Category Archives: Book Review

The Other Side of the Island

Goodman, Allegra. The Other Side of the Island (2008). Razorbill. 272 Pages

From Goodreads

Honor and her parents have been reassigned to live on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. Life is peaceful there, the color of the sky is regulated by Earth Mother, a corporation that controls New Weather, and it almost never rains. Everyone fits into their rightful and predictable place. . . .

Except Honor. She doesn’t fit in, but then she meets Helix, a boy with a big heart and a keen sense for the world around them. Slowly, Honor and Helix begin to uncover a terrible truth about life on the Island: Sooner or later, those who are unpredictable disappear . . . and they don’t ever come back.

First Lines

All this happened many years ago, before the streets were air-conditioned. Children played outside then, and in many places the sky was naturally blue. A girl moved to a town house in the Colonies on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea.

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Seraphina

Hartman, Rachel. Seraphina (2012). Random House. 467 Pages

Seraphina by Rachel HartmanFrom the Author’s Website

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

First Lines

I remember being born.

In fact, I remember a time before that. There was no light, but there was music: joints creaking, blood rushing, the heart’s staccato lullaby, a rich symphony of indigestion. Sound enfolded me, and I was safe.

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All These Things I’ve Done

Zevin, Gabrielle. All These Things I’ve Done (2011). Macmillan. 367 Pages. $2.99

Birthright | Book One

From Goodreads

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight–at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

First Lines

The night before junior year– I was sixteen, barely— Gable Arsley said he wanted to sleep with me. Not in the distant or semidistant future either. Right then.

Admittedly, my taste in boys wasn’t so great. I was attracted to the sort who weren’t in the habit of asking permission to do anything. Boys like my father, I guess.

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense, Romance, Speculative Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

On the Jellicoe Road

Marchetta, Melina. On the Jellicoe Road (2008). 432 Pages. HarperTeen.

Melina Marchetta Jellicoe RoadFrom the Author’s Website

“What do you want from me?” he asks.

What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him.

More.

Taylor Markham is not a popular choice. She is erratic, has no people skills and never turns up to meetings. Not to mention the incident when she ran off in search of her mother and only got halfway there. But she’s lived at Jellicoe School most of her life and as leader of the boarders that’s her greatest asset. Especially now the cadets, led by the infamous Jonah Griggs, have arrived. The territory wars between the boarders, townies and cadets are about to recommence.

But Taylor has other things on her mind: a prayer tree, the hermit who whispered in her ear, and a vaguely familiar drawing in the local police station. Taylor wants to understand the mystery of her own past. But Hannah, the woman who found her, has suddenly disappeared, leaving nothing but an unfinished manuscript about five kids whose lives entwined twenty years ago on the Jellicoe Road.

First Lines

My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die.

I counted.

It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’d ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-la. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of miles away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father had said that it was about time the four of us made that journey.

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Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

First Lady

Phillips, Susan Elizabeth. First Lady (2000). 384 Pages. Avon. $6.99*

Wynette Texas | Book Four

Susan Elizabeth Phillips' First LadyI mentioned First Lady in my review of Call Me Irresistible, but I’ll bring it up again, and point out that there are a fair amount of character cameos, though it is not necessary to read them in strictly chronological order. Sure, knowing that they end up together can put a small kink in it, but really, it’s a romance novel, and if you’re surprised the headliners end up together, I’d have to be a bit concerned. I will mention that there are two or three “generations” in these books, and this in particular deals with the first. Lucy makes her own appearance later in Call Me Irresistible, but that is not really her book. (Her book is The Great Escape, due July 2012)

Synopsis

The beautiful young widow of the President of the United States thought she was free of the White House, but circumstances have forced her back into the role of the First Lady. Not for long, however, because she’s made up her mind to escape — if only for a few days — so she can live the life of an ordinary person. All she needs is the perfect disguise…and she’s just found it. As an entire nation searches for her, the First Lady teams up with an infuriatingly secretive, quietly seductive stranger and two adorable little orphaned girls in need of a family. And all together they head out across the heartland chasing their own American Dream — on a wild journey, adventure, and glorious rebirth.

First Lines

Cornelia Litchfield Case had an itchy nose. Otherwise, it was a very elegant nose. Perfectly shaped, discreet, polite. Her forehead was patrician, her cheekbones gracefully carved, but not so sharp as to be vulgar. The Mayflower-blue blood that rushed through her veins gave her a pedigree even finer than that of Jacqueline Kennedy, one of her most famous predecessors.

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Filed under Book Review, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance, Humor, Romance

Wife by Wednesday

Bybee, Catherine. Wife by Wednesday (2011). 222 Pages. Self Published. $.99*

Wife By Wednesday CoverFrom Goodreads

Blake Harrison:
Rich, titled, and charming… And in need of a wife by Wednesday so he turns to Sam Elliot who isn’t the business man he expected. Instead, Blake is faced with Samantha Elliot, engaging and spunky with a voice men call 900 numbers to hear.

Samantha Elliot:
Owner of Alliance, her matchmaking firm, and not on the marital menu… That is until Blake offers her ten million dollars for a one-year contract. All she needs to do is keep her attraction to her husband to herself and avoid his bed. But Blake’s toe-curling kisses and charm prove too difficult to combat. Now she needs to protect her heart so she can walk away when their mercenary life together is over.

First Lines

“I need a wife, Carter, and I needed her yesterday.” Riding in the back of the town car en route to Starbucks, of all places, Blake Harrison glanced at his watch for the tenth time that hour.

Carter’s startled laugh rode on Blake’s last nerve. “Then pick one of the masses and walk the aisle.”

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance, Romance

Daughter of the Centaurs

Klimo, Kate. Daughter of the Centaurs: Centauriad #1. (January 24, 2012). 384 Pages. Random House. $10.99

First, a brief disclaimer. I received an advance copy via NetGalley in August, 2011. It is entirely possible there have been changes. All opinions expressed are my own, and have not been influenced by the publisher. Expected publication is January 24, 2012.

From Goodreads

Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called Leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them.

First Lines

For as long as she can remember, Malora has dreamed of dancing with horses.

“Daughter of the Mountains,” Malora’s mother calls her, for her skin and hair are the dusky red-brown of the rocks, and her upturned eyes– so like her father’s– are the vivid blue-green of the nuggets of malachite that dot the streams running down from the peaks.

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Under the Never Sky

Rossi, Veronica. Under the Never Sky (January 3, 2012). 384 Pages. HarperCollins. $9.99

From Goodreads

Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love – one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.

First Lines

They called the world beyond the walls of the Pod “the Death Shop.” A million ways to die out there. Aria never thought she’d get so close.

She bit her lip as she stared at the heavy steel door in front of her. A display screen read AGRICULTURE 6–NO ENTRY in flashing red letters.

Ag 6 was just a service dome, Aria told herself. Dozens of domes supplied Reverie with food, water, oxygen– all the things an enclosed city needed. Ag 6 had been damaged in a recent storm, but supposedly the damage was minor. Supposedly.

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The Trouble With Kings

Smith, Sherwood. The Trouble with Kings (2008).  328 Pages. Samhain Publishing. $5.00*

The Trouble with Kings by Sherwood Smith (Cover)From Goodreads

Princess Flian finds herself the unwilling object of desire of three royals. Is the one she wants a villainor a hero? Waking up in a strange place, Flian Elandersi at first doesn’t know who she is. One wicked prince tells her she is secretly engaged to an even more wicked king who wants to marry her right away. But before that happens, yet another wicked prince crashes through a window on horseback to sweep her off her feet. Memory returns, and Flian realizes that all any of them seem to want is her considerable wealth, not her pleasant-but-ordinary self. She longs to escape the barracks-like, military atmosphere and return to civilization and her musical studies. Who is the villain? Prince Garian Herlesterlanguid, elegant, sarcastic? Prince Jaimhe of the dashing horsemanship? Or King Jason Szinzar, whose ambiguous warning might be a threat? Flian decides it’s time to throw off civilization and take action.

First Lines

I woke up.

By the time I’d drawn one breath I realized that if I’d had anything else to do, I ought to have done it. My head ached before I even tried moving it. I decided not to try. Some experiments just aren’t worth the effort.

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Mastiff

Pierce, Tamora. Mastiff: The Legend of Beka Cooper #3 (2011). 608 Pages. Random House. $18.99

Beka Cooper | Book Three

Please be aware of two things:

1) This is the third book in a series. It may contain spoilers for the first two Beka Cooper books, though I have done my best to avoid spoilers for this book.

2) This review of Mastiff is pre-release, based upon a galley. I did not receive it personally from the publisher*, but it is a galley nonetheless. The book is due out October 25, 2011, which gives you plenty of time to go buy and read the first two books (Terrier, and Bloodhound) so go buy them. Because this is an un-edited, pre-release galley, some details may change.

On that note, I’ve put the entire post behind a “more” tag, because there is no way to even give a synopsis without sharing details of the other books. If you’d like the short version? I feel that with every book she publishes, Tamora Pierce grows as an author, and Mastiff is no exception. It was brilliant, and managed to be all I had hoped for and more. I look forward to reading the published volume.

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