Month: February 2012

The Intern by Jess C. Scott (Book Review)

Posted February 28, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

The Intern by Jess C. Scott (Book Review)The Intern by Jess C. Scott
Published by Self on August 17, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Author
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0.5 Stars

17-year-old Suzie Q, smart kid and closet dance enthusiast, travels with a classmate to a world-class city for an internship program. She finds herself undeniably attracted to the suave hip-hop instructor, Jo.Zee, who recruits her into a dance fitness DVD he is producing. When Suzie sees (or thinks she sees) the real Jo.Zee, she must decide if she will trust him...or her instincts.

1. I’ve got extremely mixed feelings about this book. While I liked the idea, the execution was poor. The grammar was bad, the editing needed to be more precise, and the style bothered me. I found a ton of typos… It was written in first person, which takes talent that this author does not really have…

2. The details were too specific, especially regarding feelings. Nothing was left to the imagination. Jess spelled out every single emotion so you couldn’t put yourself in the character’s place.

3. There’s a lot of long descriptions of dance routines, which were so hard to follow. I could never picture in my mind the dances that the character(s) were doing. You have to be a Korean-Pop/Hip-Hop dancer to really understand, in my opinion. Maybe that’s not a big deal, but there’s a lot of it and I would have skimmed over those more if I were not planning to review this book.

4. Now, I really liked the story… and the idea. And I did find myself reading further to see what happened next. However, I found myself being confused by critical story elements, which is not normal for me. I don’t get confused by what I read… lol. Not to sound pretentious, but I’m a reading teacher, so my comprehension was not the problem. It was the writing. I had to read entire passages a second time to try and figure out what was going on.

I dunno. I liked the story, but the grammar and writing was sub-par. It all boils down to two things: it screams of being self-edited, and it screams of being self-published. I did not get the feeling that this was written by a professional, but more like someone who thought it might be a fun endeavor.

0.5 Stars

Bookish Finds: Support Worldwide Reading! (w/ Discount Code)

Posted February 25, 2012 by Jana in Bookish Finds / 7 Comments

 

Bookish Finds is a feature here at That Artsy Reader Girl, where I highlight awesome bookish things I come across during my exciting life.

Hi guys! I’m back with a gem of a bookish find for you today. It’s a company called Gone Reading International.

 

Who?
GoneReading markets a unique collection of brilliant products for the reading lifestyle, and donates 100% of after-tax profits to fund new reading libraries and other literacy projects in the developing world.

What?
Choose from hundreds of products made specifically for readers and book lovers, including many exclusives to GoneReading.  FREE Standard Shipping on all orders of $25 or more, and a 30-day Money-Back Guarantee.

Why?
Gone Reading International donates 100% of after-tax profits to fund new reading libraries and other literacy projects in the developing world.  Read more about Gone Reading International’s philanthropic mission.

(This text was pulled directly from GoneReading’s homepage.)

I love shopping, and I love it even more if it’s for a good cause. There are so many awesome products on this site, and I can’t wait to start spending way too much money there. I found lots of fun things while browsing including designer bookmarks (both card stock ones and metal charm ones), book journals, book ends, bookplates, book lights, bookish t-shirts, and even a game about books.

A book journal to write all your favorite quotes and passages down in! Love this idea.
Buy it here.


Harry Potter versus Twilight bookmark. They also have a Twilight versus Harry Potter one.
Buy them here and here.


I really like this one too!
Buy it here.


“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night” board game. It’s a game all about first lines and books! Sounds like fun!
Buy it here.


Look at these cute owl bookends! They also have flowers, fish, and dinosaurs. How cute for a kid’s room?
Buy bookends here.


They sell men’s and women’s t-shirts. Love this one!
Browse more shirts here.


Love this shirt too!

They have lots of other fun things as well, and what better reason do you need to shop than to help spread the love of reading to people everywhere?

The founder and CEO, Brad Wirz is offering a coupon code to my dedicated readers—25% off everything except the bookends! This coupon expires one month from today (March 25th), and you can use it as much as want between now and then. You can even share it with your friends and family. Be sure to go and see what they’ve got and let me know if you purchase anything. :) Thanks so much, Brad, and good luck in your endeavors.

Here’s the code: JANAS25


Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard (Book Review)

Posted February 24, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 12 Comments

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard (Book Review)Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on March 13, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 338
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

I love traveling. When I read the blurb for this book on Netgalley, I was sold before I even finished! This book changed my outlook on life. I feel like there was a little bit of me laced within the text. I felt like I was discovering the same things about myself as Bria did–like she was living the story I was supposed to be living. I’m kind of jealous she got to go on the trip, and I just read about it! There is not one thing about this book that I didn’t adore, so let’s begin the fangirl review right here. This is going to be really hard! I always have a really hard time writing a review for a book I love, so we’ll see how this goes!

1. Bria did something I would LOVE to do. She just picked up and went on this crazy adventure through Central America. Along the way, she learned so much about herself and gained a lot of life experience. Plus, she saw amazing places, experienced new things, met cool people, and fell in love. I envy her tenacity, and the fact that she had the guts to fly off on her own like that!

2. This book is artsy! Bria is an artist, and a traveler. Do you know who Bria really is? Bria is ME! Her love of art shone through everything she did, and everything she said. I totally identified with her for these reasons. Kirsten Hubbard is also artsy, thus one of the reasons I love her! She illustrated parts of this book with amazing little pictures! They added so much to the story. I’m totally buying a finished copy of this when it comes out. How can I not support a fellow artist? I can’t wait to see what this looks like when it’s all put together (and not on a Kindle screen).

3. Part of this book takes place in Belize! I love Belize! I was there two summers ago, and it was pretty amazing. It was extremely hot and humid and I was drenched and exhausted, but I loved it! Funny side story: I was held at gunpoint in a tiny little tour boat in the middle of the ocean by several men in the Belizean Coast Guard. The driver of the boat was in some trouble, apparently, and tried to jump out. At one point the tour guide mumbled under her breath, “This is where they kill us.” I’m pretty sure I was not supposed to hear that. Luckily, things got ironed out and we were sent on our way. But OH MAN. What a story, huh? Haha.

4. I loved Rowan. He’s this reformed bad-boy with a travel bug who hops around from destination to destination teaching diving courses and backpacking to hole-in-the-wall hostels where everyone already knows him. He just sounds pretty darn amazing. He’s really mysterious and hardened, but a softy when his walls are torn down. And he’s bookish. Yes please! Some of the banter between him and Bria was hilarious, and the tension between those two had me itching to read more and more about them.

5. The scenery. OH MAN. You can tell Kirsten Hubbard is a travel writer, because the scenery she wrote about was so perfectly described that I could feel the hot sun bearing down on me, the sand between my toes, and the humidity trying to suffocate me. The rainforests and waterfalls and mangroves and Mayan ruins and scenic lakes… I was totally there. This book felt so authentic and realistic. I do think it’s the most well done of all the books I’ve read with a travel element. I could not get enough of these descriptions, and I REALLY hope that Kirsten writes another travel book soon.

6. I loved the slow burn we experience with Bria and Rowan. There is no insta-love here, thank goodness. They start out tolerating one another and gradually move towards a friendship that you can tell is totally going places. It was so sweet and wonderful to read about. They fit so well together, but it takes them a while to fix themselves enough to notice. I loved seeing how they worked through their own problems, and helped each other when they could. They encouraged the best out of each other, which I loved. They were better together than they were apart.

7. Finally, this book brings good things out in me. I’ve got all these amazing goals now, to travel more, to practice my art more, to be spontaneous, to let my hair down and not worry what other people think, to look to the future, to develop other talents, to conquer fears, and to enjoy my life more.

I loved this book. I can’t say enough good things about it, and I feel like my review is extremely inadequate. This is the kind of book that everyone should read. It’s the kind of book that encourages you to take the bull by the horns and go with it. I just felt so refreshed by the end, like I had been the one to go on a whirlwind trip that changed my life. To me, books have always been an escape and this one did the best job at taking me somewhere. I would recommend this to anyone, but read with caution! You’ll end up catching Wanderlove, which I hear takes a whole lot of adventure and self-discovery to find the cure for.

5 Stars

In My Mailbox (#1)

Posted February 19, 2012 by Jana in Uncategorized / 25 Comments

 

Hi guys! This is my very first IMM, and I’m so excited! I came across some wonderful books this week, and I’m excited to share them all with you! Vlogs terrify me, so let’s see how this turns out!

(Haha… The girl in a Long, Long Sleep is not a benefactor… She didn’t give anyone money!! She’s a long-lost heir to something… Haha… benefactor. Silly me! And WOW. I am pale! Haha. I’d blame it on winter, but I’m that pale all year, so I can’t!)

 

Purchased:

Valentine’s Presents (From my Mom): 

For Review:

Won:

I’d just like to thank all of you for supporting my blog! I love all the comments, e-mails, Tweets, Goodreads chats, and shout-outs on your blogs! I participated in the Book Blogger Love-A-Thon this week, and came away with some awesome new blogs to follow, some new friends, and a lot of warm fuzzies! Thanks to all of you who mentioned me, and came by to spread the love. I wish I could have participated more, but I was passing a kidney stone… Lame. But I love all of you! I’ll see you around the blogosphere, and can’t wait to get to know you better. :)

Now… what did you get this week? :) Link me to your posts and I’ll be sure to stop by! Or… tell me in the comments. :)  Thanks for stopping by!


Partials by Dan Wells (Book Review)

Posted February 17, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 10 Comments

Partials by Dan Wells (Book Review)Partials by Dan Wells
Series: Partials Sequence #1
Published by HarperTEEN on February 28, 2012
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 468
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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4 Stars

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what's left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she's not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.

I was pretty excited to read this book! As a result of my massive dystopia overdose recently, my expectations were extremely high for Partials. Unfortunately, it paled in comparison to the other dystopias I’ve read over the last month, like Under the Never Sky and Incarnate. And I would not compare it to The Hunger Games like the book’s summary does. Partials was given some pretty big shoes to fill, and going in with thoughts of The Hunger Games proved to cause a letdown. I’m not saying this book wasn’t good. I’m very intrigued, and plan to read the next book. My advice to you would be to take the book at face value and not expect it to be as good or as great as a book that pretty much knocked the genre out of the ball park. I’m going to break up my review and bold the highlights, just in case you’re a skimmer. :)

1. It took quite a while (like half the book) to build up to something really on-the-edge-of-your-seat exciting. There’s some minor action and a lot of science talk in the beginning of the book, and pages and pages of thoughts and explanations with not a lot of character interaction. Like I said, though, about halfway through it things really pick up and I had a hard time putting it down from that point on. I’m not going to say much about the plot because I think the story is more exciting if you discover it on your own. There was a few surprises nestled in there, that were very eye-opening and interesting to learn about.

2. We are kept guessing a lot. Who do I trust? The partials, or the humans? I kept jumping back and forth from one to the other. I felt sorry for the partials. They were engineered for a selfish purpose (to help the humans win a war), and thrown out to pasture when they were no longer needed. They were essentially abandoned with no way to make a life for themselves. I’d hate the humans too, if that happened to me. And then I felt sorry for the humans because their venture backfired, and most of their species died as a result. They both had reasons to hate and deceive each other, but they really needed to get along in order to survive. It was hard to know who was right. And on top of that, there’s a third group of people: The Voice. They are a group of humans who rebelled against the Senate for establishing the Hope Act, which forced all girls 18 and older to be pregnant pretty much all the time and produce as many babies as possible, in the hopes that one of them would be immune to the virus. In 11 years, not one baby had survived. That’s a lot of death. So really, I felt bad for everyone, found myself siding with each group at different times, and was never really convinced who was right! It was pretty entertaining. 

3. My favorite character was Samm (a partial). He actually seemed the most humane and the most realistic. He risked the most in the hope of finding answers. I liked that even though he was engineered to be an emotionless fighting machine, he seemed to have a conscience and a thought process that was extremely human. I found myself rooting for the partials more than the humans, because I felt it was not their fault. The humans made them this way. But again, I was having a hard time sticking to one side. Haha. I liked Kira, but she was a little too self-destructive for me. I liked her boyfriend, Marcus as well. I would have enjoyed getting to know him better. The supporting characters were well done, but forgettable after a while.

4. The end was action-packed. I really, really liked the last 10-or-so chapters. It was definitely my favorite part of the book. Dan has some great suspense scenes, and his writing style was gripping. I went from casually reading when I had time, to staying up until 4:00 AM and reading until I could not keep my eyes open.

5. There were a lot of questions raised throughout the book, but Dan did a great job of wrapping some of the major ones up. There was still a cliff-hanger ending, but it could have been so much worse! Right up to the end, I was biting my nails. New crazy things kept happening, and I kept worrying the book was going to end right then and there. Then I’d click the “next page” button on my Kindle, and I’d see I had at least one more page to lessen the impact of the ending. You will be satisfied with the ending, but curious about where the next book will take you.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. You need to take it for what it is, and not go into it with grand expectations. You also need to be patient and read a ways to get to the good parts. It was very a multidimensional story, and I appreciate that. It gives young adult fiction a good name. The plot was complex even though the original premise of the story is simple: humanity is becoming extinct. The characters were likable, although I never grew close to any of them. Dan Wells’s writing was enjoyable to read. He gave lots of details, and created some exciting, action-packed scenes. Fans of post-apocalyptic dystopians will enjoy this, and crave book #2. I definitely think it’s worth the read, and will appeal to many audiences.

4 Stars

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman (Book Review)

Posted February 15, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 8 Comments

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman (Book Review)Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
Published by Point on June 1, 2009
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 292
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gift
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4 Stars

Sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science. . .and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she's happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother's estate.

There, Miranda finds new friends and an island with a mysterious, mystical history, presenting her with facts her logical, scientific mind can't make sense of. She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship. . .and reality.

Is Leo hiding something? Or is he something that she never could have imagined?

I’ve been a fan of mermaid romance novels for quite a while now, and have read many of them. There’s so much an author can do when they are talking about a setting that is so mysterious and unknown to land dwellers like us! That’s why I decided to read Sea Change. It’s not necessarily a mermaid book, but it does deal with mythological themes centered around the ocean. While it was not what I was expecting, I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the story.

Let me start by saying that the cover is beautiful! It’s even prettier in person than it is on screen because it shimmers! This mystical story of young love lacks a bit in plot, but makes up for it with charm and magic. Miranda is a very likable, relate-able character. She’s been hurt by people in her not-so-distant past, and is trying to heal during her summer on Selkie Island. She’s warned on the ferry of mystical water creatures and is told to avoid the native islanders because they are “different.” Right when she arrives, she knows this island is unique. She thinks nothing of it, but begins to understand as she explores her aunt’s house and the island itself.

She’s a bit of an odd man out on the island, which is full of rich and snobby socialites. The first night she’s there, she’s invited to an heiress party (she’s an heiress since she inherited her aunt’s estate). It’s stuffy, and the “friends” she makes care mostly about money, fashion, and getting in bed with a hot, young, rich, preppy boy.  Miranda’s not that kind of girl. She’s a brainy good girl from the big city and has to work to survive. That’s another reason I like her. She’s real. In her quest for getting away from the snobs, she goes to a marine center on the island. There, she meets the mysterious Leo. He’s extremely attractive, and someone Miranda feels she would never have a chance with. He latches on to her, though, and they form a very sweet bond that’s surrounded by mystery and intrigue. They have to sneak around since he’s a native, and the heirs and heiresses of the island shun natives. I really liked Leo. He’s down-to-earth, honest, caring, chivalrous, and sweet. It’s no secret either that he’s a very different kind of person.

While the story does not have a complex, fast-paced plot, it is quite intriguing. The reader is given different lessons on mythology and history. You are kept guessing, along with Miranda, until the very end. Unfortunately, I was still guessing after the book was over. I doubt there will be a sequel, but there certainly is room for one. I would have enjoyed learning more about the mythology that lives on Selkie Island, but perhaps we’re meant to make that up in our own minds. The descriptions of the island and the houses were beautiful.

My only real complaint was that the story took so long to build up, that the ending was quite rushed. Miranda and Leo’s story went from casual to intense rather quickly. There was plenty of room to slow it down and make it seem more realistic. All in all, though, this was a very sweet book with a lot of southern charm and pure, innocent love. I think it’s the perfect beach read… or the perfect man-it’s-so-cold-outside-I-wish-it-were-summer read if you can’t wait for summer!

4 Stars

Caribbean Crusing by Rachel Hawthorne (Mini Book Review)

Posted February 11, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

Caribbean Crusing by Rachel Hawthorne (Mini Book Review)Caribbean Crusing by Rachel Hawthorne
Published by HarperTEEN on April 15, 2004
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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0.5 Stars

The perfect summer story of a girl, several boys, and a cruise ship full of possibilities.

Lindsay has never been on a cruise, but she knows exactly what she wants to do now that she is: climb a waterfall, snorkel, meet lots of cute guys, and look for one perfect guy for a summer fling.

But her to-do list isn't going according to plan, especially when she discovers that it's impossible to have a fling-when you're actually falling in love.

About a week before I was leaving on a cruise, I ran into the bookstore hoping to find cruise books. I love reading books that sync with a vacation I’m on. I found this in the young adult section, and thought it sounded like a cute read for my upcoming week of floating around in the Caribbean.

However… I was annoyed by this storyline. This girl is on an amazing trip, and do you want to know what she’s most concerned with? Losing her virginity. Yes. That’s her main focus. Does anyone else agree that this is poor subject matter to center a book around? There was no plot other than Lindsay’s frustration with being a virgin. Still. Because at 18, surely she should have slept with numerous guys, right? That’s what high schoolers do, right? Every guy she meets makes her think, “Oh! I could sleep with him… Better be nice!” And I can’t tell you how many “hot body” descriptions I read. I was nauseated. I find it rather frustrating that such a book was written, and then placed in the young adult section. This is where 12-year-olds are instructed to buy books from. Is this seriously a lesson they should be taught? And not only was she looking for sex, she was looking for it with no strings attached. A fling. Seriously? Shallow! And of course she couldn’t see a love interest if he smacked her over the head. So she was shallow and dumb. Lovely. I see no reason why she should be someone a teenage girl should look up to.

When I wasn’t downright annoyed at this book, I was bored. I’ve been on cruises. MANY. There is SO much more to write about than this. I can list countless numbers of interesting cruise ship plots. This one just made me want to throw it overboard. Since I don’t litter I didn’t, plus I would have hated for a cute sea creature to suffer as a result of my frustration. I really can’t say I’d recommend this to anyone.

0.5 Stars

Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll (Book Review)

Posted February 7, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 8 Comments

Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll (Book Review)Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll
Series: Black Swan Rising #1
Published by Tor Books on August 3, 2010
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 396
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars

When New York City jewelry designer Garet James stumbles into a strange antiques shop in her neighborhood, her life is about to be turned upside down. John Dee, the enigmatic shopkeeper, commissions her to open a vintage silver box for a generous sum of money. Oddly, the symbol of a swan on the box exactly matches the ring given to her by her deceased mother. Garet can’t believe her luck and this eerie coincidence until she opens the box and otherworldly things start happening. . . .

That evening, the precious silver box is stolen. When Garet begins to investigate, she learns that she has been pulled into a prophecy that is hundreds of years old, and opening the box has unleashed an evil force onto the streets of Manhattan and the world at large. Gradually, Garet pieces together her true identity—one that her deceased mother desperately tried to protect her from. Generations of women in Garet’s family, including her beloved mother, suffered and died at the hands of this prevailing evil. Does Garet possess the power to reclaim the box and defeat this devastating force?

On her journey, she will meet the fey folk who walk unnoticed among humans and a sexy vampire who also happens to be a hedge fund manager that she can’t stop thinking about. But the fairies reveal a desire to overpower mere humans and the seductive vampire has the power to steal the life from her body. Whom can Garet trust to guide her? Using her newfound powers and sharp wit, Garet will muster everything she’s got to shut down the evil taking over her friends, family, New York City, and the world.

This book was rich with beautiful literary writing, dynamic characters, and a complex plot. “Lee Carroll” is a collaboration between award-winning mystery novelist Carol Goodman and her poet and hedge fund manager husband, Lee Slominsky. I loved the integration of mystery, intrigue, poetic writing, and exquisite descriptions. These two make an awesome team, and I hope they continue to write novels together in the future.

This was right up my alley! I started reading it as soon as I could, and I was sold by the end of the first page. As I said, and will probably say again, the writing is lovely!

The story takes place in present-day NYC with elements of history, the arts, and Shakespeare. I really liked the main character, Garet, which stands for Margaret (named after her mother Marguerite—which is an important detail). She’s courageous, spunky, and has a good head on her shoulders. She has to go through a lot in this book, seeing as how evil is slowly escaping and seeping into everyday life. At the very beginning of the book, her father gets shot and some valuable artwork is stolen from their business. An investigator comes and believes her father staged the whole robbery and shot himself. This storyline is an underlying part of the entire rest of the story, and has Garet deeply troubled. The evil influences, which come in the form of fog and feelings, weigh heavily on her friends and her father… even the world around her. The evil actually coaxes someone into trying to commit suicide. Garet is the only one who knows why all of this is happening, but she doesn’t sit and complain about it like some heroines do. Instead, she follows in the footsteps of the women she descended from, in order to try and defeat this evil. Through it all, she has this wonderful sense of humor! It helps that she has sidekicks along the way, particularly a small fairy and a sexy vampire. Boy, does this book make him sound amazing! He swoops in and protects her when she needs him (even though he’s forbidden), which makes you want a vampire of your very own.

The authors put a totally different spin on vampires, and it’s really a tiny, tiny part of the story. Even though this vampire is a romantic interest, the romance is almost non-existent. The main focus is on Garet’s discovery of this new world, and what she plans to do about it. Along with the fey and the vampire, she encounters an alchemist, a dragon, a water goddess, and some other interesting people that are not who they appear to be. She experiences so many different things, goes through every emotion, and flip-flops between who to trust and who to steer clear of. It’s a crazy web of events and feelings, but it was written in a way that was not at all confusing.

I really love that we are kept guessing throughout the entire book. I didn’t know what was going on until Garet did. I found myself questioning every character right along with her. Is this guy on my side? Should I be worried about this? What’s going to happen next? I had no idea how the ending would work out. I was shocked every time she was. I trusted the same people she did. It’s like I was doing the thinking for her. That was refreshing, as many mysteries can be easily solved before the book is over.

The only complaint I had was that Garet’s father and close friends slowly slipped into the background. I guess when you’re one woman fighting off the evils of the world, while being sought out by Mr. Evil himself, and befriending a romantic vampire you don’t have much time for family! However… the characters were likeable, so I wish I got to learn more about them.

If you love a good urban fantasy, a strong heroine, a little mystery, evil lurking around every corner, amazing and beautiful writing (see, I told you I’d mention it again), detailed descriptions, a smidge of romance, a dash of action, and a hint of Shakespeare, then I think you’ll love this book! I’m really excited to start on the sequel, The Watchtower.

5 Stars

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (Book Review)

Posted February 5, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 7 Comments

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (Book Review)Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study #1
Published by Mira on November 18, 2008
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 405
Source: Gift
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4 Stars

Choose: A quick death… Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear...

Much like Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, I was really worried about this book. I don’t usually like books where the main character(s) are violently mistreated. In both instances, I read the back of each book and skeptically thought, “Who on Earth could enjoy such a violent and tragic storyline?”  However, I’d heard AMAZING things from friends and fellow book-a-holics that I trusted. I loved The Hunger Games, so I dove right into this book with the same expectations.  I loved this one too!

Yelena lives in the land of Ixia. She has been convicted of murder, and is therefore sentenced to death by hanging. While lying in her dark, grimy, rat-infested dungeon cell she awaits the noose made especially for her. After living in that cell for just under a year, a guard comes and scrapes her emaciated body off the floor and takes her away. She can only assume it’s her turn to die. However, she is presented with a way to live—a new life. There’s a catch, though. If she’s going to live, she has to do it as a servant in the Commander’s home as his food taster. The previous food taster has died, and since the favorable method of assassination is by poison, the commander needs a new food taster immediately. The code states that the next person in line for the noose has to be offered the position. She accepts, thinking that surely there will be opportunity for escape in the future. Valek, her new handler, takes her through an extensive training curriculum, even poisoning her in the process. She comes through with a complete knowledge of all the poisons and begins her job.

Brazell, the father of the man Yelena murdered wants her dead. Her life becomes an obsession of his and she has to fight him and his guards off along the way. Not only is he after her, but so are some of the other servants she lives with. On top of that, someone has noticed some special powers she possesses and insists on either killing her or training her. If she does not learn to control these powers, she could cause major trouble for not only herself, but the world she lives in. This makes life difficult, obviously, and Valek, takes her into his suite so he can protect her. Along with Valek, she finds a few friends in the castle who help her and teach her new things.

When a conspiracy arises against the Commander, Yelena is forced into the middle of all of it. She has to face the man who drove her to kill, the demons of her past, and the man who just might ruin her future. She also has to quickly discover her true potential in order to help protect those she is bound to by vow and bound to by love. Throw in a ton of suspenseful scenes, some menacing characters, and a love interest or two, Yelena is in for a bumpy ride on the road to self-discovery, love, loyalty, and friendship.

I really enjoyed the unique storyline and cast of characters. Yelena is so spunky. You’d think that with the crappy past she had and the dismal life she ends up surrendering to, she’d be all whiny and woe-is-me all the time. She’s a fighter!  She takes no crap and she kicks butt a few times! It’s really entertaining and refreshing to see such a strong female character. Here’s this skinny, weak little thing fighting off some of the strongest and most evil people ever. There’s a few lessons I think I need to learn from her. I loved Valek from the beginning. He’s got that hardened, cold, stand-offish persona but you just know there’s a teddy bear in there somewhere. That kind of man is very appealing and you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read about a man like him. The other characters were also likable. Really, the only ones I did not like were the villains (go figure). The storyline was so unique to me that it really pulled me in. I was constantly turning pages wondering how the author would treat the subject matter. It took me way too long to read, since I was on vacation, but it kept calling to me from my carry-on bag or my suitcase.

I could not give the book 5 stars, just because I really hated how horrible some of the people in this book were treated. I had a hard time hearing about the sad life of Yelena, as well as the people from her past. I loved the suspense, the little bit of romance, and the unique storyline.

4 Stars

Coliloquy Titles On Sale Through February!

Posted February 4, 2012 by Jana in Uncategorized / 3 Comments

Hi again! So, I’m sure you’ve heard about the digital publishing company, Coliloquy, that publishes “active fiction” for Amazon Kindle. They are like choose-your-own mystery books! For the month of February, they are all on sale for $1.99 (usually priced around $5-$7) on Amazon. I just bought Getting Dumped and Witch’s Brew, and thought you might like to see check them out as well. Here they are! I’ve included the summaries below.

Dead Letter Office:
When Celia’s father is killed in Afghanistan, she moves with her mother to New Orleans, the city where her father grew up. Struggling to adjust and haunted by troubling dreams, Celia finds comfort in new friends like Tilly, a practicing witch, and Donovan, the son of police detective. On Halloween, bizarre supernatural occurrences rock the city. Celia meets the mysterious Luc and finds a letter, over a hundred years old, addressed to her.

The paranormal repercussions continue when Celia learns that Luc is the restless spirit of a young man murdered in 1854, only able to assume solid form at night. And then, to her shock, Celia finds that the letter, which describes the suspected murder of a man in 1870, contains uncanny parallels to the present-day death of Abel Sims, a homeless veteran.

With help from Luc, Tilly, and Donovan, Celia races to solve the murder—and the mystery of the letter—using both magical and forensic clues. 

Kira has written Parish Mail like a TV series–there are over-arching mystery and romantic story arcs that extend between the episodes, while each episode has a smaller case that is presented and solved. Along the way, she asks you, the reader, to make several small decisions as you read. These choices do not impact the overarching storyline, but certain combinations “unlock” clues to the series’ mystery, which are embedded in the text. Kira also asks you to cast a vote at the end of the episode, to get additional feedback from her fans about their preferred love interests in future episodes.

Getting Dumped:
Losing a cushy marketing job only to end up driving heavy equipment at the landfill would be a tough blow for most women.

But JJ Schultz isn’t most women, so she gamely swaps office politics and dry cleaning bills for a chance to crush garbage with a 150,000 pound machine. As it turns out, she doesn’t miss her old life too much…though her love life was sure a lot simpler when she didn’t wear a hardhat every day. Between her hot new co-workers and her on-again-off-again boyfriend, JJ has her hands full.

The drama kicks into high gear when JJ and her sister, Lori, find evidence of a counterfeit handbag operation – something local police deem only slightly more urgent than collecting fruit flies. JJ soon finds herself unraveling a sinister plot in the company of a tie-tugging accountant, a straight-to-video action hero turned secretary, a suspicious but sneaky-hot engineer, and a host of other characters with questionable hygiene and morals.  

In Getting Dumped, Tawna gives you one very simple choice point: Which guy should JJ call? Depending on your choice, you’ll get to know one of the guys a bit more intimately. Don’t be afraid to read all three versions–it’s for JJ’s own good, after all! And of course, feel free to re-read YOUR favorite over and over again. Tawna still isn’t sure who JJ should end up with, so she’s eager to see who her readers prefer. She sees the aggregate statistics on who gets picked the most, so the more you read, the more you influence what she writes.

Witch’s Brew:
The Spellspinners of Melas County is a fantasy YA romance series about a witch, a warlock, and their fight for their forbidden but prophesied love.

Once soulmates, the witch and warlock covens of the California coast have been estranged for a century. Raised to hate each other, their teenagers meet in the Solstice Stones, a magical battleground where they draw energy from each other to maintain their balance. 16 year olds Logan and Lily have spent years training for their first Stones…only to discover just days before that the enemy may not be what either of them had thought.

In Witch’s Brew, Lily is torn between her feelings for Logan and her coven’s need to know who—or what—he is. The young lovers race against time, their distrust for each other, and the powerful influence of their elders to unravel the mystery of their pasts before their future is destroyed.

In Witch’s Brew, Lily and Logan’s fate is already decided, but Heidi explores several different possible pathways for how they get there. She shares scenes that wouldn’t normally fit in a book format and gives readers more precious moments between the two young lovers. As the series progresses, you’ll see some normal narrative forms, interspersed with smaller scenes, alternate points of view, and a lot of “what if” scenarios.

Arcania:
In Arcania Trial By Fire, your input influences what happens to Adia, a young sorceress. Born without arcania in her blood, Adia has lived in the shadow of her magical twin, until the day she inherits her sister’s spellcasting talents. As she leaves for the training academy, there are plenty of people to show her the ropes: Grey, the darkly passionate top shield, Seger, a swashbuckling rogue with a talent for daggers, and Finola, a clever and empathic healer. With a battle heating up, Adia must learn to master her magic and earn a spot on a fighting team before the ancient war between the forces of magic destroys her loved ones on Earth. The author sees the aggregate statistics on what option gets picked the most, so the more you read, the more you influence what she writes! 

(According to the Goodreads descriptions, “Active fiction” is a new type of e-reading experience that allows the reader and the author to interact with each other and the text in new and different ways.)