being molested by his seventh-grade teacher when he was twelve, and it hasn't gotten any easier with time. Even though his name was never released during the course of her trial, everyone knows about his past.

During that same time five years before, Josh hurt one of his closest friends, Rachel. Now Rachel is forcing him to confront what he did to her and what happened to him all those years ago. But can Josh come to terms with what happened and move on?

This is a powerful story of the aftermath of child molestation, told from the victim's viewpoint. An emotional read.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Confessor by Terry Goodkind

Confessor is the last book in the epic Sword of Truth series. Once again, we join Richard and Kahlan as the world seems lost to evil. Both struggle with their own problems--Kahlan still not knowing who she is, and Richard desperate to find both her and a solution to everyone's problem--the Fellowship of the Order.

But other things threaten the good of all. With the Boxes of Orden in play once again, Richard strives to find a solution that will keep the world out of the Keeper's clutches--and out of despair. This final book is a climatic end to the story which began so long ago with Wizard's First Rule--with the final and most important wizard's rule of them all.

A masterful story that pulls elements from the other 10 novels in the series. The story begins with Wizard's First Rule.

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

Creel's parents are gone and Creel and her brother live with her aunt and uncle--who are striving to make ends meet. That's when Creel's aunt gets an idea--send Creel to the dragon and have a rich landowner or knight save her. Surely then, they will marry her.

Creel, however, does not think much of this plan. She goes to the dragon, but rescues herself by bargaining with him. She gets a pair of slippers and then tells the knight to not save her--she's going to find her own fortune. She heads to the city, where things go from strange to even stranger.

With an enemy to the kingdom in their midst, can Creel figure out the significance to her slippers in time? Or will it be too late before the dragons suddenly attack without warning?

A great twist on the old 'damsel in distress' fairytale!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

Cammie back in this sequel to I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You. It's been two months since she last saw Josh walk out of her school--the only civilian to have done so and survived. Now, after being questioned by the CIA and deemed worthy to continue her studies, Cammie heads back to school with the promise to not break anymore rules--at least, not the important ones.

But something else is afoot at the Gallagher Girl's Academy. One of the wings has been shut down. The teachers are being more secretive than usual. And Cammie's mom looks worried. This year's classes look to be hard--especially Covert Ops. But Cammie and her friends had no idea they were up for this kind of challenge.

A light-hearted novel about the struggles to appear normal--even when you're anything but.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Phantom by Terry Goodkind

Phantom, the sequel to Chainfire, and the second-to-last book of the Sword of Truth series takes off from where Chainfire ended. Goodkind has once again weaved magic throughout a world torn apart by strife.

As the final battle between those who believe the world is nothing but worthless and those who believe their lives are their own to live approaches, Richard must find a way to keep hope alive for all who follow him with faith in his abilities. Unknown players strike without warning, however, and he is lost to the cause once again. As he struggles to find Kahlan and anyone who might remember her, he is reminded time and time again that the world as they know it is coming to an end--unless he can stop it.

Phantom is a powerfully moving story that continues the Richard and Kahlan saga. To understand the entire story, one should begin with Wizard's First Rule.