Friday, June 28, 2013

Carnival of Souls

Carnival of Souls
Today’s post is on “Carnival of Souls” by Melissa Marr. It is 306 pages long and is published by HarperCollins. It is the first book in a unnamed series. The cover is a beautiful white and silver carnival mask with flames behind it. The intended reader is older young adult and adults because of the sexuality, violence, and language. There is plenty of sex and violence just to warn the reader. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures--if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father--and every other witch there--fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable.While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

From Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series and Graveminder, comes a brand-new tale of lush secrets, dark love, and the struggle to forge one's own destiny.

Review- This book is very well written but there is really one thing that bothers me about it and I think that the reader is supposed to be bothered and that is all females in this world are seen as property of the males in their lives. All the males, both daimon and witch, think and act like all females are the rightful property of some male or another. I am hoping that Marr is making this a point so that Mallory will change it as the story goes on. Other than that I really enjoyed the book. The characters and the world itself are interesting. I have cautious interest of the next book just to see where Marr is going with it. None of the characters really change over the course of the book but it happens over just a few days so there is just not time for them to change; in spite of that this is not plot driven. The plot is there but I am unsure where Marr is going with it. I have an idea and that is that Mallory is going to change the world she is from but I have no idea about how she is going to do this. I am willing to trust Marr and see where she wants to go with this story.

I give this one Four out of Five Stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lost Girls

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery

Today’s Non-fiction post is on “Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery” by Robert Kolker. It is his first book. It is 399 pages long, including notes and a timeline, and is published by HarperCollins. The cover is a picture of the stretch of beach where the bodies were found. The intended reader is someone who likes unsolved mysteries and investigative journalism. There is strong language, talk of drug use and sex; so over 16+ just to be safe. It is told from interviews with Kolker’s thoughts sometimes spread into the text. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Shannan wanted acceptance. Maureen wanted a solution. Megan wanted love. Melissa wanted adventure. Amber wanted to be saved.
Over the course of three years, each of these young women vanished without a trace: Maureen in 2007, Melissa and Megan in 2009, and Amber and Shannan in 2010. All but one of their bodies were discovered on Gilgo Beach, Long Island, an unsettled, overgrown seven-mile stretch of shoreline on the string of barrier islands along South Oyster Bay.
Sharing the same profile- all were in their twenties, all but one were under five feet tall, all were prostitutes who advertised on Craigslist- the women were thought by the police to be victims of one murderer, the Long Beach serial killer, the most skillful and accomplished psychopath in New York since the “Son of Sam”. But as the writer Robert Kolker discovered, the truth about these women goes far deeper than common assumptions. The victims weren’t outcasts; they weren’t kidnapped or enslaved. All entered prostitution willingly. And all came from a slice of America ignored by politicians and the media: parts of the country hit hard by a poor economy, where limited opportunities force people to make hard choices- choices that lead them to places like Gilgo Beach.
Working closely with the victim’s families, Lost Girls beings into focus the stories of these young women, their deaths, and their lives, offering a searing portrait of crime and circumstance that goes to the heart of modern America itself.

Review- This is a moving narrative about how five women were pulled into the world of prostitution and how their lives ended. Kolker is not really interested in who killed them. He wants to understand why they died. The killer is still unknown and may never be caught but whoever they are, they are not important to this book. Kolker gives these women a face, a story, and compassion. I believe that he really cares about why they were in the sex trade and how their deaths have affected their families. I was moved both the women’s lives and the way that Kolker tells the reader about them. This book is well written and engaging. I cannot think of anything that I did not like about this book. If you like true crime then read this book. There is only one slow part of the story and that is when Kolker is describing Gilgo Beach and the town that is near it. But it is important to the second half of the book after the bodies are found.

I give this book Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I was given an ARC of this book from HarperCollins for an honest review.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Leviathan (Leviathan, #1)
Today’s post is on “Leviathan” by Scott Westerfeld and is illustrated by Keith Thompson. It is the first in the Leviathan trilogy and is 440 pages including an afterword from Westerfeld about the real world people named in the book. It is published by Simon Pulse. The cover has intricate machinery and textures that make it fun to hold and run your fingers across. The intended reader is young adult but anyone who likes Steampunk, alternate history, and fantasy will like it. There is no language, sex, or anything to make parents worry. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men. Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered. With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

Review- This book is very interesting and fun and has been on my TBR pile for far too long. The two main characters, Deryn and Alek, grow from the beginning to the end of the story and I look forward to seeing where they go. The chapters go from one viewpoint to the other in two chapters at a time from Alek to Deryn. The side characters help strengthen the story and make Alek and Deryn more solid in your mind. As far I know there is no magic everything is science based from the beasts of the Darwinist to the walkers of the Clankers just science. The illustrations help make the chapters and inside both covers is a beautiful map of Europe with all the nations personified as either Darwinist or Clanker. The action scenes are fast and intense but the only downside is that I did not believe that any of the main characters were in danger. That is the only real problem with the story is that I did not believe that anything really bad was not going to happen to the main characters. I am not sure why that is, maybe because I know that Alek and Deryn will live to the end of the trilogy. That maybe not be a bad thing but it definitely toned down the tension for the book. But other than that the book is very good, the prose is strong and so very readable. I would read a 100 pages before I knew it so I flew through this book. Westerfeld is doing good things for the Steampunk genre and I think that he is giving it a good, strong voice. So if you are looking to get into Steampunk I would start here.

I give this one Four out of Five Stars. I get nothing for my review and I bought this book with my own money a very long time ago.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska
Today's post is on "Looking for Alaska" by John Green. It is the first book by Green. It is 221 pages longs and is publishes by Dutton Books. The cover has a blown out candle with the smoke rising up the cover. It is told from the first person point of view of the main character. The intended reader is young adult sixteen and up but teachers, parents, and young adult librarians should read this too. Parents be aware- there is underage drinking, sex, talk about drugs, foul language, and disregard for others. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- First drink, first prank, first friend, first girl, last words.
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words- and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.
Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green’s arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

Review- This book is making waves among young adult librarians but I personally cannot see why. Now I admit I do have preference for character driven stories and I do think less of plot driven ones. Alaska is a plot driven story. It is well written but the prose aside there is really nothing to recommend about this book. If I had read this book as a young adult I, not only, would have not liked it; I would have told everyone to not read it. But I have mellowed from my own YAhood. Now I would not recommend it but I would not stop anyone from reading it. The reasons why I would not have liked this story is more than just the two dimensional characters, it would have all the ‘normal’ actions of the teenagers. I know that I have a boring teenager and that I am a fairly boring adult but the actions that the main characters have in the novel would have made me sick and angry. Now looking at it as an adult they are not really shocking and there is some moral lesson because Alaska does die because she drinks and drives. Miles does stop drinking because of her death but everything about the novel just feels cheap. Again not a bad novel but just not great; it is a first novel so I do try to give some leeway because of that. I do not know how accurate Alaska is to the teenage life now partly because I have not been a teenager in almost fifteen years and like I said I was a boring teenager when I was one. So if you have a teen in your life and want to get them reading try this. Tell them that there is drinking, sex, and pranks in it.

I give Two out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review, I borrowed this book from my local library, and I read it for an assignment in graduate school.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thief's Covenant

Thief's Covenant (Widdershins Adventures, #1)
Today’s post is on “Thief’s Covenant” by Ari Marmell. It is the first in the Widdershins series. It is published by Pyr publishing. The cover is white with the main character, in black, on top looking down as she going to steal a statue. The intended reader is older young adult but anyone who likes good sword and sorcery tales will enjoy this. There is some language and the violence can be graphic but no sexuality in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Once she was Adrienne Satti. An orphan of Davillon, she had somehow escaped destitution and climbed to the ranks of the city’s aristocracy in a rags-to-riches story straight from an ancient fairy tale. Until one horrid night, when a conspiracy of forces—human and other—stole it all away in a flurry of blood and murder.
Today she is Widdershins, a thief making her way through Davillon’s underbelly with a sharp blade, a sharper wit, and the mystical aid of Olgun, a foreign god with no other worshippers but Widdershins herself. It’s not a great life, certainly nothing compared to the one she once had, but it’s hers.
But now, in the midst of Davillon’s political turmoil, an array of hands are once again rising up against her, prepared to tear down all that she’s built. The City Guard wants her in prison. Members of her own Guild want her dead. And something horrid, something dark, something ancient is reaching out for her, a past that refuses to let her go. Widdershins and Olgun are going to find answers, and justice, for what happened to her—but only if those who almost destroyed her in those years gone by don’t finish the job first.

Review- This book starts a little slow but hang with it because it is a good book. Now the Prologue is interesting but then things slow down as Marmell  is doing world building and he does it well. Widdershins is an interesting and fun main character and she is the driving force behind the story; as it should be. Marmell is normally an adult writer but I think that he makes the transition into young adult literature well. I think that is why there is a little lag in the beginning because he normally writes big, thick, wonderful adult fantasy and he is learning how to write for a younger reader. The bad guy is interesting and the reason behind it is very important to the story and I think to future tales. The action scenes are fun, the secondary characters are engaging, and the relationship between Widdershins and Olgun is fun, funny, and interesting. Marmell pulls from D&D for one of the questions in this book which is- What happens when a god dies? The way that the gods and magic work in very well done in this book and it is simply done. No big overdone reasons for why things work because they are the gods and I am good with that. I would recommend this book to young adults who are starting to get into high fantasy and sword & sorcery.

I give this book Four out of Five stars for the slow start. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my library.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Every Day

Every Day
Today's post is on "Every Day" by David Levithan. It is 336 pages long or 7 disc because I listened to it. It is published by Knopf Books and is read by Alex McKenna. The cover has multiple teenagers falling from a sky filled with clouds with the sun breaking through behind them. The intended reader is young adult. There is talk of sex, underage drinking, drug use, and general teenage misbehavior. So parents read it first to see if it okay for your teen. It is told from first person point of view of the main character A. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A had made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with- day in, day out, day after day.
With his new novel David Levithan has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate listeners are they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.

Review- This is one of the books that I had to read for my young adult librarian class in grad school. The premise sounds great and I love Quantum Leap the TV series from the late 80 and early 90’s. This is not that. This is a very boring story. I honestly did not care about any of the characters before the end of the first disc. When I finished it I was like ‘Oh god there are six more’. A talks about being afraid that one day he will leap into a body that is dying and I was like ‘Yes please because then you would die and this stupid book would be over’. I had to play a video game just to keep myself awake to listen to this insipid book. The writing, I guess, is okay and the narrator was fine but the plot, the characters, the setting was all just so boring. When A discovers that there are more ‘people’ like him that is when a sort of villain appears. He is an ‘evil leaper’ but honestly I did not care. When A discovers that he can stay in a body for more than one day but that would kill the real person I did not care. Nothing in this book made me care. It does not help that it feels like Levithan has an agenda. One day A is in the body of a drug addict and how sad that he has to go through withdrawal, then he is a gay boy with a boyfriend, then he is a suicidal girl and only he can help her. I felt like Levithan was trying to force feed me some agenda about how all people are just alike and we need love everyone and to see past our differences. I am saying that we should but I do not like having it forced down my throat. I am so glad to be done with this stupid, boring book.

I give One star out of Five. I borrowed this from my professor and I will never read it again nor recommend to anyone; unless they are having trouble sleeping then I would.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dear Miss Breed

Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference

Today’s Non-fiction post is on “Dear Miss Breed” by Joanne Oppenheim. It is 287 including photo credits, an index, a bibliography, notes and an appendix. It is published by Scholastic Nonfiction. The story is told in unusual way as the author speaks to the reader with her thoughts about the letters and the events that happen in the book. The cover is like an envelope with a stamp in the right hand corner that has Miss Breed’s face on it. It also has a picture of a young Japanese American boy reading a book with the words- True stores of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II and a Librarian who made a difference. There is no language, no sex, and no violence in this book. This Non-fiction book is written for children about  the age of eight like the ones that Miss Breed was writing too but older readers will get much from this book too. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- To Americans of Japanese ancestry, World War II came like a hurricane that swept away their security and freedom. On December 7, 1941 they woke up as citizens and by nightfall, after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, they were the enemy who could not be trusted. In a matter of months they would be imprisoned by their own government. Their only crime was having the “wrong” ancestors.
While wars are usually told in terms of great battles and major victories, the true story of war is often reflected in quiet acts of courage. Dear Miss Breed is the account of how a remarkable librarian became a lifeline to “her children” as she called the middle- and high-school-aged Japanese Americans of San Diego whom she had come to know and love.
Joanne Oppenheim’s narrative is woven with the voices of the incarcerated – the experiences, struggles, and challenges they faced before, during, and even long after the war. Thanks to the books, gifts, and mail send by Clara Breed, they held on to their faith in better times to come. Told through letters, students essays, and recent oral histories with survivors of the dark time in history, this is a cautionary tale about what fear and hysteria can do even in the world’s greatest democracy.

Review- This is a moving story about one librarian who believed that innocent people should not be punished just because they happen to born from one ancestry. I was moved by this true story greatly. I am a librarian so I understand getting close to your patrons and I want to believe that America is greater than how we act sometimes. Miss Breed was public about her opinions on the incarceration of the Japanese Americans by writing many articles about it and by writing those in power to try and get them freed. The children who lived in those camps remember her with great affection and respect. I think that she was an unsung hero of the war here on the home front. Oppenheim’s compassionate treatment of both those in the camps and those who feared Japanese Americans is heartening. I truly enjoyed this book and I think that this time in history should not over looked. The language of this book is easy to understand so that younger children can read and understand what is going on.

I give this book Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my book review, I borrowed this book from my local library, and I read it for a graduate school course.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Singing

The Singing (Pellinor, #4)
Today’s post is on “The Singing” by Alison Croggon and it is the last volume in the Pellinor quartet. It is 470 including notes and appendixes and it has maps so the reader can follow Maered and Hem’s journeys. The cover has Maered and Hem on looking at the reader with her harp in her arm and Hem’s tuning fork around his neck. It is published by Candlewick Press. The intended reader is young adult but anyone who loves high fantasy and sword and sorcery books will love this series. There is violence in this book but nothing more than any of the others in the series so parents need not worry. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- This breathtaking final volume of the Pellinor epic follows the separate journeys of Maered and Hem as they desperately seek each other out in a battle-ravaged land. With the Black Army advancing north, all Seven Kingdoms of Annar are on the brink of defeat. Reports are dire on every front- and the way is fraught with bloodshed, betrayal, and, for Maered, horrifying visions. But brother and sister share an unshakable resolve. Together they possess the secret to the mysterious Singing. Prophecy holds that, as one, they can release the powerful ancient music of the Elementals and defeat the Nameless One and the accumulating forces of the Dark. But will they find each other in time?
Alison Croggon masterfully fulfills the promise of the first three books in a startling, richly satisfying conclusion to an acclaimed quartet.

Review- This is a strong ending novel. Almost all questions are answered and the ones that are not are more character histories that we just do not get to see. I really enjoyed this book and this series. The characters are interesting and the final character movements are fun and I did not see them coming. I expected at least one of the main characters to die but Croggon saves everyone in the end and that was very nice. This has been a very dark YA series and I was expecting a dark ending but Croggon pulls it out and it is wonderful. I was so glad that Maered, Hem, Cadvan, and everyone else makes it. She leaves it open to go back to this world and tell more stories with this characters. I hope she does. There are not plot holes, not one dropped, nothing to pull you out of the story. The darkness in this one is not as bad as The Riddle, more like The Crow, and so it does not overwhelm the reader with it. The final image of Maered and Hem releasing the song back into the world moved me to tears. The notes at the end of give us some information about the characters after the end of the novels and I hope that Croggon goes back and tells us more than that. I know that she is working on a new story in this world and it follows Cadvan but I hope for more.

I give this one Five out of Five Stars. I get nothing for this review and I bought this book with my own little money.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Today’s post is on ‘Chime’ by Franny Billingsley. It is 361 pages long and is published by Dial. The cover is beautiful with a young woman; it is the main character, she is looking at the reader, with waves and dead hands around her reaching for her. The intended reader is female young adult and that is pretty much all who are going to enjoy it. There is no language, no sex, no drug use but there is underage drinking but other than that there is nothing to make parents worried. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.
Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.

Review- I enjoyed this book but I have some problems with it. The biggest problem is I forgot things about the story between readings. I would forget where the characters where, what was going on, and this is not helped by the narration. The narration is jumpy, it goes from present to past and maybe to the future. The villains are ununderstandable. I did not know why the one boy wants and hates Briony and her stepmother is just a raging thing that neither Briony or the reader understands. The love story is not bad but not really interesting. I think that is because Briony is crazy, I think that everything she sees, everything she talks to is not there. The title comes from the Chime Child who can tell who is a witch and who is not. But Briony does not think that she is a witch because of the Chime Child but because her stepmother tells her that she is. It does not help that Briony does not have memories about some important details and even in the reveal I was just confused about what was going on. The only thing that I really got was this that people who are small and fearful will jump at anyone who is different to explain why children die. The writing itself is very good and easy to read but I think that Billingsley just did not have enough help with the narrative problems of her story.

I give this Three out of Five stars. I get nothing for this review, I borrowed this book from my local library and I read it for an assignment for grad school.

Monday, June 3, 2013


Today’s post is on “Arabella” by Georgette Heyer. It is 312 pages long and is published by Source Books. The cover is a print of a lovely oil painting of a pretty young woman dressed in the fashion of the Victorian era. The intended reader is someone who likes historical romance but really anyone who likes humor, clever dialogue and love stories will love this and the author. Ms. Heyer is known as the queen of historical novels and this one is not any different. There is nothing in this book to alarm anyone, there is no language, no sex, and talk about how bad things like lying and drinking are. No moralizing but natural consequences of doing those things. This book is told from third person close moving from character to character as the story goes on. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Impetuosity is Arabella’s only fault…
An enchanting debutante and the eldest daughter of an impoverished country parson, Arabella Tallant embarks on her first London season. Armed with beauty, virtue, and a benevolent godmother, Arabella is sure to be a success, as long as her notoriously impetuous temper does not interfere.
His arrogance proves too much for her to bear…
But when Robert Beaumaris, the most eligible Nonpareil of the day, accuses her of being yet another pretty female after his wealth, Arabella allows herself to be provoked- into a deceitful charade that might have unexpected consequences.

Review- This book is hilarious. This is a historical romance set in the Victorian era. Ms. Heyer did a great amount of research so she knows what she is talking about. If you have never had the delight of reading one of her novels then you need to go to your local library or book store and get one. I started with Arabella and I have not looked back since. Arabella is an innocent girl who does not care for the ways of wooing from the ton and that makes all the more fun for those of us who like regency novels. Mr. Beaumaris is funny because he believes that he has seen and done it all; until he meets her. Mr. Beaumaris makes a cake of himself and Arabella rises to the challenge. The dialogue is where this book just shines. Arabella and Mr. Beaumaris fence words from the beginning to almost the end and the happy ending is very good. The secondary characters are the ones who give the plot real movement in the ways of Lord Fleetwood being a gossip and Arabella’s brother getting into trouble. I did not doubt the Happy Ending but I was curious about how we were going to get there. Mr. Beaumaris redeems himself from being just a jaded elite to someone who wants to make someone else happy. He is my second favorite Heyer hero with the first being Mr. Carlton in A Lady of Quality which I will be rereading and reviewing soon.

I give this Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I proudly own this book.