A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

author’s website:
Alex Flinn
appeals to: Young Adult
genre: Contemporary Fantasy
length: 371 pages
overall rating: 4 stars

*the inside flap*
Talia fell under a spell…Jack broke the curse.
I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic…
I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.
I awakened in the same place but in another time – to a stranger’s soft kiss.
I couldn’t help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn’t know this would happen.
Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!
Now I’m stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels....The good news: My parents will freak!
Think you have dating issues? Try locking lips with a snoozing stunner who turns out to be 316 years old. Can a kiss transcend all – even time?

*my review*
I picked this book up thinking that a retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” would be a quick, fun read, but this book far exceeded my expectations! I love the twist that 300 years have passed before the spell is broken. It seems that Princess Talia has no clue about how to handle herself in the 21st century, and expects Jack to respond to her every need. But as you read, you realize that Talia has it more together than you would think, and that Jack hasn’t really got a handle on where his life is headed.

When Talia awakens, she comes across as na├»ve, bratty, and spoiled – but then again, she is a princess from the 17th century, so she is probably supposed to be that way. However, in a modern world, that just comes across as clingy, whiny, and needy…especially to Jack! As the story continues, Talia begins to learn about the modern world and adapt to it. Her diplomacy skills are mentioned and highlighted in several scenes, and I grew to really like her character.

Jack comes across as cocky and slightly arrogant in the beginning of the book, but as you learn more about his family, you realize that the arrogance is really just a shield from his parents’ lack of faith in him. He grows in confidence throughout the book, and I think events toward the end really made him quite likable.

The story is told with chapters alternating in perspective between Talia and Jack. I think it really adds to the telling, because both Jack and Talia are thinking things that are quite different than their actions. The first-person perspective makes it easier to understand the characters and shows that Flinn has really created depth in both of them.

Overall, I really enjoyed this retelling of Sleeping Beauty with a modern twist.

*short and snappy*
: light – I especially like that Talia’s speaking is very proper, as is fitting a 17th century princess (this detail also comes through in Talia’s clothing choices and mannerisms)
plot: cute and enjoyable, and, while slightly predictable, there were a few unexpected twists characters: complex – both Talia and Jack have moments that you love them and moments that you hate them, but Flinn created depth in both
judging by the cover: I love the cover and it really ties in to the story (but I pictured Talia differently)
miscellaneous: There is an excerpt from chapter 1 on Alex Flinn’s website (here)

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that talks about books that have been bought, swapped, received for review, or borrowed from the library. It is hosted by Kristy at The Story Siren.

This week, I didn’t buy any books, but that isn’t all that unusual for me. I am a HUGE fan of the public library system, and I visit quite frequently. Usually, I visit the library branch that is closest to my house. This week, however, I took a trip to our downtown “main” library branch – and I was like a kid in a candy store for two main reasons: first, there is an entire room dedicated to Young Adult materials, and second, that YA room is larger than my normal branch.
SO…this week’s books are all from the Library:
Very Lefreak – Rachel Cohn
Undead Much – Stacey Jay
Devoured – Amanda Marrone
Vampire Kisses: The Beginning – Ellen Schreiber
(This book actual contains the first three books in the Vampire Kisses series: 1. Vampire Kisses, 2. Kissing Coffins, and 3. Vampireville)
Living Dead Girl - Elizabeth Scott
(On her website, the author notes that this book is listed as being for ages 16 and up)
Something, Maybe – Elizabeth Scott
Stealing Heaven - Elizabeth Scott
Stuck In The Middle – Virginia Smith (not YA)
Third Time's A Charm: A Novel - Virginia Smith (not YA)
The Espressologist – Kristina Springer
Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie – Maggie Stiefvater
The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading – Charity Tahmaseb
The Secret Hour – Scott Westerfeld (Midnighters #1)
Touching Darkness - Scott Westerfeld (Midnighters #2)

I’m pretty excited about all of these books! I’d love to hear any advice on books to send to the top of the stack!

Firespell by Chloe Neill

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Firespell by Chloe Neill
(A Debut Author Challenge novel!)

author’s website:
Chloe Neill
release date: January 5, 2010
appeals to: Young Adult
genre: Fantasy
length: 256 pages
overall rating: 4 Stars

*the back cover*
When Lily’s parents decide to send her away to a fancy boarding school in Chicago, she is not happy. Lily’s classmates are the ultrarich brat-pack type – and if that isn’t enough, she’s hearing and seeing bizarre things on St. Sophia’s creepy campus.

The only thing keeping her sane is her roommate, Scout, but even Scout’s a little weird – she keeps disappearing late at night. When a prank leaves Lily trapped in the catacombs beneath the school, Lily finds Scout, who’s running from a real-life monster. Scout is part of a splinter group of rebel teens who protect Chicago from demons, vamps, and the gone-to-the-dark-side magic users called Reapers. She lets Lily in on her secret, even though Lily has no powers of her own…or at least none she’s discovered yet.

*my review*
I have been looking forward to reading this, so I was excited to get this book from the library, and it (mostly) lived up to my expectations. When I started reading this book, I thought that the beginning was a little bit slow moving. However, as I continued, I realized that Neill was just taking time to create Lily’s character. That time spent developing the character made Lily very easy to relate to. I could really understand her feelings and frustrations much more than I could have if the background hadn’t been established early in the book. I also enjoyed Scout and her quirky personality. Even the Brat Pack was amusing - they are the girls every teenager encounters at some point!

There are quite a few interesting twists in this book – with supernatural powers and characters being introduced or hinted at throughout - but much of the “action” is reserved for the last few chapters. There is a conclusion to the story presented in this book, but it is also very well set up to lead into a sequel. And, with the supernatural elements, secret societies, fun characters, and secrets presented in this book, I’m excited to read that sequel!

*short and snappy*
writing: detailed (but not boring) – Neill takes her time developing characters and setting up the plot
plot: slow to start, but it definitely picks up at the end
characters: Lily is well developed, but I feel like we don’t know everything yet. I think there is also a lot to learn about the “supporting” characters.
judging by the cover: an intriguing cover, but not necessarily connected to the plot
miscellaneous: You can read chapter one of this book on line
here. Hexbound (the next book) is set to release in January of 2011.

In My Mailbox (1)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that talks about books that have been bought, swapped, received for review, or borrowed from the library. It is hosted by Kristy at The Story Siren.

This is my first in my mailbox, and it was an exciting week to choose as week 1!
As a teacher, I am a huge fan of Scholastic book clubs. This week, I got my latest shipment, which adds a LOT more than I would normally purchase!

From Scholastic:

Firegirl – Tony Abbott
Things Not Seen – Andrew Clements
Things Hoped For – Andrew Clements
Things That Are – Andrew Clements
Extra Credit – Andrew Clements
Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine
Fairest - Gail Carson Levine
Oh My Gods Mythlopedia - Megan E. Bryant

For my neice's upcoming 9th birthday:
Pet Trouble: Oh No Newf! - Tui T. Sutherland
News for Dogs - Lois Duncan

From the Library:
Firespell - Chloe Neill (for the debut author challenge)
Liar - Justine Larbalestier
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate – Jacqueline Kelly
Flawless: a Pretty Little Liars Novel – Sara Shepard
A Kiss in Time – Alex Flinn
Pretty Little Liars – Sara Shepard
Snapped – Pamela Klaffke
Magic Under Glass – Jaclyn Dolamore

This should be plenty to keep me busy for a while - enjoy your week in reading!

Love You, Hate You, Miss You by Elizabeth Scott

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Love You, Hate You, Miss You by Elizabeth Scott

author website: Elizabeth Scott
release date: June 1, 2009
appeals to: Young Adult
genre: Fiction
length: 276 pages
overall rating: 4 stars

*the inside flap*
It's been seventy-five days. Amy's sick of her parents suddenly taking an interest in her. And she's really sick of people asking her about Julia. Julia's gone, and Amy doesn't want to talk about it. They wouldn’t get it, anyway. They wouldn’t understand what it feels like to have your best friend ripped away from you.
They wouldn’t understand what it feels like to know it’s your fault.
Amy’s shrink thinks it would help to start a diary. Instead, Amy starts writing letters to Julia.
But as she writes letter after letter, she begins to realize that the past wasn’t as perfect as she thought it was – and the present deserves a chance too.

*my review*
This story starts out as Amy is being released from a teen rehab center, 75 days after her best friend, Julia, dies in a car accident. For her continued therapy, Amy writes in a journal, but only in the form of letters to Julia. Amy tells her story in a combination of these letters and a narration of her daily life. As the story unfolds, the letters to Julia and Amy’s daily conversations with teachers, classmates, her parents, and her therapist start to paint a picture of the overwhelming guilt and emotional pain that Amy feels. We also see her constant struggle to make the choice not to drink.
The references to drinking, drug use, and casual sex in this story may make it uncomfortable for younger readers, but none of those things are glorified in this story. Amy knows that she has used drinking to dull reality, and without it, she feels the need to keep everyone at a distance. The characters Elizabeth Scott has created are deeply developed and definitely add to the story with their own quirks. Scenes with Amy’s so in love they’re oblivious parents help you to understand why Amy feels unloved. And her school friends, Mel, Patrick, and Caro, all have issues of their own that make them seem quite realistic. Overall, this is a story of the personal growth of a teenager who has decided to take ownership of her life.

*short and snappy*
: authentic – readers will feel connected to Amy whether they’ve had similar experiences or not
plot: quick moving, but slow enough to let you feel how hard it is for Amy to move on
characters: deep – all of the characters have incredible depth; they are dealing with real issues
judging by the cover: I love the cover, but it doesn’t give anything away
miscellaneous: this book was on the ALA’s “
2010 Best Books for Young Adults” list

Linger - only 5 months and 6 days left

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Linger Cover LargeIn Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.

Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th. Pre-order here.

Enter to win an advanced review copies of LINGER, Sisters Red, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Replacement on Maggie's blog.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
author: Jenny Han
release date: May 5, 2009 (Paperback -- April 9, 2010)
appeals to: Young Adult
genre: Contemporary/Romance
length: 288 pages
overall rating: 4 stars

*the inside flap*
Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

*my review*
The Summer I Turned Pretty describes the kind of summer I wish I could have had growing up. Belly is an ordinary 15-year-old girl who doesn’t understand why she is getting more attention from boys than she is used to. She also doesn’t really care, because she isn’t getting the attention from the boy she wants it from. While reading about Belly’s experiences and emotions, the descriptions are so realistic that I felt like I could have been having those same feelings – at I’m sure I did at fifteen. Flashback chapters give a feel for the embarrassment that Belly felt growing up as she developed crushes on the boys who saw her as a little sister.

The summer romance angle in this story doesn’t seem contrived, and is again what any girl would love: boys, the beach, bonfires, and not a care in the world otherwise. My one complaint would be that Belly was a bit whiny and indecisive. I found myself feeling like Belly needed to pick a boy and get over the others. She had three great options! She also tells about how she doesn’t need the “No Pouting” rule anymore, but then goes off to pout. This being said, I think we all know how easy it is to pout when crushes go unnoticed or, even worse, when they are unreturned. Jenny Han captures the emotions of a teenager’s first love and the angst and confusion that accompany that experience. And the ending definitely left me wanting more.

*short and snappy*

writing: smooth & genuine – Han captures the emotions and experiences of a teenager’s summer and first love
plot: realistic – boys, the beach, bonfires, love, confusion, all ingredients of a real teen summer
characters: multifaceted – even the minor characters are very developed
judging by the cover: it gets you in the mood for a good summer romance
miscellaneous: because of its summer setting, this would be a great book to read on the beach OR to read if you can’t get to the beach

why i've been m.i.a.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I coach swimming and the season just started, so things have been crazy for the last 2 weeks.

I have 4 reviews in the works, and will try to get them up this weekend, but in the mean time, here is a quick review of my recent reading:
Wake by Lisa McMann - wonderful!
Fade by Lisa McMann - also wonderful - maybe better than Wake
Willow by Julia Hoban - easily a 5 star book - I would highly recommend this!
Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund - a good story - maybe 3 1/2 stars
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