Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Story Siren's Fantastic Giveaway

The Story Siren is giving away Poison Study, Magic Study and the new Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder. If you haven't read PS or MS, I highly recommend them. They are wonderfully creative historical fiction/fantasy. A blend of two great genres.

Monday, February 25, 2008

FREAK SHOW by James St. James

Billy Bloom has been forced to move to Florida for his Senior year of High School. His mom, a little on the bi-polar side, couldn't take his flamboyant attitude toward life anymore. Billy is a self-proclaimed "Gender Obscurist". A fabulously creative drag queen and a character that is resilient, lovable, and stronger than anyone ever would have imagined, including himself.

After enduring unspeakable torture and bullying from his shell-shocked classmates, Billy ends up in the hospital and has a month long recuperating period. During this time, Billy develops a deep friendship with Flip Kelly, the star and golden boy of the high school. Flip, the one who saved Billy from the angry mob of students and whisked him to the hospital. Flip, who is feeling the pressure to be the best from his family and the entire school. Flip, the guy Billy falls head-over-heels in love with.

Billy relates his experiences at Eisenhower Academy with brutal honesty and laugh-out-loud humor. His decision to run for Homecoming Queen proves to be a true test of his character, strength, and resolve. Billy's message of tolerance and acceptance is important for everyone to hear. After all, "Gender is a choice, not a life sentence."

No matter your gender persuasion, FREAK SHOW by James St. James is a delightful story of bravery, trust, love, and friendship. So, put on your tiara and platform shoes and settle in for a FABULOUS ride.

Friday, February 22, 2008

GO FIGURE by Jo Edwards

It's like the author, Jo Edwards, lived inside my head during my high school years. The main character, Ryan, is so believable and authentic. As a person who had to deal with not being the thinnest person in her circle of friends, I can say that the thoughts and emotions of Ryan were right on.

Ryan Burke is overweight. She completely understands that she is too heavy, but like so many other "chubby" people out there, it is very difficult for her to do anything about it. Diets never last, exercise isn't a pleasant experience, and it is too easy to fall into the trap of food when she gets stressed or depressed. Ryan has a best friend that seems to be pulling away from her for no reason (although it will seem obvious to the reader why), she is on medication for depression, and has a weekly visit with a psychologist/psychiatrist.

Ryan isn't an unpopular girl; in fact, she has been extremely popular ever since her ex-boyfriend hit it big in the music business. Noah is on the cover of the most recent issue of Rolling Stone and awaiting the release of a new album and word has it, he has written a song inspired by her. Everyone wants to know what it was like being Noah's girlfriend and she is sick of that monopolizing every conversation see has.

The one thing she feels good about is her photography and she has been chosen for a special, weekend course with a well-known photographer. Her next-door neighbor and ex-best friend, Josh, was also accepted for this class which allowes her to reconnect with him.

One scene in the book that rings completely true is when Ryan attends a party with her friend Kimberlee. She meets Jared, a super hot college guy that seems to be interested in her. She doesn't feel secure, but after drinking a few beers she loosens up enough to agree to go outside with Jared. After some spectacular kissing she begins to really enjoy herself - until Jared's phone rings - AND he answers it. Ashley is on the phone, the girl he has a total crush on, and he agrees to pick her up to bring her back to the party. Ryan knows the reason Jared left the party to go get another girl is because of her weight. She thinks that if she'd been skinny he would have stayed with her.

This book had me in tears several times. I sympathized with Ryan when she had to deal with her changing friendship with her best friend, watched others enjoy relationships when she had none, and feared she made a fool out of herself with Josh. Even though it ends with pretty much a fairy-tale ending, it still is a great novel for anyone to read, especially girls that have issues with food.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Frostbite by Richelle Mead

FROSTBITE picks up where Vampire Academy leaves off. Rose, a dhampir and guardian, and Lissa, her Moroi best friend, are attempting to get through high school with the added pressure that comes with being a vampire in a world that doesn’t know they exist. Lissa is the last member of the Dragomir royal family and a Moroi. A Moroi is a vampire, but a vampire that doesn’t kill to get blood. They take blood from willing donors and have the ability to use magic that comes from the elements. Usually a vampire only has the ability to use powers from one element. Lissa is special though - she has developed the ability to use an element that isn’t well known - the element of spirit. The spirit allows her to heal living things, but causes her to go a little crazy. Because of this, she must take medication that dulls her use of magic which is difficult for her to accept. In addition to being Lissa’s best friend, Rose is also her guardian. Dhampirs can go in the sunlight and are stronger which make them perfect protectors.

At the beginning of FROSTBITE, there is a massacre of a royal family and their guardians. Rose sees the aftermath when she and Dimitri, her trainer and mentor, go to the house to meet a legendary guardian for a test Rose must take. This massacre turns the Moroi world upside down and puts everyone on full alert. The Strigoi are behind the murders. Strigoi are vampires that kill when they drink blood. They are stronger than the Moroi and strike fear in everyone. The most frightening thing about these killings though is the fact that there is evidence that humans have been involved. With humans assisting the Strigoi there is virtually no safe place for the Moroi. The daylight isn’t even a safe place to be since humans are free to move around in the sun.

With security at its highest level, St. Vladmir’s Academy makes the decision to require everyone go to a Moroi ski lodge for Christmas vacation. By keeping everyone together in one place, they are hoping to keep everyone safe. The exclusive lodge is large enough to accomodate even the students’ family members so everyone seems excited about the decision.

During this luxurious vacation news of another massacre rocks the lodge. A group of headstrong students run off to follow a lead about where a group of Strigoi are hiding and Rose takes off after them so she can bring them back. Rose has learned a lot since the last book. She has developed SOME self-control and has seen first hand what these Strigoi can do and knows her friends won’t be able to handle them.

The events that take place on her rescue mission change her perspective on life and about what it means to be a guardian. Rose’s relationship with Dimitri is as complicated as ever and provides romantic tension throughout the story. The ending is a little too quickly wrapped up with not much discussion of the deadly group of Strogoi still roaming around or the ramifications of Rose leaving the protection of the “school”, but overall FROSTBITE is even more enjoyable than Vampire Academy, the first book in the series.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

CITY OF ASHES by Cassandra Clare

CITY OF ASHES is the much anticipated sequel to last year's City of Bones. Never have I been more excited to get a book in the mail. I have to admit, I was looking forward to CITY OF ASHES even more than when I was waiting for Harry Potter 7.

Re-entering the world of the Shadowhunters was thrilling. Clary and Jace are dealing with their father's theft of the Angel's Cup and are continuing to struggle with the fact that they are brother and sister.

In CITY OF ASHES we meet Alec and Izzy's parents with Mrs. Lightwood being the most prominent. She is doesn't trust Jace since Valentine has revealed himself. She is afraid that Jace is a spy for Valentine and tells him to move out of the Institute. She also calls The Inquisitor to determine Jace's punishment for his "alleged" role in theft of the Angel's Cup. Neither The Inquisitor nor Mrs. Lightwood believe Jace about the new plan Valentine has come up with to steal another of the Mortal Instruments - the Soul-Sword. Valentine will do whatever it takes to get it. His plan, once he has the sword, is to transform it from a sword that will kill demons to a sword that will kill members of the Clave. The transformation requires the blood of Downworlder children which leads to danger for Simon, Clary's best friend, and Maia, a member of Luke's pack. It falls to Jace and Clary, with the help of Luke and Magnus to engage Valentine in battle to prevent him from accomplishing his goal.

After reading CITY OF ASHES we know a little more about Alec, get to know Magnus better, discover some special abilities Clary and Jace possess, and get a hint that there might be more to Jace's lineage than we already thought. Cassandra Clare has the ability to create the kind of emotional tention that I haven't found since Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. You'll be sorry when you get to the last page and be tempted to turn back to page one and start the adventure all over again.

Friday, February 8, 2008

TIM: Defender of the Earth by Sam Enthoven

What secrets does your government keep from you? Nanotechnology? Genetic engineering? In TIM: Defender of the Earth, this and much more is going on.

Anna Mallahide is the daughter of scientist that works for the government. She is used to being the new girl at school because her father's work requires that they move quite frequently. Chris is a guy who cares more about what people think than about doing what is right. He wants to be cool, but feels like he really has to work at it. When Anna and Chris get paired up on a field trip at the Museum their lives become intwined in a ways they can't even imagine.

While wandering around the Museum, Chris runs into a woman who has been in charge of guarding a bracelet meant for a person that will be the channel for all the life force on the planet. By the way the bracelet reacts when Chris is near, Mrs. Plimpton determines that Chris is the person she has been waiting for. It will be up to Chris to funnel all of the world's life energy to the Defender because danger is coming and the earth is in trouble. The Defender has been called into action and he can only win if Chris cooperates.

TIM (Tyrannosaurus: Improved Model), is the Defender. It is up to him and Chris to save the world from Professor Mallahide, Anna's father, who has developed nanobots that devours everything in its path in order to "improve" the way of life. While Professor Mallahide's intentions are true in the beginning, power soon changes the outlook on his mission and he becomes the most dangerous and unstoppable emeny the world has ever known.

With battle scenes like the old King Kong vs. Godzilla movies, TIM provides heartstopping action and an incredibly entertaining storyline. The lesson of selflessness and friendship run throughout the story and make it clear that sometimes you have to think of others in order to have a life worth living.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Cool Giveaway from Pageflipper

Click on the cover of Go Figure by Jo Edwards to read about the wonderful contest sponsored by Pageflipper. It is easy to enter for the free giveaway. All you have to do is email Pageflipper. I already have. I Want This Book!!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

INK EXCHANGE by Melissa Marr

Welcome back to the world first created by Melissa Marr for Wicked Lovely. A world where faeries exist and roam among humans without their knowledge. In this companion novel to Wicked Lovely, we get to know Leslie, one of Ash's best friends. Since Ash and Keenan defeated the Winter Queen and gained power, peace has reigned between the Summer and Winter Courts. Ash doesn't go anywhere without guards and her closest friends are guarded too.

Leslie has had a rough home life ever since her mother left. Her dad is usually drunk and rarely comes home. Her brother is high all the time on a variety of drugs and brings dangerous people around the house. Leslie learned that the hard way and has the scars to prove it. Leslie enjoyed the time she isn't at home whether that means she is at work or at school.

Niall is Keenan's, the Summer King's, right hand. He often guards Leslie and feels his desire for her growing each time he sees her. He doesn't realize she feels the same way about him. If he knew, it would only make it harder on him to not be able to have contact with her. Niall can't physically touch humans. His touch is as addictive as a drug. It leaves humans begging for his constant embrace until they eventually go mad.

Keeping his distance from Leslie becomes impossible when Irial sets his sites on her. Irial is the King of the Dark Court and feeds himself and those connected to him by taking the emotions of fear, lust, anger, greed, and jealousy from other fey as well as humans. Since the peace between the Summer and Winter Courts there hasn't been enough of the dark emotions to sustain the entire Dark Court.

Irial has developed a way to feed through a human. His blood and the tears from the Dark Court Faeries are mixed with ink used to tattoo the person he'll use to feed. Leslie has decided getting a tattoo is a way she can reclaim some control over her life and decides on the symbol that will link her to Irial and eventually lead to her death. Niall must break his rule about human contact in order to keep Leslie safe and ends up falling in love with her.

The battle between the Dark Court and the Summer Court revolves around Leslie. Unfortunately, she doesn't know what is going on since Ash doesn't want her to know about the Faery world. Ash thinks if Leslie doesn't know, she'll be safe. Instead, Leslie gets the tattoo and feels the immediate draw to Irial where she is used to feed the Dark Court.

Niall is willing to do everything he can to ensure Leslie's safety once she is under Irial's control even if means breaking his ties to the Summer Court. Can Niall get Leslie's life back? Can he win her love? Will she be any better with him than with Irial? Read INK EXCHANGE to find out. You won't be disappointed. INK EXCHANGE is just as captivating as Wicked Lovely. I can't wait for the third book.

I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME by Lisa Schroeder

Ava loves Jackson and Jackson loves Ava. Her life has improved greatly since she met him and they started dating. So when Jackson dies unexpectedly at a school party she is devastated. Even the simplest things like getting out of bed and eating seem beyond her abilities. Her feeling of guilt over his death weigh heavily on her and prevent her from beginning the healing process.

During one of her darkest moments she feels a brush of coldness against her skin. Hope fills her up as she thinks it could possibly be Jackson. Thinking there is a chance that he hasn't completely left her makes her happy, but it also causes her concern because she thinks she might be going crazy. Soon after the first encounter though, she receives proof that Jackson is, indeed, still with her.

After some time with Jackson around, Ava begins to think about everything that happened and how she completely lost the sense of herself while she was with him. When asked what makes Ava special, her reply is, "Being Jackson's girlfriend." She experiences the love of her friends and family which allows her to gain perspective and be able to start the process of healing, even if that means giving up the thing she loves the most.

Lisa Schroeder has written a thoughtful story about love and loss, but with an interesting supernatural twist. Its free verse style makes this such a fast-paced story. You will not be able to stop yourself from turning the page to see what happens next and with it being a book of poems you won't have an excuse not to keep reading until you finish.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

SLAM by Nick Hornby

Sam's life is pretty planned out. He intends to go to University to study graphic design based on a teacher's recommendation. His mother has high hopes that he will attend University and have a successful life and not follow in her footsteps. His main concern besides school is skating. Sam doesn't like the term skateboarding and feels like he has to constantly educate people on the proper way to refer to the sport. His hero is Tony Hawk and he relies on him for advice in all aspects of his life via a poster he has on his wall.

Sam was born when his mother was sixteen and had to grow up seeing first hand what a challenge it was for his mother to put aside her future in order to raise him. When Sam meets Alicia and their relationship begins to get physical they are sure to use protection except for one encounter. This encounter ends up changing both Sam and Alicia's life forever.

Sam's quirky narration makes this a great book. I listened to the audiobook and found it very enjoyable. There is one part of the story that left me a little angry at Sam. I was saying to myself, "What a jerk," but he ended up being a really great guy. I totally recommend this book to anyone who enjoys humor mixed with a little seriousness.
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