Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday










Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire is scheduled to be released September 7, 2010. This is the third book in the October Daye series and I can't wait to read it.
An Artificial Night (October Daye, Book 3)

October "Toby" Daye is a changeling-half human and half fae-and the only one who has earned knighthood. Now she must take on a nightmarish new challenge. Someone is stealing the children of the fae as well as mortal children, and all signs point to Blind Michael. Toby has no choice but to track the villain down-even when there are only three magical roads by which to reach Blind Michael's realm, home of the Wild Hunt-and no road may be taken more than once. If Toby cannot escape with the children, she will fall prey to the Wild Hunt and Blind Michael's inescapable power

Monday, July 26, 2010

Catching Fire

Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
borrowed from library
Summary from Goodreads:
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

My take:
As with first book in this series, The Hunger Games, I was completely drawn into the story after only a few pages. Considering that this series is dystopian, we all knew deep inside that Katniss and Peeta weren't going to be left alone to live their lives in peace. But we could hope - for a little while at least.  We find out that the Capitol's control over the districts isn't quite a firm as they would like everyone to believe. And apparently, Katniss's little act of rebellion with the berries during the games has stirred up more defiance than she or anyone in District 12 really knew.

It turns out that this is the year of the Quarter Quell  - everyone thought it was just another hunger games, but no, this year it is just another form of torture for the previous Hunger Games Victors - they will go back into the games. Katniss is pretty sure this choice is aimed directly at her and her rebellion - and maybe it is - or maybe it is an attempt to show all the districts that the Capitol can destroy anyone - even their victors. But there are already uprisings and growing signs of rebellion. Katniss has only one goal - keep Peeta alive. Peeta is determined to keep Katniss alive. And Katniss and Peeta's mentor Haymitch has his own plans.

This book is so good! I could barely put it down. The ending cliffhanger is just cruel to the reader. I am so anxious to read the third book. I hadn't expected the book to go in the direction it did, but now I just want to see how it all plays out. The plans and agreements made with and between the various victors was a surprise, but an intriguing one - one that I am anxious to see to the end.

On another note, I am sensing that I will have to work on a blog post about dystopian books and why we seem to love to read them so much. Are they more popular at certain times? Is there a reason besides randomness that they seem to be everywhere on the shelves these days? What does this say about us? I don't know. I'm thinking.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wildthorn

WildthornWildthorn by Jane Eagland
digital galley provided by NetGalley
Summary from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove longs to break free from her respectable life as a Victorian doctor's daughter. But her dreams become a nightmare when Louisa is sent to Wildthorn Hall: labeled a lunatic, deprived of her liberty and even her real name. As she unravels the betrayals that led to her incarceration, she realizes there are many kinds of prison. She must be honest with herself - and others - in order to be set free. And love may be the key...

My take:
Louisa Cosgrove finds herself at Wildthorn Hall, a hospital -- an asylum for insane women.  She thought she was supposed to be going to stay with a family as a companion to their daughter. When she arrives at Wildthorn Hall, she is addressed as Miss Childs and the more she insists that she is Louisa Cosgrove and that there has been a mistake, the more the director and attendant are sure that she is indeed insane. Her papers have been falsified and she has no one to turn to, for she is unsure of who has betrayed her. Thus begins this fast-paced story about Louisa's experiences at Wildthorn Hall.  The reader is given snippets of events in  Louisa's life in flashback that help to fill in the missing pieces needed to figure out exactly what happened to cause her to be locked up in an asylum and to find out who was behind the plot.

Because this book won't be out until September, I don't want to give away too much about the story. This book gives a disturbing look into the way women's mental health was viewed and how dangerous it could be to refuse to go along with accepted ideas on how women should behave.  Louisa is an intelligent, curious girl who wants to do more with her life than just be a wife and mother. She wants to be a doctor like her father. She has the aptitude and the desire, but because she is female, it is just not accepted by her family or society. The story is told from Louisa's point of view and the picture given of the treatment of the women in the hospital is depressing and heart-wrenching at times.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it for high school age and up. There is very mild lesbian content.

Rating: 4 of 5

Monday, July 19, 2010

Update for Monday, July 19th

This is just a quick recap of what I read last week and what I plan to read this week.

Books read last week:
Heart-Shaped Box: A NovelHeart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
WildthornWildthorn by Jane Eagland (digital galley from NetGalley) review should be up this week
Sisters RedSisters Red by Jackson Pearce
The Girl Who Played with Fire (Vintage)The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

Books I plan to read this week:
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's NestThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)Catching Fire  by Suzanne Collins
Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (this is a re-read)

I've been doing quite a bit of what I think of as "summer reading" or "reading for fun" lately - and there is nothing wrong with that. But, as I start working on next year's school/reading lists for the kids, I am also preparing my own reading list and that will include many more classics and literary fiction titles. So, you've been warned.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sisters Red

Sisters RedSisters Red by Jackson Pearce
borrowed from library
Summary from Goodreads:
Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris-- the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts fiercely alongside her. Now Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves and finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax-- but loving him means betraying her sister and has the potential to destroy all they've worked for.

Twenty-five-year-old Jackson Pearce delivers a dark, taut fairy tale with heart-pounding action, fierce sisterly love, and a romance that will leave readers breathless.

My take:
Scarlett and Rosie March are attacked by a Fenris – a werewolf- when they are young girls. Scarlett is severely scarred and lost an eye while protecting her younger sister Rosie. They grow up with the huntsman’s family and learn how to lure and hunt the Fenris. Scarlett feels that hunting down and killing every last Fenris while also protecting her sister is her duty in life. Rosie is the younger, more sheltered sister and she isn’t physically or emotionally scarred like Scarlett. Because she knows that she owes her life to her sister, she joins Scarlett in her mission to kill Fenris even though she wants to live a more normal life.


This sets up an interesting take on the Little Red Riding Hood tale. Jackson Pearce takes the old familiar tale and turns it around a bit. It appears that she has gone back to some earlier versions of the tale where Little Red isn’t quite the innocent little girl she is in the later Perrault or Grimm versions. The red cloak is an important aspect to the luring of the Fenris. It seems that the color red is irresistible to the Fenris, so the girls always wear one when hunting or baiting. In Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, Maria Tatar says:

Psychoanalytic critics have made much of the color red, equating it with sin, passion, blood, and thereby suggesting a certain complicity on the part of Red Riding Hood in her seduction.p. 17
I don't think complicity applies here, but knowledge of what will lure the Fenris and understanding why certainly does apply. So, Scarlett and Rosie bait the Fenris by wearing red, playing up their vulnerability as young girls and walking alone in isolated areas. They pretend to be helpless and then outwit and out fight the Fenris. In this way, the story is much more similar to older versions of this tale, where Red actually does a striptease for the wolf, stringing him along, and then excuses herself for a minute to relieve herself and then escapes. She outwits the wolf herself and has no need to be rescued by a male. I like it that in Sisters Red, Scarlett and Rosie are able to defend themselves and don’t need to be rescued either.

Rating: 4 of 5

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Keening

The KeeningThe Keening by A. LaFaye
digital galley provided by NetGalley
Summary from Goodreads:
Born into a family with artistry in their fingers, Lyza laments that her only talent is carving letters into wood. That is until her life is turned upside down when her mother succumbs to the influenza pandemic of 1918, which is devastating their small coastal town in Maine. With her mother gone, Lyza must protect her eccentric father, who runs the risk of being committed, especially now that he claims he’s waiting for the return of his dead wife. Can Lyza save her father and find her own path in the process?

My Take:
This novel is historical fiction in that it takes place in Maine during the 1918 influenza epidemic, but this is a dreamy, ethereal, ghostly story about Lyza, her artistic, eccentric father and the death of Lyza' mother. Mayra, Lyza’s mother, has always taken care of her artistic, sensitive, and some might even say insane, husband and made sure that their lives ran relatively smoothly. After her death, Lyza must contend with the real life problems that her mother handled so well. The story behind her father Evan’s eccentric behavior and artistic endeavors is fascinating and beautiful. This story haunted me while I was reading it as well as after I had finished the book. This book is listed as juvenile historical fiction and is relatively short, but I don’t think adults would find it too juvenile to enjoy. Recommend for juvenile, teens, adults.


Rating: 4 of 5

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Iron Daughter

The Iron Daughter (Harlequin Teen)The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
digital galley provided by NetGalley
Summary from Goodreads:
Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron Fey, iron-bound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her. Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's alone in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.

My take:
Meghan leaves her home shortly after making it back in order to fulfill her promise made to Ash in the first book, The Iron King, to return with him to Tir Na Nog. She finds herself a prisoner of Queen Mab in the cold and unfriendly Unseelie court with only an annoying phouka for company. Meghan is now stuck in the land of winter with all the hostile members of the Unseelie Court. Meghan is unsure of where her relationship with prince Ash stands – if there was ever a relationship at all or if it was all just a cruel ploy to get her to return to Tir Na Nog. Meghan feels lost and betrayed but still hopeful that Ash will come through for her.

When Meghan tried to explain to Queen Mab about the Iron Fey, she was called a liar and everything she said was dismissed. The changing of the seasons means the Exchange – when the magic scepter is brought from the Seelie court to the Unseelie court to mark the end of summer and the arrival of autumn and winter. After the scepter is stolen right under Queen Mab’s nose, the theft is blamed on the Seelie court and used as justification for war between the fey. Meghan and Ash vow to find and return the scepter in an attempt to stop all-out war between the fey. Thus begins the next part of the wild, dangerous and thoroughly enjoyable adventures for Meghan, Ash and Puck.

This, the second in the Iron Fey series, was just as much fun to read as the first book, The Iron King. I really like the world Julie Kagawa has created in this series. I still like the idea of the Iron Fey and I am anxious to see where this storyline will lead. There are new characters introduced and some familiar ones return in this exciting page turner. Puck is still a favorite – he is everything that he should be. The only thing that I am not crazy about is the Ash/Meghan pairing. The second book does a better job of making this relationship believable and Ash is much more sympathetic, but I just have a soft spot for Puck. I think that this book would be enjoyed by anyone who likes urban fantasy or faerie books, particularly young adults, but adults shouldn’t find it too juvenile.

Rating: 4.5 of 5

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tyger Tyger

Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars BookTyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton
digital galley provided by NetGalley
Summary from Goodreads:
Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.

Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby's right. The goblins are coming.

My take on it:
The goblins are coming --- and not just any goblins - really creepy goblins, namely the cat-sidhe. But not to worry, Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives to save the day. Maybe.

Tyger Tyger is the first book in the Goblin Wars series. I am not sure how many books are planned, but if the books to follow are as good as Tyger Tyger, I will read all of them. This book was such a pleasant surprise and a joy to read. I was extremely happy to read this story involving the Celtic mythology of the Fenian Cycle as well as some of the history of  early Ireland which, naturally, has to cover the Firbolg and the Tuatha De Danann.

I was hooked from page one and couldn’t stop reading until I had finished the book. I really liked Teagan and her brother Aiden and I just adored Finn as well as Mamieo and Teagan's mother, Aileen. I particularly liked the way Aileen’s paintings turned out to be accurate depictions of Mag Mell and its inhabitants. There is so much in this book that I loved. I loved the freegan who keeps showing up just in time, the nasty cat-sidhe were wonderful goblins, and there is quite a bit of Irish Traveller lore.

I don't want to give away too many spoilers so I will just say that I most definitely will be recommending this book to all my reader friends.

Rating: 5 of 5

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Iron King

The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Summary from Goodreads:
Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why. When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined--the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king. Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart. The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series.

My take on it:
First of all, I wasn't sure I would care for this book at all. I've read so many fairy books that I was afraid it would all just be old hat. I was so wrong. I love the old folk tales about the fey as well as traditional fairy tales and modern retellings. I also love it when someone takes these tales and does something new with them. I had a reaction to The Iron King similar to the reaction I had to Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: A Midsummer Night's Dream. Both of these stories were able to bring new life to old tales.


I loved the idea for the Iron Fey - grown out of the imagination of men who created the technology we so love and crave in our modern world. There is a steam punk quality to some of the creatures. My favorite iron fey creatures were the pack rats – little gnome-like creatures gathering “treasure” they find in the piles of junk and carrying it in packs on their backs. The concept of the Iron Fey is an interesting idea and although in this book it is shown to be mostly dark and menacing, it might be nice to see if there is any positive to it. Positive or negative, I think this is an idea worth exploring.

I loved Puck! -- Who doesn't love Puck?? I was not quite so sold on the Ash/Meghan pairing, however. I will withhold judgment on that relationship until after I have read the next book, The Iron Daughter. This is definitely worth reading!

Rating: 4 of 5

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Summary from Goodreads:
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with every one out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

My take:
Okay, first of all, I really didn't know what to expect from this book. I had seen it in book stores and even read the back cover but for some reason it just didn't seem like something I would like. I'm not sure why since I really like dystopian fiction.  I finally decided to read it after reading so many good reviews from other book bloggers that I respect. Now, I can't figure out why I didn't grab it as soon as it was available. I read The Hunger Games in one day and it was almost impossible to put down the book to have meals with my family.  The book is so action packed and the tension is so high and the characters are so very memorable. I want to rush out right now and buy the next book. I am about to start really gushing over this book, so I'll just say that between the story that is told and the characters that really stay with you - this book  is definitely worth reading.
Rating: 5 of 5

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bad to the Bone

Bad to the Bone
Bad to the Bone by Jeri Smith-Ready
Summary from Goodreads:

Turn On. Tune In. Drop Dead.
If you’re just joining us, welcome to radio station WVMP, “The Lifeblood of Rock ’n’ Roll.” Con-artist-turned-station-owner Ciara Griffin manages an on-air staff of off-the-wall DJs—including her new boyfriend Shane McAllister—who really sink their teeth into the music of their ‘Life Time” (the era in which they became vampires). It’s Ciara’s job to keep the undead rocking, the ratings rolling, and the fan base alive—without missing a beat.

For Halloween, WVMP is throwing a bash sure to raise the dead. They’ve got cool tunes, hot costumes, killer cocktails—what could go wrong? Well, for starters, a religious firebrand ranting against the evils of the occult preempts the station’s midnight broadcast. Then, when Ciara tracks down the illegal transmission, the broadcast tower is guarded by what appears to be…a canine vampire? And behind it all is a group of self-righteous radicals who think vampires suck (and are willing to stake their lives on it).

Now Ciara must protect the station while struggling with her own murky relationship issues, her best friend’s unlikely romance with a fledgling vampire, and the nature of her mysterious anti-holy powers. To make it to New Year’s in one piece, she’ll need to learn a few new tricks.…

My Take: Bad to the Bone was just as much fun as Wicked Game, only this time we get some new bad guys and get to learn more about our vampire DJs.  There is more exploration of the relationship between  our ex-con artist human Ciara and cool DJ vampire Shane. As their relationship develops, we are introduced to a weird semi religious cult group that is set on wiping out vampires and the DJs at WVMP in particular.

Ciara meets a new friend - a vampire dog she names Dexter. Dexter is a fun addition to the team. He is this big goofy mixed breed that looks more like a hell hound than a pet, but he turns out to be a loyal protector and really huge lap dog.

I enjoyed this book just as much as the first book in the series, Wicked Game. The bad guys were just plain creepy and I ended up actually feeling some empathy for  Shane's maker Regina by the end of the book! I hate to give away too many plot points - especially in a fast-paced book like this one.  There are so many questions throughout the book about who is conning who, is anyone really who they say they are, who can really be trusted? This is just a fun read plain and simple with surprises both pleasant and not-so-pleasant.
Rating: 4 of 5