Tag Archives: rating 4.5 of 5

Spinning Starlight

Lewis, R.C. Spinning Starlight. (2015). Disney-Hyperion. 336 Pages. $10.09

SpinningStarlightFrom Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’sThe Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.

First Lines

After sixteen years, you think I’d be used to the incessant buzz of vid-cams swarming to chronicle every breath I take. I’m not. Good thing, too, or I might not have noticed when one of the tiny airbourne devices slips into the hovercar with me like an errant bumblebee.

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Filed under Book Review, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, Teen Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

White Cat

Black, Holly. White Cat (2010).  336 Pages. Margaret K. McElderry. $7.99

The Curse Workers | Book One

The lovely ladies of Reading In Skirts and I have a pseudo-bookclub. Pseudo because we live very far apart, and because we don’t meet as consistently as we like. (Mostly it’s my fault for having two part-time retail jobs.) Recently we tackled White Cat, (and then agreed to read Red Glove) and this is what I’ve managed to decide, as far as this book is concerned.

From Goodreads

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the con men.

First Lines

I wake up barefoot, standing on cold slate tiles. Looking dizzily down. I suck in a breath of icy air.

Above me are stars. Below me, the bronze statue of Colonel Wallingford makes me realize I’m seeing the quad from the peak of Smythe Hall, my dorm.

I have no memory of climbing the stairs up to the roof. I don’t even know how to get where I am, which is a problem since I’m going to have to get down, ideally in a way that doesn’t involve dying.

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult Fiction

The King’s Daughter

Martel, Suzanne. The King’s Daughter (1998 ed.) 231 Pages. Groundwood Books. $14.95*

From the Cover

The year is 1672. Eighteen-year-old Jeanne Chatel has just been chosen as a “king’s daughter,” one of the hundreds of young women sent by the French government to become the brides of farmers, soldiers, and trappers in the North American wilderness.

Orphaned at age ten, Jeanne has been raised in a convent. But with her independent spirit, she doesn’t hesitate to the opportunity to go to New France, as Quebec was then known. Wildly romantic, she conjurs up a new life full of adventure.

Upon her arrival in New France, Jeanne’s romantic dreams are soon cast aside, and she learns to be practical and realistic in this wild new country where death stalks the settlers every day. Life is not easy: her new husband is not the dashing military man she has dreamed of, but a trapper with two young children who lives in a small cabin in the woods. Proud and aloof, he is still grief-stricken over the death of his first wife and a child at the hands of the Iroqu0is. Alone much of the time, Jeanne faces danger daily, but the courage and determination that brought her to this wild place never fail her, and she soon learns to be truly at home in her new land.

First Lines

“A king’s daughter! I’m a king’s daughter!”

Closing the parlour door without a sound, as she had been taught, Jeanne repeated the magic words that had just changed her life. Her heart was beating wildly. She pressed both hands to her chest as her thin face relaxed into an unguarded smile.

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Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, Fantasy, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

This Girl is Different

Johnson, JJ. This Girl is Different (2011). 288 Pages. Peachtree Publishers. $16.95*

This review is pre-release: It comes out April 1, 2011

This Girl is Different CoverEvie is not your typical teenage girl. Her mother is a New-Agey hippie who has spent a lot of time raising her daughter to be a student of the world. The official word for it is “homeschooled” and in some ways, that puts Evie at a disadvantage. All she knows of normal school dynamics is what she’s seen from movies. Luckily for Eve, she’s already met Rajas and Jacinda, so she’s not completely alone in this alien environment.

Unfortunately for Eve, there’s a lot she still has to learn, and this lesson is going to be a tough one.

First Lines

I manage to grab the snake, but not without twisting my foot and falling butt-first into the creek. When I stand, lightning shoots through my ankle.

I take a long, deep yoga breath, an Ujjayi ocean breath, to be calm. Steady. Strong. Hopping on one foot, I hold the wriggling snake and scramble over to a large rock. As I unshoulder my backpack, the snake flicks its tongue at me. It must think I’m crazy.

I can think of worse things. Better crazy than mild.

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Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, General Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Call Me Irresistible

Phillips, Susan Elizabeth. Call Me Irresistible (2011). 385 Pages. HarperCollins. $25.99

Wynette, Texas | Book Six

There is a sort of chronology to these books, but they certainly don’t have to be read in order. In roughly story-order, this one is book six. Earlier books in the series told the tale of Theodore’s parents– Fancy Pants is about his early years. Seemingly he makes another appearance in Lady Be Good, and then features as the hero in Call Me Irresistible. Meg Koranda’s parents are in Glitter Baby, and Lucy Jorik’s parents are in  First Lady. I’ve read a few of those, but I’m taking my time coming up with opinions.

From the Cover

Lucy Jorik is the daughter of a former president of the United States.

Meg Koranda is the offspring of legends.

One of them is about to marry Mr. Irresistible– Ted Beaudine– the favorite son of Wynette, Texas. The other is not happy about it and is determined to save her friend from a mess of heartache.

But even though Meg knows that breaking up her best friend’s wedding is the right thing to do, no one else seems to agree. Faster than Lucy can say “I don’t,” Meg becomes the most hated woman in town– a town she’s stuck in with a dead car, an empty wallet, and a very angry bridegroom. Broke, stranded, and without her famous parents at her back, Meg is sure that she can survive on her own wits. What’s the worst that can happen? Lose her heart to the one and only Mr. Irresistible? Not likely. Not likely at all.

First Lines

More than a few residents of Wynette, Texas, thought Ted Beaudine was marrying beneath himself. It wasn’t as if the bride’s mother was still the president of the United States. Cornelia Jorik had been out of office for over a year. And Ted Beaudine was, after all, Ted Beaudine.

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

Match Me If You Can

Phillips, Susan Elizabeth. Match Me If You Can (2005). 383 Pages. WilliamMorrow. $24.95

Chicago Stars Series | Book Six

When I was on a family vacation, I got Natural Born Charmer, and read (and enjoyed) it. However, it was obvious that there was at least one book before it in the series, and I figured I should read it, so I got Match Me If You Can from the library. Turns out it’s the sixth book, but it’s also very capable of standing alone. There are hints of what you may have missed, but in general, while other characters make cameos, it’s not about them.

From Goodreads

Annabelle’s endured dead-end jobs, a broken engagement . . . even her hair’s a mess! But that’s going to change now that she’s taken over her late grandmother’s matchmaking business. All Annabelle has to do is land the Windy City’s hottest bachelor as her client, and she’ll be the most sought-after matchmaker in town.

Why does the wealthy, driven, and gorgeous sports agent Heath Champion need a matchmaker, especially a red-haired screw-up like Annabelle Granger? True, she’s entertaining, and she does have a certain quirky appeal. But Heath is searching for the ultimate symbol of success — the perfect wife. And to make an extraordinary match, he needs an extraordinary matchmaker, right?

Soon everyone in Chicago has a stake in the outcome, and a very big question: When the determined matchmaker promised she’d do anything to keep her star client happy . . . did she mean anything? If Annabelle isn’t careful, she just might find herself going heart-to-heart with the toughest negotiator in town.

First Lines

If Annabelle hadn’t found a body lying under “Sherman,” she wouldn’t have been late for her appointment with the Python. But dirty bare feet stuck out from beneath her nana’s ancient Crown Victoria. One extremely cautious glance under the car revealed that they were attached to a homeless man known only as Mouse, who was famous in her Wicker Park neighborhood for his lack of personal hygiene and fondness for cheap wine.

Thoughts

Annabelle Granger is a charming character who you can’t help liking. She’s determined to make her match-making business “Perfect For You” work, no matter what the cost, and landing Heath Champion might cost her an awful lot. He’s a determined, demanding pig of a client who expects a ton from Annabelle because he’s an agent and he does a ton for his clients. It’s obvious to any seasoned reader what is going on between them, but it takes Heath a very long time to figure it out. (And kudos are due to Annabelle for not being a weak heroine, she sticks to her principles right up to the end.)

I enjoyed the narrative structure, and the basic mechanics of the writing, as well as the plot. I feel like I’m in a literature class when I say that, but there are some authors– now and then– whose stories I like, but whose execution could use some work. Thankfully, Susan Elizabeth Phillips is not one of those authors. I enjoyed the story and the way it was told and the words she chose to tell it.

I suppose there are other books in this series– like the five which come before it– that are probably just as enjoyable, and I may eventually get around to reading those, but for now, I’m content with this. Also, I liked the cover on this one considerably more than I like the covers on some of her other books. It’s got a nice swirly motion thing going on.

When all is said and done, it gets a 4.5 out of 5– it loses a half point for dragging the drama and cluelessness out just a little too long for my taste.

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

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

McBride, Lish. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (2010). 343 Pages. Henry Holt & Co. $16.99

I told myself I’d pick a schedule and stick to it for the new year; M/W/F was starting to look pretty good, and then I got absorbed in playing The Sims 3 and I forgot to review any of the mountain of library books that are sitting on my desk, or any of the books I have read from my shiny new Kindle. Whoops. So we’ll be settling into a schedule soon, but for now we’ll continue with “updating when I’ve read something and have had time to write about it.”

And, for today, that something I’ve read is Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, which sounded like the sort of book which would be romantic– the whole “hold me” bit– but wasn’t. I was ok with that, though, because I enjoyed the adventure.

Synopsis

Samhain “Sam” LaCroix has had a fairly lame life until now. He’s a college dropout working at a fast food place, mostly getting by, and sometimes wishing he’d stayed in school*.

Things get interesting for Sam when a game of Potato Hockey damages the wrong car, and he catches the attention of Douglas Montgomery, a powerful necromancer with an agenda. As it turns out, Sam is a necromancer, and Douglas doesn’t play nice with the competition.

Now, Sam has to figure out how to use his necromancy, how to save Brooke, and eventually, how to save himself before Douglas kills them all.

First Lines

I stood in front of today’s schedule still holding my skateboard, still drenched from the ride over, and still desperately wishing that I hadn’t dropped out of college. But wishing wouldn’t erase Sam from the counter slot and rewrite it under the grill slot. No matter what, my job kind of sucks, but on the grill it sucks less. On the grill, you don’t have to handle customers.

Thoughts

As I mentioned, I was expecting something a little more romantic– I love YA romance– but wasn’t disappointed by what I got. Sam is an awesome narrator who adds the charm and sarcasm which separates this story from most. The fact that Sam is an outsider to the supernatural community he discovers means that we learn about it with him. It’s also great to see his friends; they’re fiercely loyal and protective, and it helps make Sam more likable.

Surrounding Sam is an entertaining supporting cast. We’ve got Ramon, his best friend and coworker. Brooke, the adorable heartbreaker-in-training, Frank, the kid whose spirit they’d like to break, Brid the hottie werewolf, and then peripheral family members. Opposing Sam are Douglas and his minions; all dangerous types who would do a lot of harm if they could.

Aside from the bit towards the end where Sam is really fairly helpless in a cage, most of the story features him being fairly proactive about his fate. He doesn’t descend into hopelessness, and remains determined throughout. (The lack of whining was nice, I must say.)

This book is clearly setting up for a series; there are several things left just open enough to make it clear that it was at least hoped for**.

Overall, I found myself fairly impressed by Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, and I was glad I’d picked it up. (And saved myself enough time that I didn’t have to put it down until I was done.) It’s pretty good for a debut novel, and manages to be a paranormal-YA without becoming anonymous within the genre(s). I’d give it a solid 4.5/5– it was nearly perfect, and I really, really liked it.

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* This could have quickly took on a PSA tone, but it didn’t, thank goodness. (In part because Sam’s a good narrator.)

** The fact that it came out in hardcover rather than going straight to paperback says that they expected it to do well and they’re likely to let it turn into a series.  (I’ll read it, if it continues.)

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This is the first book of the Local Library 2011 challenge.

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction