Books I've Read

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I just noticed yesterday that I now have 100 followers! That’s just amazing to me! Thank you all so much for joining me in my daily book geekery!

lolaToday’s review is one I’ve been waiting to do for a while now: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. I really like this book, but I also really like the author. I got to meet Stephanie Perkins back in March when she was on a book tour with Maureen Johnson. She is such a sweetie and everyone there had such a great time! So this book review is coming to you from a book signed with purple Sharpie, because that’s just how I roll.

The book tells the story of Lola, a teenage girl growing up in San Fransisco with her two dads, a dog, and a seemingly perfect life. Lola has the perfect boyfriend – an older boy who plays in a rock band. She loves making clothes out of anything she can get her hands on (and I really love how she says that they’re not outfits, they’re costumes!). But everything changes when a certain boy moves in next door.

The family who moves in has lived there before. They move around a lot because their daughter, Calliope, is a world champion figure skater who is preparing for the Olympics. Calliope’s twin brother, Cricket, has always lived in his sister’s shadow. He has also always had a thing for Lola, a feeling that Lola secretly reciprocates. But having feelings for Cricket, the gorgeous-yet-geeky boy next door, isn’t part of Lola’s plan. She isn’t supposed to like him, is she? It doesn’t matter that he’s better for her, or that her parents like him, or anything else. Lola’s life is just fine the way it is. Or is it?

Just like Anna and the French Kiss, Perkins weaves a cute, romantic story with the right amount of quirkiness and fun. Oh, and Anna and St. Clair make a few guest appearances in this book too, which made me very happy. Both of these books make great summer reads, so go out and get them! Both of them!

Books I've Read

Book Review: Of Shadow Born by Dianne Sylvan

I don’t think it’s any secret that I love, love, love these books. They are some of the best vampire novels out there, in my opinion, and everybody knows that these days, vampire books are everywhere. To me, these books stand out not just because of the engaging characters and the snarky sense of humor on every page, but because they feel real. I think if vampires really did exist, they would exist in this fashion. I was especially excited to get Of Shadow Born because the cliffhanger from Shadow’s Fall nearly drove me insane. I can’t speak properly of Of Shadow Born without giving away a huge spoiler, so like before, the complete spoiler-filled review will be below the cover art.

of shadow born

Still with me? Good. Moving on.

I was so upset at the end of Shadow’s Fall. David Solomon is one of my favorite characters ever, vampire or not, so to see him killed in such a brutal manner was heartrending. It was clear, though, that he may not be quite as dead as you think, and I was dying to find out what exactly that meant.

Miranda’s grief is palpable throughout the pages as she tries to move on after David’s death. A Queen is not supposed to outlive her Prime. When one dies, the other dies too – it’s part of the magic of the Signets. Now she has to try and hold everything together, despite her despair. She is an unbelievably strong woman.

There are a lot of things in this book that I can’t even do justice to in this review. David has not died, but has been reborn in a way. We learn a little bit more about vampire mythology, at least how it works in this particular series, including their connections with the goddess Persephone. We also learn a bit of their history, with the first vampires being the Firstborn, and current day vampires being the Secondborn. David is now a Thirdborn, which has a lot of benefits, but also a lot of consequences. For one thing, he has lost the telepathic link he has always had with Miranda. There is also a strange connection between David, Miranda, Deven, Jonathan, Jacob and Cora. They can sense when something is happening to one of the others. It’s a strange twist.

There’s also still political drama. Prime Hart is still causing trouble, and there is a mysterious group, the Morningstar, that is trying to take out all non-humans. And then there’s Jeremy, the vampire who was responsible for David’s death/transformation, and let me just say that his motives are as twisted and tangled as his story line.

There are several new characters that I also enjoyed, or old characters that got a lot more screentime (pagetime?).  Stella, the daughter of the chief of police, who also happens to be a witch. Olivia, a vampire who was once a Second, but who is now living on the fringes of society (until a near-unconscious David ends up on her doorstep). We also learn a lot more about Deven, whose mysterious past includes not being entirely vampire or human.

Like I said, I can’t do this book justice, and it’s very hard to explain why I liked it without going into tons of detail about the first three books. Let me just say this – I loved this book so much. I love this series so much. If you haven’t read them, and you like urban fantasy and vampires, then you need to go read them. Now. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.00.

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday for May 29th

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Can you believe May is almost over? I sure can’t! Oh well. Here’s a WWW Wednesday post, hosted once again by MizB at “Should Be Reading.” Three questions, three answers. Let’s go!

What are you currently reading?

I’m still working on Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. I would have finished it before now, but I’ve had other books come up that I had to read for various things. Which brings me to . . .

What did you recently finish reading?

I finished Inferno by Dan Brown last night! I think I may have mentioned that I co-host a podcast about books called “Bibliophiles Anonymous” (available on iTunes or at http://www.bibliophiles-anonymous.com). Our episode this Sunday will be on Inferno. I can’t wait to talk about this one.

What do you think you’ll read next?

To be honest, I have no idea. I keep getting bogged down with other books, some that pop up unexpectedly (like Inferno, for example). If I was going by the stack on my shelf and which ones I’ve had longest, I would say either Fire by Kristin Cashore or Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. But who knows.

Those are my answers! What are yours?

 

Teaser Tuesday · Top Ten Tuesdays

Tuesday Teasers and Top Tens (May 28th)

I’m back home and back to work! Happy Tuesday everyone!

First up, Teaser Tuesday, hosted by MizB at “Should Be Reading.” Here’s how to play:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here’s my teaser for the week:

What they had told Langdon downstairs had left him so disoriented and upset that Sinskey had brought him outside for some air. The sea air was bracing, and yet Langdon felt no clearer in his head.

Inferno by Dan Brown

We’re reviewing this book for the podcast this weekend. It’s really good so far, although not better than The DaVinci Code in my opinion. Still, Dan Brown writes an exciting book, and now I really want to travel to Florence, Italy.

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted every week by the lovely folks over at “The Broke and the Bookish.” This week is a freebee week – we can choose anything we want! Here’s what I picked:

Top Ten Favorite Vampires

1. David Solomon (Shadow World series by Dianne Sylvan) – I’ve talked about this one before, but I’ll say it again. David is awesome. Sexy, witty, and intelligent as hell, this is one vampire who spent his immortality studying up on all the latest technological advances. He has a doctorate from MIT for crying out loud!

2. Simon Lewis (Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare) – I know that Jace Waylan is supposed to be the heartthrob of this series, but I don’t care. I’ll take Simon any day. He’s sweet, he’s funny, and he’d be a lot of fun to hang out with.

3. Miranda Grey (Shadow World series by Dianne Sylvan) – It’s not all about the boys on this list! Miranda is a survivor. After a brutal attack, she is able to not only take care of herself, but she makes it her duty to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. And she’s an awesome musician.

4. Merit (Chicagoland Vampires by Chloe Neill) – Another lady who rises above expectations. Turned into a vampire against her will, she goes into her new life not willing to bow down to authority. She’s a fighter and doesn’t take crap from anyone, not even the head of her House.

5. Alice Cullen (Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer) – I’m not a huge fan of these books. I’ve read the series, and although I don’t love them, I also don’t hate them. And Meyer is a big part of the reason why vampires are so hot right now. Of all the vamps in that series, Alice is my favorite. She’s a sweetheart and, although a little overbearing at times, I’d still let her give me a makeover.

6. Ethan Sullivan (Chicagoland Vampires by Chloe Neill) – The head of one of the vampire houses in Chicago, Ethan can be a lot to take in at times. He’s an intelligent fighter and really cares for the vampires under his wing. He is willing to do anything to defend them, even deny himself the love of his life if necessary.

7. Deven O’Donnell (Shadow World by Dianne Sylvan) – Deven is a bit of a mystery. He’s the oldest vampire alive, yet he looks like a small, goth rocker dude. Don’t let that fool you though. Deven could kill you in the blink of an eye, without even touching you. Still, he does have a soft side, which makes him a good ruler and a valuable ally.

8. Matthew de Clermont (All Soul’s Trilogy by Deborah Harkness) – Matthew has seen most of recorded history first hand. He fought in the Crusades, for goodness’ sake! He’s a hard person to get to know, but once you do, he’s a fascinating person, mixing history, science and religion into his studies, which is not easy to do!

9. Marthe (All Soul’s Trilogy by Deborah Harkness) – Admittedly a minor character in this series (at least as far as I’ve gotten), Marthe is a treasure. She’s immediately accepting of Diana, even though Diana’s a witch. She does everything she can to help everyone around her and is probably one of the more human vampires (which is not an insult).

10. Faith (Shadow World series by Dianne Sylvan) – Faith is David’s second in command, a brilliant fighter and leader of the Elite in Austin. She’s fiercely loyal and, despite a rough exterior, very compassionate. Faith is someone you want to have your back at all times.

That’s it for today! Can’t wait to see your teasers and lists!

Trips I've Taken

A Quick Update

I’ve been in New York City this weekend, so I don’t have a lot of time to post today.  I am flying home this afternoon, so everything will be back to normal tomorrow. Since I didn’t bring my computer on this trip (this post is brought to you today from my Kindle), I won’t go into a lot of details here. Let’s just say that I have made my pilgrimages to the four story Barnes & Noble at Union Square and, of course, a trip to the Strand is always a must. Bought a ton of books, although most of them were for my daughter. I did snag one really cool book for me – Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham. Yes, the Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls fame. She has written a book and the blurb looks really cute. Bonus? – it’s a signed copy.

So that’s it for right now. I will post more about my trip later this week, but it suffices to say that we’ve had a blast. Going home will be a disappointment (like it always is), but I’m already mentally planning my next trip up here. Sigh. New York, New York. My home away from home. 🙂

Books I've Read

Book Review – The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

The bad thing about falling behind in your book reviews is that you can never remember which books you’ve reviewed and which you haven’t. For example, I’ve talked so much about The Madness Underneath in Top Ten Tuesdays, Teaser Tuesdays, WWW Wednesdays, and other places, I thought for sure I had formally reviewed it already. Turns out I haven’t.

So let’s begin, shall we?

First off, I just need to say that I adore Maureen Johnson. I want to be her when I grow up. And don’t tell me that, at age 34, I’m already grown up. I will stick my fingers in my ears and stick my tongue out at you. Maureen Johnson is just an awesome person. I picked up The Madness Underneath at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC (which is a cool independent bookstore – if you are any where around the Raleigh area, stop in and see them). Maureen was there for a book signing, along with Stephanie Perkins who I also love, and I got to meet them both. They are super nice, a little crazy, but that’s what makes them fun. I haven’t read all of Maureen’s books yet, but I’m going to.

madness underneathThe Madness Underneath continues the story of Rory Devereaux, a teenage girl from Louisiana living in London. In the previous book, The Name of the Star, Rory barely survives an attack from a ghost who was replicating the murders of Jack the Ripper. Rory’s parents are understandably protective and pull Rory out of school. Rory is understandably frustrated with them. She wants to go back to Wexford, not only to regain her life again, but to get back with the mysterious Shades of London, an underground police force that deals with ghosts.

Something strange happened to Rory when she nearly died. The Shades have an instrument they call a “terminus,” which they use on ghosts to make them leave this world for good. The terminii were hidden in cell phones, but they were all destroyed. Now Rory is somehow a human terminus – every time she comes in contact with a ghost, the ghost disappears forever. The Shades are very interested in this power, and they’re not the only ones.

I haven’t read very many books that are both funny, yet suspenseful as all get out. Somehow Maureen Johnson does both with this book. There are a lot of twists and turns, really cool supernatural mysteries to be solved, and an ending that I did not see coming AT ALL. Let’s just say that Rory’s new gift is about to get super inconvenient. I really liked this book and, although it wasn’t quite as good as The Name of the Star, I can’t wait to get to the next book (The Shadow Cabinet, coming sometime in 2014 according to GoodReads). So yes, check out this series. These books are spooky and fun, which is a great combination.

Books I've Read

Beginnings and Endings

In catching up with my reviews, today I will share my thoughts on Abhorsen by Garth Nix. This is the third and currently final book in his Abhorsen series, although according to GoodReads, a fourth book is planned. I am glad that I read this book, since that means that I completed a series that I started (yay!) but at the same time, it was hard for me to get into this book. I’m not sure why, since I did enjoy it, but it took a long time for me to finish it.

abhorsenAbhorsen continues the story of Lirael and Sameth. Lirael has just found out that she is the true Abhorsen-in-Waiting. They also know that there is a powerful necromancer, known as Hedge, is trying to kill them. Hedge has turned another necromancer, Chlorr of the Mask, into a Greater Dead, giving her control over legions of dead, shadow hands, and much more. All of this is to help Orannis the Destroyer break free of his prison and return to earth.

Put that together with the fact that Sameth’s good friend Nick is unwittingly helping Hedge do all this. Nick is from Ancelstierre, and therefore doesn’t believe in any sort of magic. What sets out to be a visit to a friend turns into a nightmare as Nick is pulled deeper and deeper, giving his very life energy to help the enemy. We also have no idea whether Sabriel and Touchstone are still alive, or if they have any idea of the seriousness of what’s going on back home.

It’s all up to Lirael, who is still trying to adjust to her new life outside the Clayr’s haven in the north. She is the only one capable of fighting the Destroyer. And then there’s the question of who exactly Sameth is, now that he’s not the Abhorsen-in-Waiting. He’s been given the robes of the Wallmakers, but he has no idea what that even means.

I really like this world, I like the characters, I like the magic system. I can’t tell you why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. I think part of it was that it got a little slow in the middle. It didn’t always keep my interest. But then something would pop in there and catch my eye again, and I’d want to keep reading. I still think the Disreputable Dog is one of my favorite characters, both because of her name and who she is. She’s awesome.

I am still glad I read this book though, because it did tie up some loose ends quite neatly. I still think book two (Lirael) was my favorite book in the series, with this book tied with the first one. I have no idea where book four will go from here, but I’ll still probably read it when it comes out.