Friday, March 30, 2012

Book Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Title: Article 5
Author: Kristen Simmons
Genre: Teen Fiction, dystopian
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
ISBN-13 Book: 9780765329585
Disclosure: I checked out a copy of the book from my public library for review. This is my honest review!

Article 5 (Article 5, #1)Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary
The United States wasn’t always run by the Moral Statutes, there used to be the Bill of Rights.  Now in this post war society, people are policed by soldiers, who arrest you instead of fining you, who imprison you, with or without a trial, and sometimes you never come back.  Ember has tried to keep her nose clean, not give the Moral Militia any reason to arrest her or her mother.  Until one day they come for her mother who has violated Article 5.  Both she and her mother are taken away, perhaps never to see each other again.  Worst of all, the one arresting her and her mother, is the boy she thought she loved. 

Review
Article 5 is one of those books that hooks you from the very beginning.  First you have Ember, a rational, and careful teen, who tries to avoid notice.  In many ways, Ember is much more mature than her mother who still refuses to adhere to some of the Moral Statutes. 

After being arrested and sent to a reform school, Ember fears she will never see her carefree mother again.  The reform school is a horrible place, meant to break the spirits of the girls relocated there. 

In the middle the pacing lags a bit, but the story is still an interesting one and a book that you will definitely want to finish. 

Chase was an interesting character, mysterious and attractive.  I found myself wanting to know what he was thinking. As a reader, I had trouble at times connecting to Ember, but I admit, her story was an interesting page turner that will thrill any fans of dystopian fiction. 

Overall
Overall, this is another interesting addition to the dystopian genre.  Readers who can’t get enough dystopian lit, will definitely find themselves at home in this novel. 

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Audio Book Review: Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

Title: Cryer's Cross
Author: Lisa McMann
Genre: Teen Fiction, Mystery, Horror
Publication Date: February 8, 2011
Publisher: Simon Pulse
ISBN-13 Book: 9781416994817
Publisher Audio CD: Simon & Schuster Audio
ISBN CD:9781442337381 (Unabridged)
Length: 5 CDs (Approximately 5 hours 20 minutes)
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Disclosure: I checked out a copy of the audio book from my public library for review. This is my honest review!



Cryer's CrossCryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Summary:

In the small town of Cryer’s Cross nothing exciting ever happens, until a freshman at the local school goes missing. Townspeople and local students drop everything to search, but no sign is ever found of the missing girl. For Kendall who has OCD this mystery occupies her mind all summer, and doesn’t go away as she starts her senior year. When her best friend suddenly disappears like the missing girl, Kendall realizes that something isn’t right in Cryer’s Cross and she must do what she can to find her friend.

Review:

When I read Wake last year, I wasn’t really impressed by the writing. I have never really been a fan of 3rd person narration, so it is harder for me to connect to the main character. I also found the writing of Wake to be a bit jarring and disjointed, lacking the easy flow of other authors. I realize this is McMann’s writing style, and while others love it, it didn’t work for me when I read Wake. So it was with trepidation that I started Cryer’s Cross.

The premise of Cryer’s Cross had me hooked from the beginning. Despite not liking Wake I really wanted to read Cryer’s Cross because it sounded so intense and intriguing. Once I started reading, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the third person narration seemed to work for this novel, and that the writing flowed a lot more smoothly than in her previous novels. After easing into this book, I was fascinated with the town of Cryer’s Cross, and with the remarkable character McMann created with Kendall.

Kendall has OCD and to tell the truth, I love her for it! It was her OCD that made her such a remarkable character in this novel. It made her more real, and her challenges so sympathetic. There were times in the novel where you seriously wondered about Kendall’s point of view. It heightened the story and keeps the reader on the edge of their seats.

Periodically throughout the novel we hear from the mysterious “We.” The language in these excerpts is so smooth it is poetic and spine tingling at the same time. Something dark and sinister is happening in this novel, and so many possibilities rush through your head as you read the “We” sections.

In truth, I really enjoyed this novel. It kind of reminded me of reading Stephen King, and was equally creepy in parts. It was a short read, and really left me wishing for more. I seriously wish the book had been longer, and had extended out those creepy sections.

About the Audiobook:

The audiobook was produced by Simon & Shuster Audio and read by Julia Whelan. Whelan does an excellent job narrating this novel. In some instances the voices sound a little similar, but in all that wasn’t terribly bothersome. In most cases you can easily understand who is speaking. The production is clean and free of flaws. This was actually a quite enjoyable way of experiencing this novel. The audiobook consists of 5 CDs (about 5 hours 30 minutes) making it one of the shorter books on CD—great for a short road trip.

Overall:

I really enjoyed this novel. I loved the protagonist and her OCD and I loved the mystery. I do wish the novel had been longer and feel that the ending was a bit rushed. Overall, this book is a great addition to the teen horror genre.


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Monday, March 26, 2012

Audio Book Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Title: Firelight
Author: Sophie Jordan
Genre: Teen Fiction, Fantasy
Publication Date: September 7, 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN-13 Book: 9780061935084
Publisher Audio CD: Brilliance Audio
ISBN CD:9781455857210 (Unabridged)
Length: 8 CDs (Approximately 582 minutes)
Narrator: Therese Plummer
Disclosure: I checked out a copy of the audio book from my public library for review. This is my honest review!


Firelight (Firelight, #1)Firelight by Sophie Jordan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Jacinda is a draki, a decendant of dragons who can take human form.  When Jacinda breaks one of her pride’s rules, her mother smuggles both Jacinda and her sister Tamra out of the pride to protect Jacinda from the consequences of her actions.  Her mother hopes moving Jacinda to a desert town, away from the environment where the draki thrive, will both hide Jacinda from the pride and cause her draki to die, allowing Jacinda to live a normal human life.  Jacinda loves being draki and does not wish to change that, she fears losing her draki, until she sees Will, the one person who can bring her draki, back to life, and the one person who could destroy her.

I have seen so many wonderful recommendations for this book, so many of my blogging friends really loved this one.  I feel a little disappointed that I couldn’t get that excited by it.  I think my major problem with this book is my own fault entirely.  The descriptions didn’t prepare me for the novel and it wasn’t what I was expecting.  I don’t know what I was expecting exactly, but the novel caught me off guard in the beginning and I think that might have prevented me from settling into the story. 


I loved the originality of this book.  This was a story about mythological beings we haven’t heard yet.  When so much of teen lit these days are vampires, werewolves, and mermaids, it was refreshing to see a new twist on the paranormal genre.  I would have loved to learn more about Jacinda’s pride and her species before we left her village, because I think that part of the story was so wonderfully original.


While the writing is wonderful, though sometimes I felt like Jacinda eternal thoughts were too repetitive.  I know she was stuck between a rock and a hard place, but I wish she didn’t feel the need to mention it quite so often.  With the repetition and the pity part Jacinda had going for herself, there were times when I was having some Twilight flashes (especially New Moon, though Jordan’s writing and eloquence exceeds that comparison.


In the end, I found myself really interested in the story that Jordan was telling, and though I wish the pacing were quicker, the conclusion was outstanding. Jordan’s conclusion had me definitely wanting to read the next installment because I have to know what is happening next.


I did listen to the audiobook version of this novel.  It is produced by Brilliance Audio and read by Therese Plummer.  Plummer does an adequate job with the narration, but her voice might have been a bit too soothing, or perhaps lacking enough emotion to keep me invested in the production.  As the recording goes on though, I did adapt to her voice and adjusted to the narration.  This might have been a fault of the story too, and my own loss of interest at the beginning so I would want to listen to more of Plummer's narration before I make a judgment call. The recording is 8 discs long and about 582 minutes in length.


Overall, this was a good book, but I just didn’t connect to it the way I wish I had.  I am blaming myself with this one, but sometimes there are books that you want to love that just don’t reach you.  This one was that for me.  I do however, think I want to read the sequel, so perhaps it will get a second chance after I read Vanish


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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review: Traitor's Son by Hilari Bell

Title: Traitor's Son
Author: Hilari Bell
Genre: Teen Fiction, Fantasy
Publication Date: March 20, 2012 (Today!!! YAY!!!)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
ISBN-13 Book: 9780547196213
Disclosure: I received an e-book copy through NetGalley from the author for review. This is my honest review!


Traitor's Son (Raven Duet, #2)Traitor's Son by Hilari Bell My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When the girl at the Canadian border tosses Jase the medicine pouch he suspects she is giving him drugs, but little does Jase know that the little pouch he caught while trying to evade gunfire at the border would change is life forever.


When I read Trickster’s Girl last year I really enjoyed the story, but had my doubts when I heard the sequel would feature a new main character. Kelsa was a fun character, I liked her and had a hard time imagining the story without her. Jase surprised me though. Not only could I connect with Jase as a character, I really think I enjoyed his story so much more. Jase’s story is about family and the rift that has torn his family apart. While he resists learning to heal the leys, he also resists healing the rift in his family.

Raven is back, too, for this sequel, but instead of appearing as a handsome young man, he is now appearing as a beautiful Native American girl. I love Raven, the trickster, and it was fun to see what she would do next to try to get Jase on her side.

The conclusion to this series is stunning and one you don’t want to miss. As I neared the end of the book I couldn’t put it down because I was hooked.

Great characters, great story, nonstop action, and adventure, plus a family you could really care about make this a great read. Bell is a fabulous writer. Her writing style pulls in the reader and invests them in the story from the very beginning.

Overall, fans of Trickster’s Girl won’t want to miss this second installment, but if you haven’t read the first, I recommend you go out and read it now, because the second shouldn’t be missed.


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Monday, March 19, 2012

Audio Book Review: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

Title: The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice, #1)
Author: John Flanagan
Genre: Teen Fiction, Fantasy
Publication Date: June 8, 2006
Publisher: Puffin
ISBN-13 Book: 9780312641894
Publisher Audio CD: Recorded Books
ISBN CD:978-1-4193-9399-0 (Unabridged)
Length: 7 CDs (Approximately 7.75 hrs)
Narrator: John Keating
Disclosure: I checked out a copy of the audio book from my public library for review. This is my honest review!


The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice, #1) The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice, #1) by John Flanagan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
At his choosing ceremony Will knows he wants to be a warrior, but slight of build and short for his age, he knows his chances of becoming a knight are slim at best.  He just hopes he won’t be assigned to work the farms. When he gets assigned to be the Ranger’s apprentice, Will isn’t sure what his future will hold.
My husband had been trying for years to get me to read this book.  He loved the series and eagerly awaited each new installment.  While I never failed to get them for him, I never picked them up myself.  I am sorry I waited so long.

This was a fantastic novel full of action and charming characters.  I loved just about everyone I met in this novel—at least all of the main characters.  They were so well developed and fun, that you couldn’t help but be invested in their stories. 

I listened to this novel on audio.  It was produced by recorded books and read by John Keating.  It consisted of 7 CDs and ran for about 7.75 hrs.  The narration at first seems a little slow, but as I adapted to it overtime I really began to enjoy it.  Keating’s narration and the audio production is clear and free of flaws, which makes for an enjoyable listening experience.  

Overall, this was a fine start to a series, and I am sorry I waited so long before I listened to it.  This would be a great pick for middle school boys—lots of action and terrific characters.  I look forward to reading others in this series. 
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Book Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Title: Wanderlove
Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Teen Fiction
Publication Date:March 13, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13 Book: 9780385739375
Disclosure: I received an e-book from NetGalley.  This is my honest review.


WanderloveWanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After a horrible breakup with her high school boyfriend leaves her reeling, Bria Sandoval decides to take a trip of a lifetime, to leave the old Bria behind and reinvent herself in Guatemala, by backpacking through Central America.  What Bria doesn’t count on is the fact that the tourist group she signed up with, was filled with a bunch or middle aged tourists.  Soon though she leaves that group behind and finds herself traveling with the mysterious Rowan and his sister Starling.
Wanderlove was a fantastic travel book.  I love teen travel novels and this one was a lot of fun.  The destinations were the best parts of this novel, and the descriptions of the various places were very realistic. 

Bria’s voice rang true.  She is a teen who has had her heart broken, and has been betrayed by someone she trusted.  She does come across as overly self-absorbed sometimes which can make connecting with her difficult at times.  I can’t blame her though, and as the novel progresses she begins to discover that there is more to her than her relationship with her ex-boyfriend. 

Rowan was a mystery.  He had a past, and by not sharing it with the reader, you imagine something so much worse than what it actually was.  Bria is constantly wondering about him even as she struggles to trust him.

Overall this book was a nice get away.  It was fun traveling with Rowan and Bria on chicken buses, and going to exotic locations.  Definitely, a good read for summer on the beach. 

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Where I've Been

It seems like this year is going way too fast. Last week I was supposed to take a week's vacation to relax, but medical situations with two of my close family members prevented that--needless to say I had a pretty crappy vacation. In some ways I was looking forward to going back to work and getting life back to normal.

Today, my husband and I signed up for a YMCA membership. We have both been talking lately about needing to exercise more and take better care of ourselves--this is the first step in that direction. I have always been a big girl, hopefully, this will keep me from running into some of the medical difficulties that have plagued my family.

I didn't get much reading done last week because of the rather stressful events, but I do have a couple of reviews I need to get typed up for you. I have a review for Kirsten Hubbard's Wanderlove and a review for the book The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan--an older title, but one my husband insisted I needed to read.  He was right, it was a great book.

Wanderlove  

Hopefully, with any luck I will get those two reviews up this week.  I start my workouts at the Y early tomorrow morning--I am not a morning person so watch out! :)

What are you reading this week?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Author Kirsten Hubbard Gives Us Wanderlove Word Associations



Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Wanderlove author Kirsten Hubbard to my blog! Wanderlove is the story of a girl who wishes she could become someone else. To do so, she travels to Central America for a guided tour and a chance to leave herself behind and recreate herself. Unfortunately, traveling with a bunch of middle-aged tourists isn't very conductive to her goals. When she meets Rowan, she knows she has to leave the tour behind and follow her own path to rediscovery. Wanderlove is a novel of travel and self discovery that you won't want to miss!

Welcome Kirsten!


Author Word Associations
What is the first thing that comes to mind for each word/phrase?

(I am going to answer all these in the context of Wanderlove.)

1. Fresh
Seafood, at Laughingbird Caye's Lobsterfest: "the biggest party of the year!"

2. Tasty
The first couple pina coladas at Lobsterfest. The third, less tasty. The fifth, problematic.

3. Dark
Rowan's past – or at least, he makes it seem that way, because he's being so darn secretive with Bria. Although she's being pretty secretive herself.

4. Crisp
The edges of fry jack, a Belizean breakfast (basically, fried dough).

5. Empty
The way Bria feels after not drawing for months and months.

6. Stars
On Laughingbird Caye, when Bria lies beside Rowan on the hammock, there are more stars than she's ever seen: "They coat the sky like smeared wet sugar, so many the whole night seems to glow."

7. Mud
MUD WRESTLING!!
That's right. There is mud wrestling in Wanderlove. You heard it here first.

8. Shipwreck
Something Bria's pretty sure will occur on the thunderstormy motorboat ride they take from Guatemala to Belize.

9. Soft
Sand in Belize.

10. Honey
Bria's mom, when she cuts her hair to her chin: "“Honey, you’re not suicidal, are you?

11. Ink
Rowan's dragon tattoo (yes, he is the boy with the dragon tattoo), which Bria thinks is really cliché at first, but later learns there's a really good story behind it.

12. Hard
Actual sand in Belize.

13. Furry
The Guatemalan dogs that keep brushing against Bria's legs.

14. Slimy
Belizean seaweed! Not the plant, but the drink – which does include actual seaweed. Rowan insist Bria tries it: "It's not vile or anything—mostly, it tastes like milk and spices—but it slimes down my throat."

15. Enticing
Bria and Rowan's story, I hope :)

Thank you Kirsten! That was great.

If those teasers don't convince you to pick up Wanderlove I don't know what will. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard comes out March 13th. Don't miss it!

Friday, March 2, 2012

What are You Reading Friday?

Since the weekend is just around the corner, I thought I would share what I am reading and listening to lately.

First I have been spending a lot of time looking at teen and junior high nonfiction.  As most of you know, nonfiction is not one of my favorite genres, but I do read it from time to time. I am currently in the process of choosing my Battle of the Books titles for 2012, and we usually include at least one nonfiction title on the list.  It is always the hardest book for me to find.  First it has to be more than 100 pages (I personally have to write 100 questions from the book, and anything less than 100 pages, can be extremely difficult).  Second, the book needs to be appropriate for middle school age students without expletives and sex.  Finally, it must be available in paperback.  So for this weekend I will be looking at some nonfiction!

Currently Reading:

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem

Wanderlove

Article 5 (Article 5, #1)



Now Playing on Audio:


The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice, #1)

Okay, that is a lot of books, but I alternate between them.  I admit to have a bit of an attention problem lately, but I am enjoying all of them. (Especially the audio book!)

What are you reading?

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