Thursday, December 29, 2011


Author: Meg Cabot
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Released: 2011
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Bought
Series: Sequel to Insatiable
Challenge: None

After falling in love with and then sending away Lucien, the perfect man who just so happened to be a vampire - and not any vampire, but the prince of darkness - Meena joined the Palatine Guard, a branch of the Vatican dedicated to wiping out all demons. But Meena is hitting walls in the Palatine, especially with Alaric, and then Lucien shows up again. Things get way out of control as nothing is what Meena thought it was, and she doesn't know whom to trust or where to turn for love.

Overbite had a lot to live up to, after Insatiable. And it does a pretty good job of it! I must admit that I missed the suave, charming Lucien of Insatiable, and I somehow couldn't get to really like Alaric much - I felt bad for him, but I didn't actually like him. But Meena's confusion is shown very clearly, and I did like the way Meg revealed things about Lucien to the reader before Meena knows about them, so that we understand her conflicted feelings while shouting at her "No, don't go there!"

The mystery angle of the book is really done well. I had a niggling feeling about what does end up happening, and when the end, and the final battle, came, I thought "Aha! Thought so!" Very satisfying. But I didn't know for sure until then, and I love how Meg sets things up to be ever so slightly revealing while actually concealing more than ever. I'm not so happy with everything that happens at the end, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this is an excellent sequel to Insatiable.

Monday, December 26, 2011


Author: Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Philomel
Released: 2011
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Author's Website:
Source: Bought
Series: Nightshade #2
Challenge: None

After Calla and Shay escaped the horrific sacrifice-and -union scene, and after they've been captured by Searchers as they attempted to evade the Keepers, Calla and Shay have to face the fact that everything they know about Guardians, Keepers, and Searchers may be completely wrong, and that the better allies are the Searchers. While they digest all the new information, the Searchers begin planning the alliance between Guardians and Searchers, but hardly anything goes according to plan, and there are plenty of surprises - mostly unwelcome - and a lot of grief.

The second book of the trilogy picks up right where Nightshade left off, and it flows seamlessly into the continuation of the story. There's a lot of explanation, especially in the first half of the book, but Andrea weaves the story and Calla's thoughts together with the explanation so that the pace is a constant ebb and flow of emotion and action. I like how this feels exactly like the "middle book," because it felt like Calla and Shay are regrouping from everything that's happened until now, and together with the Searchers are setting up for the final, epic battle that's sure to come in book #3, Bloodrose. The romantic moments are still equally tender and passionate, as Calla figures out - or tries to - her feelings for Ren and how that fits in with her absolute love for Shay. All in all, what this book mainly did was whet my appetite for the next book!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton/Penguin Young Readers
Released: September 29, 2011
Genre: YA Romance
Author's Website:
Series: Yes
Source: Library
Challenge: None

Lola has it great - almost. She has a super-cool boyfriend, but her dads are annoyingly overprotective of her and disapproving of Max. But her near-perfection ends when an old neighbor moves back in - a neighbor that hurt her terribly before. But Cricket must be dealt with, and Lola realizes quickly that they must deal with the feelings they had, and apparently still have, for each other.

The thing about this book is that it's not only about romance. The romance is great - alternately sizzling and sweet, the perfect combination. And Cricket is the perfect romantic male lead - he's sensitive but strong, considerate and cool, devoted and dashing. I love how he is introduced slowly to the reader, so that at first you see him how Lola sees him, but eventually you get glimpses into his life that Lola doesn't always pick up on. And the way they have to deal with Lola's dads adds so much to the romantic element of this Young Adult story.

But the main lesson Lola learns is not about romance, it's about herself and about identity. It's amazing the way Stephanie sets this up, so subtly that throughout the first (larger) half of the book, I didn't see this coming, but as soon as she introduces it, it's so obvious. I wish I could be more specific, but I don't want to ruin this part for you. Suffice it to say, this is as much a coming-of-age novel as it is a romance!

And I loved seeing Anna and St. Clair in brief glimpses. I love how they're there, but the story is not about them, because their story is finished. But seeing their relationship, now solid and stable, in action, was a warm and welcome continuation. I hope we get to see both Anna and Lola in the next book!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Other Words for Love

Author: Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Released: 2011
Genre: YA (Romance)
Source: Library
Challenge: 2011 YA Debut Authors

Ari has been friends with Summer since forever, and now that she has the chance to join her in Hollister, a private school, everything should be perfect. But when Summer has to miss the first days of the new school year, Ari makes a new friend, and Summer is anything but friendly to Leigh. And then Leigh introduces Ari to her handsome older cousin, and Ari thinks she has the perfect relationship, and that finally, everything is going well for her. She has two friends for the first time in her life, she has a boyfriend finally, and her married sister seems to have a handle on her moods and general snottiness. But it all comes crashing down when her sister turns on her and Blake breaks up with her, and Ari is left wondering what the hell happened to her friends, her relationships, her life.

Though the story of Other Words for Love is set in the '80s, this story could have been happening right now. The emotions are so real, the relationships and complications so true-to-life. Ari is the perfect character for this story to happen to - just enough naivete, just enough repressed anger, just enough dreams and fantasies.

I love how there are so many layers to the story and how Lorraine knits them all together to create a perfectly woven, multi-layered story. Each thread is followed through and creates problems just when another thread seems to be finally coming together.

And the ending is great, too. It's not a "happy-ever-after," but it's true to real life. We're left with hope for Ari, hope that she learned something from this whole thing, hope that somewhere out there is the perfect situation for her - and I especially like that her hope does not hinge on her finding a guy!

In My Mailbox 25

Lots of books this week! Gearing up for winter break - my goal is to read at least 20 books between now and January 30. Allowing for "off days," that means I should be finishing one book a day. Think I can do it??

Early Hanukkah Gifts!:

Wintergirls                 Christ in Concrete                Truth Seeker
Laurie Halse Anderson       Pietro di Donato                  C.E. Murphy

The Blue Girl                Tom Trueheart                           Infinity
Charles de Lint          and the Land of Dark Stories         Sherrilyn Kenyon
Ian Beck

The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Sea Wolves
Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon, illustrated by Greg Ruth 

The Alchemyst                         The Magician                        The Sorceress
Michael Scott

From the Library:

Head Games                          Other Words for Love                     Tiger's Curse
Keri Mikulski                        Lorraine Zago Rosenthal                     Colleen Houck

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fantasy Reading Challenge 2011 Wrap-Up

Challenge Complete!!
December 12, 2011
Level Obsessed - 20 books
And the year is not over yet! More to come!

1) The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
2) The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
3) The Dream-Maker's Magic, Sharon Shinn (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
4) Troubled Waters, Sharon Shinn (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
5) Vanished: Books 1 & 2, Meg Cabot (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
6) Once in a Full Moon, Ellen Schreiber (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
7) Angelfire, Courtney Allison Moulton (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
8) Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
9) The Bards of Bone Plain, Patricia A. McKillip (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
10) The Ghost and the Goth, Stacey Kade (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
11) Angel Burn, L.A. Weatherly (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
12) Warped, Maurissa Guibord (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
13) A Tale of Two Castles, Gail Carson Levine (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
14) Supernaturally, Kiersten White (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
15) Dead Beautiful, Yvonne Woon (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
16) Every Other Day, Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
17) The False Princess, Eilis O'Neal (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
18) Ripple, Mandy Hubbard (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
19) Angel Fire, L.A. Weatherly (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)
20) Wildefire, Karsten Knight (Review / Amazon / Goodreads)

Monday, December 12, 2011


Author: Karsten Knight
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Books for Young Readers)
Released: July 26, 2011
Author's Blog:
Genre: YA Paranormal
Series: Yes
Source: Bought
Challenge: YA Debut Authors 2011, Fantasy Reading Challenge

Ashline is just a girl trying to fit in, the only Polynesian girl in an all-white neighborhood. But her older sister, Eve, won't let her fit in, and when Eve uses her strange powers to electrocute a girl in front of Ash, Ash moves across the country to a boarding school. That doesn't protect her from Eve, though, as her older sister keeps on appearing. And to top it off, Ash finds out that she is actually a Polynesian goddess, summoned to Blackwood with five other gods and goddesses - and that's when things start to get really interesting.

Whoa - the action, the non-stop, quick-fire dialogue, the lightning (excuse the pun) pace - this book is really amazing. It's an interesting twist on the reincarnated god theme, especially since the kids spend most of the book being uncomfortable with their new identities and not knowing what to make of themselves. The transition from them seeing themselves as regular teens to fully embracing their god-ness is so natural, so smooth and gradual.

What I think makes this book stand out so much is this: Because it's written by a man, we get a very different perspective than most YA Paranormal novels. I actually don't think I've ever read a paranormal novel before this that wasn't written by a woman. Don't get me wrong - women writers are fantabulous, and they get the voices of both the girl and the guy really well. Otherwise I wouldn't keep going back for more! But with Karsten, the whole tone of the book is slightly different. The guys' thoughts seem more clearly masculine, and the side effect is that the girls are more sarcastic and kick-ass as well. And I like it. There's still ruminations and introspection, but proportionally there's more action - and more unbridled anger.

There's also an element of mystery to the book, an added level of suspense as Ash - and the reader - tries to figure out who's who, who's what, and what's who. That'll make more sense when you read the book - and you should definitely read the book!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Challenges 2012

2011 was the first year I participated in reading challenges, and I'm happy to say I'll be joining some for 2012 now!

I will be joining:

The 2012 YA Debut Author Challenge
 Hosted by The Story Siren

Witchy Books Reading Challenge 2012
Hosted by Pagan-Culture

Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge 2012
Hosted by Book Chick City

Speculative Romance Challenge 2012
Hosted by Book Chick City

 The Dystopia Challenge

Hosted by Bookish Ardour

YA/MG Fantasy Challenge 2012
Hosted by The Book Cellar

I don't know how many books I'll be doing for each challenge - except YA Debut Authors, that's set at 12. Being that I'll have time in January, but then the next four months will be crazy busy (I'm taking 21 credits - call me crazy, I know I am), and I have no clue what I'll be doing in the summer or the rest of 2012 - whether I'll be working, or abroad, or what - so I have no idea how much time I'll have for this. But I plan on doing the minimum for each at the very least!


Author: Karen Robards
Publisher: Signet
Released: April 2011
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Lisa is living with her mother again, taking care of her as she deals with ALS. She found a job - okay, was given a job out of pity - working for a guy she had a crush on ages and ages ago, in the District Attorney's office. When she messes up, Scott sends her to work on cold cases - and she finds a case of a missing family whose mother looks eerily like Lisa. She takes the file home, and sets in motion a series of terrifying events as someone is obviously trying to get rid of this old case and prevent Lisa from finding out what really happened to this family.

I'm converted - I'm now officially a Karen Robards fan! Quite honestly, I picked up this book because it was next to Nora Roberts' books on the library shelves. I had read a couple Robards books before, and they were good, but this one has me hooked. The characters are so real and complex, the plot is deliciously thrilling, and the romance is sweet and passionate. What more could you ask for?