Monday, April 11, 2011

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Heist Society is one heck of a book. I wanted to read it because it is so popular with teen girls, but I wasn't very excited about the prospect. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Ally Carter is a great, entertaining writer and Heist Society is a fast-paced, wonderful ride.
Kat Bishop comes from a notorious family of thieves, art thieves to be exact. When the book opens she is a resident at a posh boarding school, having left the family business to attempt life as a normal teen. When her friend Hale purposely gets her kicked out of school she rejoins her family and finds herself right back in the thick of the action.
An art collection has been stolen from a very wealthy, very scary Italian and he wants it back. Mr. Taccone believes Kat's father has stolen the pieces and if she doesn't recover them her father will pay. What should she do?
Teeming with lively teen characters and interesting adult ones, Heist Society is a clever page-turner that will appeal to girls thirteen and older. Carter has created a new series that will attract teens who enjoy adventure, romance and humor.
The second book in the series, Uncommon Criminals, hits the shelves in June.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick

My Swordhand is Singing uses the origins of the vampire legend in Eastern Europe to create a chilling and dark story of the supernatural. Peter and his father Tomas have finally settled in as woodcutters in a small village in the forest after wandering for years. Their business is flourishing and they are beginning to be accepted by the villagers. After several mysterious deaths and the arrival of gypsies in the village, Peter realizes that strange secrets surround his family, several held by his own father. When he bravely violates village rules to help a friend, he encounters the horror among them and joins forces with a fiery gypsy girl to save the village. 
This is the third Sedgwick novel I've read and they've all been excellent. He writes the father/son relationship especially well and his depiction of the supernatural is terrifyingly believable. 
I really enjoyed reading about the original vampire legends and how much they differ from the vampire myth of today. 
Sedgwick is a master of atmosphere, describing the setting so well that I could feel the cold, the chill, the darkness of a winter in the forest.
His books are perfect for boys or girls who like setting and the supernatural over fast-paced, plot-driven novels.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lips Touch by Laini Taylor

Nominated for a National Book Award in 2009, Lips Touch is the first young adult novel written by Laini Taylor. It is composed of three stories that take the reader into a world of goblins, demons, hell, curses and kisses. Sound incongruous? It all makes sense when you realize that kisses can be dangerous. 

The first story in the book,Goblin Fruit, is the strongest and my favorite, maybe. Kizzy is a high school student who longs to be beautiful, alluring and attractive to men. But she's not. This makes her the perfect victim for goblins who prey on girls just like her. When a new boy starts school and is immediately attentive to her she responds, though she's been warned by her grandmother to be alert to beautiful men and situations that seem too-good-to-be-true. As relations quicken between Kizzy and Jack she ignores the signs her grandmother is sending, until one final moment of decision. This story is highly sensual and evokes the feelings and atmosphere of Goblin Market, the famous Christina Rossetti poem, perfectly, yet with a modern sensibility.

The second story, Spicy Little Curses Such as These, is set during the British Raj and centers on a curse. At birth Anamique is cursed with the most beautiful voice ever heard, but one that would kill any human who happens to hear it. She lives her life in silent motion, begged by the servants to never utter a sound. At 17 she falls in love with a damaged war veteran and struggles with her desire to tell him of her love. Will the curse be violated or will she remain without a voice? This story didn't capture my interest as much as the other two, but I think it is mainly because I don't really care for the time period or subject matter. It has nothing to do with Taylor's writing.
The third story is longer than the other two and maddeningly fascinating. Hatchling relates the tale of Esme, a sheltered fourteen-year-old whose life changes dramatically when she wakes up one morning with one blue eye and one brown eye. From this she discovers her mother's shocking history as a "milk sacrifice" to a frightening race of soulless vampire/werewolf like creatures. Hatchling felt Eastern European, black forest, wolfish and dark. I loved it. I think this may be my favorite story. 
The illustrations by Taylor's gifted husband, Jim di Bartolo, help create the right atmosphere for her writing.

Taylor is a magnificent and imaginative writer. Her prose is lush without being flowery and gorgeous to read. I am truly in love with her. Her next YA novel will be released in October. I have baited breath.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

Exposed is a novel in verse that recounts the experience of Liz after her brother is accused of raping her best friend, Kate.
Liz and Kate have been friends since elementary school, "forever-bests", who spend one Saturday a month sleeping over at each other's houses and spending time alone without their boyfriends. This particular Saturday they get into a nasty argument as Liz insults Kate's boyfriend for being a wet blanket and Kate takes offense. Liz tears off to sleep in her room leaving Kate on the couch.
The next morning, Kate is gone.
When Kate won't speak to her or let her apologize, Liz assumes that she is still upset over their argument. But as days turn into weeks she realizes that something more is troubling Kate and she demands to know what. When she finds out that Kate has accused her brother, Mike, of rape she wishes she had never asked.
Marcus does an excellent job at creating the conflicting emotions that Liz experiences as she tries to decide who to believe. Her passion for photography is interwoven through the story, giving us a look at the world through Liz's eyes as she photographs her surroundings.
Though I usually cringe at the thought of reading verse novels, the few that I've read I have really enjoyed. There is something so to the point, yet elusive in their form that works very well in relating dramatic and forceful stories.
This is a convincing novel that does not have a neat solution. For readers who like a firm ending, Exposed won't do. It creates more questions than it answers.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reading Plans for 2011

My big project in 2011 will be Reading Between the Wars and today I went through my bookcase looking for books that will fit the challenge. Here is a list of titles I own that were published during the interwar years:

The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton (1920)
Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier (1938)
Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf (1925)
The Last September - Elizabeth Bowen (1929)
Light in August - William Faulkner (1932)
Death Comes for the Archbishop - Willa Cather (1927)
Out of Africa - Isak Dinesen (1937)
The Rector's Daughter - F.M. Mayor (1924)
To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf (1927)
A Room of One's Own - Virginia Woolf (1929)
The Day of the Locust - Nathanael West (1939)
Weeds -Edith Summers Kelly (1923)
The Good Earth - Pearl Buck (1931)
Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
This Side of Paradise - F. Scott Fitzgerald (1920)
A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway (1929)
Goodbye to All That - Robert Graves (1929)
Voyage in the Dark - Jean Rhys (1934)
The Moon and Sixpence - Somerset Maugham (1919)
After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie - Jean Rhys (1930)
Invitation to the Waltz - Rosamond Lehmann (1932)
Grand Hotel - Vicki Baum (1930)

Have you read any of these? Any that you passionately love/violently hate? 

It's been interesting reading about other bloggers plans for 2011 ~ it seems the major trend is to read what you already own and cut down on the amount of challenges. 

I'm definitely going to be reading more of my own books this next year and try to resist purchasing any new titles until a make a dent in my TBR list. I really like the plan that Karen from Books and Chocolate is going to institute and may follow something similar myself.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

An Invitation for the New Year

I'm inviting all book bloggers to join me in the new year at Reading Between the Wars, a new group blog devoted to the literature and history of the Interwar years. Inspired by the readers at Our Mutual Read, I want to share my curiosity and new found interest in the years between the wars, 1918-1939, with other book bloggers. Head on over and check out the blog ~ if you're interested in participating, please don't hesitate in contacting me. The new year is almost here!

Book Blogger Hop

This week's hop question is:

"What do you consider most important in a story: the plot or the characters?"

The perfect book has an intriguing plot and well-drawn characters, but if I have to choose I pick characters. I like interior, domestic fiction where the characters are believable and where the reader feels a sense of identification with at least one character or can feel sympathy for them. Life is about people and relationships and I like that to be mirrored in the novels I read. However, I do occasionally enjoy a purely plot-driven novel like Whiteout by Ken Follett.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


It is nine days til Christmas and the only reading I have been doing lately is craft tutorials on the internet. And I have to say it is pretty dang good reading! I am so grateful that in today's world, I can learn how to do/make just about anything I can think of from the comfort of my own home. It is amazing the vast stores of knowledge at my fingertips. I am just completely blown away at the moment by the overwhelming miracle of it all. Let me tell you what I am making courtesy of the internet and the kind people who share their skills via the internet: dolls, doll shoes, a doll capelet, a teddy bear, felt tea party food, a cake stand, a two tiered dessert tray, bath soap paint, bird softies, wreath ornaments, headbands, fabric flowers, wilted satin flowers, and bath salts. Not to mention all the great Christmas recipes I got online. I am so grateful that I can read.

"Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting." -Aldous Huxley

Merry Christmas! Remember that to be able to read is a beautiful gift!

Random Notes

  • I'm in the midst of reading two books at the moment - The Blue Hour, a biography of Jean Rhys by Lillian Pizzichini and Days of Grace, a debut novel by Catherine Hall.
  • I may have more reading time come February when my work schedule will probably shift to a 9/80 schedule. I'll work 5 nine-hour days one week, 3 the next, plus an eight-hour day, then have a day off. So I'd have a day off in the middle of the week every other week. Yay! A whole day to read, run errands, etc. I don't mind working nine-hour days to have an extra day off.
  • I think I'm deeming 2011 "The Year of Selfish Reading". I'm going to read whatever I want, whenever I want. I don't want to join any challenges, unless they suit my mood, or set ridiculous reading goals for myself. My Booker challenge I started back in September has fallen on its face. I do want to participate in the Persephone Virago Reading Week in January and I've also signed up for the Classics Circuit, but that is all for now.
  • I was going to do a post revealing my favorite books of 2010, but I don't have any! 2010 was not the best year of reading for me. I didn't read very much and I didn't read what I really wanted to read. So, no favorite books from me this year.
  • Happy Birthday to Jane Austen!