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review: “wayfarer” August 10, 2010

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Wayfarer by R.J. Anderson.
HarperTeen // ARC // 304 pages.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Traveling ARC Tours.

Linden, a fifteen-year-old faery, has always lived in the Oak with her fellow faeries. But when the faeries of Oakenwyld are threatened with extinction, Linden is trusted with the last of their magic to go out into the human world to try and find faeries to help the Oak survive. Timothy has just been suspended from school and is staying at the house next to the Oak. Two worlds collide when the two teenagers meet and begin a race throughout England to find a cure for Linden’s people.

I thought that Wayfarer was a great companion novel to Spell Hunter. I think that it’s hard for the second book in a series to live up to the first most of the time, but I was pleasantly surprised by Wayfarer. However, it’s hard to write a review without comparing the two books. Where Spell Hunter has stronger characters, I felt like Wayfarer’s world building and general plot was much heartier than the first book.

(In other words, these two books complement each other perfectly, and when read together give readers the best of both worlds. I was lucky enough to read them on the same day, one right after another.)

Even though this plot had a lot more at stake (the Oak’s survival), I wasn’t as invested in Linden’s story as I had been with Knife. Linden’s character was almost at arms-length for me, and I had trouble relating with her. (It might have been because she was so innocent – which is not a fault; just not my personal preference.) Timothy, on the other hand, was so interesting and I loved watching his development throughout the story. He really changes drastically, but realistically!

I’m kind of at a loss about who to best sell this book to. I think it would work for younger teens reading at a higher level or for sensitive older teens who want faery stories outside of the urban/dark fantasy genre.

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IndieBound
SWAN catalog
R.J. Anderson

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review: “captivate” March 24, 2010

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Captivate by Carrie Jones.
Bloomsbury // Hardcover // 288 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Zara and her friends ended the reign of Zara’s pixie king father at the end of “Need” by trapping him in a iron-barred mansion. Now, all they have to do is make sure no pixies escape and everything will be fine…or so they think. By trapping Zara’s father, they’ve made way for a turf war between neighboring pixies, and for other pixie kings. But when Astley, a pixie king, shows his good side to Zara — she begins to wonder if all pixies really are evil. And when the stakes are raised, siding with the pixies doesn’t seem so horrible after all…

I really loved “Need” and was really pumped for “Captivate.” I came out with mixed reactions to the sequel. Overall, I really enjoyed the story and the new directions — but I did have some major out-of-character moments.

Zara was much more wishy-washy in this book, and instead of the smart heroine I loved, I had to read about her boyfriend issues over and over again in the first half of the book. And I honestly thought I was going to scream the next time that Nick called her “baby.”

What kept me reading was the immediate chemistry and intrigue between Zara and Astley. I’m not sure that Astley is truly “good,” and I’m not sure that I want him and Zara to get together, but I was so invested and interested in their scenes together — a thousand times more than Zara and Nick.

Now, I had really enjoyed Nick in “Need,” but he was reduced to a boyfriend doing nothing but “protecting” Zara by un-empowering her. This really bothered me!

Issie and Devyn are the cutest friends in the world, and I am so glad to see that they are continually being included in the story instead of being dropped now that Zara has a boyfriend!

And as for the plot, the beginning of the novel is very slow and took me a while to get into. But the last 100 pages flew by and the cliffhanger ending left me already counting the days to the sequel. I will definitely be sticking around for the third book, but I do hope that the Nick from “Need” returns this time around.

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SWAN catalog
Carrie Jones

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review: “darklight” March 17, 2010

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Darklight by Lesley Livingston.
Harper Teen // Hardcover // 320 pages.
Reviewed from copy.

After the events of last Halloween, Kelley and Sonny are separated — Kelley is in the mortal world, working on a new play while Sonny is in Faerie, trying to rid it of the wild hunt. Trying to accomplish their goals and reunite with one another proves difficult for both Kelley and Sonny. Kelley soon discovers that she has a new enemy who is determined to murder her and she escapes into Faerie with Fennrys Wolf of the Janus Guard. But things in Faerie are not perfect and Kelley will have to be very cautious about who she offers her trust to.

I love the world that Livingston has created and the myths that she draws on when writing the Wondrous Strange books.

That being said, I felt like “Darklight” fell a little bit flat for me. I think part of it was that everyone hyped about the book. And that it definitely suffered from a middle-book-syndrome, where the author opens up more questions without answering any from the first book. Also, this is not a stand-alone novel. Readers will definitely have to be familiar with “Wondrous Strange” to read this book — and it should be fresh in their minds before reading this one!

I really liked learning more about some of the characters from the first book — particularly Fennrys Wolf, and Kelley’s parents. The climatic scene at the end of the book was my absolute favorite and the cliffhanger ending made me immediately look up the release date for the third book.

While this wasn’t what I expected, I think the book did continue Kelley and Sonny’s story. I will be eager to see where Livingston takes them in the third book. I am positive that once I read all three books in a row that the second book will be less jarring. These books are an easy sell for teens, and I definitely have fans in my library. I expect we’ll get more when we read “Wondrous Strange” for Teen Book Club this summer.

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Lesley Livingston

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review: “what i wore to save the world” March 9, 2010

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What I Wore to Save the World by Maryrose Wood.
Berkley Trade // Paperback // 288 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

[Spoilers for the first two books in the series.]

After saving Colin from her mother, Queen Titania, Morgan is finally settling into her senior year. That is until she receives a mysterious message from Colin that sends her to Europe again to save the world from another faery plot. In her quest to save the world (yet again), will Morgan finally tell Colin of her half-goddess heritage?

The final volume in the Morgan series by Maryrose Wood does not disappoint. It’s another packed adventure through mythology, with clues sprinkled along the way.

Morgan is still as spunky as ever, and her relationship with Colin is sweet albeit a bit difficult at times. The faeries in this series are really interesting, and I like how the mythology grows and explains Morgan’s place in its history/mythology.

I did feel like this book was stretching my tolerance of coincidences — if you’re read the book you’ll know what I mean.

It’s hard to talk about the concluding volume in a series without giving anything away. But this ending volume left me satisfied and I felt like I was leaving the characters and their story in a good place before I closed the book.

These are fun, cute books — quick reads. Great for teens searching for a little chick lit mixed with a hint of faery.

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Maryrose Wood

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review: “ballad” March 1, 2010

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Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater.
Flux // Paperback // 360 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

After the events of “Lament,” James and Dee begin their school year at the prestigious Thornking-Ash Conservatory — a school for only the most talented musicians. While Dee is struggling to make sense of recent events — James is trying to get over Dee. But the faeries aren’t ready to leave James alone. When Nuala arrives, attracted to James’s musical gift, James is in danger all his own — especially when he begins to care for Nuala.

First of all, I will not call this book a sequel — it is a companion novel. Think “Ink Exchange” to Melissa Marr’s “Wicked Lovely.” Dee is there, but this is not her story — it is James’s.

I really enjoyed this novel, but I enjoyed “Lament” more.

Don’t get me wrong, I love James. I think he is absolutely fabulous as a character and I would *definitely* read more books about him.

Part of the reason that I didn’t enjoy “Ballad” as much is because I was expecting a direct sequel instead of a companion novel. (Which is my fault, and not the book’s.) But, the other reason is because I never connected with Nuala. It makes sense that I would difficultly connecting to Nuala because she is a faerie, but I didn’t have nearly as good as a grip on her character as I did with Luke in “Lament.”

Other highlights: James’s roommate and teacher. I loved the new supporting characters we were introduced to and I hope to see more of them. I absolutely loved how Stiefvater explained why the faeries were drawn to the students because of their musical talent. (I don’t remember if this was explained in “Lament” or “Ballad,” honestly, but I still love it.)

Nuala’s history and faerie destiny were simply fabulous and I love the way that the book ended. It left me with a wide smile on my face and fingers crossed that Stiefvater would be writing another faerie tale after finishing up the “Wolves of Mercy Falls.”

Definitely recommended, but make sure you realize this is a companion novel and not a direct sequel.

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Maggie Stiefvater

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review: “lament” February 24, 2010

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Lament by Maggie Stiefvater.
Flux // Paperback // 336 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Deirdre has played the harp for years, despite her fearsome stage fright that has her throwing up before every performance. And while she’s preparing for a music competition, she meets Luke Dillon — a flautist. Together, they play an amazing memorable performance right before Luke disappears again. Mysterious people, four-leaf clovers, and powers start appearing in Deirdre’s world and she knows just two things. One, that Luke is somehow involved and two, that’s she in some kind of danger. The problem is that Deirdre doesn’t realize just how much danger she’s in.

I absolutely loved both “Lament” and its sequel “Ballad” (review coming right after this one).

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of paranormal/urban fantasy/supernatural romance, right? So, this book was basically a no-brainer for me — I knew I had to have it the second I heard about it. (And for the sake of this minor discussion, I’m just going to keep calling the genre “supernatural romance” like I have it in my tags.)

Anyways, this genre has a basic formula: girl meets guy, there is romance, there is supernatural happenings. No one gets to credit inventing the genre. And no one is ripping off the basic formula from another author. What really sets supernatural romance apart — good writing, relatable character, mythology research, strong world building, non-stalker boys — is what I found in “Lament.”

(Yeah, you thought I had disappeared on a tangent, admit it!)

I immensely related to Dee — I used to have the worst stage fright in the whole orchestra! And let’s not talk about my first and only vocal solo where I promptly finished my part and ran off the stage to use the facilities.

And as amazing as the faerie world is (and it is!), what really and truly impressed me about “Lament” was Dee’s human life, particularly her family. There is an excellent backstory that would be really spoilerish to talk about, so I’ll just say that it serves as such a great underlying backbone to the story and I would really like to hear more about those events.

I would be remiss not to mention Luke (Dee’s love interest) and James (Dee’s best friend). Luke was a bit more developed, but since I knew James would have his own story in “Ballad,” I overlooked James’s lack of development in “Lament.”

Near flawless writing and a great story makes this a perfect buy for libraries with supernatural romance fans.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Maggie Stiefvater

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review: “how i found the perfect dress” October 26, 2009

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howifoundtheperfectdress

Why I Let My Hair Grow Out by Maryrose Wood.
Berkley Trade // Paperback // 240 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Spoilers for book one! If you haven’t read it, duck out now.

Okay, are we safe?

Here goes.

Morgan Rawlinson is back in the US after spending a summer biking across Ireland. Of course, that’s not all that she did. She also managed to fall for Colin, save some faeries, and discover that she’s actually a half-goddess. But planning the junior prom is turning out to be boring. Until Colin shows up, exhausted and unable to sleep. Morgan quickly discovers that Colin is being kept awake at night, summoned to dance for the faeries. Determined to save him (and have him as her date for prom!), Morgan sets out against all obstacles.

This book was just as fun as the first book. I spent a lot of my time laughing and getting weird looks from my sister.

I loved that Morgan was off to save Colin, and I liked a lot of the twists that the storyline took her through on her quest. Readers will get to meet more mythological creatures in this book. More is also revealed about Morgan’s heritage, that is so cool and awesome I don’t want to spoil it for you.

I was really happy to get to spend more time with Morgan’s family, particularly her little sister. (Okay, so I have a soft spot for little sisters.) I thought their interactions really helped me to understand Morgan even better in this book. And it was nice to see Morgan in her home element.

Even though I understand the reasoning behind her decision, I was frustrated that Morgan didn’t tell Colin about what was going on. (Colin is anti-faerie…meaning he’s a non-believer.) I really hope that this will be addressed in the last book (coming out in December!) because I think Colin needs to know if he and Morgan will ever have a true relationship.

Another solid read, definitely on par with the first book.

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Maryrose Wood

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review: “why i let my hair grow out” October 21, 2009

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whyiletmyhairgrowout

Why I Let My Hair Grow Out by Maryrose Wood.
Berkley Trade // Paperback // 224 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

What’s a girl to do after her boyfriend dumps her? Well, if that girl is Morgan Rawlinson, she’ll chop off her hair, dye it orange, and manage to get sent away by her parents to Ireland to get over it. Of course, this isn’t the vacation many teens would imagine — this is a bike tour of Ireland. Determined to hook-up with Colin, the guy who drives their luggage van, Morgan throw herself into the task. But when she ends up in a faery world, this wasn’t exactly what she had planned.

Okay, why had I never seen these books before this August? That is flat-out inexcusable, book publishing world. The books are funny, smart, and completely perfect for teenage girls. I mean, the cover alone will sell the book.

Morgan is equally mature and immature. Readers will easily relate to being the dumped one in the relationship and her subsequent choice to act out. I think they will also relate to her desire to do something to move on (whether or not they agree with hooking up with Colin…who knows).

The supernatural twist in the book surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it to happen like it did. And I didn’t expect what was happening to be true. (Morgan’s first forays into faery are passed off as a dream-like sequence. I’ll admit it — I thought she was hallucinating for sure. This is what happens when you live spoiler-free for books. I don’t read reviews without having read the book. I also don’t read backs of books even when I own the book. I just dive in. Little known facts about me as a reader.)

Anyways, I liked being surprised. It was nice. I read this one back to back with the next in the series and am eagerly awaiting the third.

My only serious beef? The books are only available in paperback. Which makes owning them at the library difficult. (My teens have no idea how to care for a paperback gently. None at all.) Difficult, but doable.

Quality fun, a quick breezy read.

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Maryrose Wood

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review: “wings” August 6, 2009

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wings

Wings by Aprilynne Pike.
HarperTeen // Hardcover // 304 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

Laurel’s just moved in to a new town and her parents have decided to stop home-schooling her, sending her instead to the local high school. Just after Laurel starts to get used to her life, and to her new friend David, she gets what she thinks is a zit on her back. A zit that…blossoms into a flower. Not knowing what to do, Laurel hides the wing-like flower, only showing David who immediately approaches the situation from a scientist’s perspective. As they struggle to understand Laurel’s wings, Laurel’s past bubbles up and after a visit to her home, everything changes all over again.

I have to say, I went into this book with high expectations (I had heard nothing but good things about it) and was mildly disappointed by the beginning of the book. Then, the middle hit and I was so caught up in the mythology of the story that before I knew, I had already turned the last page.

I’m not sure how I feel about Laurel as a character still. I liked David more than her, but I suspect that readers have only begun to see Laurel’s development (Pike has four books planned in the series) as a character. Towards the end of the book, I was so impressed by her that I almost forgave the slow start. Almost.

The discovery of Laurel’s wings and subsequent discovery of being a faerie were no shock to me; I had guessed from the title that she had to be a faerie and confirmed it for myself shortly after she was revealed to be a vegetarian/fruitarian/no artificial products eater. What makes this book truly unique is why, as a faerie, Laurel has a blossom for wings. I’ll leave that discovery for those who want to read the book.

I do recommend this book, particularly for tweens/teens who want to read the dark urban faerie tales (like “Tithe” and “Wicked Lovely”) but aren’t ready for the urban setting. Additionally, Miley Cyrus has just been attached to the movie version of the book. Plan on having several copies in your library.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Aprilynne Pike

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