Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst

Book Summer (Via Goodreads): What Lily Carter wants most in the world is to attend Princeton University just like her grandfather. When she finally visits the campus, Grandpa surprises her: She has been selected to take the top-secret Legacy Test. Passing means automatic acceptance to Princeton. Sweet!

Lily's test is to find the Ivy Key. But what is she looking for? Where does she start? As she searches, Lily is joined by Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who says he's her guard. That's weird. But things get seriously strange when a gargoyle talks to her. He tells her that there are two Princetons—the ordinary one and a magical one—and the Key opens the gate between them. But there are more secrets that surround Lily. Worse secrets.

When Lily enters the magical Princeton, she uncovers old betrayals and new dangers, and a chance at her dream becomes a fight for her life. Soon Lily is caught in a power struggle between two worlds, with her family at its center. In a place where Knights slay monsters, boys are were-tigers, and dragons might be out for blood, Lily will need all of her ingenuity and courage—and a little magic—to unite the worlds and unlock the secrets of her past and her future.

Book Trailer:

Book Review:
After reading Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst, I was eager to pick up Enchanted Ivy. I have been curious to read Enchanted Ivy ever since I read a review of it over at Starmetal Oak Book Blog. As stated in an earlier post, I was disappointed in Durst's Ice, but Lisa's review Enchanted Ivy gave me renewed hope. What I found was a cute story of a girl named Lily, who wants more than anything to attend Princeton University. When she attends a Princeton reunion with her grandfather, she discovers another side of Princeton, full of mythological creatures and a battle that's been waging for years. In this coming of age tale, Lily finds the strength and purpose to begin her own journey. I loved the cast of characters, they were vibrant and entertaining. Tye and Lily's mother ranked top billing for me. While I enjoyed Enchanted Ivy, I didn't found that it wasn't -quite- as engaging as Drink, Slay, Love. I will definitely keep Durst on my list of must-read authors!

Favorite Quote:
"Pressing her nose against the car window, Lily frowned at the strip malls, gas stations, and industrial parks as they rolled by. 'Really?' she said. She'd expected to see something a bit more picturesque than Wal-Marts and Home-Depots en route to her dream school-at least a stately forest or a field with a few photogenic cows. And she should hear trumpets playing, plus a massive choir announcing in verse the approach of her destiny. 
Maybe she'd built up this moment a bit too much." (p.1)

Cover Art Commentary:
Are you kidding me?! Seriously, what isn't there to love about this cover?! The colors are purple and gray, and it had a HUGE gargoyle front and center! OF COURSE I LOVE IT! :D


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Wanna Repeat?

A feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This weeks topic: Top Ten Books I Want To Reread: 
  1. Graceling by Kristin Cashore: I loved the world building in both this and Fire. I can't wait to revisit this enchanted world.
  2. Fire by Kristin Cashore: As stated above, I enjoyed the setting immensely. I enjoyed Fire just a smidge more than Graceling.
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins: Oh Katniss! You were so brave. You wore so many of the worlds problems on your back. I can't wait to revisit your strength and strong sense of self.
  4. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood: This was my first taste of Atwood, and one of my first tastes of dystopia. This book was a cornerstone in my future reading selections, and a true testament of why I adore Atwood.
  5. American Goods by Neil Gaiman: This was my first Gaiman book, and by far my favorite. The mixing of mythologies was brilliant. Ever since I turned the last page, I have been wanting to pick it back up!
  6. For Keeps by Natasha Friend: This was such a fun and colorful read. It reminded me very much of my favorite tv show Gilmore Girls. I would love to revisit this one!
  7. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: Hilarious! This book had me laughing aloud and quoting sections to my friends. I definitely need to reread this down the road!  
  8. The Handmaid's Tale by Maragret Atwood: Atwood at her best! This most arguably is my favorite Atwood novel to date.
  9. All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab: This was recommended to me via goodreads by another blogger. It was a true tale of mystery and discovery.
  10. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling: Back when I was in college, I would re-read the Harry Potter books during my summer breaks (which were limited as I took summer classes). As the series progressed and I started reading more, I stopped going back to this beloved series. It's safe to say that I have only read the last 3 books once. I would love to revisit this entire series at some point. 

     So what books have you enjoyed and would like to re-read?

    Sunday, September 25, 2011

    The Help by Kathryn Stockett

    Book Summer (Via Goodreads): Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
    Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

    Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

    Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

    Book Movie Trailer:

    Book Review:
    This book has been recommended to me time and time again. It's not really in my preferred genre, so I didn't give it much thought...that is until I saw other readers that have very similar tastes to my own read and rave about it. Additionally, with the release of the movie, my interest was piqued. I had a smallish road trip coming up, so I picked up a copy of the audiobook and began my (figurative) journey into Jackson, Mississippi. The story begins in the year 1962, on the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks has refused to give up her seat on a bus, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional (see timeline). However, segregation runs deep in the south, and the black population of Jackson is expected to accept and live by the rules and guidelines laid out by the ruling white class. Enter three women, Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny, one is a white lady who comes from a privileged background, and the other two women are black maids, who serve white families as a means to support themselves and their families. In the book, The Help, these three women come together to write a book from the point of view of "the help" and perhaps change the life they've grown to accept. Needless to say, this is one hell of a book. It will make you want to cry, scream, and laugh all at the same time. Each character is as vivid as the next. I'm not usually a fan of books that have a large cast of characters, but Stockett does this well, giving each character a distinctive voice, and an intricate part of the plot. It has been said that this book is modeled after Stockett's own life, though I was not able to find any solid confirmation either way. This book gave me a lot to think about, a lot to be grateful for, and will definitely linger in my mind over the years. I highly, highly recommend The Help to all readers, this is one book that you do NOT want miss out on.

    Favorite Quote:
    “I head down the steps to see if my mail-order copy of Catcher in the Rye is in the box. I always order the banned books from a black market dealer in California, figuring if the State of Mississippi banned them, they must be good.” -found on goodreads. (I listened to the audiobook.)

    Cover Art Commentary:
    The colors are eye catching. It doesn't really give any indication as to what the story is about. When I first saw this on the shelves at the stores, I thought it was a self-help book. Little did I know, what amazing story awaited me behind the cover...


    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst

    Book Summer (Via Goodreads): Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire . . . fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil . . . until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.
    Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don’t exist), and they’re shocked she survived. They’re even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl’s family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King’s feast—as the entrées.
    The only problem? Pearl’s starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she’s definitely dead if she lets down her family. What’s a sunlight-loving vamp to do?

    Book Trailer:

    Book Review:
    I first found out about Drink, Slay, Love when I read a review of it over at Tina's Book Reviews. I wasn't a fan of Durst's Ice (my review found here) so I was a litttttle skeptical to pick up Drink, Slay, Love. However, the premise sounded interesting, and Tina's review sounded promising, so I picked up a copy for myself. The two stories are like night and day. What Ice lacks, Drink, Slay, Love more than makes up for. The characters are fully developed, intriguing, funny, and engaging. The main character, Pearl, is a kick-ass witty heroine who you can't help but root for, even in her most evil of moments. This book reminded me of a cross between Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires and Kiersten White's Paranormalcy. There are colorful characters, hilarious one-liners, mystery, action, and a touch of romance. Really, everything I've come to love about YA paranormal romance, without being too cliche or over the top. Just a really good story that I couldn't stop reading. For more info, check out Durst's website here.

    Favorite Quote:
    "As the sun sank into the horizon, Pearl trudged home without seeing a single sparkly hoofprint or rainbowed poop pile. It wasn't as if she expected UNICORN WUZ HERE graffiti...Okay, yes, that would have been nice." (p. 145)

     Cover Art Commentary:
    I'll admit, the title is a little wonky, but I love, love, love the cover of this book! It caught my eye immediately.  The colors are great, and it gives you a "taste" of what's to come! :P


    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Top Ten Tuesdays: Feeling Left Out?

     A feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

    This weeks topic: Top Ten Books I Feel as Though Everyone has Read but Me:
    1. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak: I have been meaning to read this one for soooo long now. I do still plan to read it eventually.
    2. The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater: Initially, I intended to wait for the third book to be released, then read them in order. Yeaaaah...I still have yet to buy said book. 
    3. Delirium by Lauren Oliver: Ok, this one is sitting on my shelf, dying to be read. I keep meaning to pick it up, but then get distracted by all the other shiny books sitting along side it.*
    4. Divergent by Veronica Roth: *See above comment.
    5. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: I've attempted to read this several times, and have been unsuccessful. I still plan on completing it someday.#
    6. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut: #See above comment.
    7. The Evernight series by Claudia Gray: Oh. man. I want to read this series rather badly. I hope to get the entire series in paperback eventually.
    8. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: *See above comment.
    9. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: #See above comment.
    10. The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong: Ok, so I do own this entire series and really, really want to read it. I plan to do so soon! 
    Sooo...what's on your top ten list of books you felt that everyone has read but you?

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

    Book Summer (Via Goodreads): Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
    So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
    When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
    But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.

    Book Review:
    So, I have this TBR a mile long. I had promised myself that I wasn't going to buy any more books until said stack was somewhat more depleted. Epic fail. I started reading reviews on Anna Dressed In Blood, and I just couldn't wait to get my hot little hands on it. Best. Decision. Ever. I was entranced into Cass's world within a matter of pages. Cass, the main character, immediately felt like an old friend versus a new character, to whose world I had to warm myself up to. I loved his wit and neurotic sense of self. I loved his spunky attitude and somewhat warped outlook on life. He is one to overcome tough obstacles in life, brush himself off, and look forward to the next adventure instead of dwelling on his misfortunes. Love it! I loved the dark setting of the Canadian town, and the tie he forms to Anna. Anna's story is well worth the wait, and disturbingly engrossing. The supporting characters were just as quirky and fun. Simply said, there isn't anything about this book I didn't love. The author, Kendare Blake, has a distinctive voice that shines through every page of this story. Her blog is deliciously witty and can be found here. Be sure to also check out her website here. Ms. Blake, you have won me over. I can't wait to see what happens in the follow up, Girl of Nightmares.

    Favorite Quote:
    "Getting everything into the cars took forever...I keep thinking of nomadic native tribes, and how they could pack up an entire civilization in an hour to follow some buffalo. When did human beings start acquiring so much crap?" p. 291

    Cover Art Commentary:
    I actually was drawn to the cover before I knew a thing about this book. I was at the bookstore and remember seeing it, and thinking, wow...that looks rather interesting. Later that week, a bunch of rave reviews popped up, and I knew it would be the next book I read.


    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

    Book Summer (Via Goodreads): Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.
    As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

    Book Review:
    Wow. I was pretty revved to read this one. I had read several rave reviews of it, and was excited to see what all the jazz was about for myself. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. This character driven novel has a little bit of everything...romance, mystery, action, and mythology. Helen, the main character is independent, strong, and a little unsure of herself, until she meets the Delos family. From there, she discovers her true nature and begins the journey of finding herself. I really enjoyed the entire Delos family. They are a colorful bunch, full of flair and finesse. Trying to figure out the main picture was the best part of this book. Nothing is what it seems and there is a twist around every corner. I am curious to learn more about Helen's mother. I am fairly certain that there is a lot more than what is uncovered in Starcrossed. Also, I am reading for the second book in the series Dreamless!!! If you're hunkering for a good story, full of Greek mythology, Starcrossed is for you!

    Favorite Quote:
    "As soon as she was free, Helen bolted and didn't look back. She could almost feel the three sisters reaching out with their clammy white arms and bloody fingertips to touch the back of her neck. She ran in a panic for Kate's car, dove behind the wheel, and drove away as fast as she dared." (p. 72)

    Cover Art Commentary:
    I just love the cover of Starcrossed! The colors are breathtaking. I love the ocean and sky...they both have a lot of meaning in the story.