Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

I'm not going to do any spoilers here, but I didn't want to ignore this book either.

I read The Blood Promise, the 4th book in the Vampire Academy series, the other day. While the book looks huge (and it was published as a hardback, unlike the others in the series that all came out in paperback), it reads pretty fast.

The story still follows Rose as she attempts to fulfill a promise she made Dimitri.

While the book could have been smaller, I can't wait to read what happens next, and anxiously awaiting the 5th book in the series, Spirit Bound.

If you haven't read the Vampire Academy series, yet, please do. Yes, they're vampire novels, but I push them on all of my Twilight fans! And they are, dare I say, much better!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Seen True Blood on HBO? Read the book that started it all!

Dead Until Dark is the first of the Sookie Stackhouse series. Sookie is telepathic and lives in Bon Temps, a small town in Louisiana. Since vampires made themselves known two years ago, she's been hoping one would stop in town. She gets her wish when Bill shows up at Merlotte's one night. She can't believe it. Not only is there a vampire in the bar, but she can't hear his thoughts either! She's not the only one that notices the vampire, and before the night is over, she's rescued him from the Rattrays, a couple determined to drain his blood.

Sookie and Bill start dating, much to the joy of her grandmother and the dismay of everyone else in town, including Sam, Sookie's boss. So many things happen at once that Sookie isn't sure what to think or believe. Women known to go around with vampires start showing up dead and while Bill isn't a main suspect, yet, other vampires are. Sookie's life might be in danger, and in more ways than one.

A fantastic novel! If you've read Twilight you'll see some parallels (but this book came out first). The HBO show doesn't quite do justice to the book, but the story lines are close. I loved the book and enjoyed reading about Sookie's strange abilities and her romance with Bill.

You Don't Even Know Me by Sharon Flake

A collection of short stories and poems about African American guys. Each story or poem highlights the difficulties guys face in expressing emotion, surviving the streets, being a man, or just making it through the day.

Even though I'm not a guy, I still think the stories reflect the difficulties and strains guys go through most days. There are a wide variety of stories to tell, and even though Flake can't cover all of them, she hits the mark on some of the most important.

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

I didn't think I'd read this at first, because the reviews weren't fantastic for it. But I thought I'd give it a try, and I'm glad I did!

Mary is a thief who lives in Victorian England. Saved from the gallows, she's given a second chance to make something of herself by attending the Academy, a school for girls who want more than a life of servitude to a husband or living on the streets. She's then introduced to the Agency, a group of women who work secretly to investigate crimes and criminals. As women are more property than person in Victorian times, they can work behind the scenes without ever being noticed.

Mary is sent to the Thorold household as a companion to their daughter, but really to find out more about Mr. Thorold's business dealings. He's suspected of smuggling gemstones and artifacts from India. Frustrated with the lack of business talk in the home, Mary decides to start hunting around his offices, where she runs into James Easton, also spying on Thorold. The two decide to team up and learn what they can about Thorold's practices. What they find is a whole lot more than they ever expected.

The mystery is complicated but interesting. A good book with intrigue and history all in one. Someone who doesn't enjoy historical novels would still enjoy this book. I don't notice small inaccuracies, and even though the whole book takes a while to get up to a pace, it was still entertaining. The first in a series.

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Violet is just beginning her junior year of high school and concerned about her growing feelings for her best friend, Jay. She's not sure if he feels the same way about her, but she's pretty sure he doesn't--he never acts like it.

But that's not all Violet has to worry about. Violet has a special gift. She feels a pull or an echo, to find murdered creatures. In the forest behind her home, that usually means animals that have been eaten or killed. She's only found a human once--when she was eight she found the body of a murdered little girl.

That all changes on Labor Day weekend, when she's out on a jet ski with Jay. She feels a pull towards the shore where she finds the body of a teenage girl.

Now girls are disappearing with more regularity and Violet can't help but think she needs to help find the killer. Each echo leaves an imprint on the murderer, and she knows she's the only one that feel it, just by seeing the killer's face.

What she doesn't know is she may be the next victim.

A thriller with some romance thrown in for balance. An excellent and exciting novel. The murderer's point of view is offered every few chapters as he picks up new victims. Violet's story is well-written and terrifying. Let's just say, I didn't want to be walking out of work at night into our vacant parking lot!

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern

Jessie is just beginning her sophomore year of high school and couldn't be more frustrated. Over the summer, her two best friends have gone through some sort of transformation and have become punk overnight. Jessie doesn't feel like she belongs with them anymore, especially after they use her as an excuse to hang out with her older brother's band and specifically, the drummer, Nick.

Bizza especially is interested in Nick, despite knowing Jessie's huge crush on him. The two start dating, and flaunting it in Jessie's face. The beginning of the end, as far as Jessie's concerned.

So now she needs new friends. She can't help but wonder about her social status when she starts spending time with Dottie and her Dungeons and Dragons friends. What will her brother say? What will people think at school? And should she care?

Jessie struggles with where she fits in, as does her brother. I got fed up with her two "best" friends way before Jessie did, but I found her loyalty towards them touching and realistic. This is a great book about the pitfalls and dramas of high school friendships and fallouts.

A great story with smarts, romance, role playing, and costumes!

Token of Darkness by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Cooper survived a horrible car accident only to be left with injuries, scars, and Samantha. He's the only one that can see her, so they assume she's a ghost. The only problem with that is Cooper can't find any record of a girl like her dying, so he doesn't know how he can help her. All Samantha wants is a body.

Brent runs into Cooper in the library when they both start researching ghosts. Brent can hear what other people are thinking and has been trying to control it. He can also see Samantha, but not for very long. Brent's ability draws the attention of Delilah, who is also interested in Cooper and his mysterious invisible friend. All Cooper wants to do is help Samantha. Delilah, however, has other plans.

The idea behind this story is interesting, and the telling is entertaining. However, there are some things that are mentioned but never resolved, and too many things going on for such a small book. A change of pace from vampires and shapeshifters, but only because there are neither in the book. Still paranormal with some romance thrown in.

In a heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth

Amelia needs a heart. She doesn't know if she'll get one before hers gives out. She's lived most of her young life avoiding activity, stress, and school.

Eagan has always wanted to be an Olympic skater. She and her mom don't get along, but they both agree on her skating. Then tragedy strikes and Eagan dies in the middle of a competition.

Now Amelia gets a new heart, but she can't explain why she has a new craving for purple, skating, and sarcasm.

Told from both girls' points-of-view, as Amelia struggles to adjust to having a healthy heart and Eagan accepts her death. A great story about transplant survivors and their families. The story is heartfelt and emotional. Sad and poignant.

Blood Ninja by Nick Lake

Taro's whole life has been spent in a small fishing village on the coast of Japan. He hunts while his dad fishes, and his mom dives for treasures to sell to passing merchants. Taro dreams of becoming a samurai, even though it's an impossible dream.

So when Taro's family is attacked by ninjas one night in their home, no one is more surprised than Taro. Before he knows it, his father is dead and his mother is wounded. Shusaku, one of the ninjas, saves Taro before the others can complete their mission. His methods of saving Taro are risky and unexpected. Together with Hiro, Taro's best friend, they set off for the ninja headquarters to train both Taro and Hiro and to keep Taro safe.

Can they make it to the mountain without getting caught by the man who wants Taro dead?

A great action book, but it takes off slowly. The fighting scenes are great, and learning the legends behind the ninjas (and why they're all vampires), and the difference between a ninja and samurai fill many pages. The story does take a while to pick up and move, but once it gets going, it's a great ride. Be looking for the sequel.

Rikers High by Paul Volponi

Martin has been at Rikers for 5 months and counting, for steering. Each time he goes up for his trial, it's delayed. After this last time, he gets caught in the middle of a fight between two other inmates and gets his face sliced up for his trouble.

Because of his new injury, he's moved to another area of Rikers--where the inmates actually have class and maybe a little more freedom. All Martin wants to do is survive and get out. Until a teacher takes interest in him and convinces him there's more to life than the street and revenge.

A well-written and emotional story told from Martin's point of view. Everything in the book happened in real life and the author worked at Rikers High School. Martin's view isn't all that kind towards the employees and the jail, but the tone isn't nearly as bitter as it could be.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

Ok ok, this isn't a teen book, but I indulge in my Jane Austen addiction every once in a while.

In Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, we begin the story the day of Elizabeth and Jane's weddings. Both girls are excited, and everything goes smoothly. As Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy leave Longbourn, Darcy announces his intentions of their visiting the Continent instead of the Lake District, while peace has broken out. So they head to France. Darcy is aloof and Elizabeth begins to doubt her decision to marry him. However, once he learns of her uncertainty, he demonstrates his affection more clearly.

Or so Elizabeth thinks. Before long the couple is headed into the Alps to visit Darcy's uncle. Elizabeth is enchanted by the castle but it isn't long before they're attacked by a group of villagers and Elizabeth and Darcy are forced to flee. Next, they head to Italy and Venice. Venice brings them all sorts of new adventures and pleasures, until the weather turns cold and then they're off to Rome.

Meanwhile, the Darcys have not consummated their relationship, and Elizabeth begins to believe their marriage was a mistake. She learns Darcy's dark secret by mistake after being attacked by the oldest vampyre in the world, who also wants Elizabeth.

This wasn't the best book for the Elizabeth/Darcy story, but it was still entertaining. You know what the problem is with Mr. Darcy way before Elizabeth figures it out (it is in the title), and there are enough other paranormal things happening that you wonder what else might be afoot (like, what attacks Elizabeth). I enjoyed reading it, especially as they traveled throughout Europe, hoping to find a solution for Darcy's fears.