Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Slide by Jill Hathaway

Title: Slide
Author: Jill Hathaway
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (March 27, 2012)
Source: ATW ARC Tours

From GoodReads:

Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered. 

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body. 

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane. 

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again. 

Slide by Jill Hathaway is an interesting book. Technically, the plot deals with something that could be considered paranormal (sliding into someone else's body...sounds paranormal to me), but actually, it reads more contemporary. Now, if you're not a fan of contemporary, but you're a fan of paranormal, you'd still probably enjoy this. Actually, if you're a fan of either genre, you'd probably enjoy it.

I really liked reading Slide. Lately, I've read a lot of books not in my usual genre that were good, but not great. I've had to take breaks while reading them because they didn't hold my attention well enough. I'm pleased that this wasn't my experience with Slide. It felt out of my genre because of the contemporary feel, but it was a very intriguing, quick read. I actually finished it in one sitting.

Besides Vee's unique ability, the story was captivating because of the characters and the mystery. All along, we're trying to figure out several things at once. First, the murder is unsettling and Vee is desperately trying to figure out who did it. Second, Rollins is being more distant. Vee doesn't know why and doesn't know how to fix their relationship. Third, there's this new boy Zane that is attractive and brimming with secrets. And that's all I'm going to say, but there's even more mysterious behaviors from other characters.

Trying to piece together these mysteries and figure out which ones fit together and which are unrelated definitely kept my attention throughout the story. I thought Hathaway's choices as far as what to include in the web of interrelated actions and what to cast off as separate was well thought out. Bits you think might be connected aren't, and things you didn't think would be connected are. It's good. I was able to figure some of the things out (in general, not all the details) but there was enough surprise to keep me intrigued.

Overall, Slide was an intriguing, fast read that I'd recommend to anyone who reads the summary and thinks they might be interested. Content wise, it's not for everyone, but that's why you should read the summary first.

Final thoughts:  Buy or borrow. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Magic Under Stone by Jaclyn Dolamore

Title: Magic Under Stone
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore
Publisher: Bloomsbury US Children's (February 28, 2012)
Source: Netgalley

***Warning: This review contains spoilers from Magic Under Glass. Click here to check out my review of Magic Under Glass on the YA Literature Review Blog.***

From GoodReads:

For star-crossed lovers Nimira and Erris, there can be no happily ever after until Erris is freed from the clockwork form in which his soul is trapped. And so they go in search of the sorcerer Ordorio Valdana, hoping he will know how to grant Erris real life again. When they learn that Valdana has mysteriously vanished, it's not long before Nimira decides to take matters into her own hands—and begins to study the sorcerer's spell books in secret. Yet even as she begins to understand the power and limitations of sorcery, it becomes clear that freeing Erris will bring danger—if not out-and-out war—as factions within the faerie world are prepared to stop at nothing to prevent him from regaining the throne.

Magic Under Stone by Jaclyn Dolamore is another book that I have been highly anticipating. I absolutely adored the enchanting Magic Under Glass and could not wait to continue Erris and Nimira's story. 

At the end of Magic Under Glass, I felt like the adventure was just beginning for Erris and Nimira. It was just as much a beginning as an ending. Idealistically, I always hope for a happily ever after, even though I know that there needs to be some conflict for the story. What I enjoyed about Magic Under Stone is that there is conflict -- conflict that should've been obvious, but I hadn't even thought of -- between Erris and Nimira, but their feelings for each other are still very clear. Erris struggles with living inside a clockwork body, while Nimira frets over how this has impacted him and if she made the right decision in trying to save him this way. It creates a wonderful and believable tension between them without creating a complete rift. With so many romances turning into love triangles, it's always refreshing when it doesn't. Both characters have very realistic reactions to an inconceivable problem.

Dolamore did a fantastic job blending all the stories of the characters we met in Magic Under Glass, while also introducing new characters and stories. Of all the new characters, my favorite was Ifra, the jinn. He has a complex and tragic story, just as Erris does, and his journey makes me feel for him. Magic Under Stone is told in third person and there are chapters that focus on Ifra's perspective. His story is very important to Nimira and Erris's, but was also very touching on its own. I would love to read more about him and I was always eager to see his chapters.

What sets Magic Under Stone apart from other fantasy books about faeries is the style of the writing. The pacing and the style is so unique, I can only describe it as enchanting. When thinking about all that happens in Magic Under Stone, I am surprised at how leisurely the pace felt. There was definitely urgency to continue reading to find out what happened, but the writing itself wasn't urgent. While having a complex plot and many character stories, the novel was woven together so well, that it felt simple, easy, and natural.

Magic Under Stone ends similarly to Magic Under Glass. There is a conclusion to the specific plot points in the book, but a new adventure is just beginning. I absolutely can't wait to read the third edition of this series.

Final thoughts: Buy it. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

Title: A Temptation of Angels
Author: Michelle Zink
Publisher: Dial (March 20, 2012)
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers

From GoodReads:

When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world's past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility. Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel. 

A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink is an interesting book. With all the angel books out there lately, I found this one to be quite different. Between the time period, setting, and unusual mythology, A Temptation of Angels is not your average angel book.

I can't recall a specific time period being mentioned, but the overall feel and references used point to a historical setting. This book definitely has a historical feel to it, but is not encumbered with long descriptions or details of the setting like many historical books are. The historical feel comes more from the settings, actions of the characters, and the pacing. I found the pacing to be a little slower than other books, but it was very steady. Usually a slow pace bothers me, but it didn't bother me with this book, particularly after the first fifty pages or so.

The mythology of the angels was interesting, but I'm not sure I completely understood all of it. There is the Dictata, the Keepers, the Alliance, the Legion, etc., and I couldn't keep it all straight as I read. It wasn't overly complicated; instead, I felt as if each faction was barely touched upon. A sentence each to explain the groupings, then they were referenced without further information. Now, I'll fully admit I was sick when I read this, so maybe my brain was a little too cloudy to put it all together.

My favorite aspect of the book was the relationships (surprised?). There are some complex relationships and there is also a little romance. In a world where the bad guy always gets the girl and the good guy is left out, I was pleased to read that Helen was attracted to the nice Channing brother, Griffin. In fact, Darius was never even considered. (Yay!) Don't get me wrong, I like Darius as a character and readers will come to see that there's more to him than initially meets the eye, but I liked that the nice guy was the only brother vying for Helen's attention. Now, that's not to say there isn't any other romantic interest...it just doesn't come from Darius Channing.

I'm not entirely certain A Temptation of Angels will have sequels, but it seems appropriate for there to be more books. I'd definitely be interested in reading them, but there was no major cliffhanger ending (thank goodness!).

Final thoughts:  Borrow. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Title: Wanderlove
Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (March 13, 2012)
Source: Arc

From GoodReads:

It all begins with a stupid question: Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery.

When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward. But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry into this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story

There is so much to love about this book. From the opening pages, I couldn't help but think of JRR Tolkien's epic quote - "Not all who wander are lost." Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard is a story about a girl who is trying to find out if there is more to life than a broken heart and an uncertain future.

I read Wanderlove as I was going on a journey of my own - a cruise with a friend. And, even though we definitely had luggage and an itinerary, I still felt a certain kinship with Bria. I remember those days of wanting to do something amazing and different - and being scared at the same time. I am the girl who would have done exactly what Bria did - signed up for a safe trip with tour guides and a plan. While I would like to think I am adventerous, I am also scared to travel too far off the beaten path.

In Wanderlove, author Kirsten Hubbard creates a character that is so perfectly imperfect that she feels instantly like your best friend. Bria tries to do it right - from reading the guidebooks and buying the "perfect" travel clothes. Her heart hurts, but she's willing to try and do something on her own terms. It is only when she lands at the airport that she realizes she has signed up for just another version of her normal life. So, when she is invited to really experience what it means to travel through South America, she (tentatively) jumps at the chance. It is only when she leaves the safe path that she realizes how much beauty, danger and hope is in the world.

Reading Wanderlove made me want to chuck my safe life for a few weeks. It made me want to really experience the majesty of the world around me. Through Bria's eyes, I was able to see a world full of so much that we are simply too busy or too blind by our own lives to see. I want to go to a place where my phone doesn't work and actually getting online is an effort. I want to find a place where I can learn to be myself - and rediscover who that really is.

Wanderlove is a beautifully crafted book. There is no denying that. But, the true power in the story is the longing it creates in you to shut the covers, go outside, and discover something new. While we can't all just leave our lives and travel to a foreign country, Hubbard reminds us that there is something waiting to be discovered right outside our doors. Since reading Wanderlove the first time, I have read it two more times. Each time I discover something more about Bria and her journey. I find another character to love. I find another moment in time to cherish. And I find another place to dream of going someday.

Final Thoughts: Wanderlove brings out the journeyer in your heart. Buy it. Then go on a trip and leave it at a hostel for someone else to read.