Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Amulet, by Alison Pensy

This modern fairy story by Alison Pensy is adorable! Faedra Bennett, who lives with her father in an English cottage, discovers something life-changing about herself on her eighteenth birthday, including the fact that her best friend--a dog that arrived during her mother's wake eleven years ago--is not an ordinary dog! He's her shape-shifting guardian, Faen. And yes, he's sexy, strong, and honorable and already knows Faedra inside and out by the time he reveals himself to her. Now it's her turn to get to know him and her new role as custodian to an important object that is the key to saving her world and Faen's. I loved every minute of it and can't wait to read the next book in the series!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

Jay Asher's debut novel was brilliantly conceived. I can't say enough good things about the idea of having a teen boy (Clay) listening to the last thoughts of a girl (Hannah) who, by the opening of the novel, has already killed herself. Like Clay, we can't wait to find out how different people and events contributed to Hannah's decision. The book is hard to put down. In the beginning, the use of audio tapes threw me off, because I couldn't imagine how a twenty-first-century teen would have access to such an outmoded form of technology. Nor did I have confidence that the subsequent teens in the tapes would have access to a machine they could use to listen to them. Asher gets around this by having Tony's story, which I won't divulge here, but it still required a leap of faith on my part. The language of Hannah and Clay compensated for my leap of faith, pulling me into realistic teen drama, teen thoughts, and teen emotions. There was never a moment while reading from either Hannah or Clay's points of view that I didn't hear and imagine a real teen. In spite of the realness of the teen voices, I still didn't always get a full sense of the characters, which took something away from the ending, since I couldn't recall Skye. Although I appreciated this clear sign that Clay had indeed been transformed by the tapes, I still would have liked more. I was disappointed not to see Clay encounter the others in the tapes. Over all, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and recommend it to everyone, teens and adults alike.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Infernal Devices, by Cassandra Clare

When a seventeen-year-old Tessa leaves New York to find her older brother in London after their aunt dies, she's abducted by the dark sisters and tortured into learning about a power she never knew she had. Little does she know that a terrifying mastermind plans to use her power to destroy the entire race of Shadow Hunters, known as the Nephilim. I absolutely loved this trilogy. The setting, the plot, the narrative style, and the characters were brilliantly done. I especially loved the characters, which were amazingly distinct despite a large cast. My favorite characters were Tessa, Will, and Jem. They were all three so good, that you couldn't help but love them. All three books also continued to add new twists and turns to the story. Even the Epilogue of the last book has a surprising twist, and I loved it! I highly recommend this series to young and old alike.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Audiobook Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of the audiobook edition of The Gatekeeper's Sons, I'm running a giveaway. Enter to win a $20 Itunes giftcard, a $30 Amazon giftcard, and a free copy of the audiobook! The giveaway ends in one week, on June 17th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

It took time for me to warm up to the narrator (Death) and his habit of stopping the story to ruminate and make comments. I even had a bad dream that he had pinned me down and was forcing me to listen to his tale as he lay on top of me in my bed. But at some point, he became endearing, like the hot-mouthed Rosa. I fell in love with the characters and was enthralled with their joys and sorrows. I miss them now that I've finished their story.

The narrator's descriptions were also a pleasure, and I felt the author found a way to infuse originality into a story humanity has needed to tell over and over since the Second World War.

The Book Thief is a beautiful testament to the power of words--to their ability to kill and to save lives. It is also a beautiful testament to human beings in exactly the same way.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins

I recently included the first book of this trilogy in my Young Adult Literature class at the University of Texas at San Antonio because I truly admire the world and complexities created by Collins. The characters are multidimensional and believable and their futuristic dystopian society has just enough similarities to our own with its use of television and propaganda, class striation, and exploitation of the poor to be relatable.

I know many parents have criticized the level of violence in this series, but the ultimate message is similar to the one in Jonathon's Swift's Modest Proposal: We need to stop sacrificing our children in our political conflicts. It's no accident that Katniss is seventeen years old when many soldiers in our country and others recruit that age so that they are prime for enlisting by age eighteen. And families who pride themselves on serving their nation for generations in the armed forces are not unlike the career tributes.

Collins's trilogy is anti-war in the same vein as Small Soldiers, a partially animated movie in which technologically advanced toys go to war with one another. But it is also fatalistic in that the rebellion and the Capitol soon become indistinguishable from one another in the same way as Orwell's men and pigs in Animal Farm.

I highly recommend this heart-wrenching, fast-paced series to young and old alike.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

City of Lost Souls, by Cassandra Clare

Overall, I LOVED this series. The character and world building were well done. I adored Simon, Izzy, Luke, Alec, and Magnus. I especially enjoyed the relationship between Alec and Magnus. The relationship between Jace and Clary is steamy, and their love for one another is believable.

This fifth book was a bit disappointing to me in terms of plot and pace. Some places dragged, and the ending didn't live up to my expectations. In spite of that, I'm glad I read the book, because I truly enjoyed being with these characters in this world and would highly recommend the series.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

In the Arms of Stone Angels, by Jordan Dane

Jordan Dane has crafted a fast-paced, emotional roller-coaster of a ride with the story of sixteen-year-old Brenna Nash and a two-year-old unsolved murder in a small town. When Brenna and her mom return to the town to sell Brenna's grandma's house, Brenna is sucked into the case after visiting the friend she turned in for the murder--a half-breed orphan boy with gorgeous, soulful eyes named White Bird. He's been catatonic in a hospital since the murder, but when Brenna shows up, something happens...

The characters and their voices are palpable and distinct. The plot never slows down and, despite the infusion of Native American magic, seems utterly believable. I highly recommend this story.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare

This book was hard to put down from the moment I picked it up. The plot was very well orchestrated from beginning to end. I especially found the use of Madam Dorothea clever. I also liked the contrast between Luke and Valentine as father figures and leaders. The love Clary felt for Luke was so real.

All of the characters were believable, distinct, and memorable, and I could picture them vividly. Both the more-than-friends relationship between Clary and Simon and the blossoming romance between Clary and Jace were palpable. But the ending...

Without giving anything away, I just want to say that I don't believe it. I think Valentine is trying to manipulate them and that even Luke and the others are mistaken. I just can't accept the cruel twist, and find it hard to believe that Clary and Jace do...

I hope I'm right as I enter into the world of the second book.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor

The unique characters pulled me into the story right away. I enjoyed learning about Isa and Brimstone and the other chimera. I also took pleasure in Carou's everyday life as an art student in Prague with her friend juxtaposed with these strange errands she ran through portals getting teeth for a ram-horned beast--albeit a fatherly one.

I love stories that take a preconceived idea only to turn it on its head. In this case a "devil" falls in love with an angel. But devils are not evil and angels aren't all good.

I look forward to reading the next book.