Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review: Magic Breaks

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7)   

By Ilona Andrews
“Fortune favors the brave," I told her. It also kills the stupid, but I decided to keep that fact to myself.” 
― Ilona AndrewsMagic Breaks
Another great entry in the Kate Daniels series! I'd heard rumors that this was the final book, which made me incredibly sad, but that's not quite the case. According the the author's note, while this entry does sort of complete the 7 book arc, the books aren't over yet (there will be 3 more!). Roland turned out to be too big to wrap up in one book. I'm glad - I'm not ready to be done with Kate and Curran's world (even though I'm also enjoying Andrea's spin-off series, I want them BOTH).

A note on the cover art - I'm super pleased that this series finally got a hardcover edition! Up until recently, the print books were only released as mass market paperbacks. I don't care what format the book's in, as long as it's good, but some people are picky (or snooty) and won't try a mass market for whatever reason. Also, there's a bit of "a book has made it if it's hardcover" and it's about bloody time this series was given that particular "honor." That being said, as much as I think this is a great looking cover, and the cover model is gorgeous, I don't think she has the mature look that the last model had. I'm sure this lady could kick some ass, but I'd believe it more on a YA novel - she just looks too young for Kate. The woman on the old covers looked like she could not only kick your ass, but she'd enjoy it, too.

So, back to the story. I'm going to try to be spoiler free here... Kate and the crew are back in Atlanta after an exciting trip overseas and are now waiting for the inevitable attack. Which comes, but not how they were expecting it. Hugh does a thing and Kate has to scurry to keep everything from blowing up on her own since Curran is out of town. Bad stuff happens, people are hurt, Pack politics make things even harder, and eventually Kate gets a face-to-face with Roland. 

The face-to-face was not at all what I was expecting, but in a good way. Kate has to make some hard choices, but they make complete sense and suit how the character has grown over the course of the series. And Roland was more than the baddest-baddy-to-ever-bad. He was interesting, even a little quirky, for all that we know he's an evil bastard. He's actually fairly charming, and that last little bit in the epilogue? That was kinda priceless. I'm really excited to see what happens next!

A final note: at the end of the book is a short story written from Julie's perspective that takes place before the action in this book. Kate takes her to a new school, one for kids with magic, and Julie doesn't want to go - she wants to stay with Kate. But to Julie's surprise, the school is hiring her to help find a missing girl and Julie's intrigued enough to take the job. And so Julie get's her own baby-mystery and I LOVED IT. I would read the hell out of a Julie-centric YA series. It would be AMAZING. According to Ilona Andrews's Goodreads page, someone asked if they'd be writing more, and it sounds like we could maybe possibly hopefully get more Julie short stories. Finger's crossed!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book List: YA Horror for Halloween

Book List: YA Horror for Halloween 
Current and upcoming YA titles that put the OoooOOooo in spooky!

I don't know what it is about autumn that makes readers reach for eerie novels, probably something to do with the colder days and longer nights, plus that weirdest of holidays: Halloween, but that time is right around the corner. In preparation, I've created a book list of teen novels and series starters that are either straight-up horror or just moderately creepy and are currently available or coming soon:

Ghost House, by Alexandra Adornetto (published 8/26/14)
Famous Last Words, by Katie Alender (9/30/14)
Bad Girls Don't Die, by Katie Alender (available now)
Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake (available now)
“Move, hunt, kill. Like lather, rinse, and repeat.” ― Kendare BlakeAnna Dressed in Blood
The Diviners, by Libba Bray (available now)
Through the Woods, by Emily Carroll (7/15/14)
Servants of the Storm, by Delilah Dawson (8/5/14)

Of Metal and Wishes, by Sarah Fine (8/5/14)
Into the Grey, By Celine Kiernan (8/26/14)
I Hunt Killers, By Barry Lyga (available now)
“A river of images and thoughts and feelings, dirtied and polluted so that no one could drink from it without gagging.” 
― Barry LygaI Hunt Killers
Ten, by Gretchen McNeil (available now)
Mary: The Summoning, by Hillary Monahan (9/2/14)
Amity, by Micol Ostow (8/26/14)
Asylum, by Madeleine Roux (available now)
“It was a house for those who could not take care of themselves, for those who heard voices, who had strange thoughts and did strange things. The house was meant to keep them in. Once they came, they never left.” 
― Madeleine RouxAsylum
Feral, by Holly Schindler (8/26/14)
Party Games: A Fear Street Novel, by R. L. Stine (9/30/14)
Welcome to the Dark House, by Laurie Faria Stolarz (7/22/14)

Of Monsters and Madness, by Jessica Verday (9/9/14)
Fiendish, by Brenna Yovanoff (8/14/14)
The Replacement, by Brenna Yovanoff (available now)
“You presume to name those who have no name. We are pandemonium and disaster. We are the dancing, gibbering horror of the world.” 
― Brenna YovanoffThe Replacement

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Movie Review: If I Stay

If I Stay
Starring ChloĆ« Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley
Based on the novel by Gayle Forman

My Forever Young Adult book club had the opportunity to see the pre-screening of If I Stay on Monday. I don’t do sad movies, as a life rule, but I broke it *justthisonce*. So I had to prepare myself: waterproof eyeliner and mascara were required. A bottle of water for when I needed to swallow the pain. And a box of Puffs Plus with Lotion (shown below).
All my preparations did little to disguise my red nose and bloodshot eyes when the movie was over. Nor did it keep my co-book club members from laughing at my expense (I’m looking at you, Noelle!). Seriously, I’m a sympathetic cryer - if someone’s crying, I am, too. Doesn't matter if it’s a real life situation, a book or movie, or that one time I binge watched Long Island Medium (don’t judge).

So about the movie: there will be tears. Unless you’re a robot. The rest of the review will hopefully be spoiler free, but read at your own risk.
Noelle, Rachel (me), and Jamie...and my Puffs
There were the usual complaints about things in the movie not matching the book (which I haven’t read, but the others told me about). Like Mia and Adam’s relationship issues were more pronounced in the movie. And the wreck scene wasn't as gory as it was in the book. But the biggest complaint had to do with a thing that Adam says at the end of the book that he doesn't say at the end of the movie.
CGM is of course a delight (though her perfect salon-styled hair made me a little crazy - I miss 90s teen movie hair, it was much more realistic), and I adored each of the minor characters: Mia’s parents were amazing, her lil bro was completely adorbs, and Kim is a damn fine friend even though we didn't see much of her. The actor playing Adam was appropriately dreamy (I thought) and if that was actually Mr. Blackley singing, then the kid’s got skills. He also had the cheesiest lines in the movie. I asked if it was that bad in the book, and apparently it just comes off better in print. Oh, and Gramps didn’t just make me cry, he made me ugly cry.
Like I said before, I hadn't read the book, but I was familiar with the story and knew where it was headed. However, some of the poor folk in the audience clearly didn't - the screen went black and there was an audible gasp from the audience, the kind that states, “this can’t be the end!” Then the credits started rolling and there was a lot of betrayed groaning noises. Hopefully it’ll prompt them to read the book! #TeamBooks #YAForever
Oh, and they were giving away a few swag bags, and because Jamie knew that CGM starred with Jim Carrey in Kickass 2, she won one!

Thanks to the lovely FYA crew for providing us with the tickets for the screening (and PenguinTeen who provided FYA with the tickets!); we had a great night!
The review was originally posted to our FYA book club tumblr page and can be found at: 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review: Murder of Crows

Murder of Crows (The Others #2)  
By Anne Bishop
“Are there weapons in a bookstore?'
'It's a store full of books, which are objects that can be thrown as well as read,' Monty replied blandly.
The Crows cocked his head. 'I had no idea you humans lived with so much danger.”

― Anne BishopMurder of Crows
I am finding myself completely involved in this series. In this sequel (to Written in Red), Meg is a little more settled in the Courtyard, and the terra indigene (the Others) welcome her as their own, but where the conflict began in the first book, we now take the next step.

In most stories, I find myself rooting for the underdog; I think most people do. In this series, the terra indigene, though they can die, are far stronger than the humans (and elementals are off-the-charts BAMFs - do not tick off an elemental or their ponies!). The terra indigene had the "Americas" first - they just let humans rent space. And the humans are expected to follow certain rules (like don't pollute the water) or else they won't receive the natural resources they need OR they'll be evicted off the land OR they'll be eaten. 

In this world, even though the terra indigene are clearly NOT the underdogs, I'm still totally rooting for them. While not all humans are bad, and in fact, many are doing good things to pave the way for a more balanced relationship with the Others, there are some nasty pieces of work among the human element. These particular humans do some truly heinous things that were a little difficult to read - the text didn't get particularly graphic, but it only takes a few words to get a horrible mental image of what they're doing. So I was definitely cheering on the Wolves and Others as they tried to figure out who and where these problem people were. I love me some comeuppance, and the Others can certainly dish it out.

In addition to this main story arc, we are introduced to a new people group, the Intuits, and we get a little more detail into the Humans First and Last movement. We also see a relationship developing between Meg and Simon, though neither of them have any idea about how relationships work in general, so that was fun to read - it added a little lightness to some of the darker elements of the story.

Highly recommended.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Review: Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)  
By Robin LaFevers
“Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?” 
― R.L. LaFeversGrave Mercy
I enjoy learning about history, particularly British and European history, but the time period of Grave Mercy is one that I'm not terribly familiar with. The story takes place in the late 1400s in Brittany. The country is struggling to maintain its independence against the French, while dealing with turmoil and infighting within its ranks. Ismae is a young woman who was raised by an abusive father and finds a better life when she's spirited away from her new husband and brought to a convent. At the convent, she discovers what it means to be the daughter of Mortain - one of the old gods given the title Saint to allow them to continue worshipping him in the Christian world. Mortain is Death, and Ismae is one of Death's Handmaidens, and she learns to be an assassin at the convent.

Grave Mercy was different in tone and voice from other YA novels I've read. The story is very politically minded; the major plot line is the struggle to make Anne a duchess of Brittany and keep her from the hands of scheming suitors, as well as the French. Poor Anne is only 12 or 13, and it's difficult reading about her situation when you remember her age. 

There is a romance subplot, but the romance feeds the overall story and Ismae's journey, rather than being the focal point. And it's not full of teenage angst; these characters have more important things to think about. So while these feelings are disconcerting to our heroine, they don't pull focus when it's time to deal with the fate of the country, and overall, they're dealt with maturely. 

I really enjoyed this book, particularly the historical elements, and the paranormal element was new and intriguing. I'd recommend this series to anyone looking to dig in to a YA book.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Book Review: Written in Red

Written in Red (The Others #1) 
By Anne Bishop
“There would be a spike in the number of girls who went out for a walk in the woods and were never heard from again. There always were when stories came out portraying the terra indigene as furry humans who just wanted to be loved.

Most of the terra indigene didn't want to love humans; they wanted to eat them. Why did humans have such a hard time understanding that?” 

― Anne BishopWritten in Red

This book is a little hard to categorize. I was expecting a typical urban fantasy, but this was anything but typical. It was more like a fantasy world built on top of ours. TVs and cars were still a thing, but the names of the week, countries, and cities were all different. The background to the story is that when the humans were created, the Others were created, too. The humans were kept separate so they could thrive, but when they started venturing out, they discovered that they weren't alone. While it's not explicitly said that it was early American colonists who met with the Others, Bishop describes colonists coming to the New World and getting eaten by the natives/Others before a smart leader decided to trade shiny baubles and ask for permission to use the land. 

In the present day, the Others (which are a people group that are able to change shape and can choose to take human form) are basically running things - they control all the natural resources (considering that elementals are included among their numbers, this makes sense - that having Water around means they control the water supply, and so forth), and they're far more powerful than the humans and could easily wipe out humanity, but they like human inventions, so there's a sort of truce in place among the Others and the humans. Enter Meg, a human on the run from some shadowy group, who finds shelter among the Others. And considering the fact that the Others look at humans as Meat, finding herself feeling safer among them than the humans she's running from makes for an interesting story.

I love what Bishop did with the characterizations. Many of the others have an animal form - one they took on for themselves a very long time ago - and because they've had this form for so long, they've taken on many of the attributes of that animal. So the crows like shiny things, wolves occasionally sniff crotches, and the horses like sugar lumps. 

The mystery of Meg, what she was, who she was running from, and what she could do, was intriguing. And like Kaylin Neya of the Chronicles of Elantra series, she finds herself being liked by and under the care of some very powerful creatures, creatures who normally have little patience and even less respect for humans.

I found myself fascinated with Bishop's world and her characters, and I can't wait to read the next book in the series, Murder of Crows.