Sunday, February 19, 2012

Book Review: The Oracle of Dating

The Oracle of Dating
Author: Allison van Diepen
Publish Date: May 2010
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

No one at Kayla's school knows she's the famous Oracle of Dating--the anonymous queen of dating advice. But then her advice backfires on her own best friend, and Kayla starts to seriously obsess about Jared Stewart--the very cute, very mysterious new guy in school. (Goodreads)

When I picked up the book I was slightly skeptical. How exactly did the Oracle work? Was she like come turban wearing, crystal ball staring teenager? It didn’t sound like much of a premise for a story, but I read it anyway and I'm not disappointed I did.

Most of our time is spent in school or at home. There are a few outings that we get glimpses of the subway and a little of the city but it’s not really relevant (too much) to the story that the lack of multiple environments is really noticeable.

Kayla is awesome. I would love to have her as a best friend. She’s skeptical and cynical or maybe one or the other at a master’s level. She has a deep well of advice that most kids her age would never have. Except I understand her as an observer and since she watches everything it only makes sense that she learns and picks up from that.

I read the story in one sitting. Not only is it relatively short, but it moves from one place to the next without wasting space or words. There’s nothing more frustrating than a chapter related to nothing at all, so it was a relief there are no fillers in this book. The author knew what she wanted and carefully crafted it along such a tight line that it’s a very wonderful read. It's nothing over the top and rather simplistic, but at the same time it is attention grabbing in a big way. I will be reading the second book just to see if it keeps pace with the first. 

My Rating: 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Week of Love" Giveaway

With Valentine's Day coming up on us, we often stop and think that was a beautiful "I love you". Especially in our books. With the Day looming ever so nearer we find ourselves stopping and giving pause to the beautiful moments written by our favorite authors. This has led to the second thought. What are your favorite "I love you" moments? Why are they your favorites? We should reward you for telling us.

Therefore, all this week, we'll be sharing "I love you" quotes on the blog as well as hosting a giveaway for the books with our favorite "I love you" moments. Thus, without further ado here are our "I love you" moments and the books you'll have the opportunity to win:

Brianna's Quote:

“Your soul sings to mine. My soul is yours, and it always will be, in any world. No matter what happens. I need you to remember that I love you.”

Melissa's Quote:
"I never loved you any more than I do, right this second. And I'll never love you any less than I do, right this second." 

Penelope's Quote:
"But I believe in true love, you know? I don't believe that everybody gets to keep their eyes or not get sick or whatever, but everybody should have true love, and it should last at least as long as your life does." 

Victoria's Quote:

"I might be in love with you." He smiles a little. "I'm waiting until I'm sure to tell you, though."
"That's sensible of you," I say, smiling too. "We should find some paper so you can make a list or a chart or something."
I feel his laughter against my side, his nose sliding along my jaw, his lips pressing behind my ear.
"Maybe I'm already sure," he says, "and I just don't want to frighten you."
I laugh a little. "Then you should know better."
"Fine," he says. "Then I love you." 

There they are. So to recap the lucky winner will receive ONE of these four books: Beautiful Creatures, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Fault in Our Stars, or Divergent. Of their choice, of course. We look forward to hearing what your favorite love quotes are! ^_^

Friday, February 10, 2012

Book Review: Once A Wtich

Once a Witch
Author: Carolyn MacCullough
Publish Date: September 2009
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant. (Goodreads)

There are far too few books about witches. Or at least in YA there is. Which is weird when you think about it because witches are frequent in several histories. Thus, I was pretty excited to pick up this book.

New York City is a pretty busy place. Or at least the last time I was there it was. Which brings me to my not as crowded as NYC should be feeling of the locale.  Don’t get me wrong, it still feels like NYC but more laid back then the rushing pace of NYC I’m used to. The house in the countryside is completely realistic to environment in comparison. Since the characters don’t spend a huge amount of time in the city it’s not a great big deal the city is lacking its usual luster.

Tamsin has this great big chip on her shoulder called I have no power and I dislike everyone that does. It’s not a very healthy way to deal with the problem. And being powerless isn’t truly a problem even in a family of witches. They try to make her part of the group but she stubbornly refuses because she’s different. It makes her an unlikeable character in a way. Since she’s not like them, she’ll just shut them all out. While this doesn’t mean she doesn’t love her family it’s still very apparent she’s bitter.

The story moves along rather quickly. It would have to with as short as it is. There are no wasted words or events. Everything written has some purpose whether future or past is yet to be determined at the beginning of the book, but it all makes sense at the end.
While no means a complicated read, it was an overall enjoyable experience. The witches are true to the history of them and there are no plot holes that leave the reader scratching their head wondering what just happened. While not earth shattering it is a complete, no mysteriously vague events story.

My Rating:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week the reading ladies have been slightly busy so Victoria has taken it upon herself to select a WoW for today. Thereof, her pick for today is:

Ashes of Twilight
By Kassy Taylor
Expected Publication: November 13th 2012

Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century to protect the royal blood line of England when astronomers spotted a comet on a collision course with Earth. Humanity would be saved by the most groundbreaking technology of the time. But after nearly 200 years of life beneath the dome, society has become complacent, and the coal is running out. Plus, there are those who wonder, is there life outside the dome, or is the world still consumed by fire? When one of Wren's friends escapes the confines of the dome, he is burned alive and put on display as a warning to those seeking to disrupt the dome's way of life. But Alex's final words are haunting. "The sky is blue."

What happens next is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy and the struggle to stay alive in a world where nothing is as it seems. Wren unwittingly becomes a catalyst for a revolution that destroys the dome, and the only way to survive might be to embrace what the entire society has feared their entire existence. (Goodreads)

What do you think? I feel that it definitely has some potential. ^_^ 

Book Review: Everneath

Author: Brodi Ashton
Publish Date: January 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's... (Goodreads)

Brodi Ashton’s Everneath is an ambitious story to say the least. How does one even begin to tell the story of a girl who has been drained of her emotions over the course of a century? It’s a type of story that takes a lot of meticulous detail and care, which Ashton definitely exhibits with Nikki Beckett’s tale. Her alternation of flashbacks with the present proves to be an effective tool for describing the stages of Nikki’s restoration of self.  Readers will have a good sense of her hollowness at the beginning, which is so strong, it’s nearly palpable, and will want to keep reading just to have some understanding of the person that she used to be.

Ashton’s supernatural take on the Underworld in Greek mythology is also interesting. She calls it the Everneath, and it’s occupied by Everlings instead of the usual Greek deities. Everlings are capable of living forever by draining humans of their emotional energy, and this is where Cole, the sexy scumbag antagonist, comes in. Readers learn from the beginning that he is not a good person, but his secret scheming, and inner turmoil makes him a fascinating character to follow. He’s an excellent villain, and Ashton nicely teases that there’s more about him to be discovered in the next book.

Another powerful aspect of this story is the relationship between Jack and Nikki, seeing how their bond is tested leaves a lasting impression. Their love is so haunting and pure that it can rival any of the best Paranormal Romance stories out there, and is worthy of the Orpheus myth that it tries to mirror. Not to mention that Jack is truly an all around good guy. The way he integrates Nikki back into his life is an incredibly sweet thing to watch.

Overall, Everneath is a compelling read with a lot of interesting elements. It will intrigue, entertain, tug at hearts, and leave readers wanting more, so this book is hands down worthy of a full bouquet by Penelope’s standards. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Gathering: A Review

The Gathering (Darkness Rising #1)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Published: April 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins

Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn't know much about her background - the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip - but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.

Until now.

Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town - from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend's hidden talent for "feeling" out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . . different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya's biological parents and it's easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.

The Gathering is the first book in Kelley Armstrong’s new series, Darkness Rising. This is a continuation of her fantastic Darkest Power series with some new characters for us to get to know.  The story takes place in a little town on Vancouver Island where a medical research facility is housed.  Almost the entire town has some connection to the facility and therefore, their security and seclusion is a matter for the community and not just the facility, itself. Everyone knows everyone else and all their business in this idyllic little town and the children are trained from a young age how to handle reporters and possible corporate spies.

There are conflicts a plenty causing havoc and stress throughout the story. Our main character, 16 year-old Maya is dealing with some romantic concerns, the death of a friend, and a slight identity crisis. Not to mention the mountain lions are getting a little too friendly with her and other humans in town.  She takes it in stride, though, battling to find the truth in all things, whether she likes what she learns or not. Then we have the town itself; it’s not having such an easy time of things either. A reporter is nosing around, asking teens at the school a lot of suspicious questions. Large and small concerns are raging throughout the book, keeping things interesting for readers.

The story is told from Maya’s point of view and her sense of humor and wit really make it hard to put this book down. Armstrong writes with such detail that you feel you are there watching the story unfold in the wilderness surrounding Maya’s home.  The plot moves quickly from the beginning, but lets us get comfortable with the characters a little before the strangeness sets in. Whether the action is pumping or we’re witnessing a romantic interlude, it’s a very fast read. You just want to know what’s coming next.

Armstrong’s written (another) fantastic set of teens to follow for this series. They are all so well-written you can’t help but love them, even if they may have questionable motives. Their depth and detail help bring the story to life. Maya is my favorite character from the book, hands down. She’s got a kickass sense of humor that really endears her to me. I did a lot of laughing out loud while reading this book.

The story fits nicely into the ever-growing young adult paranormal niche without being too predictable. Yes, if you’ve read Armstrong’s Darkest Power trilogy you have an idea of what will happen, but not in a way that takes away from the story.   I think the author’s style of storytelling keeps things fresh and interesting for readers. I know the twists caught me by surprise and I gasped aloud a few times.

All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good ya paranormal read and likes to laugh. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and cannot wait to see what happens to Maya and her friends from here. 

My Rating:  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Book Review: After Eden

After Eden (Fallen Angels #1)
Author: Katherine Pine
Publish Date: April 2011
Publisher: Smashwords

Devi knows she shouldn’t trust the new employee at her favorite used bookstore. Sure, he’s funny, smart and hands down the sexiest guy she’s ever met, but something dark lurks behind his unassuming smile and sinful green eyes.

Still, a girl can’t always afford to be picky. When an angel abducts your twin brother it should come as no surprise that the one person who can help you get him back is a demon–and only if you’re willing to pay his price. (Goodreads)

Our story takes place in a little town, in the middle of nowhere, or at least that’s the impression I get. I can’t really say in the middle of nowhere either as at one point we were on a beach.  Let’s say on the edge of nowhere. There no real details for the town other than it’s small, and the heroine’s house is at the top of a hill away from town.

Devi is a semi standard, typical heroine. I get the impression she’s pretty, but it’s not really described out right as such. She has a slight brother complex as well. She blames herself for her brother’s abduction and in some sense she worships him a bit more than is normal. She’s got attitude which is good; she’s not easily pushed around and she’s got a soft heart. Even after all the trauma she’s been through she does ask for help for those that hurt her. Which are points for her.

 Oz is an over the top gorgeous charmer. He’s kind, and manners must have been driven into his mind at some point in his life. He’s constantly thinking of Devi and what affects her rather than of himself, which goes against his nature. Or at least it should go against his nature. There are some things that Devi has to force his hand for but otherwise, he’s an angel in a demon’s skin.

Most of the story is spent looking for Cammy. Or rather not looking for, since we know he’s there, forcing his hand to make him materialize. When we do FINALLY get to see Cammy the revulsion in Devi’s attitude is completely expected and understandable. However, Cammy being who/what he is doesn’t seem all that bothered by it. Nothing seems to ruffle his feathers.

The premise is great. This is the first time I’ve read something along the lines of this premise and it holds real promise. The dialogue is to die for. Literally.  I would read this again just for the awesome dialogue. It’s very attention grabbing and I found myself not wanting to put the book down just so I could read the next bit of dialogue.

The actual plot seems a bit weak in comparison to the idea. It feels like there are too many subplots moving along that the real plot gets shifted to the background more than it should. The effect though leaves the story with a weak ending. This was disappointing as it had a very strong start and very well supportive dialogue.

Overall it was an average read. The obvious time and effort for the story is there, but the end result has so many unneeded things that the quality is lost in translation. I’ll be reading the second book to see if it cleans up but for After Eden by itself I will only recommend for those that don’t mind a soft plot with awesome dialogue. 

My Rating: