Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Scorch Trials - James Dashner

Title: The Scorch Trials (The Sequel to The Maze Runner)
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Delacorte, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Dystopian Fiction
Started: November 18, 2010
Finished: November 24, 2010

From the inside cover:
Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.

In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.

Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.

The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?

I loved The Maze Runner when I read it earlier this year, so picking up The Scorch Trials was a no-brainer. Luckily, The Scorch Trials is just as awesome as its predecessor.

The Scorch Trials (I just love that title) opens after the events at the end of The Maze Runner with Thomas and the rest of the boys out of the maze and in the care of their rescuers. WICKED rears their ugly head again by throwing the boys into yet another controlled experiment, this time making them pass through the now decimated desert that is North America, to a safe haven in just two weeks. As a little incentive, WICKED infects the boys with The Flare, a disease that's a combination of Alzheimer's and plain psychosis (it eats at your brain and makes you progressively crazy till you die), and tells them that the results of the experiment WICKED is conducting on them will lead to a cure...but only if the reach their target in two weeks, if they don't they'll surely die. Nothing like a little pressure, right? Oh, and the boys aren't the only ones with the disease. Roaming all over the Scorch are Cranks, people that are so infected with The Flare that they hunt other humans for food, so they have to deal with that as well as insanely hot temperatures. So off the boys go, combatting all manner of things that just want them dead (and kill them in the strangest yet gruesome ways). Thomas starts to remember more things from his time in WICKED, which are illuminating as well as conflicting, since he's not sure how much he should reveal to the others or not, or even if his memories are even real or something WICKED implanted just to mess with his head. Plus that whole plot thread with Teresa is just wonderfully done, you're not actually sure if she's bluffing or if she's serious.

The plot moves along amazingly quickly, and the focus quickly shifts from the group of boys from The Maze Runner to more of just Thomas in this installment. Plus, poor Thomas, he's like the embodiment of Murphy's Law if it were a teenage boy, kid just can't catch a break. The focus here again, like in The Maze Runner, is on the plot, so the character development is a little lacking for those people that like their novels equal parts character and plot-driven, but this very thing alone makes it great for our boy readers (hence why I recommend this along with The Hunger Games for practically any boy who hasn't read them).

Just read these, I promise you'll like them (especially if you're a teenage boy). This series isn't The Hunger Games or Chaos Walking, but it's a great little action-packed series that's a very good addition to the dystopian area of YA fiction.

Thoughts on the cover:
I love these covers because they focus on the landscape of the books rather than the characters; the cover artist is amazing!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Enchanted Ivy - Sarah Beth Durst

Title: Enchanted Ivy
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Simon & Schuster), 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: November 16, 2010
Finished: November 17, 2010

From the inside cover:
What Lily Carter wants most in the world is to attend Princeton University just like her grandfather. When she finally visits the campus, Grandpa surprises her: She has been selected to take the top-secret Legacy Test. Passing means automatic acceptance to Princeton. Sweet! Lily's test is to find the Ivy Key. But what is she looking for? Where does she start? As she searches, Lily is joined by Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who says he's her guard. That's weird. But things get seriously strange when a gargoyle talks to her. He tells her that there are two Princetons—the ordinary one and a magical one—and the Key opens the gate between them. But there are more secrets that surround Lily. Worse secrets.When Lily enters the magical Princeton, she uncovers old betrayals and new dangers, and a chance at her dream becomes a fight for her life. Soon Lily is caught in a power struggle between two worlds, with her family at its center. In a place where Knights slay monsters, boys are were-tigers, and dragons might be out for blood, Lily will need all of her ingenuity and courage—and a little magic—to unite the worlds and unlock the secrets of her past and her future.

After picking up Ice by the same author a year ago, I knew I liked her style, and although I had my issues with Ice, I knew I wanted anything else she wrote. Boy, am I pleased that I followed through on that, because I adored Enchanted Ivy.

I have so much love for this book it's amazing, I think this novel would be one my all-purpose "I would bring it to a desert island as my only means of entertainment" book, it's that good. This is partly because so much of it rings true with me. This book takes place at Princeton University and deals with a second, magical Princeton modeled after the human one. Lily discovers gates that lead to the magical realm and back, talking gargoyles, flying dragons, shape-shifting tigers....needless to say the whole premise hooked me immediately. I went to a university that was older and well-established, not quite as famous as Princeton, but still quite nice. My school had the same older style architecture with lots of gorgeous stone work (and some gargoyles too), not to mention a special stone gate that my friends and I always thought was special (we even took our grad pictures in front of it). In between stressing out over essays, grad school applications, and grades, (not to mention meeting my future husband in third year) I used to fantasize about the older part of the campus being a gateway to another world where I didn't have to grade a stack of papers well into the night. So when I say I have fond memories of my university years, I really mean it. Hence why Enchanted Ivy is so amazing for me: it takes that geeky love of a place, especially a university, and actually does a good job of conveying those emotions to a reader. You can tell the author really loves Princeton even without reading the acknowledgements.

Now on to the specifics of the book. I loved Lily, she reminded me a lot of myself at that age: wanting to go to a school because it was a family tradition, planning your life around your education so much you'll do anything to achieve it, and really not knowing what to do when someone throws a wrench in your life plans (my wrench was my husband, so his messing around in my life plans was a welcome one). Lily knows what she wants and has her loyalties. She loves her grandfather and her mom, and it was nice to see a character really attached to their family in a healthy way. Even when the boys come into the picture she still has her priorities and doesn't just go all googly-eyed over them. I think my favourite part was when Tye and Jake were arguing and Lily decides to tie them up to stop their fighting and just continue on her own, I kept thinking, "now that's more like it, a girl who'll say to the boys fawning over her, 'you're acting like idiots, I'm outta here!' "

On the subject of the love triangle, I was pleased to see that there wasn't much of one. Anyone who reads my reviews knows I hate them, girls know exactly who they want and I'm convinced they just put off choosing one over the other because they like the attention (cause really, who doesn't like being fawned over by cute boys?). Jake and Tye are both options for her, but Lily knows who she wants and as such there isn't much emphasis on that aspect of the plot, thank god. The romance was more sweet and fluffy than anything, so no concerns over content in that area. Tye is charming and cute, Jake is idealistic and cute, there's not much to hate about these boys...that, and they're great at bickering with each other, it's hilarious.

I liked how the author opened up with Lily's mother's mental health issues and managed to actually work that into the plot of the novel. I would have liked some more focus on that since it was an issue that was well addressed, but what the author did do with it works fine as is.

The plot is kind of predictable, but that's not an issue since everything moves along so quickly that you don't really have time to get frustrated with it.

The author's writing is very accessible, the language in the book is colloquial (normal teen speak), and there's a good balance between just enough description and too much description (meaning you'll miss things if you try to skim). I would have really liked a little insert map of Princeton just to keep track of all the action (cause I'm bad that way), but the author has Princeton location pictures on her blog, which are pretty cool to see. The book itself is a one-shot and wraps up rather nicely, but there's enough there for a sequel I think, I would love to see more from this book universe.

I think my review said it all. One of my favorite reads of the year. If you're in the mood for something magical, fun, sweet, and slightly fluffy (with a nice dose of bloody battle on the side), read this! And if you liked this, pick up Ice too (not to mention the author's other novels: Into the Wild and Out of the Wild).

Thoughts on the cover:
Like Ice, this cover is shimmery and pretty. I like the image of Lily in the shadow of the huge gargoyle, but can't figure out if there's a drop-down compartment behind the legs because it looks like she's standing up inside it?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Girl With The Mermaid Hair - Delia Ephron

Title: The Girl With The Mermaid Hair
Author: Delia Ephron
Publisher: Harper Teen, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 312 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Realistic Fiction
Started: November 13, 2010
Finished: November 16, 2010

From the inside cover:
Sukie Jamieson takes a selfie after her tennis lesson.
She takes one before she has to give a presentation in class.
She takes one to be sure there’s nothing in her teeth after eating pizza at Clementi’s.
And if she can’t take a selfie, she checks her reflection in windows, spoons, car chrome—anything available, really. So when her mother gives her an exquisite full-length mirror that once belonged to her grandmother, Sukie is thrilled. So thrilled that she doesn’t listen to her mother’s warning: “This mirror will be your best friend and worst enemy.” Because mirrors, as Sukie discovers, show not only the faraway truth but the truth close up. And finding out that close-up truth changes people. Often forever.

This book is positively brilliant, I was in awe the whole time I was reading it. It's hard for me to verbalize exactly what about it makes me love it so much, but I'll try.

The book starts off kind of strange, a little different style than most books I read, to the point where I wondered, "what the heck is this?", mostly because I had no clue what "selfies" were in this context (pictures taken of yourself with a cell-phone camera). Sukie (real name Susannah) is perfect: she has beautiful blond "mermaid hair", a wonderful 15-year-old body, a good family, lives in a nice house, has a cute and behaved little brother, goes to a good private school, and has wonderful prospects in life. She's also messed up (in a quirky way), so narcissistic and boring until you learn more about her and by the end you realize she's actually refreshingly normal in fact that she represents your average girl and you can't help but love her to pieces. Sukie's mother gives her an antique mirror of her grandmother's and warns her that the mirror will be her best friend and worst enemy (it's very easy to see where Sukie gets her anxieties about looking pretty from). The mirror is a huge presence in the novel although it doesn't show up that often, everything goes back to the mirror. Sukie slowly starts to understand that her life only appears perfect as it starts to unravel, which is evidenced by the cracks that develop in the mirror.

The writing is amazing, the author is extremely talented at describing everything intimately, there is no issue of telling versus showing, which is so refreshing you have no idea. It's as if you've been plugged straight into Sukie's brain, which is a feeling not too many books can accomplish even with first-person narration. Her writing is also incredibly clever, some of the lines Sukie comes up with are pure golden. Since this book is all about characters-not much happens plot-wise-it's good to see that the characters are so well-developed...and the best character is Senor, Sukie's dog I kid you not. This dog reminded me so much of my own dog: it doesn't respond to anyone unless it darn well wants to, it's very vocal when you're doing something it doesn't like, and subconsciously runs the household.

The themes that run through the book are so pervasive among teenagers today (especially teen girls), that I would say this should be recommended reading in high schools. Sukie has pressures to be beautiful, to be insanely smart, to inwardly reflect the seemingly perfect life she has, that she realizes she has no substance...I think the saddest part of this novel for me was when Sukie realizes she has no all. How sad is that? I'm hard pressed to think of a 15/16 year old girl that doesn't have at least one friend. She doesn't know what she wants to do with her life since all she's been told is to get good grades and be pretty...she hasn't learned to do anything in her life with passion because her family is completely passion-less about everything. So yes, this book can generate some wonderful discussions with teenagers, I'd love to use it in my classes.

Read this! Seriously, The Girl With The Mermaid Hair is one of the best books I've read this year, entertaining and immensely thought-provoking at the same time, not to mention wonderfully written.

Thoughts on the cover:
Love it. One of the prettiest covers I've seen, Sukie's face is in profile and you can see details of how pretty she actually is, I love how you can see the outline of her eyelashes and the light shining through her hair, just gorgeous.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Eternal Ones - Kirsten Miller

Title: The Eternal Ones
Author: Kirsten Miller
Publisher: Razor Bill (Penguin), 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 411 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: November 10, 2010
Finished: November 13, 2010

From the inside cover:
Haven Moore has always lived in the tiny town of Snope City, Tennessee. But for as long as she can remember, Haven has experienced visions of a past life as a girl named Constance, whose love for a boy called Ethan ended in a fiery tragedy.

One day, the sight of notorious playboy Iain Morrow on television brings Haven to her knees. Haven flees to New York City to find Iain and there, she is swept up in an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Is Iain her beloved Ethan? Or is he her murderer in a past life? Haven asks the members of the powerful and mysterious Ouroboros Society to help her unlock the mysteries of reincarnation and discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves, before all is lost and the cycle begins again. But what is the Ouroboros Society? And how can Haven know who to trust?

Beware, here there be spoilers!
Oh, this book made me sad in a way that had nothing to do with the story itself. The story has so much potential to knock your socks off: reincarnation across thousands of years which makes for an awesome backstory, lovers destined to find each other in each lifetime, a heroine who is ostracized in her religious hometown because of her visions and forced to flee, plus can you not love Beau? But alas this story suffers from "incredibly infuriating heroine syndrome", which takes all the potential in this story and just makes my suspension of disbelief very hard to do.

Haven is good in the beginning, I'll give her that. Her dad died in a horrible accident, her mom went a little insane from finding out he cheated on her, custody of Haven went to her bible-thumping grandmother who thinks Haven is possessed by a demon; and throughout all of this, Haven has visions of her past life that result in epileptic-like reactions that she tries to hide for fear of her grandmother's retribution....she's had it hard and she's admirable because of it. She decides to seek out these visions once and for all by going to New York City, where she is sure Ethan is waiting for her in the form of Iain Morrow. But once the reader gets to part two of the novel and she meets Iain and gets caught up in the Ouroboros Society it just becomes a downward spiral until you just want to smack Haven upside the head.

Even ignoring the fact that there is supposed to be some seed of doubt about Ethan's affections for Constance and that Ethan murdered Constance back in the day (which the book doesn't do a convincing job of), Haven is way too trusting of the wrong people. She doesn't make the connection to the people she acknowledges are following her on her way to and in New York with the Grey Men of the Ouroboros Society that Marta tells her of, which is so obvious it's amazing she didn't see it. Even after having visions of a rival for Ethan's affections and figuring out that that person is Padma, she still naively believes every negative thing about Ethan that she tells her, even when it doesn't make much sense. Even after having visions of someone as a rival for her affections she still doesn't make the connection that the whole plot against Ethan/Iain might just be to secure her for himself. I mean, the plot was so incredibly easy to deduce for myself as a reader, I just kept thinking in my head, "my god, Haven, a twelve-year-old could've done a better job of this than you."

I got a little fed up with Haven's detective work, especially since she didn't do a good job of it, but moreso because it involved her calling up Beau and all their conversations going something like this: "Beau, something's going on here, help me research so and so." "Haven, so and so's trouble, run for the hills girl!" "No Beau, I have to stick it out to uncover the truth." Over and over and over again....insert urge to smack Haven up the head here. I kept thinking if Beau had actually been with her in New York City instead of back in Tennessee they would've gotten to the end of this whole thing a heck of a lot faster, Beau seemed to have better instincts about the whole thing.

Other than Haven just making things worse for herself, the whole romance between her and Iain is more telling than showing. I get that it's supposed to be true love reunited and that they will instantly get attached without logic playing into it, but as a reader I still need to see evidence of that love rather than hearing Haven just say she loves him.

Again, this book has great potential, it sucked me in and kept me reading because the premise is so amazing. I loved how the author gave little snippets of Haven and Iain's past lives: what they were, what time period they lived in, how they searched for each other, plus their original forms from back in Ancient Greece (knowing the original story explains a lot of things). I also loved the character of Beau, and how the author validated his and Haven's friendship because they also knew each other in a past life. Plus Beau's gay...and designs dresses, not that he's stereotypically flaming gay or anything (he's actually the opposite), I just like seeing characters in YA novels that happen to be homosexual, we don't have nearly enough of them that are as well-developed and admirable as Beau is.

The book wraps things up just fine, it all comes together fairly well, so it's not a complete waste. There is supposed to be a sequel to this novel coming out soon, so although I have my reservations, I'll be giving it a try when it comes out just because I want to give a story with such potential a chance to redeem itself.

An amazing premise of reincarnation in a love story. Lots of wonderful details, but the heroine might make some people a little frustrated. Perfectly safe content wise, no sex goes on between Haven and Iain, not even any explicit make-out sessions. There are some bible-thumping repercussions (everyone thinks Haven is possessed), so some teaching moments might need to occur for kids that aren't so well-versed in that side of religion.

Thoughts on the cover:
Love it: very simple, but very effective. I love the solid red background, and the fact that the Ouroboros Society logo has been changed just slightly to resemble a cursive capital O. The snake is shiny and metallic too, and I love shiny covers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

10 Days left to enter the Anniversary Give-Away!

Just a reminder to everyone that the One-Year Anniversary Give-Away is coming to a close in ten days, so please take a look at the details from this post, and enter! I haven't received any entries up to this point, so if anyone enters you've got a pretty good chance at winning your choice of book.

The Give-Away closes November 20th, so get your entries in!

Worldshaker - Richard Harland

Title: Worldshaker
Author: Richard Harland
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 388 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction, Steampunk
Started: November 6, 2010
Finished: November 10, 2010

Col is a wealthy child of privilege. Raised to succeed his grandfather as the Supreme Commander of the juggernaut Worldshaker, he has lived a pampered life on the Upper Decks. He has never questioned his place in the world or his bright and illustrious future. But when a Filthy girl stows away in his cabin, suddenly nothing is clear anymore. Quick and clever, Riff is nothing like the Filthies that Col always learned about—the dumb, slow, less-than-human folk who toil away Below, keeping Worldshaker moving. Filthies are supposed to be animal-like, without the power of speech or the ability to think for themselves—but Riff is clever and quick and outspoken, and Col is drawn to her despite himself.
As Col begins to secretly spend more time with Riff, he begins to question everything he was raised to believe was true, and realizes that if Riff is right, then everything he was raised to believe is a lie. And Col himself may be the only person in a position to do something about it—even if it means risking his future.

I picked up Worldshaker because I realized I'd been reading way too much girly YA (supernatural romance, fairies, etc.). As an aunt to three teenage nephews (to to mention teaching boys every single day), I figured I needed to expand my repertoire of books boys would actually like. In YA fiction right now, steampunk is for boys what supernatural romance is for girls, so I figured it was a good bet.

Worldshaker takes place about 150 years after the reign of Queen Victoria as we know her, where her successor, Queen Victoria II rules on Worldshaker. All the major superpowers from the Victorian era (Germany, Britain, Russia, etc.) have taken to the air in giant flying airships (juggernauts), complete with their own caste system. The elite families on Worldshaker live on the Upper Decks while the Filthies toil below. The elites are taught that the Filthies are like animals, uncivilized and incapable of language. When Col Porpentine is named successor to his grandfather, the most powerful man on Worldshaker after the queen, his future is secure. But when a Filthy girl named Riff escapes from below and hides out in his cabin, he discovers that Filthies can speak, among other things. Col gets caught up in Riff's plans for revolution, discovering more about himself and his affections for her as he goes along.

Worldshaker starts out very different than I expected it to. Based on the premise, I thought it would be written more seriously, and towards the end it is, but in the beginning everything is just so ridiculous on so many levels that I nearly stopped reading it. Thankfully the ridiculous scenarios, language, and characters are purely a setup to make the subtle change throughout the novel all the more appreciated. When the mood of the novel turns from silly to serious (and at times bloody), the change is all the more stark. Col goes from a pampered yet good-natured child acting much younger than his 16 years, to a young man turned fighter who fights for what he thinks is right.

Worldshaker really reminds me of Inside Out. Inside Out has almost the same premise as Worldshaker with a lower class girl leading a revolution with the help of an upper class boy (but with a more futuristic, less steampunk feel), except Worldshaker is from the boy's point of view (Col), and Inside Out is from the girl's point of view. I think Worldshaker could have benefitted from examining things from Riff's point of view at times, but it's more Col's story since he's the one that changes the most (Riff is just the catalyst).

Again, the novel's slow to start, but once its gets going it's pretty good; the writing is decent, the characters are fairly well-rounded (Riff is a little flat but we don't exactly see that much of her), and it'll appeal to boys especially.

A nice example of steampunk for the younger set. This gets a little bloody towards the end, so keep that in mind, but it does a good job of playing around with history and examining politics and issues of class and revolution.

Thoughts on the cover:

There is a ton of artwork for this book. The author's website has links to artist illustrations of various parts of Worldshaker (the juggernaut) itself. The inside cover has a diagram of the ship with nice details. The cover itself has a nice image of Col and Riff against the ship facade. Although the North American cover is pretty, I'm kind of partial to the Australian cover, shown to the left.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Monsters of Men - Patrick Ness

Title: Monsters of Men (Book 3 in the Chaos Walking trilogy)
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 603 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Dystopian Fiction, Science Fiction
Started: November 3, 2010
Finished: November 6, 2010

From the inside cover:
In the electrifying finale to the to the multi-award-winning Chaos Walking trilogy, the choices of one boy and one girl will decide the fate of a world.

As a world-ending war surges to life around them, Todd and Viola face monstrous decisions. The indigenous Spackle, thinking and acting as one, have mobilized to avenge their murdered people. Ruthless human leaders prepare to defend their factions at all costs, even as a convoy of new settlers approaches. And as the ceaseless Noise lays all thoughts bare, the projected will of the few threatens to overwhelm the desperate desire of the many. The consequences of each action, each word, are unspeakably vast: To follow a tyrant or a terrorist? To save the life of the one you love or thousands of strangers? To believe in redemption or assume it is lost?

Becoming adults amid the turmoil, Todd and Viola question all they have known, racing through horror and outrage towards a shocking finale.

If you haven't read The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and The Answer, go read them...seriously, do it. These books aren't just stories, they're an experience. Much like Mockingjay, the third installment of The Hunger Games trilogy, Monsters of Men focuses on the act of war itself and its effects on people. The title "Monsters of Men" comes from the quote often said by characters in the previous two books, "War makes monsters of men." With a title like that, you know you're in for some seriously disturbing content.

The book opens with the organized Spackle army marching on New Prentisstown just as a scout ship of people from Viola's home arrive to search for her. Simone and Bradley from the ship are urged by Mistress Coyle to aid The Answer in the war, while Viola wouldn't trust Mistress Coyle if her life depended on it. When the Spackle army threaten Todd, Viola is spurned into action to delay the Spackle long enough for the citizens of New Prentisstown and The Answer to collaborate for peace talks. So amidst the Spackle being a constant threat, the Mayor and Mistress Coyle are still at each other's throats and refuse to trust the other (and for good reason). Throw in the Mayor still trying to corrupt Todd, and being so darn convincing of his redemptive qualities, and you've got conflict from all angles.

Narration is done through three first person narratives: Todd, Viola, and one of the Spackle (Todd's #1017 from the previous novel). Unlike The Ask and The Answer where Todd and Viola's narration alternated by chapters, Monsters of Men sees Todd and Viola alternating in much shorter increments, sometimes many times within the same chapter, and when you add the Spackle narration (usually in its own divided section, it makes for a very frenetic feel to the story, which fits nicely with the mood of the novel. I think the aspect of Monsters of Men that stands out the most for me is the wonderful character development of the Mayor. The author layers him so amazingly well that readers actually begin to believe that he can be redeemed, he worms his way into Todd's consciousness oh so seamlessly. I also like how Todd is shown actually wavering in his morality and commitment. The Mayor shows him a taste of true power and Todd hears himself admitting that he likes it before telling himself to shut up.

I can't say much more for fear of spoilers (I find this happens a lot when I review all of a series), but I can guarantee that this novel will invoke reactions similar the The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and The Answer, possibly even more heightened reactions. War is made personal, characters are not above killing to save a loved one, but at the same time it explores that no one can afford to be a saint when faced with certain situations, that there is no "us" and "them" because based on their actions, everyone is nearly indistinguishable. Todd and Viola realize that everyone is capable of doing horrible things, that they aren't above those things they detest, but refusing to do them while admitting you have the power to do so is what makes you a better human being.

As a side note, the author is not afraid to pull any punches, so you never quite know what to expect...the ending caught me off guard, and I wasn't happy about it, but it is appropriate for finishing off the series.

YES. All kinds of yes. Just read all three of them if you haven't done so already, this series is pure gold.

Thoughts on the cover:
Keeping with the same elements as in the previous two covers, the jagged title font contrats with the Noise font in the background. The Noise all over the covers makes these wonderfully appropriate and unique to the series, it's just very clever I find. Good continuity for all these three too, I can't imagine a different set of covers.

Sign Up for the Book Bloggers Holiday Swap

The holiday season is quickly approaching (don't get me started on Christmas shopping). Sign ups are now open for the Book Blogger Holiday Swap.

If you want to make a fellow blogger extra happy this holiday by being their Secret Santa (with an emphasis on books for prezzies), take a look at how it all works by visiting the FAQ page, and sign up by November 14th! Presents must be shipped by a certain date (early December), so only sign up if you intend to follow through.

I already signed up, it looks like it'll be a lot of fun. Who else is up for sending fellow bibliophiles presents?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Linger - Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Linger (Book 2 of The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy)
Author: Maggie Steifvater
Publisher: Scholastic, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 360 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: November 1, 2010
Finished: November 3, 2010

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past…and figuring out a way to survive in the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabel, who already lost her brother to the wolves…and is nonetheless drawn to Cole. At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love-the light and the dark, the warm and the cold-in a way you will never forget.

I read Shiver back in the summer and really enjoyed it. The author has a lovely style of writing, and Sam is a wonderful poetry-spouting character (can you tell I like Sam?).

Linger mainly deals with the aftermath of curing Sam and the effects it has on his relationship with Grace. Grace's parents suddenly wake up and decide to be parents instead of absentee caretakers, so there's a lot of conflict between them and Grace over her decision to see Sam. If this book convinced me of one thing, it's that I absolutely hate Grace's parents. They leave their daughter to raise herself and then decide to be strict over a boy when she's nearly eighteen, so hypocritical. That and when Grace insists that they trust her judgement and not interfere in her love life, they turn into super illogical parents and go so far as to forbid her to see Sam. I remember having almost identical conversations with my parents years ago relating to my hubby (then my boyfriend), so I really felt bad for Grace. Grace is also succumbing to an illness relating to the wolves and her being bitten as a child, so there's that constant worry she feels without wanting to upset Sam. Sam is trying to deal with his awe over being human and his worry that he might not stay that way, plus that fact that he's now responsible for the pack since Beck left. Plus there's Cole, who is wonderfully complex, and Isabel gets a lot of character development in this installment too.

I can't say much about the plot for fear of spoilers, but this book impressed me just as much as Shiver did. It is a little slow in the beginning, but soon picks up and ends on an awesome cliffhanger that will make you clamour for the third book.

If you liked Shiver, you'll love Linger.

Thoughts on the cover:
I adore these covers. The shades of colours they use are pure eye-candy, and the text inside the book is green to match the cover (same as Shiver's blue text to match the blue cover). Can't wait for the third book's red cover and (presumably) red text.