Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Soul To Steal by Rachel Vincent

Title/Author: My Soul to Steal (Soul Screamers #4) by Rachel Vincent
Publisher/Date published: December 28th 2010 by Harlequin
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: I really enjoyed the other books in the series and the cover is beautiful (always a bonus).

Goodreads summary: "Trying to work things out with Nash — her maybe boyfriend — is hard enough for Kaylee Cavanaugh. She can't just pretend nothing happened. But "complicated" doesn't even begin to describe their relationship when his ex-girlfriend transfers to their school, determined to take Nash back.
See, Sabine isn't just an ordinary girl. She's a mara, the living personification of a nightmare. She can read people's fears — and craft them into nightmares while her victims sleep. Feeding from human fear is how she survives.
And Sabine isn't above scaring Kaylee and the entire school to death to get whatever — and whoever — she wants."

***WARNING: SPOILERS for the first 3 books in the series likely***

Kaylee doesn't really know how to forgive Nash for using her the way he did while he was addicted to Demon's Breath and the role he played in getting one of their classmates killed and another permanently in the psych ward. But she wants to work on it. Gently, slowly.
They haven't seen each other for the past two weeks of vacation, with Nash detoxing and Kaylee trying to figure everything out. On the first day of school after break, they meet again, but their reunion is brutally interrupted by the appearance of Sabine, Nash's ex-girlfriend. Or rather, the one he technically never broke up with, the relationship ended cause they both moved away.

Sabine is another type of weird altogether. I thought she was really creepy and she would have given me nightmares even if she hadn't been meaning to. And she means to give them to Kaylee. And it is not pretty, she drags her worst fears to the surface and crafts them into a dream that seems so incredibly real.. I was horrified she would do that to someone else! Even if she's trying to scare her away from Nash, not ALL is fair in love and war.

In this book, Kaylee discovers she can after all stand on her own two feet, that she doesn't need to have a boyfriend to rescue her. Though it's always nice to have back-up.

And I loved Tod in this one, he really has become my favourite character. Though his right-from-wrong sensor can sometimes be a bit off, he is a good guy. And I loved how he supported Kaylee, though I thought it was a bit harsh that he wouldn't let Nash see him, he probably needed him really bad during Demon's Breath withdrawal. Dare I say I hope he and Kaylee will end up together? Is that even possible? Could they have children together?

All questions I hope will be answered in the following book(s). I liked this one better than the #3, it was more exciting toward the ending and I really like that a new 'creature' was introduced, the mara, which is totally interesting!

My rating: 4.5 stars

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top Ten Books of 2010

It is that time of the week again! Time for another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the other blog I participate in: The Broke and The Bookish. Hop on over and join in on the fun!

This week's Top Ten:
Best Books You've Read in 2010

I always love looking back on the year and thinking about what I've been reading. Can you believe I've read 91 books this year?? This is the first year I've kept track of, so I don't know what I usually read, but I think it's been a good year reading-wise.

Anyway, here's the best (at least, in my opinion) what I've read this year:

1. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett: this book totally blew me away, I thought it was amazing. This one has new favourite status. I'd rant about it, but I've already done that here. I also watched the series, while not as amazing as the book, at least my boyfriend got to experience the story, since there's no way I'll ever get him to read a book that long.

2. A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin: I love fantasy and this is just epic! I haven't gotten around to reading the second book in the series, partly because I know it will probably take ages before the series will be finished (Martin hasn't published a book in the series for 5 years and there's no release date yet for the next one) and though I love his writing, waiting kills me.

3. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: I cannot believe it took me this long to read this book, it was amazing! I'll definitely reread it, if you're interested, check out my review here.

4. Graceling by Kristin Cashore: SOOO good! I loved Katsa so much. And Po, you gotta love Po. I'm really looking forward to reading more of Cashore's work.

5. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan: I'm gonna group these, cause I like to cheat :) I LOVED these books. I've always loved Greek mythology and this series rekindled that love. READ IT.

6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: I've been praising this book all year, since I read it right at the beginning. And have been not so patiently waiting for the sequel to be published. This is fantasy as it's meant to be written. The writing is incredibly engaging and I guarantee you'll love the characters. Again, READ IT.

7. The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan: as a kid I used to love The Little Mermaid. I thought I'd gotten over my extreme love for mermaids. But I was wrong, this book took me right back to that amazing world and it was beautiful.

8. You Wish by Mandy Hubbard: read it recently and really enjoyed this book. While it may not be the most life-changing book and it looks like a candy read (the cover is hot pink with a cupcake on it), there's more to it than you'd think. Plus anyone who brings a pink pony with a icecream cone on its butt to life gets browny points.

9. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: though there's been a lot of criticism, I loved this book. And waiting for it gave such a community feeling to me, almost a bit like what it felt like waiting for the next Harry Potter book.

10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: again: CANNOT believe it took me this long to get to it. This book was amazing. And I cried. And I'd wanted Rudy to be MY best friend when I was little.

So, that's my list. Any you've read? What's the best book you've read this year?

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Soul To Keep by Rachel Vincent

Title/Author: My Soul To Keep (Soul Screamers #3) by Rachel Vincent
Publisher/Date published: June 1st 2010 by Harlequin
How I got this book: own it
Why I read this book: I've been reading the series and wanted to finish this one before the 4th came out. Which is tomorrow.

First of all: a late MERRY CHRISTMAS to everybody! I've been to my boyfriend's family and my own and if I don't eat again for another 3 days I will still be full I think..

**SPOILERS likely for book 1 and 2**

Summary: After all Kaylee and Nash have been through together, like saving cheerleaders and popstars and almost dying, Kaylee doesn't think there's anything left that can come between them (though her dad tries his hardest to limit their time together). Sure they haven't seen each other much since Kaylee had been grounded for the past month, but that's no reason to doubt their relationship.
Or is it?
With Nash acting weird and some classmates hooked on Demon's Breath, which is quite literally the breath of a hellion and apparantly something you can get high on, Kaylee will probably have to break a couple more curfews yet again.

I liked this one less than the previous two in the series, it was darker than the other ones were. Even though I already knew from the start what was wrong with Nash, I really wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, because he has been such a good guy.

Demon's Breath is totally scary stuff: it can get you killed pretty quickly if you overdose. I've never used any kind of drugs, but I know what it can do to you and Demon's Breath is ten times worse apparantly. I wanted to yell at Kaylee's classmates for being so damn stupid and not realising what they were doing.

And I wanted to kick Sophie, Kaylee's cousin, she's SUCH a pain in the ass. Admittely, she believes Kaylee had something to do with her mother's sudden death, but I don't understand why she doesn't get her facts straight before going bitch queen on her. Or why she hasn't gone to the police if she's THAT convinced of it. But in the end I think her dad should just tell her what's going on, she'll notice eventually he's not human when he doesn't appear to age and Sophie herself does.

I liked the character development for both Kaylee and Nash in this one. Nash always seemed so flawless and I think it's good that changes now, though he does fall kinda hard from the pedestal Kaylee put him on.
Kaylee seems to grow more of a backbone, which is nice and she isn't so blinded by her love for Nash to deny his problem in the end.

But my favourite character has to be Tod, I think he's amazing. Though his actions are sometimes questionable, he is a loyal friend and does what he believes is the right thing. And I love his ability to only be seen and heard by the people he chooses, even if they're standing right next to each other. I would love to be able to do that!

Though I did enjoy this book, my rating is a bit (but just a bit) lower than for the other two:
3.5 stars.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Soul To Save by Rachel Vincent

Title/Author: My Soul To Save (Soul Screamers #2) by Rachel Vincent
Publisher/Date published: December 29th 2009 by Harlequin Teen
How I got this book: own it
Why I read this book: I really enjoyed the first book in the series

Goodreads summary: "When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.
So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn't wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can't cry for someone who has no soul.
The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad's ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend's loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld — a consequence they can't possibly understand.
Kaylee can't let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk…."


So after defeating the a soulstealer and sort of coming to terms with being a bean sidhe (banshee), Kaylee can't seem to get a rest. When she thinks she's having a nice night out with her boyfriend Nash, the teen pop idol they've come to see in concert dies on stage. And Kaylee doesn't feel the urge to sing for her soul, because said teen pop idol literally sold it in turn for fame and fortune. People should really learn to read the fine print BEFORE they sign a contract.

When you sell you soul to a hellion, upon your death your soul is his and you are in fact his to do with as he or she pleases for all eternity. Which means torture in most cases, since hellions aren't exactly known for their pleasant conversation, kissing babies and such.

Nash and Kaylee can't help the dead pop idol anymore, but they discover an old acquaintance of Nash and Tod has done the very same and she's scheduled to die within the week. So they set out to try and save her soul before it's too late.

I really enjoyed the sequel to My Soul to Take. Kaylee seems to come more into her own and is a bit less confused by everything bean sidhe related. Her dad has come to stay and she's living with him, they're trying to work things out together, though it's not always easy. They don't always agree on curfew, boyfriends, dangerous escapades.. And he can't really argue against: "You haven't been around for the last 13 years and now you want to tell me what I can and can't do??"

Nash still suffers from hero-complex, but he manages to be a likeable character even though he does need to lighten up some. We also get to see more of his brother Tod, who I like more and more as a character. Tod doesn't always do the nice-guy thing and he makes no excuses for being the way he is. He does seem to care for his family and develops a friendship with Kaylee. He's a really interesting character.

I liked how we're shown more of Kaylee's world and of the Netherworld and the beings that dwell there. I thought the concept of selling your soul was really interesting and I think it was executed very well. The story again spans a couple of days, and the action at the end had me turning pages like I couldn't stop.
Oh, and the person who designed the covers for the series is a genius, I LOVE them! It's probably the color and the dresses, I am such a sucker for ballgowns.

My rating: 4 stars

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent

Title/Author: My Soul To Take (Soul Screamers #1) by Rachel Vincent
Publisher/Date published: July 29th 2009 by Harlequin
How I got this book: own it.
Why I read this book: besides some serious cover love: I'd requested the fourth book in the series from the publisher because it sounded REALLY interesting and decided to bump it up on my to-read list.

Kaylee desperately wants to be a normal 16-year-old girl, especially after having been committed to the psych ward by her aunt and uncle some time ago. The reason: she started screaming her head off and couldn't stop, convinced a boy she didn't know, but who passed them by, was going to die. She never ever wants to go back there, so when the urge overcomes her again, this time in the local club, she completely freaks out.
The last time, no one had been able to calm her down, but now Nash, the hottest guy in school, somehow doesn't get freaked out and manages to actually get her to relax a bit.
Kaylee is convinced her social reputation is ruined, but Nash hasn't told anyone and seems to really be interested in her, in being her boyfriend.
The only trouble in paradise: girls Kaylee's age are dropping dead one every day.

Kaylee lives with her uncle, aunt and cousin Sophie. Her mom died when she was three years old and her father hasn't been around since. The only friend she has is Emma, a gorgeous girl who doesn't care seem to care about social status.
Her aunt and uncle don't believe her when she tells them something is going on, that the deaths are connected somehow. Then she hears them arguing about calling her dad and letting him explain and Kaylee knows something is wrong with her, why else would she be screaming bloody murder every time someone is about to drop dead?

Funnily enough, her new boyfriend Nash seems to know more about this and he'll have to tell her, because the teenage deathrate is rapidly increasing.

While I really enjoy reading about wizards, witches and everything, I've been getting a bit weary of other paranormal creatures. But this was really refreshing, Kaylee turns out to be a bean sidhe or banshee, as they're referred to in popular culture, which is why she screams when people die, she actually sings for their soul.

The fact that Kaylee upon discovering what she is, doesn't immediately has access to superpower or instantly masters difficult things is a VERY big bonus point for the author. I'm not into instant ability and I'm glad that isn't the case here.

The story spans a couple of days, but a lot happens in those days. Nash and Kaylee make a cute couple and I really like Nash, though he suffer from hero-complex: he feels an overpowering need to protect Kaylee. From everything. But Kaylee is a bit of a damsel in distress, so it fits at this point. There's not much room for character development, but this is a series of at least four books, so I'm hoping this will happen eventually.

Kaylee is a very likeable character and I could really relate to her. Her emotions feel real and not overdone. She has real issues regarding her family and her absent dad and her reaction to all this is very believable.

And have you seen the cover? I LOVE that dress and the color, and it feels like the girl is going to spin around and dance right out of the picture.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and will go on to read the rest of the series.

My rating: 4 stars.

The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

Title/Author: The Lying Game (The Lying Game #1) by Sara Shepard
Publisher/Date published: HarperTeen, December 7th 2010
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: it sounded interesting.

Goodreads summary: "I had a life anyone would kill for.
Then someone did.

The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does — an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.
Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me — to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, carefree daughter when she hugs my parents good night? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?
Let the lying game begin."

Emma is the twin who seemingly got the short end of the stick. Dropping her of at a friend's house one day, Emma's mother never returned to pick her up and Emma hasn't seen her since. She's lived in foster homes and at the moment has an evil 'brother' who gets her thrown out yet again. A part of his scheme is a video he shows her fostermom of Emma being strangled as a sort of joke. Only one problem: it's not her. It's a girl who looks exactly like her, named Sutton. Emma didn't know she had a sister, let alone an identical twin. She tracks her down through Facebook and sends her a message to set up a meeting. She gets a message back, telling her where they can together. One minor detail: Sutton is dead, so who's sending the message?

When Emma arrives at the place, she's hauled inside by friends of her sister, no one seems to notice she's not Sutton and in the beginning she decides to play along, figuring Sutton will show up any minute. Except she doesn't. And now Emma's stuck playing the part, cause the one who killed Sutton wants her to keep pretending, or she'll be next.

It didn't sit well with me at first that literally no one noticed something off about 'Sutton', I like to think I would notice if one of my best friends was replaced. Even if it was by her identical twin. But later on we're shown that Sutton's 'friends' aren't what they seem to be and it leaves me wondering how much they really know about all of this.

Emma is shocked when she finds out some stuff about Sutton, The Lying Game for example. Sutton and her friends pull really extreme pranks on other people and even each other, which is ultimately the reason no one believes Emma when she claims to be Suttons long lost twin. Sutton's pulled stuff like that before. And apparently, no one informed Suttons adoptive parents of the fact she had a twin.

The fact you're not sure about any of the characters in the book makes it a great read! I didn't know what to expect, one minute the murderer seems to be one of her friends, then her sister.. It's all very paranoia inducing, which must be what it would be like to actually live it, the author did a really good job of expressing this through her writing.

Sutton herself has a voice in the story, she is forced to follow Emma around in her ghost-like state. She can only see what Emma sees, not remembering what happened herself, this and not being able to communicate with anyone frustrates her to no end. I really liked her, though I didn't like the girl she was alive if that makes sense. She seems to care more than she showed living and is shocked herself at the things she and her friends have done.

I'm looking forward to the next part of the series cause I NEED to find out what really happened!

My rating: 3.5 stars

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wicked Nights With A Lover by Sophie Jordan

Title/Author: Wicked Nights With A Lover (The Penwich School for Virtuous Girls #3) by Sophie Jordan
Publisher/Date published: Avon Books, December 1st 2010
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: did I mention yet that winter makes me want to read romance novels?

Marguerite Laurent has been making a living as a nurse to terminally ill patients. While caring for one of her patients, she runs into a fortuneteller who says she will die before the year is out. At first Marguerite shrugs it off, but after another prediction coming true, she decides she'll make the most of the time she has left. Step one is to take a lover. The night before she and her intended paramour are supposed to leave for Spain, she's summoned to the house of her father, who she's never met before. Leaving, she's abducted by the handsome Ash Courtland, a man who's helped her father build his empire and wants revenge on his business partner for betraying him. Ash is determined to marry one of the daughters, so as to get his hands on a larger part of the company. He wasn't expecting Marguerite to resist so much, even when it's clear she's attracted to him.
What Ash doesn't know is that the prediction foretold her death following her marriage. With mortal fear hanging over her will they find a way to be together after all?

As romance novels go, this was a really good one. I haven't read the other books in the series but I really enjoyed this one. It has the right mix of a likeable heroine, a swoonworthy, handsome man and enough storyline to give their lovestory a nice background.

Sophie Jordan has a way with words, the story flows nicely and I didn't want to put it down. Am I ever glad of owning and e-reader! I love the book, but I couldn't have taken it with me to work if I'd had the real thing, that cover would have been a bit embarassing, especially if patients got a look at it! I'm really not ashamed of reading romance novels, but the covers sometimes make me cringe a bit.

Anyway, let's forget about the cover: the book was great! Even though a voice in the back of my head said that this kind of story always ends well, I was still feeling anxious for Marguerite to be okay, cause everything pointed to her not surviving in the end.

The chemistry between Marguerite and Ash was great and I at least got tears in my eyes at some parts, which is always worth bonus points in my opinion. As villains go, Marguerite's father was a bully, but I was hoping to get a bit more information about him, his reasons and such.

There was one scene I didn't like: towards the end Marguerite uses sex to proove a point to Ash, which felt weird and as an unnecessary addition. Other than that I really enjoyed reading this book.

I was already looking forward to reading Firelight by the same author, but now I know her writing style is so engaging, I have even higher hopes for that one!
My rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Top Ten Most Anticipated Books for 2011

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the other blog I participate in: The Broke and the Bookish, check it out and join in on the fun, we'd love to see your list!

This Week's Top Ten:
Your Top Ten Most Anticipated Books for 2011

Like Jamie, I'm only gonna list the books that are published in 2011.

1. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss: this one NEEDS to be released this year! I've read the Name of the Wind last Christmas and it was AMAZING! And I so want to read this one, I'm crossing my fingers hoping that it will really come out in March 2011 (it does say so on his website, but still).. I'm first in line when it does!

2. Wither by Lauren DeStefano: the cover is beautiful, the story sounds really good, let me have it!

3. The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal: this sounds like a fairytale and I LOVE fairytales.

4. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton: I've been excited about this one since I first read the summary on Goodreads, it sounds amazing!

5. Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky: I love dystopian novels and this one is set in a world where nobody leaves his house and does everything through the computer.

6. The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird: I don't know why, but I'm always intrigued by witch trials and this one centers around that time in Scotland and it sounds really interesting!

7. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwabb: this one also sounds like a fairy tale.

8. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray: I LOVED her Gemma Doyle series and I'd be excited by anything she's written coming out. And it sounds like a fun read.

9. Delirium by Lauren Oliver: another dystopian, a society where everyone is 'cured' of love. Need I say more?

10. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson: this sounds like my kind of book, it's the first book in a series and I love series.

That was hard! I have so many books I'm eagerly anticipating for 2011, only being able to list ten is.. kind of evil.
Four of the books on the list I already have waiting for me as galleys (where would I be without NetGalley), for the others I'll have to wait like everybody else. It's kind of killing me, patience has never been my forte.

Anyway, what are you all anticipating for 2011?

Monday, December 13, 2010

How To Wed a Baron by Kasey Michaels

Title/Author: How To Wed A Baron by Kasey Michaels
Publisher/Date published: HQN Books, an imprint of Harlequin, November 30th 2010
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: I always feel like reading romance books in when it's cold outside, I don't know why.

Goodreads summary: "He is but a pawn in someone else's game. With no choice but to do the prince regent's bidding, Justin Wilde must marry a woman not of his own choosing. And for the man notoriously referred to as the Bad Baron, marriage is the last thing he wishes to consider. Especially when the bride has the beauty of an angel but the devil's own temper….
Stunned to find herself betrothed to a stranger, Alina vows to uncover the reason behind their forced union. Yet the more time she spends with her roguish husband-to-be, the less the past seems to matter. But when the truth behind their wedding at last emerges, will it strengthen their fragile bond—or shatter their lives forever?"

Justin has a troubled past, he's been exiled by his king for killing a man in a duel, defending the honour of his deceased wife. After 8 years spent across Europe, he gets a message telling him he will be pardoned in exchange for one thing. This one thing turns out to be marriage to Alina. Justin doesn't know why the Prince Regent is forcing this union upon them, but he can't turn down the opportunity to finally be able to come home again. Even though he never wanted to marry again after his first disastrous marriage.

Alina basically had two options: marry Justin or be married off by her aunt to a man of her aunt's choosing. And her aunt doesn't much care for Alina, so there isn't much hope for her there. Besides, she really wants to meet her mother's family in England. Meeting Justin, she's pleasantly surprised he's not some sort of ogre. But of course there's trouble ahead, will it serve to drive them apart of keep them together forever?

I enjoyed reading this book, it started pretty slow and I didn't really like Justin in the beginning. He had a pompous ass air hanging over him, very noticeable in the first part of the book because he was mostly interacting with the Prince Regent and one of his male servants, who he both looked down upon. Later on he turns out to be pretty charming, even though he's still a bit of an ass to his servant. To be fair, the man is portrayed as pretty silly, so maybe he can't help it.

Anyway, I thought Alina was a pretty good heroine, she's free spirited and knows her own mind, she's also pretty optimistic, which was nice. Sometimes I didn't understand her reactions to the things happening, but hey, in real life I also get baffled by choices other women make and it didn't really bother me reading the book.

Normally in romance novels I see the clue coming from miles away and this time I didn't, so props to the author for that!

I have one 'but' to add, one thing I felt was missing: I didn't cry. And I'm a HUGE sap, I almost always cry reading romance novels. Even when it's not sad. The emotion portrayed in the book wasn't enough to trigger my tear ducts, and that's a shame, cause I love it when books make me cry.

My rating: 3 stars

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Title/Author: Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton
Publisher/Date published: Clarion Books (an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), November 15th 2010
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: it sounded interesting.

Goodreads summary: "Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.
Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby's right. The goblins are coming."

I thought the summary sounded really interesting and after reading raving reviews about it on more than one blog, I had high hopes for this one. Sadly, this book wasn't for me.

I couldn't warm up to any of the characters, the only one I could relate to somewhat was Finn, the only reason I kept reading was that I expected it to get better, that the story would suck me in somehow. And that never happened.

The story revolves around Teagan and her family: little brother, mom and dad; Finn, who's the incarnation of a legend: the Mac Cumhaill; Abby, who's Teagan's best friend and has family connections to the maffia. Abby dreamt that globins were after Teagan and is convinced her life is in danger. Which is pretty weird, because later on she doesn't seem to believe goblins are real. Abby was a bit weird overall, she's constantly mentioning her connection to the maffia and threathening Finn, thinking he's some kind of criminal for reasons unknown. I'm all for being protective of your friends, but I didn't really understand this.

Teagan is a very serious girl, she plans to get into a good college and doesn't have time for boys, why she's so convinced the two can't be combined, I'm not entirely sure, but she is. Which is why her instant attraction to Finn is a problem for her and she doesn't know how to handle this.

Combine that with goblins attacking and weird family relations and you've got yourself one stressed out girl. And still I found it hard to relate to her angst. I was so disconnected from the storyline and the characters that I didn't even really feel antyhing when one of Teagan's family members died, which is rare for me. To me it also didn't come across as if Teagan was that devastated by it and that made me even less sympathetic.

The story dragged, there wasn't a lot of action and the way the characters reacted to the things that happened were unrealistic in my opinion. I wanted to like this book, but I couldn't. The only character that felt a bit more real to me was Finn, his emotions were more relatable and I was hoping he'd kiss Teagan already (sadly, the romance didn't go further than them feeling sparks and him asking to kiss her once).

My rating: 1 star

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Undeniably Yours by Shannon Stacey

Title/Author: Undeniably Yours by Shannon Stacey
Publisher/Date published: November 1st 2010 by Carina Press
How I got this book: it was sent to me by the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: it was one of those times I felt like reading a romance novel

Goodreads summary: "One-night stand + two percent condom failure rate = happily ever after?
Bar owner Kevin Kowalski is used to women throwing their phone numbers at him, but lately he's more interested in finding a woman to settle down with. A woman like Beth Hansen. If only their first meeting hadn't gone so badly...
Beth's tending bar at a wedding when she comes face-to-face with a tuxedo-clad man she never thought she'd see again. She tries to keep her distance from Kevin but, by last call, she can't say no to his too-blue eyes or the invitation back to his room. Then she slips out before breakfast without leaving a note and, despite their precautions, pregnant.
Kevin quickly warms to the idea of being a dad and to seeing where things go with Beth. After all, he's not the player she thinks he is. But she's not ready for a relationship and, given his reputation, it's going to take a lot to convince her to go on a second date with the father of her child..."

I thought this was a sweet read. I really warmed up to Kevin, not so much to Beth. I did like the storyline, but I thought it dragged a bit in the middle.

Kevin and Beth got off on the wrong foot, which is a problem when you're having a baby together and therefore being around each other a lot. Kevin is a family guy through and through, his whole family is charming with their loud and friendly nature. I could see how the lot of them could be overwhelming to Beth, who is an only child.

Beth wanted to be independant from a very young age and never stays in the same place for too long. Always ready to pack up her stuff and get on the next bus when the mood strikes her. So having to settle down and do the sensible thing for her baby means a big change. She takes Kevin's urge to take care of her as overbearing and tries to push him away, because she's afraid to lean too much on him and then not being able to do it on her own again if he decides to leave.

Kevin has a hard time convincing her he's ready to be in a real relationship, with her. The constant stream of women leaving him their napkins with lipstick kisses on them, inviting him to spend the night, doesn't really help him win her over. But he's determined to keep trying.

I thought Kevin was really sweet, even though I found it a bit hard to believe he had baskets full of before mentioned napkins. He genuinely cared for Beth and thought she was beautiful even after she'd spent 3 sleepless nights looking after the baby.
Beth was harder for me to relate to. I get that she hates the women in the bar throwing themselves at Kevin, but she should have given him the benefit of the doubt in my opinion on discovering he hadn't acted upon it since they slept together the first time. I found her immediate refusal of anything that could possibly help her, provided by someone else, hard to believe. And I really felt sorry for Kevin at her constant refusal of him.

All in all, I did like the story, it was sweet and I loved the sensitive guy Kevin really was.
My rating: 3 stars

Thursday, December 2, 2010

You Wish by Mandy Hubbard

Title/Author: You Wish by Mandy Hubbard
Publisher/Date published: August 5th 2010 by Razorbill (the Penguin Group)
How I got this book: got it from my brother as a birthday present (I have an awesome brother who buys me books :D )
Why I read this book: I wanted to. Best. Reason. Ever!!

I LOVED this book! Reading has been slow the last couple of weeks, I couldn't concentrate on the book I read before and it took me four bloody weeks to finish it! Not that the book wasn't great, cause it was, I just had so much going on it was hard to focus on anything else.
This one read like a dream. The story flowed naturally, I loved the main character and the story line.. I love getting books for my birthday, especially if they turn out to be really good.

Kayla is a snarky 16 year old, who doesn't like to conform to what the popular girls in school think is normal. She dances to her own tune and bleats at people when she thinks they're exuding herd-behaviour. And I loved her for it.
She had some real issues with her parents, her dad left them and moved to Italy and her mom started her own company, is really succesful, but spends less time at home than Kayla would like. Thrown in together with having just one friend, who got a boyfriend and because of that has less time for Kayla and Kayla herself crushing pretty hard on said boyfriend, you've got yourself a very real teenage life. Except for the bright pink life-size My Little Pony with an icecream cone on its butt, of course.

Kayla's not having fun at her Sweet Sixteen party and blowing out the candles wishes for her wishes to come true, because they never freakin' do! And they start to come true after that. Besides a My Little Pony eating up her mother's shrubs, she has to worry about her Raggedy Ann doll coming to life and the guy resembling Barbie's Ken following her around everywhere. All her past wishes come back to bite her in the behind and Kayla tries desperately to stop it, because last year she wished Ben would kiss her and he's her best friend's boyfriend. That would be a serious violation of girl code if there ever was one.

Kayla struggles with trying to keep all of the wishes appearing a secret, not letting Ben and Nicole know she has a crush on Ben and the feeling she's losing her best friend all at the same time, while not getting the support she needs at home with a brother who has his own issues and a mother who cares, but is very busy providing for the family.

I loved how Kayla learns to get to know her old self again and comes to realise a few things about herself and the changes she went through. She learns you should be careful at judging people based on assumptions and to be a bit more openminded.
And I loved the pink My Little Pony with the icecream cone on its butt. I think if my birthday wishes ever came true, I would have one as well. And I would get a letter from Hogwarts. And be a fairytale princess.

Anyway, all in all, this book was amazing and I'm looking forward to reading more by Mandy Hubbard!
Rating: 5 stars.

Looking back, what is the most funny/embarassing/awesome thing you ever wished for on your birthday?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Reading List

So I saw this list over at A Book Adventure and couldn't resist posting it here.

The BBC posted this list, they believe most people will only have read 6 books from it. Gotta proove them wrong, right :) The one's I've read are in bold:

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Which amounts to 26/100, and that's without counting the multiple books in the series mentioned (7 for HP, 3 for His Dark Materials, I think 7 for The Chronicles of Narnia..).
How about you? Read more than 6 of the list?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge!

Three things I LOVE:
- Reading challenges
- YA books
- Discovering new authors

They all come together in the wonderful:
2011 Debut Author Challenge
hosted by The Story Siren.
I'm SOO excited about this challenge!

The goal is to read at least 12 debut YA or MG novels published in 2011 between January 1st and December 31st 2011.

There are so many great books on the list, it's hard not to list them all, but here's what I'm hoping to read:

Queen of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (I'm so excited about this one coming out! I'm running to the store the moment it does)
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
The False Princes by Eilis O'Neal
Vesper by Jeff Sampsen
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach
Entwined by Heather Dixon
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies
The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
Clarity by Kim Harrington
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
The Revenant by Sonia Gensler
Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Who's planning to participate as well?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blog Tour: Fractured by Joanna Karaplis

Title/Author: Fractured: Happily Never After? by Joanna Karaplis
Publisher/Date published: November 1st 2010 by McKellar & Martin Publishing Group, Ltd.
How I got this book: the author sent it to me.
Why I read this book: I love fairytale retellings.

Goodreads summary: "Everyone knows a fairytale or two. They’re the kind of stories that seem to stick with you. Maybe it’s the magic. Maybe it’s the handsome prince. Or maybe they’re just the absolute perfect place to lose yourself for a little while.
But what would happen if Snow White were around today? Would Cinderella still need a fairy godmother? And would the Little Mermaid show up on YouTube?"

I've recently discovered I really like fairytale retellings, so I was excited when I heard about this book. It contains three stories, modern day retellings of 3 of fairytales I love the best (I've probably watched the Little Mermaid a thousand times). All three have highschool aged girls as their main character.

The Snow White retelling focuses on a girl who needs to learn to look past face value. The Seven Dwarves are seven boys who spend most of their time in the computer lab. The way she replaced the poison apple was genius!

The next one was a retelling of Cinderella, featuring a real-life show star as Prince Charming. This is written completely in chat-format or texting and because of that I found it harder to get into the storyline. I did think the 'fairy godmother' was pretty funny.

And last, but certainly not least: the retelling of the Little Mermaid. This was my favourite of the three. Our Mermaid is insecure about one part of her body and desperately wants to have it altered (and in her opinion improved) by a plastic surgeon. I think there's a very strong message here, there's a growing problem with people running to have surgery when they're not satisfied with something and there should be more attention for the darker side of this. Because it can all go horribly wrong.

Short stories aren't really my thing, I love connecting with characters and then follow them for a while and there's not enough room for that in a short story in my opinion. That said, I did enjoy this book, I thought Joanna Karaplis did a wonderful job in not only writing a good story, but also pointing out some things that are wrong with society right now. I thought her writing style was engaging, except for the Cinderella retelling, the chat-format wasn't for me.

My rating: 3 stars

Other stops on the blog tour:
Nov. 15:
Steph at Steph Su Reads
Jenn at Word bookstore

Nov. 16:
Stacey at Word of Mouse Book Reviews
Steph at Bella's Bookshelves

Nov. 17
Savannah at The Reading Girl

Nov. 18
Stacey at Page Turners
Tahleen at Tahleen's Mixed-Up Files

Nov. 19
Jami at YA Addict
Melissa at YA Book Shelf

Be sure to check them out!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Title/Author: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Publisher/Date published: October 1st 2008 by Harcourt Children's Books
How I got this book: own it :)
Why I read this book: I'd heard really good things about it and finally decided to get to it.

Goodreads summary: "Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight — she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme, and in her case horrifying, skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace — or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away... a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone."

I LOVED this book! Katsa is such a great heroine and I thought the whole universe was refreshingly original. As was the concept of Gracelings.

Katsa is a girl who feels very strongly about things, she loves people with all her heart if she lets herself and believes in justice. Which is why she hates every minute of acting as her uncle's thug and hurting people for something she doesn't think is right. She doesn't put up with nonsense and is a real tomboy. I think this quote shows her character perfectly:

"I'm not going to wear a red dress," she (Katsa) said.
"It would look stunning, My Lady," she called.
She spoke to the bubbles gathered on the surface of the water. "If there's anyone I wish to stun at dinner, I'll hit him in the face."

I'm always happy when the heroine isn't a weepy female, but a strong yes-I-love-you-but-I-can-take-care-of-myself-and-kick-some-serious-butt kind of girl. Katsa is superskilled in fighting, and I appreciate the author sticking to this and not having her turn for help to the nearest male in a situation she can perfectly handle on her own.

When Katsa meets Po, it's a confusing time for her. Because she is Graced with fighting, a lot of people are afraid of her and she almost never lets anyone come close to her. She's also determined not to marry or have children of her own. Po manages to worm his way into her heart and at first she doesn't accept this.

Po is a wonderful character, he's a goodhearted and sensitive man. He takes Katsa for who she is and doesn't try to change her. He's willing to let her decide where their relationship will take them. He has some secrets of his own and fights for what he believes in. He's brave to a fault, but he's not too proud to let Katsa do the things he knows she's better at, like hunting for food.
I loved the interaction between them.

I thought the concept of Gracelings was really original, it's something you're born with and not all Seven Kingdoms accept Gracelings as easily. You're gifted, but can also be an outcast because of that. I also enjoyed that somewhere along the book Katsa tests the extend of her abilities and learns that even she has a limit (though it takes a lot to get to it). I also love that Po and Katsa both learn to see their abilities in a different light along the journey.

All in all, I really loved this book and I'm looking forward to reading Fire by the same author and I've heard there will be a sequel, so that'll go on my to-read list as well!

My rating: 5 stars

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book Blogger Hop!

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Crazy-For-Books, hop on over and join in on the fun!

This week's question:
"If you find a book that looks interesting but is part of a series, do you always start with the first title?"

YES!! Oh my god, I can't imagine starting with the second or third book in the series! I like things orderly and always group together series I own in my bookcase in the right order. My brother just started reading Harry Potter at the seventh book, I was horrified. (and a little amused that a lot of it isn't making sense to him, shows I'm right :D)
It always annoys me that at the book sales here they only have the third book in a series and I can't buy it cause I haven't read the first two so it makes no sense to get it.

Anyway, that's just me, what are your opinions?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

Title/Author: Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran
Publisher/Date published: Quercus Publishing Plc, July 2009
How I got this book: I own it.
Why I read this book: it sounded amazing and I used to be obsessed with anything to do with ancient Rome and Greece, this one fits that rather nicely.

Goodreads summary: "The marriage of Marc Antony and Kleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two – the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander – survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts."

Kleopatra fascinates me more every time I read something about her, though I've never actually read a book that focuses solely on her. In this book she's described as an extremely strong woman, who rules her people fairly and loves passionately. In ancient Egypt women can be as powerful or more so than men, which is a winning point for that culture in my opinion.
We're thrown right into the action surrounding the defeat of Marc Antony by Octavian and as such don't get to see much of Kleopatra herself before she commits suicide, which I was a bit sad about.

Three of Kleopatra's children, Kleopatra Selene, Alexander Helios and Ptolemy (the twins' younger brother) are then transported by sea to Rome. Ptolemy dies on the way there and this leaves Selene and Antony, who also fear for their lives, especially after hearing two of their half brothers are killed by Octavian.
Octavian doesn't actually seem to want to cause them harm, as long as they're not a threat to him. He sends them to live with his sister and they go to school along with his daughter, nephew and the son of his wife. They're given the same privileges as the others and slowly adjust to life in Rome, Alexander faster than Selene.

Selene has a passion for sketching, architecture in particular and upon learning this, Octavia (Octavian's sister) persuades Vitruvius, the architect, to make her his apprentice.
Selene was a very likeable main character, she feels passionately about her birth country and is extremely loyal to her brother Alexander. She's smart and cares about other people and what she feels to be injustice. Though she can be quick to judge people, but she's only fifteen at the end of the book, so how much wisdom can you really expect? I felt for her in her unrequited love for Marcellus, Octavia's son. I half expected him to fall in love with her, but this didn't happen and I think she found a better match for her in the end.

I felt the ending was a bit rushed and I would have liked to see her realizing who was really right for her a bit more detailed and gradually, it seemed weird somehow now, even though I had been thinking she should end up with him for a while.

One thing that bothered me: in the title they spell Kleopatra with a C, and I don't get this, since in the book Selene mentions being annoyed at a woman getting it wrong and spelling it with a C instead of a K.

I was shocked at what happened near the end of the book and so sad! This is a book I couldn't put down, it was so wonderful, shockingly violent and anxiety-inducing! My obsession with Ancient Rome is renewed and I would love to learn more about Kleopatra as well.
This is one for the historical fiction lovers among us!

My rating: 5 stars.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Top Ten Books That Made You Cry

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the other blog I participate in: The Broke and the Bookish, check it out and join in on the fun, we'd love to see your list!

This Week's Top Ten:
Your Top Ten Books That Made You Cry

1. Almost ANY romance book: I cry at romance in books and I love it! If you haven't made me cry by the end of the book, I'm disappointed. And I'm pretty easy, if there's trouble, starcrossed lovers, people not understanding each ohter, I'll cry. Which makes it pretty embarassing to read in public.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: the ending was just so incredibly sad!

3. The Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling:
Why did she have to kill Sirius??? He's one of my favourite characters and I just stared at the page with tears in my eyes when Bellatrix killed him.. I kept wishing it wasn't true and he'd find some way to get back through the stupid portal.

4. The Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling:
What is it with Rowling and killing off my favourites? First Sirius and then Dumbledore.. I've been putting off rereading those books because of this.

5. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman:
I SO wanted Lyra and Will to be happy together and then to be torn apart after finally realizing they loved each other.. And not just for a while, but FOREVER! That's just harsh. In my mind they find a way to be together after all.

6. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett:
He killed Tom Builder! I loved Tom.

7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:
That moment when Rue died... I cried for that little girl.

8. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks: I cried at the end, it was so sad and I felt for Noah in his hopelessness.

9. The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier: the conclusion of this story was horrifying and it made me cry.

10. Komt Een Vrouw Bij de Dokter by Kluun: a Dutch book, which rougly translates as A Woman Goes to the Doctor. It's about a woman who's diagnosed with breast cancer, seen through the eyes of her husband. It was really sad.

Pff.. Can't believe I made it to 10! I struggled a bit this week, I don't cry a lot when horrible things happen in books. Which is weird, because with just a tiny bit of romance you'll have me sobbing immediately.

What are books that made you cry?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Title/Author: Hunger (Horsemen of the Apocalypse #1) by Jackie Morse Kessler
Publisher/Date published: Harcourt Graphia, October 18th 2010
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: it's about an anorexic Horseman: Famine. Enough said.

Goodreads summary: "Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?"

After trying to commit suicide after a particular nasty fight with her boyfriend, Death gives Lisa a choice: become Famine or die (sounds rather harsh, but it's not). Lisa chooses life and thus to become a Horseman, complete with a black praline-loving steed and Famine's symbol of office: golden scales.

Lisa struggles with her anorexia, although she doesn't recognize it as such, she thinks she's just fat and has her very own Thin Voice to remind her of this. And of the calories everything edible holds and how much time on the exercise bike that accumulates to, to burn it off again. I thought this was so believable! Having no first-hand experience at having an eating disorder, I can imagine something inside whispering these deprecating thoughts.

One thing Lisa also struggles with, is hiding all of this from her boyfriend, best friend and father, the persons she cares about the most. At the start of the book she's already alienated her best friend because she told her to get help for her anorexia. Instead she gets a 'friend' who encourages her in her dysfunctional behaviour towards food: a girl with an eating disorder herself.

Death says things like 'thou art Famine, yo' and has a more than passing resemblance to Kurt Cobain, which is fine, but a bit weird. I did love the black horse, who Lisa names Midnight. The horse is sarcastic and doesn't get all the weird human behaviour. And it loves pralines, so it's my kind of horse.

I felt that what Lisa wanted most was to be in control of herself, not just being thin, but also in other aspects. She hates being bossed around, but doesn't really know what to do about it.
I'm glad that she learns to stand up for herself and that she's not worthless or undeserving of people's attention.

My rating: 4 stars, I'm looking forward to reading the sequel Rage.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Motor City Witch by Cindy Spencer Pape

Title/Author: Motor City Witch by Cindy Spencer Pape
Publisher/Date published: Carina Press, October 4th 2010
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: I thought I'd try a paranormal romance.

Goodreads summary: "She’d left magic behind:
Once upon a time, Elise Sutton had been a powerful witch and paranormal enforcer.
Once she’d been madly in love with Fae lord Aidan Greene. But when Aidan had considered his duties more important than their relationship, the love affair ended badly. Shortly after, while on the hunt for a rogue demon, Elise was brutalized and almost killed. Months later she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. To protect her child – and her heart – Elise decided to live a nonmagical life. Until she meets Aidan again, and he assumes Dina is his daughter. When Dina is kidnapped by a racial purity movement, Elise turns to Aidan for help. The icy fa├žade she had built around herself shatters at Aidan’s touch. Together they have to hunt through the human and faery worlds to find Dina and to discover whether or not they have any kind of chance at a happily ever after."

Let me first say that faeries aren't really my thing, I discovered this when I read Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. That said, the Fae didn't annoy me in this one (yay for the author!). I thought they were at time snobbish and egomaniacs, but well, I get that when I read about royalty as well, so that wasn't really a big deal.

I would however have liked if Pape had gone a bit deeper into the paranormal side of the story instead of the romance part. There are so many different paranormal beings to choose from: Fae, witches, werewolves, orcs, all come wirring past, but I felt like the story could have revolved around typical human beings and been just fine as a romance.

I liked Elise and Aidan as the main characters, though I would have liked to see Elise man up a bit more and not jump to weird conclusions sometimes. I also liked the girl, Dina, she was a bit mature for her age, but I like smart children and she was definitely intelligent. Although I thought her huge magical abilities were a bit too much for an untrained 4-year old.
Oh, and if you can't guess who the father is after reading the summary, you should probably read it again (it was pretty obvious).

I didn't really get why Elise's brother was so angry with Aidan, sure they had broken up and he should be all brotherly protective, but after about 5 years that should sort of pass, right? I also assume we'll get to see why he has such a strong dislike for werewolves in a book that centers around him in the series.

My rating: 3 stars (I didn't cry at the romance, so I can't give it more than this)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Zan-Gah by Allan Richard Shickman

Title/Author: Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure (Zan-Gah #1) by Allan Richard Shickman
Publisher/Date published: Earthshaker Books, 2007
How I got this book: I received a review copy from the publisher
Why I read this book: I thought it sounded interesting

Summary: Set in prehistoric time, Zan is a boy in his early teens, who by a stroke of luck manages to kill a lioness that killed a child, in a hunt with the rest of the clansmen. He is then named Zan-Gah, which means Zan of the Rock, in honour of this.
Zan-Gah is troubled, his twin brother Dael has been missing for a year and though everyone has given up him, Zan believes he must still be alive and sets out to search for him. But times are hard and the different clans aren't united. Zan must battle more than the wilderness in his search for his brother.

I enjoyed this book, had it been out back then, I can see my eight or nine-year0old self picking it up and really liking it (I know the book's meant for ages 11 and up, but by then I'd already moved on to adult fiction, my library didn't do so well in YA fiction area).

I liked how Zan seemed to have gotten an appropriate and very adequate upbringing: he knows how to survive on his own. Which is something every child in that time should be taught to do. On his quest for his brother he shows that he not only knows how to use the weapons he brought with him, but also has the intelligence and creativeness to invent one of his own: he fashions the first sling, which becomes very important to his people later on in the story. Zan not only cares for himself, he also tries to do good by other people, he gives food to a starving child and is determined not to betray a small boy he encounters on his journey, even though he has every reason to.

Zan has a sense of justice that I appreciate and he has the wits to communicate this and the plans he has to other people. He is respected by his clansmen and probably rightfully so. He also recognizes that there are things, like his brother's mental scars, that even he cannot fight.

All in all, this was an enjoyable read, and I'm curious to see what adventures Zan goes on in the next book of the series.

My rating: 3 stars

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Title/Author: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Publisher/Date published: The House of Books, originally published by Picador in 2005
How I got this book: borrowed it from my mom (I actually gave it to her for Mother's Day and then told her I wanted to read it next)
Why I read this book: I'd heard such great things about it from people in the College Students group on GoodReads.

Goodreads summary: "It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul."

When Death tells a story, you'd better listen!

And I did. I listened to this story and I lived through a part of Liesel's life and it still lingers with me. Rudy especially, he and Hans Hubermann are my favourite characters of this book. I love Liesel as well, but these two are dearest to me.

I almost never read books about World War II, because it seems to close to home, I live in the Netherlands and my grandma never talked about this period, even though she always told me about her childhood and when my mom and uncles were little, so I'm guessing it was a difficult time for her as well. It always makes me so sad to think of all the families that were torn apart and all the senseless killing that went on. I went to a concentration camp near Prague once with my high school and it was horrible knowing that so many people died there.

Anyway, back to the book: Liesel is adopted by Hans and Rosa Hubermann, who already have two grown children of their own who don't live with them anymore. Hans is the most kindhearted man you'll ever meet and he sleeps in a chair next to Liesel's bed almost every night because of her nightmares. He's also the one that teaches her how to read and I think she couldn't have had a better father. Rosa calls everyone Saukerl or Saumensch (which means as much as swine-man or woman), but deep inside she has a huge heart and loves Liesel and Hans very much.
Liesel soon finds a friend in Rudy, a boy with lemoncoloured hair and an amazing spirit.

The times are difficult for the family, because Hans helped Jewish people and isn't a member of the Nazi Party he gets less and less work and because nobody has money to spare, the income from Rosa's laundry dwindles as well. To top it off, they have to feed an extra mouth: a Jewish man named Max who is hiding in their basement. I thought is was wonderful to see that Hans and Rosa were so generous, they took Liesel in, would have taken in her brother as well if he hadn't died on the way there and they helped Max survive.

I loved that it was told by Death and the suspense Zusak created by having him tell us what was going to happen, because every time I wished it wouldn't. I was rooting so hard for something I can't mention here, because there would be major spoilers, NOT to happen and I cried when it did.
I loved Death's voice, he says things like:
'A small fact, you're going to die. Does this worry you?'
And I love it!

Rudy is the boy I would have loved being friends with when I was younger and he reminds me somewhat of my best friend when I was little. I was rooting for him to be kissed by Liesel at least once. He's such an undervalued hero in his own way, giving bread to the Jewish people on their march to Dachau.

I thought the ending was incredibly sad and I cried for all the characters, because they had become so dear to me. This book is just beautiful and I think everyone should read it. I've heard people classify it as YA, but in my opinion there's no age category, you can enjoy a good story no matter how old you are.

My rating: 5 stars

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Title/Author: Austenland by Shannon Hale
Publisher/Year published: Bloomsbury, 2007
How I got this book: own it
Why I read this book: I love Pride and Prejudice. Enough said really.

Goodreads summary: "Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?"

Like many women, Jane dreams of Mr. Darcy (don't we all?) and hasn't been able to find one in real life. I was a bit surprised at how she hides the DVD's as if it's something to be ashamed of. I love watching the movie adaptation with Keira Knightley and Matthew McFadyen and am not afraid of showing it off.

I mean, isn't he just dreamy in all his anguish of having just been refused by the woman he loves (after a clumsy proposal, I'll give you that):

Anyway, enough of my obsession, let's get back to Jane's. She decides to go to Pembrood Park, a trip that her recently deceased aunt left her in her will. There are other guests as well as actors there and at first Jane doesn't feel really into it all, because she feels fake somehow. Especially after meeting and having a fling with one of the gardeners, Martin. Then she decides, what the heck, I'm only here once, let's just roll with it. And she starts to enjoy herself. There's one actor, Mr. Nobley, who seems inspired by Mr. Darcy in his manners. But in stead of immediately falling for him, Jane thinks he's frustrating.
But not everyone is what they seem to be and Jane just might have a chance to find real love after all.

I loved how Jane gets swept up in it all, with the dresses and the fact that ladies are not supposed to be alone with a gentleman. She notices that with a minimum of touching that is allowed, while dancing for example, there can be more tension than she imagined.

At the beginning of each chapter, we see the story of one of Jane's boyfriends or sometimes just one time encounters and they were really funny.
The romance unfolding was really sweet and I loved the ending! There was something that even I had not expected and I'm horribly correct at guessing what's off or the clue to a mystery. I saw on the author's website that she has a book coming out that's called Midnight in Austenland, which I assume will be a sequel and I'm excited to find out what happens in that one. I also saw a picture of her newborn babies there, who are just too cute!

My rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top Ten Fictional Crushes

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, check it out and join in on the fun, we'd love to see your list!

This Week's Top Ten:
Your Top Ten Fictional Crushes

So this week it's time to confess and tell you all who I have a secret crush on, just don't tell my boyfriend!

1. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice: ok, so this one is a given (and probably one even my boyfriend knows about ;) ). I rant about him and this book all the time, and I will say again that I love him and would have said HELL YES! if he proposed to me instead of Elizabeth, using beautiful words and looking like Matthew McFadyen did in the movie...
Ok, moving on.

2. Peter Pan: I think this was my first fictional crush ever, I've loved him ever since I was about 7 years old and he will always have a special place in my heart, even if I've since moved on to a bit more sophisticated men. He has such an amazing spirit and I have always wanted to be able to fly.

3. Sirius Black from Harry Potter: I have a crush on the version I have in my head of him as a younger man, a loyal friend and big shaggy dog (I can't help but love his Animagus form). He's probably the reason I read Harry Potter fanfiction years and years ago, because many focused on the Marauders when they were in Hogwarts.

4. Aragorn from Lord of the Rings: how I love him and his quest to get back what is rightfully his! Even before the movie came out I had a crush on him and I always picture him as tall, dark and handsome and very kind and mysterious.

5. Kartik from the Gemma Doyle series: Kartik sounds beautiful and I love his character. Everything about him is so tragic I couldn't help but fall in love with him.

6. Kade from the Glass series: he's a stormdancer! That is just the coolest thing I've ever heard and it sounds totally sexy! I've already ranted about this here.

7. George from the Song of the Lioness quartet: he is the King of Thieves and he's incredibly sweet and trustworthy and handsome. I tend to fall for the sweet bad boy for some reason.

8. Owen from the Enchanted Inc. series: he's an extremely powerful wizard who doesn't know how to handle himself around the woman he likes and he's totally handsome, doesn't realise this and is shy, which is just adorable.

9. Mr. Knightley from Emma: my second favourite Austen man, I would have said yes if he proposed as well.

10. Robin Hood: I even have a crush on the fox version of him Disney created. Robin is another one of my childhood crushes and I wanted to live in a treehouse with him and help him steal from the nasty rich people.

I've noticed all my men except for Peter are tall, dark and handsome... I think I have a type :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

Title/Author: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
Publisher/Date published: Avon, March 30th 2010
How I got this book: own it
Why I read this book: I love a good romance.

Goodreads summary: "A lady does not smoke cheroot. She does not ride astride. She does not fence or attend duels. She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen's club.
Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried - and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she's vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she's been missing.
But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss - to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston - charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.
If she's not careful, she'll break the most important rule of all - the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love..."

As romance novels go, this is one of the best I've read in the genre! So I know there's always a happy ending, but it was one hell of a ride to get there! This is a book that for me let me forget about time, upon finishing it I discovered it was already 2:15 AM and I had to get up at 7 AM...

Callie has reached the age that in that time you'd be considered bordering on spinster and has never been kissed. The few suitors she had, she rejected because she did not love them and the fact that they were only after her dowry. She leads a life as a wallflower, watching from the sidelines at the balls, meanwhile dreaming of the love she reads about in novels.

Gabriel St. John is surprised to one night find her in his bedroom with a proposition, in exchange for a kiss, Callie will tutor his recently discovered half-sister so she will be ready for London society. Gabriel doesn't believe in love after seeing his father die from a broken heart after his mother left them when he was about 10 years old.

Of course there can never be such a thing as just one kiss. Especially when Callie throws herself in all kinds of situations unsuitable for a lady because she wants to break out of her proper life and have some adventures of her own.

I love how in this book the saying 'you don't love a woman because she's beautiful, she's beautiful because you love her' goes a long way. The tension between Callie and Gabriel was amazing and sometimes I wanted to scream at them to figure it out, there were some major misunderstandings, especially towards the end. They're both really likeable characters and the story seemed to flow naturally.
And I cried, and the ones I cry at are always the best in my opinion.

So all in all, I'm giving this one of the highest ratings, because in this genre it was one of the best I've read. If you're looking for a good romance novel, look no further!

My rating: 5 stars