Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

By: Diana Peterfreund
Published By: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Series: None
Pages: 402
Genre: Science Fiction
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: TLA
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's "Persuasion", "For Darkness Shows the Stars" is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

When I saw that this book was based on Jane Austen's Persuasion, I knew that I had to read it. I love all things Jane Austen, and I was excited to read a story that was inspired by Austen's work rather than just another spinoff from it. Besides, any book with a cover this gorgeous just has to be read.

Elliot North is a Luddite, and as such is a member of the highest class. After the death of her mother, she takes over the responsibilities of managing the North estate, overseeing the Post-Reductionists and the Reduced. When her childhood sweetheart Kai, a Post, asks her to run away with him, she knows that she must stay on her family's estate. She never expected to see Kai return as a free Post with the Cloud Fleet and to spend time living on her grandfather's estate. Elliot is hopeful that they can rekindle their friendship, but it seems as though Kai wants nothing to do with her. However, Kai might have deeper reasons for avoiding her than simply harboring an old grudge. And when Elliot learns them, how will it make her see the only boy she ever loved?

For Darkness Shows the Stars was inspired by Persuasion, and if you've read that book, you can follow the story trajectory through this one. However, if you haven't read Persuasion, or if you don't want to reread it, never fear - Diana Peterfreund makes this into its own wonderful story. Although the book started out a bit slowly, once it picked up it became impossible to put the book down. In addition, though this book is science fiction, it is not overly scientific. At its heart, it is still a love story. One of my favorite things about this book was the inclusion of all the childhood letters that Elliot and Kai wrote to each other. I loved seeing that relationship develop as they grew up. Once Kai had come back, emotions were definitely charged. My heart went out to Elliot for what she'd had to do in the past and what she suffered during this book because of it.

I also loved how vivid everything in this book was. From the contraptions that the Cloud Fleet invented, to the North estate, to the emotions, I could see and feel everything. I felt that I knew even the minor characters, like Ro, and I enjoyed getting to know them all. Also, if you have read Persuasion, you know that there is one incredibly romantic scene, and I loved seeing its counterpart in this book.

I believe there is the possibility of a sequel, and I am certainly hoping for that, because I would love to see more of these characters and this world. For Darkness Shows the Stars is a book that you do not want to miss!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"Waiting on" Wednesday

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's selection is:

By: Robin Bridges
Published By: Random House Children's Books
Release Date: Oct. 9, 2012
Preorder the Book: Amazon

Note: This is book two of The Katerina Trilogy, and the summary may contain spoilers.

Goodreads Summary: Having had no choice but to use her power has a necromancer to save Russia from dark forces, Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, now wants to forget that she ever used her special powers. She's about to set off to pursue her lifelong dream of attending medical school when she discovers that Russia's arch nemesis--who she thought she'd destroyed--is still alive. So on imperial orders, Katerina remains at her old finishing school. She'll be safe there, because the empress has cast a potent spell to protect it against the vampires and revenants who are bent on toppling the tsar and using Katerina for their own gains. But to Katerina's horror, the spell unleashes a vengeful ghost within the school, a ghost more dangerous than any creature trying to get in.

Why it's wanted:

I loved the first book in this trilogy, with its foreign setting, historical characters, magic, and love story. I can't wait to see what happens next!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (51)

I'm very excited to be one of the many blogs participating in Teaser Tuesdays! TT is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To participate:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
(Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"My best friend betrayed me.

And my face went through a windshield."

p. 11 from MY LIFE IN BLACK AND WHITE by Natasha Friend

Please share your teasers - post them or link to your blog!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

By: Hannah Harrington
Published By: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: Aug. 28, 2012
Series: None
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: ALA
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret.

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.

When I first saw this book, it stood out to me for several reasons. In a sea of girls with pretty dresses, this cover makes a statement. Beyond that, the story is about a girl who takes a vow of silence. How does that work in a story? I knew that I had to read to find out.

Chelsea Knot has never been good at keeping secrets. She trades bits of gossip that she hears to ensure that she keeps her social status. But when she shares something that results in a boy almost dying, Chelsea realizes that she needs to learn to keep her mouth shut. Now an outcast, Chelsea takes a vow of silence, determined to keep from hurting anyone else. However, even with her vow and her new social status, Chelsea manages to make new friends. As she spends more time with them, she begins to question why her former life was so important to her. Eventually Chelsea is forced to face two important questions: Who does she want to be? And when she speaks again, what will she say?

I have to say that I am impressed by the fact that Hannah Harrington managed to pull of this book in which the main character doesn't speak most of the time. Even though Chelsea does have a whiteboard to write on, she certainly doesn't have in-depth conversations. Because of this, however, we get an even better look into her head, seeing her internal struggles and getting her thoughts rather than what could be flippant responses. Even so, Chelsea is difficult to connect with for the first part of the book. While I could respect her finally doing the right thing, for a while it was hard to know who Chelsea was when for so long she had defined herself by others. Fortunately, characters Sam and Asha help Chelsea along the way. I really liked both Sam and Asha and the humor, friendship, and life that they brought to the story. In the midst of heavy topics, there are still moments of levity that the book definitely needed.

Although at times a bit cliche, because Speechless is in many ways a standard coming-of-age story, the book still conveys an important message about acceptance, not only of yourself, but also of others. It is also a reminder of the fact that words can never be recalled and have the power to change lives, for better or for worse. Because of this, it is certainly worth reading.

Having read Speechless, I know that I need to find time to read Saving June soon. I will look forward to seeing what else Hannah Harrington writes in the future!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review: Rift by Andrea Cremer

By: Andrea Cremer
Published By: Philomel
Release Date: Aug. 7, 2012
Series: Nightshade Prequel (#1)
Pages: 413
Genre: Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: ALA
Buy the Book: Amazon

This book is a prequel to the Nightshade trilogy, which includes Nightshade, Wolfsbane, and Bloodrose. To see those reviews, click the name of the book. You do not have to have read Nightshade to read Rift.

Goodreads Summary: Chronicling the rise of the Keepers, this is the stunning prequel to Andrea Cremer's internationally bestselling Nightshade trilogy!

Sixteen-year-old Ember Morrow is promised to a group called Conatus after one of their healers saves her mother's life. Once she arrives, Ember finds joy in wielding swords, learning magic, and fighting the encroaching darkness loose in the world. She also finds herself falling in love with her mentor, the dashing, brooding, and powerful Barrow Hess. When the knights realize Eira, one of their leaders, is dabbling in dark magic, Ember and Barrow must choose whether to follow Eira into the nether realm or to pledge their lives to destroying her and her kind.

With action, adventure, magic, and tantalizing sensuality, this book is as fast-paced and breathtaking as the Nightshade novels.

It's no secret that I love Andrea Cremer's books. If you've read my reviews of the Nightshade trilogy books, you know that I think Andrea Cremer is brilliant and that her books are amazing. Rift was one of my most-anticipated books of 2012, and it did not disappoint.

Ember Morrow has been promised to Conatus after healers saved her mother's life during childbirth. Ember is excited to go - she would much rather fight than be subject to an arranged marriage. Her friend Alistair is there also, and she has missed him while he was at Conatus a year before her. But Ember never expected that her arrival at Conatus would cause such a stir, and she finds herself choosing her own path despite her father's wishes. She expects things to calm down, but that is before Barrow Hess himself becomes her mentor. Though Ember wants to learn from him and make him proud, she cannot help but have feelings for him. But he is her mentor, important at Conatus, and there are many more pressing issues. One of the leaders is dabbling in dark magic, threatening to destroy the world as they know it. Can she be stopped? And what will the fight mean for Ember and Barrow?

As much as I love the Nightshade trilogy, I think that Rift may have been even better, if that is possible. From the very first page I loved this book, and I loved it even more by the time I had finished reading it. Set in the fifteenth century, Rift is a wonderful blend of historical fiction and fantasy. The world is fascinating, and I loved the intersection of church and magic found at Conatus. Within this world is Ember, a strong character who brings the story to life. I enjoyed seeing her training and watching her grow into the person she was meant to be. But I have to admit that one of my favorite things about this book was Barrow. Barrow, with his skill with a sword and his handsome features, is most definitely swoon-worthy and now on my list of Top Five Book Boyfriends. I loved seeing his relationship with Ember develop from mentor/student into something much more. There are some very touching scenes between them, and I'm looking forward to seeing more in the next book.

The writing in Rift is brilliant, as always. Everything from the characters to the setting was incredibly vivid, drawing me into the story and making me forget everything else. I wanted to read this book in one sitting, but I forced myself to drag it out so that I would be able to enjoy it longer. My only complaint is that there is a wait until the next book!

If you haven't read any of Andrea Cremer's books, what are you waiting for? And if you have read Nightshade, you certainly won't want to miss Rift. I'm already counting down the days until the next book!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Review: Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

By: Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan
Published By: Harper Teen
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Series: None
Pages: 352
Genre: Paranormal
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: TLA
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Just because Mel lives in New Whitby, a city founded by vampires, doesn't mean she knows any of the blood-drinking undead personally. They stay in their part of town; she says in hers. Until the day a vampire shows up at her high school. Worse yet, her best friend, Cathy, seems to be falling in love with him. It's up to Mel to save Cathy from a mistake she might regret for all eternity.

On top of trying to help Cathy (whether she wants it or not), Mel is investigating a mysterious disappearance for another friend and discovering the attractions of a certain vampire wannabe. Combine all this with a cranky vampire cop, a number of unlikely romantic entanglements, and the occasional zombie, and soon Mel is hip-deep in an adventure that is equal parts hilarious and touching.

Acclaimed authors Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan team up to create a witty and poignant story of cool vampires, warm friendships, and the changes that test the bonds of love.

We all know how much fun it is to pick teams in books, not only with guys, but also with types of paranormal creatures. In so many books, all of the humans want to become whatever the paranormal creature is. Team Human, however, is a book that guessed it...humans.

Mel lives in New Whitby, a city founded by vampires, but that doesn't mean she wants to be one. In fact, she's perfectly happy keeping to the human side of town and not knowing any vampires. But all of that goes out the window when a vampire named Francis shows up at her school. Soon Mel's friend Cathy is infatuated with Francis, and it seems that Francis might return her feelings. The only problem, at least as far as Mel is concerned - Cathy is so smitten that she wants to become a vampire. As if all that weren't enough to deal with, Mel is trying to help another friend solve a mysterious disappearance. But what will happen to Mel when she starts attracting the attention of someone from the vampire side of town? Will she change to Team Vampire or remain Team Human?

When I first saw the cover and title of this book, I was really excited to read it. I expected it to be a parody of sorts of a certain well-known vampire story, and in a way, it was. Aside from that, however, there were some good things about this book. Mel is a great character. She's loyal to her friends and wants what she believes is best for them, and she's willing to help them in any way she can. I enjoyed watching her relationship develop with Kit. It was both funny and sweet, helping to round out the story. Then there was Francis. Who doesn't like a good Victorian hero - even if he is a vampire? Unfortunately, because the book is from Mel's perspective and Mel is staunchly Team Human, he came across as slightly irritating rather than the debonaire gentleman he could have been otherwise.

In addition, though this book was amusing and funny, I wanted more from it. The humor alone wasn't enough to sell me on the book; I found myself wanting a more intriguing plot. The mystery aspect wasn't difficult to solve, and I would have loved to see more of the relationship aspects of the book fleshed out. Despite this, there were several touching moments at the end of the book in which I could really sympathize with the characters.

Team Human is a quick, fun read that is guaranteed to make you laugh in more than a few places. And who might change your mind about being Team Vampire.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review: The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee

By: Jeannine Garsee
Published By: Bloomsbury
Release Date: July 17, 2012
Series: None
Pages: 388
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Paranormal
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: TLA
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Sixteen-year-old Rinn Jacobs has secrets: One, she’s bipolar. Two, she killed her grandmother.

After a suicide attempt, and now her parents' separation, Rinn and her mom move from California to the rural Ohio town where her mother grew up. Back on her medications and hoping to stay well, Rinn settles into her new home, undaunted by the fact that the previous owner hanged herself in Rinn's bedroom. At school, her classmates believe the school pool is haunted by Annaliese, a girl who drowned there. But when a reckless séance goes awry, and terrible things start happening to her new friends—yet not to her—Rinn is determined to find out why she can’t be "touched" by Annaliese...or if Annaliese even exists.

With the help of Nate Brenner, the hunky “farmer boy” she’s rapidly falling for, Rinn devises a dangerous plan to uncover the truth. Soon reality and fantasy meld into one, till Rinn finds it nearly impossible to tell the difference. When a malevolent force threatens the lives of everyone she cares about--not to mention her own--she can't help wondering: who should she really be afraid of?

Annaliese? Or herself?

The Unquiet was one of the books I was very excited for this year, and it didn't disappoint. With all of the elements this story blended together, it was extremely captivating, keeping me reading late into the night to find out what happened.

Rinn Jacobs never expected to find herself in the middle of rural Ohio with only her mother. But when her bipolar disorder led to the death of her grandmother and her suicide attempt, her parents decide that time away from California would be good for her. Even though Rinn thought life in a small town would be incredibly dull, she soon discovers that she was wrong. From her first day, she discovers that the town is hiding secrets, secrets that she begins to uncover once she starts her new school. She learns that the pool of the school is haunted by Annaliese, and she is convinced Annaliese is behind the strange things that start happening. However, she needs proof, and getting the proof might require her losing her grip on the distinction between fantasy and reality. Can Rinn manage to figure out what's going on and keep everyone safe? More importantly, can she keep herself that way?

The Unquiet is one of my favorite kind of books - it crosses genres, blending a darker contemporary story with a ghost story, finishing it off with a dash of romance. Because of this, what would have been a good story became a great story. I found the parallel journeys very engrossing, both the journey through Rinn's mind that led to her eventual suicide attempt as well as her journey to uncover the secrets of her school. This book really captures the small-town feeling, and the connections that Rinn has to Annaliese and her family make the story that much more intense. Though this book isn't necessarily scary, as a ghost story, it does have its creepy moments. Compound that with Rinn's mental disorder, and there are more than a few instances that will leave you wide-eyed.

Of course, Rinn isn't alone in her quest to solve the mystery. Though she does have a few friends, her biggest help is Nate, the boy next door. He was just the friend Rinn needed, and I loved reading their interactions, from the snarky to the touching. This book was an intense read, to say the least, and I appreciated the lighter moments that Rinn and Nate brought to the story.

If you love a good ghost story, or a darker contemp story, then you will not want to miss this book. I look forward to seeing what Jeannine Garsee writes next!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Waiting on" Wednesday

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's selection is:

By: Jeanne Ryan
Published By: Dial Books
Release Date: Sept. 13, 2012
Preorder the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: A high-stakes online game of dares turns deadly

When Vee is picked to be a player in NERVE, an anonymous game of dares broadcast live online, she discovers that the game "knows" her. They tempt her with prizes taken from her ThisIsMe page and team her up with the perfect boy, sizzling-hot Ian. At first it's exhilarating--Vee and Ian's fans cheer them on to riskier dares with higher stakes. But the game takes a twisted turn when they're directed to a secret location with five other players for the Grand Prize round. Suddenly they're playing all or nothing, with their lives on the line. Just how far will Vee go before she loses NERVE?

Debut author Jeanne Ryan delivers an un-putdownable suspense thriller.

Why it's wanted:

I don't always read thrillers, but this one sounds like an unputdownable book. I want to know what the dares are and what happens to Vee!
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