Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Rating: 3/5 Hoots

Release Date: March 17, 2011

GoodReads.Com Summary:
 Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.

My Review:
Chime is a unique, atmospheric novel. It is different than anything I've read this year, blending self-discovery, romance and mystical fantasy elements. Briony is an interesting and likeable character, even though she is a bit frustrating at times with her stubborn refusal to believe anything good about herself. I really enjoyed her dark sense of humor- I didn't expect to laugh while reading this book, it was a nice surprise!

The setting adds a lot to the story- Swampsea, an isolated, rural swampland in England at the turn of the century is on the cusp of modernization. However, it is still governed by superstitions of the Old Ones that inhabit the swamp. I loved reading about the lore of the Old Ones- the Boggy Mun, the Dead Hand, and the mint-and-apple smelling brownie.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is the relationships Briony has with the supporting characters. Her friendship and maybe something more with Eldric is so much fun to read about- their funny banter and secret society were awesome! Plus, I think most girls can relate to Briony's struggle to decipher his actions and determine whether he feels the same way about her. I also loved experiencing the change in Briony's relationships with her Father and Rose.  The other village characters are great too- poor Mad Tom, the Chime Child, Leanne, and Tiddy Rex all provided so much color to the story!

The only thing that I did not enjoy about the book was that I felt it dragged a bit in the middle- I figured out what happened before Briony did, which made reading about her struggle to uncover the truth a little tedious. I have mixed feelings about the cover design, it is pretty and really eye-catching, however I don't think it portrays Briony's personality accurately.

Overall, Chime was an interesting and fun book! I would recommend it to sophisticated readers who don't mind taking their time to enjoy the setting and language.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Rating: 4/5 Hoots

Release Date: 9/12/2011

GoodReads.Com Review:
Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. Not all families are so fortunate. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children, and is headed east toward Willa and her mother.
Under police protection, Willa discovers that her mother has harbored secrets that are threatening to boil over. Has everything Willa believed about herself been a lie? As Willa sets out to untangle the mysteries of her past, she keeps her own secret—one that has the potential to tear her family apart.

My Review:
Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It and its two sequels have been on my favorites list for a while, so when I saw that she had a new book coming out this year, I was thrilled. I am pleased to report that Blood Wounds does not disappoint. Although the subject matter differs, the distinctive voice and writing style I enjoyed so much in her other books is present in Blood Wounds too.

The story is intense- Willa’s biological father brutally murders his family, and there is just enough detail to describe how horrific it is, but it is handled tastefully. The murders take place at the beginning of the book, and most of the plot is revolves around how Willa comes to terms with it, and the unexpected consequences it has on her family life.

I admired Willa, and felt compelled to keep reading about her emotional struggles as she copes with the fact that she is related to someone with someone with the capacity for that kind of violence. She is courageous, mature and handles unimaginable events with grace. As I said above, I love Pfeffer’s writing style. The supporting characters in the novel are incredibly well-developed as well- they all have their strengths and their flaws, and the relationships and family dynamic felt realistic and believable to me.

Blood Wounds was a great read, and I would definitely recommend it! I would pair it with Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

In My Mailbox #13

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

All You Desire (Eternal Ones, #2) by Kirsten Miller (GoodReads)

From the Library:
Divergent by Veronica Roth (GoodReads)
Twisted by Sara Shepard (GoodReads)
Supernaturally by Kiersten White (GoodReads)
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa (GoodReads)
Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares (GoodReads) [not pictured]

I had a great week- got lots of things I have been waiting on! I have read Twisted and Sisterhood Everlasting, so should be reviewing those soon! What's in your mailbox?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

Rating: 5/5 Hoots

Release Date: July 26, 2011

GoodReads.Com Summary:
When Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemies, she’s certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer—one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack—and the man—she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.

My Review:
Wow! This sequel to Nightshade does not disappoint! The same intensity, action and emotion I loved in the first book is also present in Wolfsbane. While the first book focuses on Calla’s life among the Guardians, in this book she is thrust into the world of the people she always believed were her enemies, the Searchers. I loved learning more of the mythology of the Searchers, Keepers and Guardians and more of the personal histories of the characters.

We are also introduced to a new group of characters, Searchers on the Haldis team. I enjoyed getting to know each of the new characters (especially Adne, her weaving skills were so cool!), and seeing the return of some of my favorites of Calla’s packmates. Each character has such a unique personality that even though there are a lot of them it is easy to keep them straight. Calla is also an impressive character, I love her strength and how she is completely unapologetic about who she is.

Plot-wise, the love triangle between Calla, Shay and Ren is so compelling! It makes it hard to decide which guy to root for (although I think after this book I am more Team Shay). Calla shares something real with both of them, and they each have their HOT romantic moments! The action/fight scenes do not disappoint either.

I can’t wait for the next installment, Bloodrose!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

In My Mailbox #12

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

From the library:
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler (GoodReads)
Wolfsbane (Nightshade #2) by Andrea Cremer (GoodReads)

For Review:
Waiting to Forget by Sheila Kelly Welch (GoodReads)

Kind of a light week for me, but I was excited to finally read Twenty Boy Summer, and I am so glad to have gotten Wolfsbane! I just started it but will have a review up soon!

What's in your mailbox?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Rating: 5/5 Hoots

Release Date: 6/7/2011 Summary: 
A mysterious island.An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

My Review:
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was a exciting and original adventure with lots of surprises. I enjoyed reading about Jacob's relationship with his grandfather at the beginning of the book- it was a great set-up for the rest of the story. Another original aspect that I thought was interesting was the setting- Cairnholm  Island, off the coast of Wales. It's isolation and primitive living conditions made it an ideal setting for a time travel story- it is almost a place out of time on its own.

I enjoyed the fast pace of the story and was immediately drawn in. Jacob's journey to meet the peculiar children from his Grandfather's stories was fascinating, and I liked reading about each of their personalities and peculiar talents. The author did a great job of weaving in actual historical elements with the fantasy- it added to the magical, spooky atmosphere. Jacob goes through an interesting transformation from loner to leader/hero- I liked seeing him grow into those roles. The romantic storyline is great too- sweet and flirtatious but it does not overpower or detract from the action. Finally, the villains are scary and unlike anything I've read about before!

The design of the book is gorgeous- the cover, the endpapers, and the photographs all contribute to the allure and the overall atmosphere of the story. I think the fact that the collection of strangely fascinating images included in the book are all real photographs that the author found in personal collections is amazing! I am so impressed with how he collected these images and wove such a great story from them!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

In My Mailbox #11

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

I got lots of great books this week! In addition to getting some good books from the library, I visited Booksamillion while my mom and I were in Williamsburg and stocked up on some great titles for $3.97 a piece!! I love their bargain books!

From the library:
Withering Tights by Louise Rennison (GoodReads)
The Lovely Shoes by Susan Shreve (GoodReads)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (GoodReads) Review coming tomorrow!

Choker by Elizabeth Woods (GoodReads)
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves (GoodReads)
The Book of Spells: A Private Prequel by Kate Brian (GoodReads)
The Education of Hailey Kendrick by Eileen Cook (GoodReads)
Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani (GoodReads)
The Six Rules of Maybe by Deb Caletti (GoodReads)
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready (GoodReads)
The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard (GoodReads)

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Great Harry Potter Reread

I just signed up for the Great Harry Potter Reread, hosted by Sarah at Writer, Reader, Dreamer and Alissa at The Grammarian's Reviews. I am a huge Harry Potter fan and look forward to rereading the books and discussing them with other Potterfiles!

They will be reading/discussing 2 books/week for the month of August...head on over and sign up to be part of the fun!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

Rating: 3.5/5 Hoots

Release Date: February 2, 2010

GoodReads.Com Summary:
Everyone has a secret. But Lucy's is bigger and dirtier than most. It's one she's been hiding for years—that her mom's out-of-control hoarding has turned their lives into a world of garbage and shame. Tackling an increasingly discussed topic that is both fascinating and disturbing, C. J. Omololu weaves an hour-by-hour account of Lucy's desperate attempt to save her family. Readers join Lucy on a path from which there is no return, and the impact of hoarding on one teen's life will have them completely hooked. 

My Review:
Dirty Little Secrets was a gripping, intense read! Lucy's life as the daughter of a hoarder was eye-opening- I was aware of people who lived with this disorder but hadn't thought much about how difficult it must be for their families. I felt so bad for Lucy trying to deal with not only the physical constraints of living among mounds of trash and junk but also the emotional mistreatment she receives from her mother. She is such a strong character- even though her brother and sister had left her behind to deal with the situation on her own, she tries to make the best of it. I can't imagine trying to have friends and a crush and knowing that they could never visit your home or know the "real" you. It would be exhausting having to protect a secret like that all the time.

Once Lucy's mother dies, she realizes that she will either have the chance to start a new life with the friends, romance and future she has dreamed of, or her mother's secrets will come to light and change everyone's perceptions of their family. Lucy has to make tough decisions to try to make her bright future possible- I was so nervous to see what would happen that I could not stop reading! I stayed up way too late so I could see what happened. I didn't agree with all the choices she made, but I don't know what I would have done in her situation.

I really enjoyed this book, even though it was disturbing. I liked the fast pace- the story took place over just 2 days, which contributed to the intense, nerve-racking experience! The only reason I didn't give it 5 Hoots was because I didn't feel the solution was realistic for most people- it was satisfying, but seemed really unlikely to me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Keep Sweet by Michele Dominguez Greene

Keep Sweet by Michele Dominguez Greene

Rating: 5/5 Hoots

Release Date: 03/09/2010

GoodReads.Com Summary:
Alva Jane has never questioned her parents, never questioned her faith, never questioned her future. She is content with the strict rules that define her life in Pineridge, the walled community where she lives with her father, his seven wives, and her twenty-eight siblings. This is the only world Alva has ever known, and she has never thought to challenge it. But everything changes when Alva is caught giving her long-time crush an innocent first kiss. Beaten, scorned, and now facing a forced marriage to a violent, fifty-year old man, Alva suddenly realizes how much she has to lose--and how impossible it will be to escape.

My Review:
I loved this book! The plot was riveting and at times horrifying, and it was nearly impossible to put down- I read it in one sitting and you will want to as well! I was so fascinated by the Fundamentalist Mormon lifestyle described in the book, and it seemed like the author had really done her homework in researching these communities.

Alva Jane is a wonderful MC, you quickly become attached to her in her excitement over her pending marriage to the boy she loves and are heartbroken when that possibility is ripped away from her (I promise that was not a spoiler- you find this out right at the beginning). You are sympathetic to her gradual awakening to the injustices and cruel truths of the FLDS community where she has grown up. She is so strong and courageous as she endures abuse at the hands of her family and husband and plots her escape.

I enjoyed the fast paced writing style and the fact that the author did not "talk down" to her young adult audience- she did not hold back despite the difficult subject matter.

I think this book is relevant today, with shows like "Big Love" and "Sister Wives" exploring similar lifestyles and survivors like Carolyn Jessup who have publicized their escape stories from FLDS communities.

Also, how gorgeous is this cover? On the back their is a little portrait of Alva Jane in a high-necked blouse with her long hair braided- I loved that little detail!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) by Ally Carter

Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) by Ally Carter

Rating: 5/5 Hoots

Release Date: June 21, 2011

Review from
Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life: Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.
There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long — and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous, and that is . . . the emerald is cursed.
Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all, she has her best friend — the gorgeous Hale — and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses and realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.
Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

My Review:
I'll gush first- I LOVE these books! I had been (not so) patiently waiting for my copy to come in at the library for 3 loooong weeks, and was so happy when it finally arrived! All the great aspects of Heist Society are present in Uncommon Criminals, plus quite a few more twists and turns!

I adore Kat, the narrator. She is such a great character- so smart and skilled, but with endearing flaws that really make her seem real. She can plan incredibly complicated heists, but when it comes to figuring out guys, she is just as clueless as any regular girl! The rest of her crew are a diverse, fun bunch- Hale is a great guy, and Gabrielle is a total femme fatale- she reminds me a lot of Isabel from Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series.

The story is exciting with lots of unexpected twists. I loved the setting- Monaco, how glamorous! I love reading about the crew planning their next big job, and I love seeing how it all pans out, Ocean's 11 style! The one thing I would have liked was to have seen a little more romance between Kat and Hale- they are very sweet together! This is a book you will want to devour in one sitting!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick

Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick
 Rating: 4/5 Hoots

Release Date: June 22, 2010

GoodReads.Com Summary:
Claire is a #hopelessromantic. Lottie is determined to set up her BFF with Mr. Perfect. Will wants his #secretcrush to finally notice him. Bennett is a man with a plan.
Claire can’t believe it when her dream guy starts following her on Twitter. She never thought he noticed her, and suddenly he seems to understand her better than almost anyone.
But the Twitterverse can be a confusing place, especially when friends act differently online than they do in person. Things get even more complicated when Claire realizes she’s falling for someone else, the last person she ever would have expected….
Told in an innovative format combining tweets, emails, and blogs, Tweet Heart is a contemporary romantic comedy that will set your heart atwitter.

My Review:
When I picked up Tweet Heart, I thought it looked fun but did not have high expectations. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! The first few pages are a bit tricky as you try to remember who is who (which Twitter handle belongs to which person), but you get used to it quickly. Obviously, the most unique aspect of this book is the format- in addition to being told in Tweets, it is also interspersed with blog posts and emails. I think the format will make it really appealing to teens and may even draw in some reluctant readers. It is very well executed too- the overall design is really nice, including profile pictures for each character, twitter backgrounds, and blog headers.

The characters are a lot of fun- the friendships feel genuine, and I liked how much we learned about each person's personality just by reading their friends' tweets. The romance(s) were sweet and fun to watch unfold- maybe a bit predictable but that didn't take away from my enjoyment of them.  The guys are very crush-worthy and sweet- I love underdog guys!

Tweet Heart was a fun take on contemporary romance, and I think it is a great summer read! Throw it in your beach bag and enjoy :-D

Monday, June 27, 2011

In My Mailbox #10

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

*I didn't get this up yesterday, and I don't have a picture this week, but I thought I'd post what I got anyway!*

From the Library:
Die for Me by Amy Plum (GoodReads)
Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowsi (GoodReads)
The FitzOsbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper (GoodReads)
The Dark City by Catherine Fisher (GoodReads)

Purchased from Goodwill:
Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti (GoodReads)
Red Riding Hood by (GoodReads)

I have already read and loved Ten Things We Did (review to come) and am reading Die for Me now- really enjoying it so far!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In My Mailbox #9

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.

I don't have much to report this week...I didn't buy any books this week (*gasp*) and I didn't have any holds come in at the library. I just checked out one book that caught my eye:

From the Library:
Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick (GoodReads)

It came out last summer, but my library just purchased it. Looks like a quick, fun read!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Rating: 5/5 Hoots

Release Date: April 5, 2011 Summary:
John Stephens' aptly-titled new fantasy trilogy begins auspiciously with a nimble, fast-paced tale of three siblings. Kate, Michael, and Emma have suffered through ten years of odious orphanage "care"; now they have slipped into the care of the eccentric, disturbingly mysterious Dr. Pym. While exploring their new home, the children discover a magical green book. With that discovery, a decade of tedium dissolves into cascades of dangerous time travel adventures and struggles with a beautiful witch and decidedly less attractive zombielike Screechers. High early reader marks for strong characterization and battle scenes.

My Review:
I was blown away by this book! The Emerald Atlas is a great read that will have wide appeal to tweens and teens. Readers looking for the next great fantasy/adventure series will be thrilled!  The Emerald Atlas excels in a lot of different areas: plot, characterization, setting, and style. 

The plot has lots of familiar elements- orphans, a quest, magical items, an evil witch, time travel, a magical mentor, dwarves, etc. but John Stephens does an awesome job to incorporate them all into a fresh, original story that grips the reader from the very beginning. I really liked that the excitement began right away- you don't have to wade through 100 pages first to set the story up, it is done concisely in the prologue and first chapter. The story alternates between bursts of intense, exciting action and periods of character development and reflection. I liked that you could never quite tell what was coming next...even if you could guess at the conclusion might be, you would never guess how the characters came to achieve it! 

The characters were all interesting and well developed. The main character is Kate, the oldest of the 3 P. orphans. Her character is devoted to caring for and protecting her brother and sister, and has a strong sense of duty. She is very loyal, brave and tender. The youngest sibling is Emma, and she is the feistiest of the bunch. She hates to be told what to do and often picks fights, but she also has a huge heart. I loved that the girls were both strong female characters in their own ways. The middle sibling is Michael, and he is the bookish one who loves to study things (especially dwarves!). The 3 are a great cohesive family...the squabbles that they have are hilarious, but the underlying love in their relationship is apparent as well. There are great supporting characters too...Gabriel, the tough warrior who forms an unlikey bond with Emma; Mr. Pym the mysterious magician who helps the children on their quest,  and the cruel but beautiful Countess and her lackeys the Screechers were characters you love to hate! 

The setting was original as well- the town of Cambridge Falls is an elusive place where the magical world meets our own. I loved that the setting was pretty timeless...there was nothing to indicate what year it might be, and it was easy to imagine it taking place now, or 20, 30 or even 50 years ago. I like that it will still seem relevant and exciting to readers 10 years down the road.

I really liked John Stephens writing style- it is exciting and easy to follow, and I loved how the story began with the 3 main characters on the same path, and then switched the perspective back and forth as they ended up on their own adventures. I liked how he addressed the time travel issue- I hate when authors use it as a construct of the story and don't explain how it works! I really enjoyed the subtle reminded me a little bit of Series of Unfortunate events, but it wasn't so silly that you didn't take the story seriously. I am amazed at how well he incorporated action & excitement, tender moments, and humor- I love a well-rounded book!

The Emerald Atlas is the first book in the Books of Beginning series- I can't wait to find out what the next books are called and when they will be available!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Everlasting (Immortals #6) by Alyson Noel

Everlasting (Immortals #6) by Alyson Noel
Rating: 4.5/5 Hoots

Release Date: June 7, 2011 Summary:
Everlasting is the sixth and final installment of the epic love story that has enchanted readers across the world. Ever and Damen have spent centuries facing down bitter rivals, jealous friends and their own worst fears-all in the hope of being together forever. Now in Everlasting, their destiny is finally within reach.
Will they be united-or torn apart forever? Readers will finally discover the truth in this anxiously awaited conclusion.

My Review:
I absolutely loved this conclusion to the Immortals series! I think fans of the series will be very satisfied with the ending, and how well Alyson Noel incorporates and wraps up all the threads from previous books. This installment focuses heavily on Ever and not as much on supporting characters. In this book, Ever really has to look inside herself for the strength to undergo a difficult journey, as well as stand by her convictions even when the love of her lives, Damen, does not agree with her. I think readers will find her self-reliance and growth really inspiring.

I don't want to give too much away, but themes of unity, selflessness, perseverence, and redemption are emphasized. I think this one is my favorite of the 6 books in the Immortals series.

Another aspect of this book that I have to mention is the romance! Damen and Ever's relationship is hotter than ever! There were equal parts sweetness and sexiness, and it is so well written. We also get another peek into their previous lives and courtships, and it is pretty amazing! Sorry to be vague but I don't want to spoil any of the fun!

If you haven't tried the Immortals series yet, what are you waiting for?? Pick up Evermore ASAP! And if you've been enjoying the books so far, you should definitely get your hands on a copy of Everlasting!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

In My Mailbox #8

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

This week I have been reading the Gallagher Girls series, so I got a couple of those books from the library and I did a bit more bargain shopping at Booksamillion.

From the Library:
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover (Gallagher Girls #3) by Ally Carter (GoodReads)
Only the Good Spy Young (Gallagher Girls #4) by Ally Carter (GoodReads)

The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper (GoodReads)
Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison (GoodReads)
Everlasting (Immortals, #6) by Alyson Noel (GoodReads)
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb (GoodReads)
After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy (GoodReads)
The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti (GoodReads)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

In My Mailbox #7

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

I had a great book week! I got a couple of books I'd really been looking forward to, and stocked up on some used books at The Cracked Book and Goodwill.

From the Library:
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (GoodReads)
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (GoodReads)

Purchased Used ($8 total!):
Generation Dead by Daniel Waters (GoodReads)
White is for Magic by Laurie Faria Stolarz (GoodReads)
Identical by Ellen Hopkins (GoodReads)
Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2) by Richelle Mead (GoodReads)
Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Peterson Haddix (GoodReads)
Art Geeks and Prom Queens by Alyson Noel (GoodReads)
All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn (GoodReads)
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (GoodReads)

Can't believe the great deals I got this week- I don't have to feel guilty when I only pay about $1/book!

My kitty Jack wanted desperately to be part of the photo shoot:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Release Date: May 10, 2011

Rating: 5/5 Hoots

GoodReads.Com Summary:
In the past two years, Mclean Sweet has moved four times. At each stop, she assumes a new persona, but it never quite works. Whether she's an effervescent cheerleader or an intense drama queen, nothing can permanently dispel the turmoil and rage at her mother since her parents' divorce. Sarah Dessen's novel about a teenager and her restaurant manager father captures the vulnerability that young people often experience after the dissolution of their family. A compelling story; strong characterization; and with a touch of romance.

My Review:

I really enjoyed this book because Sarah Dessen is so talented at creating realistic characters. Mclean Sweet is not perfect, but you can definitely identify with her. She has been thrown into a situation with no good solution, but she tries to do what is right. I appreciate how her parents had depth- they aren't painted as heroes or villains, but real people who sometimes make bad choices. Mclean's conflicted feelings about her mom were totally believable, and I liked that Dessen didn't trade in realism for a nice, neat ending. I think lots of readers can relate to trying to do the best they can in a situation they don't have much control over. I like that although Mclean is young, in some cases she acts more mature than her parents.

Mclean's new friends are great too...I LOVE Deb who is much more than she seems at first. Her neighbor and love interest, Dave is sweet. I liked seeing their relationship slowly unfold. Opal and the other restaurant workers are funny and endearing.

I love all the details and backstory Dessen includes, like Mclean and her Dad's love of basketball, the beach trips she takes with her mom, her Dad's job as a restaurant consultant, and the city model project Opal ropes them into. All these little things combine to make a convincing story.

Some of the other reviews I read faulted the book for a lack of action, and while I would agree that it isn't action-packed I don't think that's a bad thing. Most of the real-life tough situations we have to work through are probably not single, dramatic events but an ongoing struggle, like the one Mclean faces daily- she doesn't want to hurt her Mom, but she also can't pretend that everything is okay.

This is a great read for people who enjoy books that focus on characters and relationships.

I also have to share a fangirl moment:  This book also has a great librarian who helps the MC...I appreciated her being portrayed as young, friendly & cool instead of as a stereotype, so I tweeted about it. Imagine my excitement when Sarah Dessen herself replied!!! She said, "Truth: all the librarians I know are cool. For real!" *Squee!* So, I have to conclude that she is as nice as she seems in her blog!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

In My Mailbox (#6)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

I didn't get a ton of books this week, but the ones I did get look amazing!

From the library:
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (GoodReads)
The Ghoul Next Door (Monster High, Book 2) by Lisi Harrison (GoodReads)
The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy (GoodReads)
Shimmer (Riley Bloom, Book 2) by Alyson Noel (GoodReads)

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (GoodReads)
The Reinvention of Moxie Roosevelt by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel (GoodReads)

I adored What Happened to Goodbye...hopefully will have that review posted later today! I also enjoyed Moxie Roosevelt, and started Ghoul Next Door this morning. Happy Reading!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Rating: 4/5 Hoots

Release Date: 3/1/11 Summary: According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object-an item to concentrate her emotions on. It's supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold's head. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas-it's an alphabetical order thing), but she's never really known him.
The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father's newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it's working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking-er, focusing on-Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He's cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own.
In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance.

My Review:
I really enjoyed Sean Griswold's Head. Lindsey Leavitt did a great job of creating a story that incorporates family, friendship and romance- 3 huge aspects of a teen's life. Payton is a lovable and well-rounded main character- I could really relate to how she struggled to deal with not only finding out that her Dad has MS, but that the rest of the family has known for months and has been keeping it from her.

The romance that develops between Payton and Sean is very sweet, but also realistic- they have misunderstandings and obstacles to overcome. I liked that Payton did not lose herself in their relationship- she found solace in being with Sean, but she didn't totally depend on him. Another great aspect of the story is Payton's friendship with her BFF Jac, who is a fun, colorful character. This is another relationship that is depicted very realistically,  and it grows and changes over the course of the book. I loved reading about Jac's well-meaning interference into Payton's love life and the sometimes disastrous consequences.

Payton definitely changes during the school year that the book covers- at the beginning she is a great student, friend and daughter, but she is also a little immature and self-centered. After she begins coping with her Dad's disease she becomes more compassionate and has a greater understanding and empathy for what other people have gone through, like her friend Jac's experience with her parent's divorce.
Although the book has some serious subject matter, it is also hilarious at times! Payton has a great sarcastic sense of humor, and her run-ins with Grady the Goth/wannabe vampire were so funny that I had to read them aloud to my husband!

Sean Griswold's Head is a great book for fans of contemporary realistic fiction! I would pair Sean Griswold's Head with the Dairy Queen series by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. Both feature strong, sporty (not to mention funny) heroines with family, friendship and romance drama.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Rating: 4/5 Hoots

Release Date: Jan 1, 2011

GoodReads.Com Summary:
After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be — especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.
Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk — so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?
Will Lizzie’s pride and Will’s prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making? Whatever the result, Elizabeth Eulberg, author of The Lonely Hearts Club, has concocted a very funny, completely stylish delight for any season — prom or otherwise.

My Review: 
Prom & Prejudice was a delicious little treat! It was a darling book that I devoured in one sitting. It is a great read for those who already know and love Pride & Prejudice, but I think it would also be a perfect start for teens who are interested in Jane Austen but might be hesitant to tackle the original. I loved seeing how all of my favorite P&P characters were portrayed in this updated version- Wickham & Lydia are especially hilarious, and Darcy is swoon-worthy as always. Caroline Bingham is a perfect example of the girl you love to hate.

The private school setting functioned well to tell the story, and I loved the focus on prom dates versus marriages. Eulberg did an excellent job of making the story accessible to teens while preserving the lightness and spirit of Austen's work.

Overall, it followed the original P&P storyline very closely, although there were a few surprises that I enjoyed discovering.

Prom & Prejudice is a great book for romantics and Austen fans and will introduce many new young readers to a beloved story.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In My Mailbox (#5)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

I had an epic book week- got lots of new titles from the library, found some great YA paperbacks for $1 apiece at BooksAMillion, had an online order come in and more! As you've also probably noticed, I also got an amazing new blog design by my friend Becca at Jumping Jax Designs.

From the Library:
Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler (GoodReads)
Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman (GoodReads)
Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton (GoodReads)
Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg (GoodReads)
Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt (GoodReads)
Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11) by Charlaine Harris (GoodReads)
River Marked (Mercy Thompson #5) by Patricia Briggs (GoodReads)
Hex Education by Emily Gould and Zareen Jaffery (GoodReads)
Abandon by Meg Cabot (Bookperk) (GoodReads)
Roses & Bones by Francesca Lia Block (Bookperk) (GoodReads)
Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan ($1 @ BAM) (GoodReads)
Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman ($1 @ BAM) (GoodReads)
I was a Non-Blonde Cheerleader by Kieran Scott ($1 @ BAM) (GoodReads)
Brunettes Strike Back by Kieran Scott ($1 @ BAM) (GoodReads)
Devilish by Maureen Johnson ($1 @ BAM) (GoodReads)
Throne of Fire (Kane Chronicles, Book 2) by Rick Riordan (GoodReads)
 The funny thing is, for all those books I purchased this week, I only spent about $20! It felt like Christmas morning getting all those YA paperbacks for a buck each at BooksAMillion. Plus, a while ago I had ordered Roses & Bones and Abandon in a BOGO deal from BookPerk, but their computer system had a glitch which told everyone their order had been cancelled. Everyone received the books, and BookPerk credited the accounts back to make up for the confusion, so those 2 books were FREE! Yay! I also bought Throne of Fire, which wasn't too bad for a hardcover- $14. I think I did pretty good to get 9 books for $20!

In other good news, my husband and I are on vacation this week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina! It is beautiful although chillier than expected! I have a lot of reading and relaxing on the agenda this week- here's a snapshot of my view from earlier today....Bliss!

Have a great week!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Entwined by Heather Dixon
Rating: 5/5 Hoots

Release Date: March 29, 2011 Summary:
Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.
The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.
Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.
But there is a cost.
The Keeper likes to keep things.
Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

My Review:
Entwined is a gorgeous book!  Heather Dixon presents a new take on the fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." Azalea and her sisters are charming, spunky heroines. Their personalities were differentiated well (at least the 3 oldest princesses), and they felt believable to me- Azalea is a good leader and a typical first-born, Bramble lives up to her name with a sharp wit and fiery demeanor, and Clover is tenderhearted and sweet. I loved how the sisters cared for one another and related to each other so well. Their passion for dancing and the joy and freedom it brings them is evident throughout the book- I always appreciate when a character's interests are integrated into their personalities, and this was definitely the case with Entwined.

The princesses' relationship with their father, the King, develops wonderfully over the course of the story. He is both gruff and tender, with a dry sense of humor that pops up from time to time to surprise you.

Keeper is an extremely creepy villain, but he is also strangely enticing. The reader is drawn into his web just as the princesses are, and once he begins to show his true nature it is horrifying! The duality of his beautiful appearance and dancing ability with his cruelty is chilling!

My absolute favorite aspect of the book was by far the romances! Of the many gentleman who come to the palace in an attempt to solve the riddle of where the princesses dance at night, 3 suitors stand out. Each is as different, well-rounded, and enjoyable as the sister he pursues. I loved the Austen-esque mix-ups that ensued and the sweet, romantic gestures each suitor performed. Dixon is skilled at writing lovely kissing scenes with just the right amount of build-up!

Like the dance for which it is named, Entwined will quickly have you entangled in this beautiful book!

**Thanks so much to the lovely and talented Becca at Jumping Jax Designs, who created this AMAZING blog design for me!**

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Rating: 4/5 Hoots

Release Date: April 26, 2011

Summary from
Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny's backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.
Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he's found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.

My Review:

I adored Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, so I was thrilled to be able to get The Last Little Blue Envelope from NetGalley. This book was a lovely follow-up to the original. We pick up with Ginny, more mature and willing to take risks after her first European adventure, but struggling to capture that experience in a meaningful way in her college application essays. The adventure with the final envelope from her Aunt Peg gives her an opportunity to figure out a few more things about herself, her aunt,  and her future. In this book Ginny doesn't experience as much personal growth and change as she did in the first one, but she is able to use her new strengths to cope with the ups and downs she experiences as she follows the last letter's instructions.

Readers who loved the European travel in Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes will be pleased that the spirit of adventure and spontanaeity is prevalent in this book too. It is so much fun to read about Ginny's travels!

My favorite aspect of the book is the cast of characters. Each of them are unique and well-developed. My absolute favorite character is Ginny's uncle Richard, he is so sweet and funny and he is always there for Ginny. It is also fun (but bittersweet) to get to know Ginny's Aunt Peg through her letters and through the memories her friends share about her. I could totally relate to Ginny's experience with Ellis, her maybe-boyfriend's maybe-girlfriend...she is too sweet and bubbly to dislike, no matter how much you want to! The only character I was disappointed in was Keith...I felt that he was a little over the top with bullying Oliver and it was hard to see what Ginny found attractive about him.

The romance in the story was was a little bit predictable but still satisfying, with a wonderful kiss too!

Overall, The Last Little Blue Envelope was a great read, with elements of romance, adventure and self-discovery that readers will love.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (#4)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin (GoodReads)

From the Library:
Strings Attached by Judy Blundell (GoodReads)
Confessions of a Not It Girl by Melissa Kantor (GoodReads)
Little Princes by Conor Grennan (GoodReads)
The Hidden Gallery (Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, #2) by Maryrose Wood (GoodReads)
From NetGalley:
Wherever You Go by Heather Davis (GoodReads)
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross (GoodReads)
68 Knots by Michael Roberts Evans (GoodReads)
Two Moon Princess by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban (GoodReads)

Sorry for the lack of posting this week...I have been doing a lot of reading though! I have reviews in the works for: 

Sharks & Boys by Kristen Tracy (GoodReads)
The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch (GoodReads)
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent (GoodReads)
The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson (GoodReads)

Please check back this week to see reviews of these great books and more!

Thanks and Happy Reading!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (#3)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. This week I received lots of great books from the library- a lot of books I had been waiting for finally came in! I also got some amazing ARCs from NetGalley, and one ARC in the mail that looks awesome too!

From Library:
The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge (GoodReads)
Across the Universe by Beth Revis (GoodReads)
Demonglass (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins (My Review|GoodReads)
Jenna & Johnah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin (GoodReads)
My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers #1) by Rachel Vincent (GoodReads)
Desires of the Dead (Body Finder #2) by Kimberly Derting (My Review | GoodReads)

From NetGalley:
Bumped by Megan McCafferty (GoodReads)
Hereafter by Tara Hudson (GoodReads)
Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi (GoodReads)
Queen of the Dead (Ghost & the Goth #2) by Stacey Kade (GoodReads)
Sharks & Boys by Kristin Tracy (GoodReads)
Shine by Lauren Myracle (GoodReads)
The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson (GoodReads)
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (GoodReads)

ARC for review:
Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray (GoodReads)
I am reading My Soul to Take  and Sharks & Boys right now, so look for those reviews coming soon!

Have a great week of reading, everyone!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Demonglass by Rachel Hawking

Demonglass (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins

Rating: 5/5 Hoots

Release Date: March 1, 2011 Summary:
Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

My Review:
I absolutely loved Demonglass! I read Hex Hall last year, and while I enjoyed it I wasn't overly impressed. Maybe I was just in a funk when I read the first book, because I adored this one! Sophie is such a fun, compelling character. I love her sarcastic sense of humor- something she and I definitely have in common! Many of her one-liners had me laughing out loud. In Demonglass, one of the things she struggles a bit with is learning who she should trust- she has been betrayed before, or so it seems, and many of the people in her world are not who they seem.

Sophie's friends and family are great as well- Jenna is a supportive, loyal BFF, plus she is an uber-girly, pink-loving vampire- what a combo! Nick and Daisy are creepy, but so interesting! And who could forget the TWO swoon-worthy guys- Archer, the heartbreaker she fell for in book 1, and  Cal, the cute, quiet boy with a talent for healing and growing things. You can't go wrong with those two! Sophie gets to know her father better in this book as well, and there is a lot more to him than we saw in the first book!

Another issue that Sophie is working through in this book is learning to embrace her demon side. It is hard for her to decide whether to risk eventually hurting someone and keeping her powers or to attempt going through the Removal to ensure she never does. Although the demon aspect of the story is truly unique, I think teens will relate to Sophie's struggle to reconcile all the different parts of her self.

The story was fast-paced and quickly drew me in.  Hawkins deftly weaves together elements of friendship, romance, politics and self discovery to create a story I did not want to leave. I was reading it on my lunch break and I hated to put it down and go back to work! I had to finish it as soon as I got home. 

I hope the next book is coming out soon, because I cannot wait to find out what happens to Sophie and her friends!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

Desires of the Dead (The Body Finder #2)

Rating: 5/5 Hoots

Release Date: February 15, 2011 Summary:
The missing dead call to Violet. They want to be found.
Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life.
As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.

My Review:
I adored The Body Finder and had been eagerly awaiting its sequel, Desires of the Dead. I am happy to report that I was not disappointed!   Desires of the Dead had the same spooky, suspenseful tone as The Body Finder. I have read some great books lately, but this is the first one in a while that I truly could not put down. I had to find out what would happen to Violet next!

In this book Violet is being threatened by an unknown classmate and also trying to come to terms with her peculiar gift to sense and locate the dead. Over the course of the book she begins to change the way she views herself and her talent- she begins to see it as something which could be useful, instead of a curse that she is saddled with. I really enjoyed that element of growth in Violet.

The mystery/suspense elements of the book were great too. I kept thinking I had figured it out, then I would turn a page and *GASP* it wasn't who I thought it was! Plus, the book opens with a terrifying scene, and then goes back several weeks and covers all the events leading up to it, so you are already afraid for Violet from page one and have to wait over the whole book to see if she can get herself out of it.

In addition to the great suspense and character development, the romance in Desires of the Dead is very sweet as well. Violet and Jay experience some ups and downs and go through many changes in their relationship which I think many teen readers will be able to relate too. Jay is such a thoughtful and romantic boyfriend for Violet- he makes a great book crush!

The only thing that I found to be a little distracting in Desires of the Dead is how much time is devoted to describing Violet's obnoxious BFF Chelsea and her crush on the new guy, Mike. Otherwise, it was an excellent book that it is easy to become completely absorbed in!

I would pair Desires of the Dead with the Touch series by Laurie Faria Stolarz, All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab, The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams, and the Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr

Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr

 Rating: 4/5 Hoots

Release Date: Feb. 22, 2011 Summary:
The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey.
Aislinn tends to the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan works from afar to strengthen his court against the coming war. Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life.
Love, despair, and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict, some will win . . . and some will lose everything.
The thrilling conclusion to Melissa Marr's New York Times bestselling Wicked Lovely series will leave readers breathless.

My Review:
Darkest Mercy was an exciting and highly satisfying conclusion to the Wicked Lovely series. Just as she did in her previous books, Melissa Marr creates a beautiful, dangerous world that draws the reader in. The juxtaposition of beauty and cruelty in faerie is fascinating. Marr also explores the fine line between love and hate and sanity and madness.

I loved the strength of the female characters in this book. Aislinn is finally coming into her own as the Summer Queen and Donia, who has always been strong, is now the toughest and most stable of all the regents and always puts her court first above her own desires. Even the story's ruthless antagaonist, Bananach, is awesome in her own, evil way.

I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone, so I won't go into how all of our favorite characters end up. I will say that I was thrilled with the final outcome and loved how all the storylines of the previous books came together. The only character that I wanted to know more about was Ani- after hearing so much about her in Radiant Shadows I was surprised that she didn't appear more in this book.

The only thing that kept me from giving it 5/5 hoots was that I spent the first half trying to remember who everyone was and what their motivations were, and how things stood at the end of the last book. It's my own fault, but I think I would have enjoyed Darkest Mercy more if I had re-read at least some of the earlier books in the series. I would definitely say the whole series is worth reareading and I will probably revisit all of the books later.

I would pair this book with Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston, Glimmerglass by Jenna Black and Lament by Maggie Stiefvater.