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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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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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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: “betrayals” March 14, 2010

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Betrayals by Lili St. Crow.
Razorbill // Paperback // 304 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

[Spoilers for the first book!]

Dru Anderson is still reeling from her father’s death, her best friend transforming into a werewolf, and the discovery that she’s not entirely human — she’s part vampire. Now at a school for all creatures supernatural, Dru’s supposed to be safe. But when have the school is attracted to Dru’s blood, there’s fights every single day, and Dru develops the sneaking suspicion that someone wants her dead — no one is truly safe.

I did wind up liking “Betrayals” better than the first book in the series, “Strange Angels.” The series still has some flaws, but I really enjoyed the character development, and the further world-building that took place in the latest installment.

“Betrayals” was an action-packed ride from beginning to end. Dru got into fight after fight, and I raced along with her to finish the book. Once I closed the book, I didn’t have a sigh of relief though — I was still wondering where Dru would be going next.

The character development is much, much better in this volume. Dru finally allows some of her walls to break down and readers are finally able to see beyond her tough girl exterior.

And, I finally felt like the love triangle actually showed up — both Christophe and Graves were present, and both seemed like viable boyfriends this time around. I’m actually okay with either of them being with Dru — each one has pluses and minuses.

I will definitely be picking up the third book when it comes out this summer, but will be getting it from the library still. A great improvement from the first book.

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Lili St. Crow

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review: “shadowland” March 11, 2010

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Shadowland by Alyson Noel.
St. Martin’s Griffin // Hardcover // 368 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

[Spoilers for the first two books.]

I was not a fan of this book.

When I read “Evermore,” I was pretty excited about the series and where it would lead; the series had room to grow and evolve from its steady beginning. “Blue Moon” was slow, and dragged a bit, but I was still interested and figured Noel would wrap up the story in the third and final volume, “Shadowland.” Then, the contract was extended from just a trilogy to an unending series. (As of this writing, there are two more books planned and titled.)

Ever hasn’t grown at all throughout these three volumes. She makes the same mistakes over and over again. She infuriates me over and over again. Damen seems washed out from his characterization in the first volume, a shadow of himself.

Haven and Miles (Ever’s friends) have become caricatures of themselves, popping up only as mild comic relief during Ever and Damen’s drama.

I never liked Roman, and felt like he was thrown in during an “oh, I killed Drina, I need a villain moment.” And now we have a similarly dropped in character in Jude, who is also part of Ever and Damen’s past, now here to change their relationship.

So much of the plot was a twisty rollercoaster ride that I often lost track of which turn I was in.

My older teen readers have lost interest in these books, and my younger teen readers aren’t ready for the mature themes. I don’t even know who to sell this series to anymore.

I still think Noel writes well, and that the covers for these books are truly amazing. I might be willing to try one last time for “Dark Flame” in June, but at this point (months after reading “Shadowland”), I’m frankly not liking the idea of reading another book about Ever.

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Alyson Noel

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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: “fade out” March 8, 2010

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Fade Out by Rachel Caine.
Signet // Paperback // 256 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

[Spoilers for the first six books!]

Now that the town of Morganville is safe from the evil vampire Bishop, Claire and her friends can go back to being normal. Well, as normal as a teenage genius, goth girl, ghost-turned-vampire, and son of a vampire hunter can be anyways. Eve tries out for a play and makes the cast, bringing documentary maker Kim into Claire’s life. But when Kim goes missing, it becomes clear that her documentary isn’t what it seems — and that it puts Claire, her friends, and Morganville in danger.

I think this might be my favorite Morganville book ever.

But, first, a little bit of history. Morganville was originally a six book contract, so the main story wraps up at the end of book six. Caine’s contract was renewed, so she decided to just create new stories in the same world.

I LOVE THAT.

I am so utterly sick of these long twisty no-end-in-sight paranormal series that I want to scream sometimes! And Morganville doesn’t drag out story lines. And this particular volume is one complete story! It doesn’t mean that we have answers to every question, but I felt such a wonderful satisfaction after closing the book.

The characters in Morganville are so well-written. I love their continued development and emotional journeys, particularly Claire and Shane. What is also so refreshing about these books are the vampires — Amelie and Myrnin are alternatively very human or absolutely terrifying. Neither of them broods, really. (Yeah, another vampire trait I’m sick of!)

My teens and I love this series. We’re working on way through it in Book Club. We have two copies of each book in the library and they are never on shelf! (Or when they are, they’re only back for taping and repair.)

Definitely recommended, one of my favorite vampire series.

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Rachel Caine

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review: “deadly little lies” March 7, 2010

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Deadly Little Lies by Laurie Faria Stolarz.
Hyperion // Hardcover // 304 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

[Spoilers for Book One — Deadly Little Secret.]

Camelia and Ben have parted ways, and Camelia is heartbroken. Trying to remain close to him, she’s been studying psychometry — Ben’s psychic gift that allowed him to save her from a stalker last fall. But it appears that Camelia isn’t out of danger yet — she soon begins receiving cryptic notes and living through truly spooky situations. And while Camelia wishes she had Ben around, she starts to suspect if Ben might be behind all this when he comes back into her life.

I’m going to be utterly honest here — this novel was basically a slightly tweaked version of book one in the series. Camelia was in danger, she didn’t know who to trust, she didn’t try to get help from anyone, and she made a lot of the same mistakes.

I was so disappointed that the story didn’t move further. I feel like a lot of pressure is placed on authors to turn around one book per series per year. (You can see this in Alyson Noel’s “Immortals” series — the faster she had to write the books, the worse they keep getting.) And I feel like the “Deadly Little” series is suffering from the same kind of issues.

Camelia doesn’t strike me as a very strong heroine, and it really bothered me that she didn’t make any changes when it appeared that she was once again being stalked.

I still think that Ben and Camelia have a better relationship than other paranormal romances, but the series is seriously losing steam for me — and it’s only book two.

I’ll be reading the third book, but I might be throwing in the towel if it doesn’t improve.

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Laurie Faria Stolarz

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review: “splendor” March 5, 2010

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Splendor by Anna Godbersen.
Harper Collins // Hardcover // 400 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

[There will be spoilers for the first three Luxe books.]

Elizabeth, Diana, Penelope, and Lina are back for a fourth installment of The Luxe series. Elizabeth, newly wed, prepares for her child’s birth; Diana goes after Henry; Penelope is stuck in a loveless marriage; and Lina is independently wealthy and finally a part of Manhattan society. Four girls with very different goals will chase their dreams and try to find true happiness.

I am not a big historical fiction reader, but I absolutely love The Luxe series! It’s got just enough history mixed in with society drama — these books remain some of my favorites.

Without giving anything away, the conclusion of this book and series was not the happy ending that I wanted for all of the girls. At first I was angry that one girl didn’t get the ending that I wanted for her, but after having some time to cool off I realize that this ending was so fitting for the series. Things aren’t always a happy ending — romance isn’t always a happy ending!

Having been with these characters for the past three books, I only want to comment that each of the girls remained in character for me. I though each of their actions (and subsequent consequences/reactions from surroundings) were really fitting.

I think the hardest thing for me is knowing that the series is over. I still feel a bit of melancholy each time I think about it. However, I *just* found out from Sarah at GreenBeanTeenQueen that Godbersen has a new series coming out about girls in the 1920s. I squealed when I found that one out!

I’d love to comment more about the very detailed endings of the book, but I think I shall have to save that for another post at another time.

But if you haven’t read this series, I highly recommend it!

Amazon
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The Luxe Official Site

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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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