Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey Book Review

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 11:45 AM
Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey
Publisher: Philomel/Penguin
Release Date: December 8, 2011
336 pages, Souls #1
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

“I can just imagine the recruiting poster. 'Ghost whisperers wanted: no experience necessary. Death wish and masochistic tendencies a must.”  ― Mary LindseyShattered Souls


Synopsis
Lenzi Anderson hears voices. First, it started off as just hearing static constantly. But now she hears different voices begging her for help. She is terrified that she's becoming like her father, a schizophrenic who committed suicide a year ago. Then, she starts seeing images when she closes her eyes. A grave, a stone angel, a boy with grey eyes. She's scared to tell her mother. She's afraid that she's going crazy and that she'll be locked up.

But then she meets the boy with grey eyes in real life. Alden tells her she isn't crazy; the voices are real. He reveals to her that she is a reincarnated Speaker, someone who can talk to spirits and resolve their problems so they can move on. He is her Protector, and he has filled that position for centuries. But for some reason, Lenzi can't remember any of her past lives. 

Lenzi has to choose between her life with musician boyfriend Zak and her destiny as a Speaker protected by Alden. But when a Malevolent spirit from the past- intent on killing her - tries to take over her body, Lenzi is forced to make a decision before it is too late. 

My Thoughts
I cannot gush enough about how much I loved Shattered Souls. First off, the cover is stunning. I am not usually into any covers with photographed models, but the color scheme is so striking. I also love how her dress and body transforms into rose petals. It's so beautiful. I actually bought this book because the cover caught my eye, and I am so glad I did.

The premise is awesome. The whole system of Speakers and Protectors is so inventive and a crazy twist on Ghost Whisperer and Medium and all those shows because the spirits actually inhabit the Speaker. The Speaker serves as a vessel, and the Protector has other purposes besides being just a bodyguard. The whole idea of soulsharing and a grading system for resolutions was wildly imaginative.  The whole Intercessor Council as a business, keeping files and documenting ghost resolutions, was another original twist. Each ghost was interesting, and I was fascinated by the interactions between Lenzi and the voices in her head. They were amusing, touching, and sometimes terrifying. The Malevolents were of the creepy Exorcist variety and were convincing villains. They were out to possess Lenzi's body which is scary.

The romance was out of this world. I loved Alden and Lenzi together, and overall, I just loved Alden. I was humiliated when I was reduced to a giggly little girl whenever Alden appeared. He was just delightful! He was supportive, compassionate, intelligent, and mature. So sweet and thoughtful. He's like the perfect guy any teenage mom would dream of for their daughter because he's centuries old (how can he not be mature?) and he is dedicated to protecting Lenzi from evil spirits. He actually said enlightening things. He could be so witty and clever. He wasn't overprotective or jealous to the point of annoyance. He didn't fawn over Lenzi until I wanted to gag, but he did pay attention to her and actually listened. Yeah, basically, I am all about Alden here. He has his weaknesses too so he's not sickeningly perfect either.

Lenzi was a great character too. I loved her origami interest, her love for music, and her sarcasm. She was a strong female lead. It took some time for her to believe Alden or to even be willing to talk to a spirit, but that was realistic. She had been through a lot with her dad and his illness. Despite her struggles with her Speaker identity, she really came through and proved herself.

The other characters kind of took a backseat, but I loved them. One of my favorites had to be Alden's dog Spook. He was such a cute addition. And my mom had a black cat named Spook before I was born. We always have to have a black cat. It was different to have a spirit sensitive dog instead of a cat. I liked it.  I adored Izzy. I love children, and Izzy was far from a spoiled brat. She was a sweetheart and very endearing. Race was funny and competition for Alden. Though very little competition. Maddi provided a girlfriend for Lenzi which was nice, seeing she had no friends. People tend to think you're crazy when you hear voices. Fancy that. Race and Maddi were both really supportive and loyal, and I hope to learn even more about them in upcoming books.

I was less than thrilled about Lenzi's continuing relationship with Zak. He seemed to have potential for alcoholism and physical abuse. Yet Lenzi never seemed to fully realize that. She forgave him too easily and ignored Alden's warnings. Understandably, she had just met Alden, but Zak was just a little too possessive and overbearing. If he wasn't coming on too strong, he was passed out drunk. It's a sad fact of life that many girls will end up with loser boyfriends and stick with them because of their insecurities. So I can try to understand Lenzi's situation. She had no friends besides Zak, and she was going through a lot with her father's death and the appearance of the voices. But I would still expect her to realize at some point that Zak was bad news. Even after she was fed up with him, she still thought he was a good guy.

Despite Zak's despicable character, I loved Shattered Souls just so much! I could not put it down! I cannot wait for the next book to hear more about Speakers and Protectors. Lindsey actually announced it will be a companion novel which will follow another Speaker and Protector pair. While I hate to lose Alden, I love companion novels because they offer a wider view of the world and introduce new characters. It is expected in 2014. AH! So far away! Yet I do think a sequel to Shattered Souls should be written because I felt the ending left me expecting more in the future.

But then she has Ashes on the Waves expected for 2013! This book is inspired by my favorite Edgar Allan Poe poem, "Annabel Lee!" And that sounds awesome! Can't wait!

Happy reading,

Courtney

Top 10 Characters You Would Switch Places With (2)

12:43 AM


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish and this week's Top Ten is: 

Top 10 Characters You Would Switch Places With For 24 Hours

1. Tessa Grey (The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare) - obviously, because of Will. Any way to get closer to Will. And to have the power to change my appearance so I look like others? Frightening but wonderful. I would have fun with that. So many pranks. 

2. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling) - She's my favorite character. She reads books all the time, she saves Ron's and Harry's butts constantly, and she is so brave. She's an only child like me. And who wouldn't want a wand and to go to Hogwarts for a day? 

3. Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling) - I absolutely adore Luna. She's so strange and amazing! Just as brave as Hermione and a loyal friend. 

4. Alina Starkov (Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo) - I would love to try out Alina's power and meet her male admirers - Mal and the Darkling. And to see Ravka! I loved that dark, beautiful world! 

5. Clary Fray (The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare) - I would love to be a Shadowhunter! To use a stele and kick demon butt! But I would also love to meet Jace. 

6. Juliette Ferrars (Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi) - I know Juliette's touch has the power to kill, but I love her boyfriend Adam. It's so sad that I'm choosing main characters because of their romantic interest. 


7. Any of the female characters from Tamora Pierce's world of Tortall. I would especially love to switch places with Alianne of Pirate Swoop. I love Aly. She was smart, clever, and so brave! 


8. Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins) - The main reason: archery. Of all weapons, I would love to be an archer and just rock at it. Plus, I wouldn't mind having an adventure like Katniss. Though Panem is a grim world. 

9. Beatrice "Tris" Prior (Divergent by Veronica Roth) - I would love to be Dauntless. But also to have an affinity for two other factions would be awesome. Just to see this world and well, Four. I'd love to meet Four. 


10. Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte) - My favorite book. Because I love all of the characters, Mr. Rochester especially, and the dark beauty of the landscape. I would love to explore Thornfield Hall.

Happy reading,

Courtney

Recommend A...First Book In A Series

Monday, July 30, 2012 11:25 AM

Recommend A... is a weekly meme hosted by Chick Loves Lit where a book is recommended every week following a prompt. This week's is Recommend A...First Book In A Series. 


A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Publisher: Simon and Shuster
Release Date: December 9, 2003

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.
Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.
I loved this series and this book started off the series wonderfully. Gemma is a fiery young woman who proves herself time and again. The other main leads, Pippa and Felicity, are somehow just as endearing. They really grow on you until you love them just as much. This book offers a taste of a dark, fantasy world explored by young women who are trying to find some adventure when destined to become compliant wives. With such strong female characters and a dark, otherworldly realm, this book and the entire series have become a favorite of mine. 
Happy reading,
Courtney


Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard Book Review

10:04 AM
Title: Something Strange and Deadly 
Author: Susan Dennard
Published: July 24, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Pages: 388
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“I'd heard of corpses awakening - hungry and dangerous though still quite dead.” 
― Susan DennardSomething Strange and Deadly

Synopsis
It's 1876 and something strange and deadly is in Philadelphia. 

Eleanor Fitt has a lot going on. Her brother Elijah is missing, her mother is pressuring her to marry quickly, and her family is suffering from lack of funds. She reads in the news that thousands of the dead are rising by the power of an unknown necromancer. Then, she receives a letter from her brother - delivered from a zombie! She fears that the Dead army has taken her brother. And it doesn't help that she keeps encountering a dark spirit they rose during a seance. She turns to the Spirit Hunters, a three man team who are the only ones standing between the city and an attack from the Dead. But her association with the Spirit Hunters risks her reputation and her life. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts
Something Strange and Deadly jumped right into the action from the beginning, and the book was fast paced and entertaining. Dennard offered a different spin on zombies.She twisted the usual apocalyptic, infectious zombie storyline and had a necromancer pulling the strings. I think the zombies provided an exciting contrast to the lace parasols and the need to fit into high society. Having Eleanor playing croquet one moment and battling zombies with a parasol the next was a wild idea, and I loved it. The mystery unfolded wonderfully and I found my eyes riveted to the pages as Eleanor and the Spirit Hunters had to research and uncover new secrets. The steampunk elements were a exciting addition to this historical fiction! The machinery and the Centennial Exhibition, with its numerous displays, gave a magical feel to the story. 

Something Strange and Deadly had a light touch of romance that I hope will continue in the rest of the series. While the romance wasn't a substantial part, it slowly developed and was convincing. The Spirit Hunters were also wonderfully developed. I loved each one of them, especially Daniel. His quick temper and cussing amused me. But he could also be compassionate and dedicated to his inventions. Eleanor was a strong heroine for the most part, and I loved the scenes where she beat up zombies. She was very outspoken, and I grew to respect and admire her. Her mother was abrasive and meddling. She had few redeeming qualities, and I didn't blame Eleanor for wanting to escape her mother's scrutiny. The maid Mary was also annoying with her nosy ways and need for bribery in order to keep a secret. But I felt each character offered something to the story, even if they were despicable. I even came to pity Clarence. But only a little. 

I do have some small complaints about Something Strange and Deadly. Maybe they're just my pet peeves. First off, I have never heard of people galloping. Technically, it could mean run fast, like a horse. But I just imagined Eleanor and Daniel running on all fours, neighing. And they galloped a lot. Secondly, as an English major, I cannot stand the word "ain't," and Daniel was saying "ain't" every other word. It ain't working for me. When the characters said "what in the dickens" or "humbug" or "shut pan," I had to resist rolling my eyes. I know it's a different time period, but I couldn't imagine these characters saying this. It didn't feel natural to me. Then, the book title was worked in a couple of times. And I wanted Daniel to stop addressing Eleanor as "Empress." I also found Jei's constant "yeah" at the end of a question to be obnoxious. 

Besides these issues, also found the protagonist of Something Strange and Deadly a tadbit melodramaticEleanor had her strong moments, and there were times when she was a formidable opponet. She fought zombies and risked her life several times trying to help. That is when she wasn't fainting or clinging to a man's arm. There were several times when Eleanor latched onto Daniel's arm, near to hysterics because of a revelation, and Daniel had to pry her fingers off of his arm. She seemed a little clingy and desperate for attention, as she grabbed anybody who was near. She could barely stand by herself. Once again, different time period, but I found her dramatics exhausting. Also, while the beginning started off at a fast pace and lured the reader in, I felt there was a lot that needed to be explained. Mainly, why are zombies so commonplace? Why are seances held regularly in drawing rooms without question? I needed more of a historical background, and I can only hope I'll have all these questions answered in the next book. And while I enjoyed the plot, I found it to be somewhat predictable. At least, I guessed most of the plot less than halfway through.

Maybe I was the only one bothered by the above concerns. I can be picky at times. But I would still recommend Something Strange and Deadly to any young adult paranormal or historical fiction fans. It was a refreshing read and very entertaining. 

Happy reading,

Courtney

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson Book Review

Saturday, July 28, 2012 1:25 PM
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Publisher: Greenwillow
Release Date: September 20, 2011
424 pages, Fire and Thorns series
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

“From the mouths of the innocents flows truth.” 
― Rae CarsonThe Girl of Fire and Thorns

Synopsis
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one. 

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will. 

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts
While The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a great read, it had a slow start. By start, I mean almost half the book. I don't know if I was in a funk, but it just took me awhile to get into this book. I tired easily of reading about Elisa's insecurities, her eating habits, and her difficulty to fit in. I felt the book truly started for me when she was kidnapped. 

Nonetheless, I loved how Elisa was not your stereotypical heroine. Not only was she overweight, but she really had to come far before she discovered herself. She did a complete 180 in The Girl of Fire and Thorns. I love watching the heroine's transformation in every fantasy book, and Elisa's newfound confidence and strength was so wonderful to hear about. Yes, she lost weight before she became confident, but I think that's understandable. Walking in the desert for months is going to do that to you. Plus, she still wasn't petite but she was fit. The message isn't about having to walk through a desert to lose weight in order to become who you need to be. The transformation started before Elisa even started losing weight. She changed not only in appearance but also in personality. 

I pitied Elisa time and time again. So much happens to her, but she still stands strong. I love that The Girl of Fire and Thorns offers so many twists and complex characters. You could hate a character and then love them later on or vice versa. The character development was still convincing though. Plus, the unpredictable romance was refreshing. Usually, there's a guy from the beginning that you know is going to be the romantic interest. It's indisputable. But this wasn't true for this book. 

Let me just say that Alejandro was one of my least favorite characters. I found him thoughtless, weak, indecisive, and neglectful. But he did have some redeemable qualities. As for the romantic interest, I would have liked some more scenes between the two lovebirds. The romance seemed to develop at such a fast pace, and more of a buildup would have been nice. But maybe that's just me. 

I was a little nervous about the monotheistic religion in The Girl of Fire and Thorns. I love fantasy that has polytheistic religions and tons of mythology. But while the religion is eerily similar to Christianity, it didn't become too preachy. It had its own unique elements, such as the Godstones and the animagi. The animagi were very formidable enemies. I wouldn't  want to come across one of them. 

Overall, this is a great read for fantasy lovers. I can't wait till the sequel The Crown of Embers which will be released September 18th. The prequel, The Shadow Cats: A Girl of Fire and Thorns Story, is already out. I will read it. It's actually on my Ipad already. It's really cheap and only about 65 pages. It tells the story of Alodia, the older sister of Elisa and the heir to the throne of Orovalle. 


Happy reading,

Courtney

Feature & Follow Friday and TGIF

Friday, July 27, 2012 3:49 PM


Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. For more details, click on the image above. 

Q: What was your favorite book you were required to read when you were in school?

That's a hard one because I loved reading books for school. For the most part. I was one of the minority who actually read the summer reading and didn't read SparkNotes. My favorites were A Brave New World, Angela's Ashes, and Catch 22. I would probably pick Angela's Ashes if I had to pick an ultimate fave. 


Such a touching and lovely book! One of my favorite reads ever. 

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TGIF is a meme hosted by GReads! Every Friday brings a bookish question. This Friday's question is: 

Christmas in July: If Santa were to come down your chimney in the middle of the summer, which books would you want him to leave under the tree? 

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare - Please bring me more Will, Santa! I am beyond excited to get my hands on this book! Love this series so much and can't wait to read more! Plus, the cover art is incredibly beautiful. I don't know if I can wait till next spring for this book!


The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victora Schwab - This book sounds so trippy and strange and so my type of book! When I heard about it and read its premise, the dead resting on shelves like books where each tells a story, I was already hooked. I have such high expectations for the first of this series. Santa, bring me this book before its publication date in January! I can't wait! 


Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey - I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I do it all the time. And this cover is enchanting. Plus, the storyline sounds fantastic. It's been very popular, and I've read reviews, but I want to read this book for myself. Dear Santa, please bring it now! 


Enclave (Razorland #1) by Ann Aguirre - Another dystopian book! Why not? In Enclave, you only earn the right to a name if you survive your first 15 years. Harsh. I've heard good things about this series, and I would love to read this first book before the sequel comes out in September. 

There's my Christmas list! It's really hot out but I'm still hoping for snow and a sackful of books! 

Happy reading, 

Courtney 

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman Book Review

Thursday, July 26, 2012 4:52 PM
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Release Date: July 10, 2012
467 pages, Seraphina series
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

“The world inside myself is vaster and richer than this paltry plane, peopled with mere galaxies and gods.” 
― Rachel HartmanSeraphina

Synopsis
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts
I was really excited for Seraphina. I expected it to be a new fave, but I was disappointed when I first started reading. It took me awhile to really immerse myself in the story. I was bogged down by all the detail and, honestly, a little confused. There was just so much to digest, and I think the beginning could have started off smoother. There was a lot of stuff that needed clarifying. When I finished, I was still unsure about some of the saints, like St. Ogdo, and what the Tanamoot was. Maybe I just missed some key details. I'm not sure. The glossary helped a lot and I finally found out some stuff I wanted to, but that was at the end of the book so I finished before realizing it was there. 

It took me till almost halfway through, but I did eventually enjoy the book. Very much so. It was slow-paced in the beginning so I read slower. But once I reached about halfway, I couldn't put it down. I loved hearing about the religion and culture of Goredd. The festivities and the worshipping of different Saints was so intriguing. Goredd was described beautifully, and I found myself falling in love with all of its eccentricities: the Countdown Clock and the beehive skep, Quighole and Treaty Eve.  The inclusion of the psalters and philosophy also really added to the story. Prince Kiggs and Seraphina quoted philosophers frequently, and the language was beautiful. 

The music had a central theme throughout. At first, I was reminded of band concerts and my flute lessons, of band camp and so many awkward memories trying to play my open holed flute. But then the music built upon itself, growing in strength and meaning throughout the book. It flows wonderfully and it has such a strong place in the book, almost a character itself. I loved how the songs communicated mood and a longing for the past. The song lyrics were amusing at times and poignant at others. I found myself drawn into songs I couldn't even hear, and Seraphina's love for music worked well with the plot. 

I loved Seraphina. She was outspoken, sweet and lovable. She really proved her bravery, even though she did not believe in herself. Plus, her abilities were so unique and her mind so strange. I liked it. I loved Prince Kiggs. He was adorable. And even Glisselda who could be very clever, when she wasn't high maintenance, and there was something so endearing about her, how oblivious she was to awkwardness. How she could crumble in despair and then be authoritative in the next second. Plus, Abdo, Dame Okra, and Lars and well, I loved so many characters. Orma especially! He's probably my favorite, or Kiggs, or Abdo. All of them were so awesome. I found the dragons could be funny without even meaning to be. Hartmann did a great job with character development. I cracked up every time the scrawny sackbut player was mentioned. 

Despite the slow beginning, I did come to love Seraphina and I will continue reading the series in the future. The dragons were unique, and I liked how the story added a new twist to dragon mythology. 

Happy reading, 

Courtney 

P.S. Fat Cat Reads A Lot - Seraphina Review




Fat Cat aka Pudgy aka Callie decided to read Seraphina with me this week. She purred during the romance scenes. Hissed at the drama. Her review: 

Meow meow dragons. Meow meow fantastic. 

She gave it 3 tails out of 5. She was upset there were no cats. 

Wishlist Wednesday (1) - The Child Thief by Brom

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 11:18 AM

Wishlist Wednesday is a meme hosted by Pen to Paper where you post a book on your wishlist that you are dying to have.


The Child Thief by Brom

Peter is quick, daring, and full of mischief--and like all boys, he loves to play, though his games often end in blood. His eyes are sparkling gold, and when he graces you with his smile you are his friend for life, but his promised land is "not" Neverland.
Fourteen-year-old Nick would have been murdered by the drug dealers preying on his family had Peter not saved him. Now the irresistibly charismatic wild boy wants Nick to follow him to a secret place of great adventure, where magic is alive and you never grow old. Even though he is wary of Peter's crazy talk of faeries and monsters, Nick agrees. After all, New York City is no longer safe for him, and what more could he possibly lose?
There is "always" more to lose.
Accompanying Peter to a gray and ravished island that was once a lush, enchanted paradise, Nick finds himself unwittingly recruited for a war that has raged for centuries--one where he must learn to fight or die among the "Devils," Peter's savage tribe of lost and stolen children.
There, Peter's dark past is revealed: left to wolves as an infant, despised and hunted, Peter moves restlessly between the worlds of faerie and man. The Child Thief is a leader of bloodthirsty children, a brave friend, and a creature driven to do whatever he must to stop the "Flesh-eaters" and save the last, wild magic in this dying land. (Goodreads)
What could be better to read than a dark retelling of Peter Pan? Not only has it earned outrageously high ratings from everyone, but it also has such an awesome cover! I've seen books by Brom before, and they always have beautiful artwork. I just want to buy them because they're so neat to look at! I mean I've watched Hook, and the Disney and other versions. Loved the one with Jeremy Sumpter! But I've yet to read a Peter Pan story. I want to! Especially this one. I can't wait to read this version! Unfortunately, it's 20 on Amazon. Boo. I like bargains. 
Happy reading, 
Courtney 

Top Ten Most Vivid Book Worlds/Settings (1)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 2:48 PM

Finally, I get to my blog. I've been running around all day like a crazy person. Changing my nephew's dirty diapers and going to the dentist's for a tooth filling. Then I have to buy an outfit for a job interview. Blah, nervous. But now, book blog time!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish, and this week's topic is:

 Top Ten Most Vivid Book Worlds/ Settings 

Obviously, there's going to be a lot of Harry Potters and Lord of the Rings shout outs on posts todays.

1. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King - This book series. I just can't say enough about it. If we could marry books, I would be engaged to this series. Stephen King is my favorite author, and not only is he the king of horror but the king of setting. In all of his books, I feel like I'm there. Do I want to be there? Not usually. Because it's flipping scary. But this world has a dark beauty that appeals to me.


2. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - Of course, I'm going to say this series because I am in love with it and plan to reread it soon. I have waited for years for my Hogwarts letter, and I'm still waiting. The Forbidden Forest, The Chamber of Secrets, Diagon Alley, Godric's Hollow, The Burrow, The Ministry of Magic, and of course Hogwarts! All these settings and more are so wonderfully described, and I think every reader of this series appreciates the magical world building.


3. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien- I took a class on Tolkien over winter break, and, god, did I love Middle Earth even more. I didn't think it was possible to love this world more but apparently it was! The Shire, Rivendell, Isengard, Mirkwood, and every part of this world is described so vividly. They journey over so much land and it doesn't feel tiresome because I can imagine going along with them, falling off the horse and on my a**. Tolkien spent so much time building this world, and you can tell. You get so much of the history from the Silmarillion. If only I could visit Middle Earth.


4. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova - You have to read this book before you die. It is utterly amazing! The author takes us around all of Europe, from Istanbul to France to the Mediterranean. And not only do we see different countries, we are also witness to different times. To Oxford in the 1930's and so on. It is a excellent book, and not just for setting!


5. Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub - Yes, another Stephen King book. But the Talisman has two worlds, both of them equally vivid. Jack can flip between our world and a parallel world, The Territories. Once again, King does not disappoint with detail.



6. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - The moorlands of Bronte's classic are described again and again. The setting is haunting, and the mood of the book often matches the weather.



7. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare- You can tell Clare did her research for this series. The series is set in Victorian London, and I just love the time period and how Clare makes the streets of London come alive.


8. Song of the Lioness and Daughter of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce - I have yet to read the Protector of the Small series, the Immortal Series, or the Beka Cooper series but I intend to. The two series I have read by Pierce so far have been so enjoyable. I loved the world of Tortall and I can't wait to read the rest of her series taking place there.


9. Aspect of Crow trilogy by Jeri Smith-Ready - I'm kinda cheating with this because I only read the first novel of this trilogy, Eyes of Crow. But I loved it and I will read the rest! I loved the mix of Native American culture and mythology. It's the perfect blend of fantasy and romance, and the world Smith-Ready builds is spectacular. A world where humans have totem animals and special abilities. Plus, there is a lot about the passage to The Other Side. The setting is just magical, otherworldly, and absolutely beautiful.



10. Leviathan (Leviathan, #1) by Scott Westerfield - I've only read the first book of this series as well, but I will continue! This book is so original and creative. It was my first experience with steampunk, and I was not disappointed. I loved the setting. Tensions are building as World War I approaches, but I hardly recognized the Allies and the Axis powers in this book. I hardly even recognized Europe with these Darwin ships that are alive. It was such an exciting read and such an exciting world so unlike our own.


I recommend all of these series. Get lost in another world!

Happy reading,

Courtney

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher Book Review

Monday, July 23, 2012 2:23 PM
Title: Incarceron
Author: Catherine Fisher
Published: May 3, 2007
Publisher: Dial
Series: Incarceron #1
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction, Dystopian
Pages: 442
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“Only the man who has known freedom can define his prison.” 
― Catherine Fisher, Incarceron

Synopsis
Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology -- a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber -- chains, great halls, dungeons. 

A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. 

But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device -- a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn's escape is born...(Goodreads)

My Thoughts
Incarceron has received mixed reviews. From what I can tell, people either hate it or love it. In the beginning, I was unsure as well. While the premise was astounding in its originality, there was just so much to take in, so many things I was confused about. The plot was very complex and I felt like it was messing with my mind. The pace was also slow at first, and I found it difficult to keep interest. 

But I am happy I kept reading because Incarceron had some wonderful, unpredictable twists, and the storyline really came together for me. The story was like nothing I had ever read before. It was refreshing to read something that didn't remind me of any other book. To think of a prison that is a whole world and alive. The limits of this prison seem to be never ending, and it is filled with all sorts of wonders like metal forests and towers in the sky. 

And the idea that the Outside completely froze itself in time appealed to me. While half the population was stuck in Incarceron as an experiment, trying to create a Paradise for the demented, the criminal, and those who were considered useless, the rest of society had to follow Protocol and stay in Era. They were no longer allowed to invent or create. They had to live in a Victorian era in order to stop the movement of time and hopefully eliminate war and deadly progress. I loved the beauty of the landscape and how Fisher described each scene vividly, focusing on the flowers and the scenery. 

The characters in Incarceron were also intriguing. While I may not love every character, I wasn't supposed to. They were compelling and I wanted to hear more about their stories and histories. I found their unexpected loyalty and strength appealing, and I loved how the Outside and the Inside both had such deadly stakes when it came to forming relationships and maintaining connections. Even though Claudia was spoiled and haughty, I admired her greatly. And Finn had his weaknesses, but he had a kind heart and a need to move forward. 

The storyline is a little complex, and I'm still not entirely sure who the Sapienti are. I hope I get a clearer idea in the next book, Sapphique. And there are still a lot of unanswered questions I have. But overall, give Incarceron a chance and keep reading even if you get frustrated. It's like nothing you read before, and it has a remarkable story. 

Happy reading,

Courtney 

Review: The Passage by Justin Cronin

11:42 AM

Title: The Passage 
Author: Justin Cronin
Published: June 8, 2010 (first published January 1st 2010)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Series: The Passage #1
Genre: Adult Horror, Paranormal
Pages: 784
Source: Gifted
Rating: 5 stars
“We live, we die. Somewhere along the way, if we're lucky, we may find someone to help lighten the load.”
― Justin Cronin, The Passage

Synopsis
“It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”
First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
The Passage was absolutely fantastic! Yes, it was almost 800 pages, but even at that length, I just did not want this book to finish. It terrified me, it moved me, almost made me cry a couple of times. It was a dark, wonderfully written book and I am so happy that there is more to come. Two more books!

The premise of The Passage is the usual man plays God, military infects convicts with a vampiric virus in order to make the perfect weapon until the vamps break loose and the United States has a bit of an infestation problem (understatement). One girl, Amy, who is also a lab rat, is the only hope for the world.

Recommend A...Book You Read This Year (1)

11:19 AM
The blog Chick Loves Lit now hosts a weekly meme for bloggers called Recommend A... This week's is Recommend A...Book You Read This Year.


Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

I read this book during my senior year at college because my good friend, who I trust with fantasy recommendations, insisted that I read it. I am so disappointed that I hadn't read it before. Despite all of my college work, I sped through this book and was a little antisocial while I read it.

The son of the Captain of the Guard, Finn is told at the age of nine that he will have to sacrifice a pound of flesh in order to save his kingdom of Lumatere. He stands on the rock of three wonders and mixes his blood with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar's cousin Lucian to protect Lumatere. But shortly after, the peace of Lumatere is ruined during the five days of the unspeakable when the royal family is brutally murdered in the palace. An intruder seizes the throne and The Forest Dwellers are blamed and burnt at the stake. Their leader curses Lumatere by trapping all those that remain inside while Lumaterans outside the walls are forced to remain exiles that die in fever camps. The curser proclaims that the curse will not end until the rightful heir returns. Ten years later, outside Lumatere, Finn is told to go to another rock to meet the novice Evanjalin. She claims that Prince Balthazar, the rightful heir to the Lumatere throne, is still alive and that she can lead Finn and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. But Evanjalin carries secrets and Finn doesn't know if there's any hope for a united Lumatere. Yet he follows her, discovering there may be more to him and his destiny than he ever knew.

This book is definitely a worthwhile read. Marchetta is a wonderful storyteller, and I enjoyed hearing about the gods and the different kingdoms. The world she builds is exciting and rich with political intrigue, and the reader gets to explore this world as the main characters travel on their journey across several kingdoms. We learn so much about the alliances and relations between the different kingdoms and we also hear the sad story of the Lumateran exiles hanging on by a thread. Plus, the characters are pretty awesome. I especially loved Finn and Evanjalin. They are two strong leads for this story, and Marchetta smoothly shifts from one POV to another, allowing the reader into the thoughts of different characters. This is recommended for anyone who loves young adult, fantasy, or just a good read.

Happy reading,

Courtney

Review: Matched by Allie Condie

10:43 AM

Title: Matched
Author: Allie Condie
Published: November 1, 2010
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Series: Matched #1
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Pages: 369
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes part of theirs.”
― Ally Condie, Matched

Synopsis
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
It seems dystopia novels are very popular right now. While Matched didn't quite reach Hunger Games standards, I was pleasantly surprised by this first book of the trilogy. Matched was a blend of The Giver, The Hunger Games, and many other beloved books. While it wasn't necessarily unique, it was an entertaining story.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo Book Review

Sunday, July 22, 2012 11:26 PM
Title: Shadow and Bone 
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. 
Series: The Grisha #1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 358
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“People, particularly big men carrying big rifles, don't expect lip from a scrawny thing like me. They always look a bit dazed when they get it.” ― Leigh BardugoShadow and Bone

Synopsis
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts
Shadow and Bone was amazing! I don't know what hooked me. I guess the premise is what really lured me in, but there was just so much to this book that I loved.

I loved the Grisha in this story. Their different colored robes and ranks were neat, and I thought their different callings were interesting, like the Inferni and the Tidemakers. I really would love to hear more about the history of the Grisha. Is there any explanation for their existence? But I figure we will learn more about them in later books.

The characters were very well-developed. I loved Alina. It was nice to have a heroine that didn't annoy me for once. She was a very strong character, even with her flaws. I also really loved Mal. Mal could be so adorable at times, and he was a loyal friend. Who doesn't love a friendship formed between two orphans who had no one else? It's so sweet and it is wonderful to see how strong their friendship is when it is tested by change. The Darkling was very persuasive and alluring. I found myself loving him, and I thought he was sexy. How could he not be? He was so powerful and seductive. You will fall for him too if you haven't read this yet.

The setting is dark and yet so alluring in its dark beauty. Bardugo does such a great job with the world building. I especially thought the use of foreign words like kefta and such was a nice touch. The names were also creative and unique. Everything had a distinct Russian influence, making the book so original in setting. The only complaint I had was with the one name, David, which kind of stuck out like a sore thumb.

So, I was looking at Leigh Bardugo's site. It's just amazing. Not only was she born in Jerusalem, but she also moved to Los Angeles and attended Yale University. She's also the singer of the band Captain Automatic, and she's a talented makeup artist fascinated with glamour and ghouls.

She's as adventurous as this book! Here's the site: http://www.leighbardugo.com/books/. It has some new features on the way, but it currently has the book trailer, some news about where Bardugo will be next, and even some recipes from Ravka. Not to mention Bardugo reveals some of the historical inspiration for her world.

This book is a new favorite! Definitely my favorite so far for the year! I cannot wait until Siege and Storm in 2013!

Happy reading,

Courtney
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