Waiting on Wednesday: “Illuminate” by Aimee Agresti

Waiting on Wednesday is an event hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming releases that we just can’t wait for. 🙂

 Title: Illuminate

  by Aimee Agresti

  Due out March 6th, 2012

  From Goodreads:

  Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

Thoughts and Impressions: I, for one, am always keen on the shy-girl-finds-her-voice plot for obvious reasons. I also like improbably beautiful and luxurious settings with a lot of darkness running under the surface. Also, frankly, the cover on this is so lovely, I would probably buy it just to stroke the book jacket and stare. Overall, this looks like it’s going to be a solid offering for YA in March– I probably won’t preorder it, but I will definitely see if I can pick it up at my local bookstore.

~Can You Feel the Love Tonight?~ Favorite Book Pairings (Of All Time)

So, this is the first in my Love Week series of posts, and since it is Valentine’s Day and this is a mostly book-focused blog, I thought I’d go ahead and make a list of my favorite book pairings of all time. However, I wanted to do something to make these posts kind of special, so I thought, why not make a video to go along with it?

Without further ado, allow me to present : Can You Feel the Love Tonight? Favorite Book Pairings (Of All Time and In No Particular Order)

Beka Cooper and Farmer Cape (Tamora Pierce’s Mastiff): Beka and Farmer are a recently new addition to my favorite pairings list. When Farmer first showed up, I thought for sure that he and Beka would never get along, but by the time I was halfway through the book, I was rooting for them wholeheartedly, and I cheered when they finally got together. Farmer is such a sweetheart, and Beka deserves to have a lover who will a.) not crowd her and b.) still show her kindness.

Alec and Seregil (Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series): This relationship starts out a friendship, and that is something I appreciate very much. It’s two or three books before they even kiss, and another short story before they have a sexual encounter, but the slow-burning tension and tenderness between them is palpable from the beginning. Despite the later books taking a much darker turn, Alec and Seregil stay very sweet and beautiful– friends in love, and bonded for life. Me like. 🙂

Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster (John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars): And this pairing, which makes me completely incoherent 95% of the time. They are tragic, they are sweet, they are PERFECT. That is really all that needs to be said.

Daine Sarrasri and Numair Salmalin (Tamora Pierce’s Immortals series): I’ve come to the conclusion that Tamora Pierce has been almost solely responsible for raising my expectations in men. Numair was one of my first “book crushes”, and when I read Emperor Mage for the first time, I realized that there was a pretty real chance that Daine was kinda smitten with him too. As a pair, these two have a lot working against them: the age difference, the fact that Numair was a serial womanizer until he settled down with Daine, Daine having her own issues to work through. However, they manage to make it work. 🙂

Alec and Richard (Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint): This pairing is definitely my favorite of Kushner’s. The dynamic between these two is by turns amusing and heartbreaking, and this is possibly the only pairing to ever make fish romantic. 🙂

Cassel and Lila (Holly Black’s Curseworkers series): Here’s one for the angst. Cassel and Lila’s star-crossed romance is complicated by emotional manipulation, Cassel’s lost memories, and the fact that it appears they will be on opposite sides in Black Heart. I’m still holding out hope for a beautiful ending for them, though.

Jem Carstairs, Tessa Gray, and Will Herondale (Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices series): Yes, I know. This is a triangle, not a pairing. But I couldn’t resist, simply because I love them so much and — if I were pressed– I would say that the only good ending for ALL of them would be… well, being less of a triangle and more of a threesome. I sincerely doubt that will happen– this is YA after all– but a girl can dream.

Howl and Sophie (Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle and sequels): Howl and Sophie are the least romantic couple ever, but their sparring and playful romance (followed by an equally playful marriage) is dear to my heart. The movie plays up the romanticism of their story, but it’s still a lovely thing, in my eyes; they have seen the worst of one another and they love each other anyway. 🙂

What is YOUR favorite book pairing? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day! 😀

Book Review: “Mastiff” by Tamora Pierce (Beka Cooper, #3)

Title: Mastiff (Click to add to your Goodreads.)

Author: Tamora Pierce

Available In: Hardcover, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook, Audiobook.

Warnings: PG-13 for violence, sexual content, and a few scenes that contain disturbing imagery or concepts. Recommended for 16+, or for “mature” younger teens.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4.5 stars.

Theme Song (according to me, anyway): “Lover to Lover” ~ Florence + The Machine

Final Grade: A+.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS, STRONG OPINIONS, AND THE FRANK DISCUSSION OF POSSIBLE TRIGGER SUBJECTS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

It took me awhile to get through Mastiff. This was partially because it is the last book in the Beka Cooper series, and I was really not ready for it to be over. It was also partially because the book itself is rather dense. At 592 pages, it’s a pretty hefty hardcover—but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Three years have passed since Bloodhound, and Beka is now on the verge of receiving her five year badge and engaged to be married to another Dog. When her fiancée is killed in a slave raid, Beka is more than a little conflicted—unbeknownst to her friends, her fiancée was verbally (and, it is hinted) physically abusive towards her, and she had been planning to call the engagement off. Beka’s not the sort to fall into pathos over this, however, and when the king’s son is kidnapped by slavers who may or may not be working under the orders of a group of rebellious nobles, Beka welcomes the thrill of the chase with open arms. Along with Lady Sabine, her old mentor Tunstall, and the frustratingly tricky Master Farmer, Beka finds herself embroiled in a mass of betrayal, brutality, and something that she just might call love.

Overall, I felt this was a very solid end to the Beka Cooper trilogy. I feel that the situation with Beka’s dead fiancée was actually handled quite well; it’s definitely a realistic depiction of how, exactly, strong women end up in relationships that are not good for them. Pierce’s treatment of the difficult topics of slavery and the Shaker-esque noble cults was adept as always. It was a little sad that we didn’t get to see much of Rosto, Kora, and Aniki, but I enjoyed the group dynamic between Beka/Farmer and Sabine/Tunstall just as much. In the end, it was all neatly linked back to George Cooper and led right into the beginning of the Alanna series.  Nice!

I did have a few quibbles about the book, mostly focused around the plot twist at the end, but I’m going to go into those at length in my pros and cons section to avoid spoiling anybody.

BEYOND THIS POINT, THERE ARE MAJOR SPOILERS. PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE SPOILED.

Pros

  • Master Farmer. He’s raised my expectations of men sky-high now. He’s tied with Numair  as my favorite mage ever. Basically? I love him. ❤
  • The group dynamic between Tunstall, Sabine, Farmer, and Beka. They made such a good team ❤
  • The noble cults were intriguing to read about, even though I would definitely agree with Beka about the followers of the Gentle Mother.
  • Sabine as a wildmage. I like that the wildmages are even acknowledged  at this time, though we know they are not properly studied until Daine comes along later.
  • Achoo and Pounce ❤ For a little while there, I thought that Achoo was going to die, and when it looked like that was imminent, I started crying and just couldn’t stop until she was healed a few pages later.

Cons

 

  • Tunstall 😦 While I feel the plot twist was executed fairly well, I really did not see this coming. To be honest, I would suspect Sabine before Tunstall, and to find that he really was the traitor… it broke my heart, really, it did. And with little to no lead up for it, it really was a nasty shock. I feel that some hints along the way would have been appropriate, but then again, it was a plot twist, so I don’t really know what to say.

TV Review: Supernatural 7.14 ~ “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie”

So, I’m going to be perfectly honest here; I did not have high hopes for this episode. Dabb and Loflin are my least favorite additions to the SPN writing team. Sure, they’ve avoided the trap of, say, “Mannequin 3”, and they have some pretty nifty, sharp ideas, but I feel like their style does not mesh well with the established styles of Gamble, Edlund, Singer, etc.

That said, “Plucky Pennywhistle’s” was a much more solid episode than “Season 7, Time For a Wedding!”. It did fall into the typical Dabb/Loflin trap of having WAY too much going on– tentacle monsters, killer unicorns, and land sharks are just a few of the beasties that feature in the ep– but the character execution and pacing was pretty spot on, compared with the woefully torturous “Wedding”. There were a few snappy dialogue scenes, and I’ll admit that the central theme of the episode was pretty neatly done. If Dabb and Loflin can pull off something like this–admittedly less adroitly than Edlund has done in the past– then I could see them having a place amongst the writers of Supernatural. Here’s hoping they improve even more with their next offering!

Pros

  • The dialogue was pretty nicely done. Plenty of Winchester snark 🙂
  • The way in which the passage of time in the episode was tracked, I believe, through Sam’s POV, which makes sense. He’d be the sort to count down seconds until the moment of absolute crisis (“Right Friggin’ Now”).
  • The Season 2 references. Robots with laser eyes? Unicorns shooting rainbows out of their asses? Makes me want to go rewatch season 2 right now 🙂

Cons

  • There was no exploration of the Case of Dean’s Vanishing Drink. At all. I am now convinced that this can only be Bobby– we can safely assume Cas is probably already re-embodied and wondering around without any idea of what’s going on.
  • The episode was visually a bit overwhelming, which I’m sure was what they were going for, but I’m not particularly fond of the Dabb/Loflin brand of sensory overload. At least there were less crappy special effects than we’ve seen in the last few.

Final Rating: B. Solid and amusing, but not something I’d rewatch more than once.

Coming Up Next: We are now easing into the “darkerepisodes of the season, the ones where all of us who have been SPN fans for awhile just now that the proverbial sh** is about to hit the fan. With the spoilers circulating about episode 17, we can safely assume that Sam’s descent into absolute madness begins here in  “Repo Man”. The trailer can be found here at Spoiler TV.

I’m actually really excited to see these next few episodes. So much of this season seems to have been focused on breaking Dean (and to some extent, Sam, but he’s already bonkers to begin with), but something tells me this next bit is going to be his true breaking point. You’re dumping his crazy-for-cocoa-puffs brother, his amnesiac angel best friend who he watched die and who he’s still pissed at over… well… the fact that he made Sam crazy to begin with, AND the Leviathan Problem into his lap. If he pulls out of it, it says something beautiful about his character, but something tells me he’s going to have his own pathos to struggle through before that happens.


Waiting on Wednesday: “Katana” by Cole Gibsen

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine and showcases upcoming releases that we just can’t wait to get our hands on.

And this week’s book is…..

Katana by Cole Gibsen

Publication Date: March 8th, 2012

From Amazon:

Kill Bill meets Buffy in this supernatural samurai tale
Rileigh Martin would love to believe that adrenaline gave her the uncanny courage and strength to fend off three muggers. But it doesn’t explain her dreams of fifteenth century Japan, the incredible fighting skills she suddenly possesses, or the strange voice giving her battle tips and danger warnings. While worrying that she’s going crazy (always a reputation ruiner), Rileigh gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she’s harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior.
Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana–a deadly Japanese sword that’s also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she’s always been and embracing the warrior inside her.

This is one of a few debuts that I am awaiting rather eagerly.  I just can’t resist a book with a girl and swords on the cover. Also, there are ninjas! And samurai! Plus two spirits in one body and hot martial arts instructors! Yeah, I’m going to have to preorder this one.

What are YOU waiting on this Wednesday? Drop me a line in the comments or link back to your own WoW post and let me know!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That I’d Hand To Someone Who Says They Don’t Like To Read

When I was a kid, I devoured books. In first grade, I was already reading MG/YA  and classic novels as opposed to those little readers that they give you in school. Therefore, it was always anathema to me when my brothers or my friends would complain about HAVING to read books, because I was really interested in reading EVERYTHING EVER. As I grew and matured, I discovered to my shock and horror that this was not an uncommon attitude. Even now, there’ll be times when I run into people who say that they just don’t like to read, and give me a mildly dismissive shoulder shrug.

So I, of course, must rise to the challenge and recommend books to these people. When I saw that today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic was Top Ten Books That I’d Hand To Someone Who Says They Don’t Like To Read, I just HAD to join in. 🙂

(Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke and The Bookish.)

Top Ten Books That I’d Hand To Someone Who Says They Don’t Like To Read

1. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone + sequels

This one is obvious. It got my brothers reading, it got my friends reading, and it started a wildfire in the world of young adult literature.

2. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett

This was the first novel I was able to get my youngest brother to read that wasn’t for school. Success!

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I’m guessing this is going to be on a lot of lists. Got my brother and three friends to read this one.

4. Anything by Patricia C. Wrede

Wrede’s witty, lighthearted style is sure to convert even the most hardened book haters.

5. Anything by Cassandra Clare

For that girl you know who says “I don’t read, but I did like Twilight.” Only, Clare is obviously tons better than Meyer.

6. The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

For that girl/boy you know who likes adventure and paranormal TV shows but doesn’t read.

7. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

For everyone. Ever. It’s impossible to hate this series.

8. Eragon + sequels

I am personally not as into these books anymore, but they do tend to get young people reading (and even writing!).

9. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Again, something of better quality for the Twilight-and-nothing-else chick.

10. The Amulet of Samarkand + sequels

This is a good one for boys or girls who are fond of The House of Anubis/similar shows but have a hard time finding something that suits their taste in books.

So, those are my (admittedly somewhat genre-slanted) offerings. What books would YOU recommend for reluctant readers? Let me know in the comments or link me back to your own Top Ten Tuesday post!

Book Review: “Paranormalcy” (Paranormalcy #1) by Kiersten White

Title: Paranormalcy

Author: Kiersten White

Available In: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook.

Warnings: PG for mild sexual content, violence, and simulated profanity.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND STRONG OPINIONS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Do not make the mistake of judging this book by its cover.

If you were to do that, you might think that this is one of the many shallow paranormal teen romances that make their way out every year, with covers that emulate the Twilight series and heroines who spent the vast majority of their time being pretty for the boys. Evie is definitely a pretty girly-girl heroine… but more in the style of Buffy Summers than Bella Swan.

Evie’s a girl who really likes to think of herself as normal. She loves pink, glitter, and soft soap-operas about high school. Sure, she has a job neutralizing all sorts of paranormal nasties for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, or IPCA. And she might possibly be falling in love with a shape-shifter. And yeah, there’s some faerie prophecy that she just might be a huge part of, the consequences of which could result in the end of the world. But that’s not too out there, right?

Overall, this is an appealing book. It’s got a lot of humour and quirk, and it’s definitely “light reading”, but that should not be mistaken for shallowness, because this book actually has a lot of depth. The romance between Evie and Lend is adorably sweet (rather than sickeningly so) and there are actually some pretty complex morality conflicts tied up into the plot, especially towards the end. The conflict/relationship between Evie and Vivian evokes echoes of the Buffy/Faith days of BtVS, and towards the end, the bits with the souls bore an eerie resemblance to Castiel’s storyline in late season 6/early season 7 of SPN. This book should appeal to fans of BtVS/Angel/Whedonverse, and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it MIGHT appeal to certain branches of SPN fandom, because despite her floofy exterior, Evie is one kick-ass chick.

Pros

  • Evie’s attitude. She’s just so quirky. The ultimate Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but I love it.
  • IPCA. I like the concept, and it was executed nicely as well.
  • The irreverent treatment of paranormals.
  • Lish and her computer set-up.
  • Lend <3. Definitely one of my fav romantic heroes of the year, and a refreshing change from the overbearing Edward Cullen type commonly seen.
  • White’s research was actually very well done, and she weaves little bits of legend in like it’s nobody’s business.
  • Unseelie Vs. Seelie. FOREVER LOVE

Cons

  • Evie’s ditziness. The same thing that attracted me to Evie turned me off to her just a bit; sometimes when her inner monologues came up I’d just roll my eyes, because I knew she was about to go off on some super-bubbly tangent. It wasn’t enough to detract from my enjoyment of the book, but it was noticeable.
  • Wandering, slightly frenetic plot. I felt like the Seelie Vs. Unseelie concept could have been introduced earlier in the book.

Theme Song: “Everytime We Touch”~ Cascada

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars

Final Grade: A-. Would reread, will definitely read other books in series.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries