Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster CallsAuthor: Patrick Ness
Genre: Paranormal, Horror
Pages: 215
Published: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Candlewick
Rating: 5/5 Stars

"The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.
But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth." ~Goodreads
 When I picked up A Monster Calls I figured it would be the perfect Halloween read.  I mean, monsters, hello!  I new that this was supposed to be a sad story as well, but I assumed (incorrectly) that it was more of a thriller than anything else.  After finishing this book, I can promise you that while it is a horror story, the horror here lies in the real life problems that the main character, Conor, is dealing with.  He is bullied at school, abandoned by his father, largely ignored by his grandmother and on top of everything else he is dealing with his mother's cancer.  That's a lot for a kid to deal with.  Then the monster starts showing up.

  • The legacy of the book: The idea for this book was originally thought up by Siobhan Dowd.  Unfortunately she passed away from cancer before the idea could come to fruition.  Although Ness and Dowd had not known each other personally, he was a huge fan of her work.  So, when he was asked to write the book he did so with the utmost love and respect.  One of the reasons that this book is such a masterpiece is because Ness was memorializing and celebrating Dowd in its writing.  This makes the story all the more touching.
  • The realism: Again, this story is less about a monster and more about Conor's internal struggle with his mother's cancer.  However, that doesn't mean that the story is sappy.  The emotions are so raw and real that it is impossible not to feel totally immersed in Conor's grief.
  • The monster: The monster is such a dynamic character.  He is a terror but he is also a nuturer.  He is not only there to scare Conor, he is also there to teach him and to help him.  At the end of the day, it is the monster who makes Conor look at his true feelings and come to terms with his mother's potential fate.
  • The illustrations: Jim Kay's amazing illustrations complement the story without overshadowing it.  They are both terrifying and melancholy.  While the story stands on its own, the book would not be the same without these wonderful pieces.
  • All the feels: Especially during the last third of the book I just could not stop crying.  It takes a lot for a book to make me cry and this one just would not let up.  I suggest having a jumbo pack of Kleenex on stand-by if you are planning to read this one.


Absolutely nothing.  I can't think of a single thing that I didn't love about this book.  You've stumped me Patrick Ness. Well played, sir.

This book is, in a word, flawless.  If you are looking for a different kind of heartfelt read with just a little creepiness, this is your book.  If you aren't crying by the end, you may want to have your tear ducts checked out, there could be a problem.  From, idea to plot to writing and illustrations this book is incredibly well-formed.  I know it will have a place of honor on my shelf for years to come.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (11)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by the amazing Tynga @Tynga's Reviews 

Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1)Marked (House of Night, #1)The Little Woods

For Review:
The Big SplashThe Quick Fix
Thanks Abrams!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review: Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings

Poltergeeks (Poltergeeks, #1)Author: Sean Cummings
Genre:  paranormal
Pages: 320
Published: October 2nd, 2012
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Source:  I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

"15-year-old Julie Richardson is about to learn that being the daughter of a witch isn't all it's cracked up to be. When she and her best friend, Marcus, witness an elderly lady jettisoned out the front door of her home, it's pretty obvious to Julie there's a supernatural connection. 
In fact, there's a whisper of menace behind increasing levels of poltergeist activity all over town. After a large-scale paranormal assault on Julie's high school, her mother falls victim to the spell Endless Night. Now it's a race against time to find out who is responsible or Julie won't just lose her mother's soul, she'll lose her mother's life."~Goodreads
I've been trying for several days to write a review for this book.  I added it to my list of Halloween reads because, well, it has witches and ghosts.  It also came out earlier this month.  The last book that I read from Strange Chemistry, Blackwood was lots of fun and full of quirk, which seems to be a staple for the publisher.  I jumped in expecting a fun, spooky read (if maybe a little cheesy).  Unfortunately Poltergeeks failed to deliver, even on the cheese. Of course I didn't hate everything about it or I wouldn't be giving it the two stars that I have, so let's start this off on a positive note shall we?

  • Marcus is not your normal heartthrob: Our main character and resident witch, Julie, starts to develop a crush throughout this book.  While I was disappointed that there was a love story since I was hoping for a YA novel free of romantic entanglements for a change, I was happy that Marcus was not your stereotypical YA man candy.  He is not a brooding vampire/angel/demon, he doesn't spend his weekends working on cars or tossing footballs and he isn't the adorably aloof new guy who may or may not have killed someone.  Marcus spends most of his time working on science homework and getting shoved into lockers.  Sure, I love large, hulking broody types just as much as the next girl, but pocket protectors can be cute too right?  Well, sort of.  While I was relieved that the author chose to go in a different direction with the leading man, I didn't find myself all that compelled by Marcus and I certainly won't be ordering any Team Geek t-shirts in the near future.  Sorry.
  • Ghosts: I walked into this story thinking that it was mostly about ghosts.  It turned out to be mostly about a witch.  I wasn't too disappointed though, because when the ghosts were present they were done right.  So good on you Sean Cummings for writing actually creepy ghosts!  Ten points to Gryffindor!

  •  Julie:  Things start to go downhill quickly when you don't like the main character.  This is definitely the case for Poltergeeks. Julie is supposed to be a take-charge, kick ass heroine, but to me she comes off as whiny, inconsistent and overly-aggressive.  She spends half the book having an inner-dialogue about whether or not Marcus likes her, whether she should get involved with magic, how much trouble she's going to be in if she gets involved with magic, etc.  It's tedious and it really distracts from the plot.
  • Show, don't tell: This one's pretty self explanatory.  Much of the bulk of this book is Julie describing how she's feeling, what's going on or what the consequences will be if she does magic (see above).  Again, this makes the story tedious and frankly made me want to put the book down about half way through.
  • Predictability: One of my biggest problems with this book is that I wasn't surprised by anything.  Even the twist at the end I could see coming a mile away.  
Overall, this book just bored me.  I really wanted to like it, but I just couldn't get into it.  Then again, I've talked to others who really loved it so, as always, the choice is up to you, but I can't recommend it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (10)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by the amazing Tynga @Tynga's Reviews 

Hey guys, just a quick note to say I'm not dead, I swear!  Things continue to get crazier and crazier around here but I am still reading and will have a couple of reviews up this week.  Thanks for hanging in there with me!


Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Every Day Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1) The Devouring (The Devouring, #1) The Morganville Vampires, Volume 1 (The Morganville Vampires, #1-2)
The Morganville Vampires, Volume 2 (The Morganville Vampires, #3-4) The Morganville Vampires, Volume 4 (The Morganville Vampires, #7-8)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Sisters Red (Fairytale Retellings, #1)Author: Jackson Pearce
Genre: Fairytale, Paranormal
Pages: 324
Published: June 7th, 2010
Publisher: Little Brown
Rating: 3/5 Stars

"Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?"~Goodreads
Although Sisters Red  is, on the surface, a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood,  it is, at it's heart, much more than that.  While the original tale was meant as a cautionary fable about listening to your parents and not talking to strangers,  Sisters Red is a story about loyalty, duty, and above all, family.

The March sisters have spent the better part of their young lives hunting Fenris with Silas, the woodsman's son.  While the sisters are as close as they can possibly be they have differing outlooks on their lifestyle and chosen profession.  Scarlett is older.  She is scarred and mutilated from the attack that left her grandmother dead and she and her sister alone in the world.  Scarlett is hard, determined and deadly with a hatchet.  She believes that it is her duty to kill the wolves and avenge the death of her grandmother and the destruction of her own life and beauty.  The only things she cares about more than killing fenris is her partner, Silas, and her little sister, Rosie. Rosie, meanwhile, hunts because she knows that this is what Scarlett expects from her.  She values her sister's love and trust above all else.  However, Rosie longs for a normal life and she is terrified that this will drive a wedge between herself and Scarlett.  Then there's Silas.  Silas and the girls have grown up together and he and Scarlett have been partners for years, but there may be something blossoming between Silas and Rosie that could destroy everything.  When the three of them pack up and head to Atlanta to try and stop the coming of a powerful new fenris they are all forced to look at their lives in a new way.

This story is unique and well-written.  It has a lot of heart and, even as someone who doesn't particularly care for werewolves, I thought it was pretty creepy.  I loved the way that Pearce told the story and the bond between the sisters was palpable.  However, I didn't really feel like I connected as much as I would like to with the three main characters.  Scarlett, in particular, was a difficult one for me.  She was so angry and hard that I couldn't really love her character.  Maybe this is a sign that she was well written and believable but I would have liked to have felt something more for the character.  What saved the story for me was the action and the exploration of the group dynamic.  The fight scenes were amazingly well-thought out and executed (particularly the final one - I was literally cheering).  I feel like I wouldn't want to meet up with Jackson Pearce in a dark alley.  Along with this the relationships were really well done and while I may not have connected with each character individually, I did connect with the way they felt about each other.  So I'm giving this one three stars, but a good three stars and I can't wait to read Sweetly.

For more on my feelings, feel free to watch the video below:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cover Reveal: Reaction by Jessica Roberts

Today I am super excited to bring you the cover reveal for Reaction by Jessica Roberts!  Reaction is the second book in Jessica Roberts' Reflection series, released this past February, which centers around a girl who's picture perfect life may or may not be a dream.  Here is the blurb for book one via Goodreads:

"Bright, spunky Heather Robbins has escaped her small hometown and is anxiously beginning her freshman year of college. Rising above her rocky childhood, she’s found a place where good things are finally starting to happen: her own private apartment, refreshing college classes, and an intense attachment to a mysterious and rugged classmate, Nick Richards.
But when her dreamy college life turns out to be nothing more than a wonderful dream while resting in a coma, questions threaten. Now, Heather must press forward to unlock the real past, and find the answers buried deep in her mind. What she unlocks instead is a roller coaster ride through flashbacks, embellished memories, and a whirlwind romance.And when it’s all over and she comes face to face with the truth, will she lose everything she’s fallen in love with?"
 Now Jessica is coming out with part two and it sounds like it keeps getting better.  This one's due out on November 6th, so make sure you check it out.  Now, without further ado, the sparkly new cover:

"Harmony… I’ve previously had that in my life, but only once, briefly, a while ago. It was during the time I’d started my first year of college. My own apartment, a new old car, and a life free of deadbeat stepfathers, all of which was fulfilling enough. But if it wasn’t, I also had a best friend, soul mate, and boyfriend all in one. Yes, life was near perfect.But one stormy night can change everything… For many months I rested in a prolonged sleep, fighting for my life. Well, more than fighting for it, also dreaming of it. Dreaming of him. Thank goodness, the dream is over and I’m back in the real world now. And all I want is for everything to return to the way it was. But nothing’s the same; most of all, us.
Once again, I find myself at the crossroads of a ruthless battle, this time not for life, but love. Do I fight for the guy I twice fell for, or do I let her take him away?"
- Goodreads blurb - Reaction

Friday, October 5, 2012

Review: Two and Twenty Dark Tales

Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose RhymesAuthor: Multiple
Genre: Anthology, paranormal, fantasy
Pages: 340
Published: October 16th, 2012
Publisher: Month9Books
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Source:  I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

"In this anthology, 20 authors explore the dark and hidden meanings behind some of the most beloved Mother Goose nursery rhymes through short story retellings. The dark twists on classic tales range from exploring whether Jack truly fell or if Jill pushed him instead to why Humpty Dumpty, fragile and alone, sat atop so high of a wall. The authors include Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Leigh Fallon, Gretchen McNeil, and Suzanne Young." ~Goodreads

 We all know our Mother Goose.  For centuries kids have been learning these nursery rhymes and most of them seem pretty light and harmless.  But when you really look into them, some of these stories have a dark undercurrent.  Two and Twenty Dark Tales is an anthology of work from some of the best YA authors out there that puts a dark twist on our classic nursery rhymes.  This book is a great collection of creepy stories that is sure to keep you up.  The best part about the anthology, though, is that it is the first in a series of charity anthologies that Month9Books will be putting out.  The proceeds from the first 5,000 sales will be donated to YALITCHAT.ORG, an organization that strives to increase the awareness and impact of YA lit and culture.  As with all anthologies, there were some stories that  chilled me to the bone and others that left me cold. Since these are short stories and I don't want to give any spoilers I will just give you my overall impressions rather than going too in depth with each story. So, without further ado, the stories:

As Blue as the Sky and Just as Old: I wasn't familiar with the original rhyme, which may have colored my opinion on this one.  It just sort of dragged for me.  Although, the story did get interesting after awhile and I did care about the main character.  I still would have liked to have a more  well-known rhyme start the book off.

Sing a Song of Six-Pence:  This one started off pretty creepy, but in the end it just didn't do it for me.  

Clockwork:  Probably one of my favorite stories.  This one felt like it could have been developed into a novel all on its own.  The main character was great and even though this was a bite-sized story, you really felt like you understood the world and characters.  Very cool.

Blue:  This was another one I just couldn't get into.  The idea was different but there wasn't much development.

Pieces of Eight:  I really thought this was going to be one of my favorites since it involves a quest and I love stories like that.  However,   the plot got so complicated so quickly that I got completely lost and couldn't enjoy the story itself. 

Wee Willie Winkie:  This has to be the hands-down scariest story in the book.  The creep-factor for this one was off the charts.  I read this right as I was falling asleep and let's just say - bad call.

Boys and Girls Come Out To Play: This is another story that I would love to see developed into a full novel.  It was definitely creepy but there was also a great backstory that I really wanted to know more about.

I Come Bearing Souls:  The incorporation of Egyptian mythology in this tale is really cool.  I could have gone without the ending though.  

The Lion and the Unicorn:  I don't really feel like I can pass judgement here because the second half is only in the finished version.  But so far, so good.

Life in a Shoe: Probably the most depressing story for me.  This one was sort of dystopian/post-apocalyptic and dealt with fun issues like child abuse and absentee fathers.

Candlelight:  Another creepy one.  This story starts off pretty cool and then gets super depressing.

One for Sorrow:  I just didn't like this story at all.  There wasn't a lot of depth and I got bored very fast.

Those Who Whisper:  Pretty cool concept and the execution was great.  This is another story that I wanted to know more about after it was over.  One of the best.

Little Miss Muffet:  Maybe it's because I hate spiders, but I just did not like this one at all.  Yes, it was creative, but it was a little aimless and the ending...oh my god.  Just gross.

Sea of Dew:  I literally was crying as I read the end of this story.  The best part is, that there is an extended version in the final copy!

Tick Tock:  This is a close second for scariest story in the anthology.  My only criticism is that I want to know more about the backstory of the kids.

A Pocket Full of Posy:  This story got off to a great start but the conclusion seemed rushed and I didn't care for it in the end.

The Well:  Oh god!  Jack and Jill ruined forever, in the best possible way.  This story is supremely screwed up.

The Wish:  This story was a bit predictable but the story was decent and the message was well layed-out.

A Ribbon of Blue:  I think this story was supposed to be sweet and beautiful, but it came off as sort of dull to me.    

Overall, I would say that this anthology is definitely worth the time.  It was really interesting to see how these different authors twisted around my favorite stories.  Pick this one up for a good, freaky time.

Monday, October 1, 2012

September RAK Wrap-Up!

Book Soulmates
September is over! And that means it's time for a RAK wrap-up. This month I was able to send out one book and I also received one!  The amazing Miranda over at The Lonely Bookshelf sent me Beauty Queens by Libba Bray!  I seriously squee'd when I got it.  Thanks so much again Miranda.  Let me know what you got for RAK this month. And if you haven't already, make sure you sign up for October.  It's tons of fun.

SENT:                                         RECEIVED:

Beauty QueensBound (Torn Trilogy, #3)