Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lightening Reviews

Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan

She is his last chance for a future of happiness…

Jenny Keeble has never let her humble upbringing stop her. She’s made her way in the world as a fortune teller, one who convinces her clients her predictions are correct by telling them what they most want to hear. Business is good… until she meets her match in the form of Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely, a scientist and sworn bachelor.

He just doesn’t know it yet.

Broodingly handsome, Gareth is appalled to discover his cousin has fallen under the spell of "Madame Esmerelda," and he vows to prove her a fraud. But his unexpected attraction to the fiery enchantress defies logic. Jenny disrupts every facet of Gareth's calculated plan— until he can’t decide whether to ruin her or claim her for his own. Now, as they engage in a passionate battle of wills, two lonely souls must choose between everything they know… and the boundless possibilities of love.
A big thanks to Stacy for putting this one on my radar with her review and post on intellectual romance. I really enjoyed this book! It was smart, funny, and sexy. The characters were flawed but endearing. And I kept picturing Gareth as our lovely Mr. Thornton from North & South. Sigh. Definitely pick this one up folks!


Magic Lost, Trouble Found
by Lisa Shearin

Raine Benares is a Sorceress Seeker of average ability until she comes into possession of an amulet that amplifies her powers-and her enemies.
Can I tell you how much I enjoy being on Twitter? I likely would have never picked up this book if I hadn't seen @kmont, @angiebookgirl and @janicu debating between the two hotties in this series. I haven't read a lot of fantasy and what I have read has been mostly YA. It always seems to take me a little longer to get into fantasy because of the world-building and in this book's case, the names. They had some weirdo names. However, it didn't take me long before I was sucked into the story.There wasn't much wrapped up in this book as it's an on going series. I'm looking forward to getting the next book. I really love the young character Piaras. I'm looking forward to more interactions between Raine and her two love interests: Tam and Mychael. :)

The series in order:
  1. Magic Lost, Trouble Found
  2. Armed & Magical
  3. The Trouble with Demons
  4. Bewitched & Betrayed

Sharp Teeth
by Toby Barlow

An ancient race of lycanthropes has survived to the present day, and its numbers are growing. Bent on dominance, rival factions are initiating the down-and-out of L.A. into their ranks. Caught in the middle are Anthony, a kindhearted, lovesick dogcatcher, and the object of his affection: a female werewolf who has abandoned her pack.
This was my Book Club's April pick in honor of National Poetry Month. I had some trouble finding novels in verse that weren't for YA's. I'd seen Sharp Teeth before and had wanted to read it for awhile now. One of my friend's finished before I did and said she didn't like it. We have pretty similar tastes so after that I wasn't super excited about reading it. However, as the leader of my Book Club felt kind of obliged. I'm glad I read it. It was a good read. Not great, not something I'll ever re-read. Not even something I'll tell people you HAVE to read this. But I enjoyed it. When we discussed it at my Book Club, my friend who didn't like it, had just jumped right into reading it and was confused about all the "fur" references and took her awhile to figure out it was about werewolves. Some other things slipped by her in reading it as well so after I filled her in on the pieces she didn't put together she seemed to like it a little better. We also discussed why the author chose to write in verse. As I was preparing for our Book Club meeting to discuss the book I found an article or interview where Barlow was discussing that writing in verse was writing the bare-bones of a story it was stripped down. We also discussed how the use of verse made some of the gory details less disturbing. Had this been written in prose, I think a lot of the violence would have been too much for some readers. There's an excellent review of Sharp Teeth in New York Magazine.


Disclosure: I checked all books out from the library. I did not receive any compensation for these reviews.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery olde
r sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.
With The Sky is Everywhere, debut author Jandy Nelson has penned an honest, heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting, and, at times, surprisingly humorous, novel about the complex nature of grief.

Lennie, having lost her sister, has to navigate, often stumbling and falling flat on her face, through this new reality; this world without her be-loved sister. This paradigm shift has an effect on all her relationships: with Toby, her sister's boyfriend, Sarah, Lennie's best friend, Gram, and her Uncle. She has to redefine who she is without Baily and in the context of each of these relationships. Then there's the new guy, Joe. The guy who never knew Bailey. The guy, whose infectious smile can, for brief periods of time, make her forget her all encompassing grief.
Halfway through this book, I thought "there is NO way someone couldn't like this book."

No. Way.

So, I hopped on Goodreads to see the kind of ratings the book was getting. I was delighted to see it was mostly four and five stars. Then I saw a two star. I had to see what this person didn't like about this book. This book that so accurately and honestly portrays the sadness, anger, frustration, guilt, and confusion that accompanies losing a loved one.

Much to my chagrin this particular review compared it to.....Twi-fucking-light. Why, oh why does everyone seem to compare every YA book where a girl has a choice between two guys to Twilight?! I was actually pretty taken a back. Aside from the two possible love interests, this book has nothing in common with the popular vamp novel. I really felt that particular reivewer was grasping at straws on that one! And as much as I was entertained by Twilight it is a far cry from being as well written and deeply emotional as The Sky is Everywhere.
The reviewer also mentions how selfish Lennie is and yes while I agree, to an extent, I also think Lennie deserves a break. Grief sucks. It makes you do irrational things. Things like kissing your dead sister's boyfriend to drown both your sorrows even when you know it's wrong. Things like shutting out those closest to you when you really need them most. Grief isn't rational. It can make you a little selfish, a little bitter, a little angry.

In the story, Lennie, her Grandmother, and her Uncle are all grieving the loss of Bailey. It isn't until near the end of the novel that Lennie realizes she's been pushing her family away, not considering the fact that their attempts engage with her were not only to comfort her but that they too were seeking comfort for their own loss. She realizes how thoughtless she's been. She has that "a ha!" moment where she realizes just how hard it is for everyone else. So yea, it took her awhile to come up for air and realize, "damn, everyone else has been drowning here too". But she does, and I think she deserves credit for that.

Something else I loved about the book were the poems Lennie wrote. The poems were at the beginning of every chapter and give readers additional glimpses into Lennie and Bailey's relationship and is another avenue for Lennie to express her grief. They really add to the story.

I really wish I could do a better job of expressing how wonderful this novel is. As long as you don't mind a more serious read, I have no doubt you'll enjoy The Sky is Everywhere!


Disclosure: I checked this book out from the library. I did not receive any compensation for this review.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

I figured since this was the only book I finished in March (le sigh), I better get my review up!

I've loved Scott's books since my very first introduction with Bloom, which up until now was my favorite. But I can officially say that The Unwritten Rule is now my favorite Elizabeth Scott book. While there's nothing terribly unique about the story line:

Somewhat shy, insecure girl likes the nerdy boy turned hottie over the summer. Insert gorgeous, snotty best friend who takes sudden interest in newly hot nerd-boy resulting in an instant love triangle!

What is unique, is Scott's ability to write characters that are complex and turn a familiar plot-line into something exceptional. For example, Scott wrote the "gorgeous, snotty best friend", Brianna, in such a way that while you know she's the "villain" of the story, you can't help but feel sorry for her because of her family life. Meanwhile, while you're rooting for the main protagonist, Sarah, you're also frustrated with her for letting Brianna walk all over her and for not TAKING ACTION when it comes to Ryan.

I'm always a little concerned with this storyline, if an author fails to make readers empathize with the protagonist, then she's just becomes "that girl" that's after her best friend's boyfriend. However, Scott effectively demonstrates Sarah's efforts to be happy for her friend and avoid Ryan. Leaving the reader rooting for her to ditch the bitch and get her man!

Scott, with The Unwritten Rule and its hidden yearnings, stolen kisses, friendship, and first love, has hit the mark!


Disclosure: I checked this book out from the library. I did not receive any compensation for this review.
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