Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Crewel (Gennifer Albin)

Title: Crewel
Author: Gennifer Albin
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Length: 360
Rating: 4.5/5

Sixteen year old Adelice is caught in a tangled web of the world, literally. Her parents tried to hide her secret talent for weaving the physical fabric of reality, but she is discovered and taken to join the elite, beautiful women who control everything in the world. Adelice is soon caught in a web of lies, political intrigue and forbidden romance and must decide if it is worth controlling the world when you’re not allowed to control your own destiny.

This science fiction/dystopia mix was a incredible fast read because the pace of the book just goes and goes and there is no stopping! I found it a little hard to picture the world as a series of intertwined strings that can be moved and rewoven, but really liked the concept overall.

Other things I liked: the names in the book were all so creative! Also, author Gennifer Albin lives in Kansas City, and I saw her at another author event the back in November. It was pretty great. Finally, what an awesome title.

As with most dystopias, Adelice struggles with control, trust, and the pressure to do her duty. How frustrating to have the power to control the world, but with someone always controlling you! I was a little disappointed that Adelice’s hardest decisions always forced her to her breaking point, almost cheapening the decision, really giving her only one viable option. It’s hard to explain without giving away the plot, so let me know if you’ve read this one and agree or disagree!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Off Season (Catherine Gilbert Murdock)

Title: The Off Season
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Length: Audio book: 5 discs, 6 hours
Rating: 4.5/5

After Dairy Queen, D.J.’s life is looking up. She’s successfully the only girl linebacker on her team and she’s almost got a thing going with Brian Nelson. Things go horribly wrong when her oldest brother Win is injured playing college football and D.J.’s life starts to fall apart. As autumn progresses, DJ must figure out football, boyfriends, best friends, and most of all, family.

You all know I usually hate audio books. But actor Natalie Moore brought the already beloved D.J. to life for me. I felt that D.J. was sitting in the car next to me on my roadtrip, talking about her life and trying to figure it out. I laughed out loud, I cried, and I wanted more of D.J. in my life!

All of the characters grow in this book, especially D.J., who learns that being in People magazine is not the worst thing that can happen to you. As the reader, you can’t help but continue to root for D.J. and the rest of her family and friends as they go through difficult times.

A wonderful sequel to a wonderful book!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Entice (Jessica Shirvington)

Title: Entice
Author: Jessica Shirvington
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Length: 438
Rating: 4/5

In this sequel to Embrace, Violet has embraced her status as a Grigori, part-angel and part-human, and her destiny to keep humans safe from vengeful angle exiles. As their battles with exiles heat up, Violet must come to terms with her partner Lincoln, even though their electricity can never go anywhere, and even though he seems to be keeping secrets from her. When all the exile trouble points back to Phoenix, Violet must also come to terms with him, and how powerful his hold on her still is.

While this book wasn’t quite as good as the first, and all the angle history and hierarchy was still hard to follow at times, this book also had a lot going for it. Violet continues to be awesome, never quitting and still trying to figure out who she is and how the guys in her life fit into that. And of course the romantic tension is still at the high level seen in the first book.  

I also liked all the new characters introduced in this book with the new Grigori- makes for much more excitement and interest. If you liked Embrace, you’ll enjoy the sequel, and look forward to the next book in the series!  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Shadow and Bone (Leigh Bardugo)

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Length: 358
Rating: 5/5

Alina is a perfectly ordinary orphan living in the war-torn nation of Ravka. But when she travels into the Shadow Fold, a dark place filled with monsters that divides Ravka and is the nation’s greatest weakness, everything changes. To save her best friend and fellow orphan, Mal, she summons power she didn’t know she had, and when her power is discovered, she is whisked off to the capital to join the magical elite Grisha. There, she is given every privilege and becomes the favorite of the most powerful magician of Ravka, the Darkling. But nothing is as it seems, and with darkness looming over Ravka, Alina must learn to control her power and escape control by others, including the Darkling.

This book was awesome. It’s fantasy, and pleased me down to the depths of my fantasy-loving heart, but not a fantasy so confusing as the scare off non-fantasy readers. It’s also a Russian-based fantasy, which creates a really great magically unique world.

The story arc in this book was brilliant, and everything tied in very neatly by the end, including the title.  Seeing things from Alina’s point of view put us right in the story, na├»ve and learning, just like Alina. All of the characters were complex, with more to them than expected, and I loved Alina and Mal most of all. And of course the Darkling was fascinating.

In an interview with Amazon, author Leigh Bardugo said, “The message at the heart of the story is basically that the things that you fear most in yourself, the things that make you different, are also the things that give you power. And that embracing them can make you beautiful.” THIS IS WHAT YA IS ALL ABOUT!

Pick this book up; you won’t be disappointed. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Reached (Ally Condie)

Title: Reached
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Books (Penguin)
Length: 512 pages
Rating: 4.5/5

Reached is the final book in the Matched trilogy (find reviews for Matched and Crossed here). Cassia has chosen to join forces with the Rising, a rebellion against society. But when things get out of hand, she finds herself paired with both Ky and Xander to find a cure for the disease that threatens to destroy everything.

Can we just pause for a second and love on the simple beauty of these cover designs? The green/blue/red symbolism continues to feature and shine in the final installment of the trilogy.

The first book started with the power of choice, and the question of what you could give up to have the freedom to choose. Cassia is swept up into something much bigger than herself when she makes her choice, and Xander and Ky make their own choices to be swept into the Rising as well. But nothing in this book is ever black and white, and there are some great moral dilemmas about choice, love, freedom, and who to follow.

I liked that this book was told from three narrative perspectives: Cassia, Ky, and Xander. I liked also that it wasn’t a simple love triangle. These characters were driven by more than just their love for one another, and Ky and Xander had their own significant relationship outside of their love for Cassia.

In the end, Reached was a satisfactory conclusion to an enjoyable trilogy. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Diviners (Libba Bray)

Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Length: 578
Rating: 3.5/5

It’s 1926 and seventeen year old Evie O’Neill is sent to live with her uncle Will in New York after a parlor trick in Ohio goes wrong. Evie is used to hiding her supernatural talent (until she gets to drunk on illegal booze, hence the trouble in Ohio). But after a girl is murdered and branded with a cryptic symbol, the police involve Will, and Evie finds that her talent might be the only way to solve the evil that has awakened with each new murder.

I love Libba Bray. Her stories always have the craziest twists, and she does a great job of blending genres together. The Diviners was a mix between historical fiction, the supernatural, and steampunk.

Sometimes it felt as if the book was doing too much to involve all these elements though. There were so many storylines and characters to keep track of with secondary characters all hiding weird secrets and secret talents like Evie’s. The book almost seemed a prequel or just a set-up to another book, which should have been called The Diviners, because the reader learns little about what the Diviners actually are in this book. I loved the detail, but the book is so long, and way too much to reread to remember all the detail before a sequel comes out. So my main complaint is that perhaps the editor should have been a little more heavy handed to make it an easier read (and then reread, because I’m definitely interested in the sequel).

However much wading through the storylines I had to do, I loved the scenes painted of the Roaring Twenties. The language and the setting in this book were amazing, and Bray clearly did her research to paint an accurate (but also supernatural) picture of New York in the 1920s. Who knew being a flapper could be so dangerous! Worth a read if you’ve got a little time on your hands!