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#23 Heist Society

July 13, 2010

Heist Society by Ally Carter

This book has been on my list for a while. A co-worker and I were prowling around YA, waiting, deciding on a book. I picked up this one (really for the first time ever) and read the inside of the book flap. We both left with it. And man, I’m sad that I waited so long.

Heist Society is about Katarina Bishop, daughter of two infamous thieves. She grew up in the life and it wasn’t until a few months ago she left the family business to pull her own con—-a new life at a boarding school. As expected, a con can only last so long and after some complications, she goes back “home” with her friend & co-thief, Hale. It isn’t long before she learns that one of the most hated and feared men in the business is after her father, who supposedly stole five of his priceless paintings. Kat is thrust back into the life she wanted to escape and finds herself and her friends in the midst of one of the biggest, most impossible thefts of all time.

This was a fun read. It was easy, unique and the characters were really strong. Especially Kat. I thought I had it all figured out, but I didn’t. I loved the history interwoven into the story and the way she told the story with ease and precision. It was pretty great. Keep an eye for this book to be on a big screen near you…someday.

Kat used to love Paris. She remembered being there with her parents–eating croissants, visiting a pyramid, and carrying six red balloons. It wasn’t until years later that she realized it hadn’t been a fun family outing–that actually they’d been casing the Louvre at the time. Still, the memories made her smile as she bought a pastry from her father’s favorite cafe and carried it outside into the chilly wind. She shivered a little and wished she’d brought a warmer coat. Across the busy square, she saw the shop where her mother had bought her a pair of red patent leather shoes for Christmas. She wished a lot of things.

Pages: 304

Twitter: @OfficiallyAlly

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#22 Desires of the Dead

July 13, 2010

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

Violet Ambrose is back. This time, she has a boyfriend, some new friends and a whole lot of new problems. The echoes of the dead still call to her, and one in particular leads her to the body of a young boy. Only this time, when she finds the dead boy, she is found by the FBI. Now, her secret, her relationship with Jay and her life all hang in the balance.

Sound awesome? It was.

It was a great sequel. While I love the action and the echoes, I love Jay! (Who doesn’t?!) Their relationship is still strong, still vulnerable, still new. That, for me, was my favorite part of this story. That and a new character, who shall remain nameless. Let me just say that he (ahem, or she…) may have caused me to sway a bit on my Jay-love. (Just a bit. He’s still a winner for me!)

Anyway, this was a great sequel, a fun read and a still intriguing story.  Desires of the Dead was filled with new characters, new scenarios, new drama, new challenges. If you liked The Body Finder then you will not be disappointed!

Oohh…here’s a little snippet from Derting’s website.

Violet slipped inside without notice. She was too preoccupied to care if anyone spotted her. The gentle sound of the harps grew stronger, until the vibrations were nearly painful and Violet found herself gritting her teeth. It was compelling, this echo . . . this death. And Violet was so close.

Keep an eye out for Desires of the Dead. It is released on March 15, 2011.

Pages: 368

Follow this author on Twitter: @KimberlyDerting

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#21 Thirteen Reasons Why

June 19, 2010

Hello, boys and girls. Hannah Baker here. Live and in stereo.

I don’t believe it.

No return engagements. No encore. And this time, absolutely no requests.

No, I can’t believe it. Hannah Baker killed herself.

I hope you’re ready because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.

What? No!

I’m not saying which tape brings you into the story. But fear not, if you’ve received this lovely little box, your name will pop up…I promise. Now, why would the dead girl lie?

Hey! That sounds like a joke. Why would a dead girl lie? Answer: Because she can’t stand up.

Is this some kind of twisted suicide note?

Go ahead. Laugh.

Oh well. I thought it was funny.

Before Hannah died,  she recorded a bunch of tapes. Why?

The rules are pretty simple. There are only two. Rule number one: You listen. Number two: You pass it on. Hopefully, neither one will be easy for you.

When you’re done listening to all thirteen sides–because there are thirteen sides to every story—rewind the tapes, put them back in the box, and pass them on to whoever follows your little tale. And you, lucky number thirteen, you can take the tapes straight to hell. Depending on your religion, maybe I’ll see you there.

In case you’re tempted to break the rules, understand that I did make a copy of these tapes. Those copies will be released in a very public manner if this package doesn’t make it through all of you.

This was not a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Do not take me for granted…again.

No. There’s no way she could think that.

You are being watched.

THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen received a small box on his porch. There was no return address. Inside, there was a list of 13 names and some cassette tapes. He put the first one in a cassette player in his parent’s garage, and with the push of a button his world changed. It was Hannah Baker. Hannah Baker, the first girl he kissed that really mattered, committed suicide. Now, these tapes with instructions to listen were in his possession. And he wants to understand, so he listens and walks with Hannah until he knows the thirteen reasons why.

All I can say, and believe me when I say I’ve been thinking on it, is I got chills. I mean, the idea alone is pretty incredible. The story flows between Hannah’s words and Clay’s reactions, memories, thoughts. It’s a great story. And more, it’s true. No, not the characters or anything, but the truth that there are people all around us treated like crap, even unintentionally. And there are people who are lost and alone and reaching out—only to be ignored. Asher’s story portrays that in such a real way. Every teenager should read it.

There are also some great little videos that I really enjoyed. Thanks to this, the next time I read this, I want to do it in audio book. It’s such a powerful story and I know it will change the way you see things.

Pages: 304

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#20 I Now Pronounce You Someone Else

June 14, 2010

I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE by Erin McCahan

Click on that link and look at the cover. Then the back cover. Read it. Now, you will know why I had to pick it up, despite the others in my possession that are calling out my name. I need a happy book–which this was. Need more proof? Read this quote. This incredible voice that is present at the first line.

I was switched at birth.

Okay, not really, I just like saying that. I like how it sounds, how it makes me smile, and how it irritates my mother, who pretends with a laugh to find it amusing.

Even now when I am no longer Bronwen Oliver but Bronwen Someone Else–as I always should have been and would have been had I not been switched at birth, which I wasn’t–I like saying it: I was switched at birth.

I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE is the debut novel by author Erin McCahan. In this fantabulous, feel-good story, Bronwen Oliver wants only a normal life, which she doesn’t have. She has crazy family members, a distant step-father, a image-obsessed mother and a perfect older brother (who she refers to as Jesus.) She created an alter ego, a switched at birth girl named Pheobe Lilywhite, which is her only hope and escape from this girl who belongs to nobody. Of course, despite her hopes, there are no Lilywhites coming to claim their long-lost daughter. There is her family.

There is also Jared Sondervan: the man who sweeps her off her feet, gives her the family that she always wanted to have, and loves her completely. When they get engaged and plan to marry after her high school graduation, she has to decide what she really wants. In that decision, will also come the truth of who she is, who she was all along and who she wants to be.

I will say that this novel served the purpose I desired. It was fun, easy, and oh-so sweet. I loved the characters, the story, the truth of it and the ending. It was fun, aspiring, inspiring, freeing and again, I love the butterflies. Here’s a fun, romantic, corny peak to end with.

Day Nine: My Sweet Bronwen: Dear Bronwen, If I ate a gumdrop every time I thought of you during the week, my teeth would rot out of my head. I love you, JJS.

Pages: 285

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#19 The Body Finder

June 12, 2010

There are three very important things you should know before I talk about this book.

1) I’m a little behind because I just moved. Things have been CRAZY and will continue to be CRAZY. So, yes, the year is half over and my list is not. This is sad. I’m still pursing my goal but we’ll see what happens. 2) Reading this book was a timing personal best. What? Yes. I couldn’t sleep at woke up after an hour. At promptly midnight, I said, “Let’s read a little bit.” We all know that’s a bad idea. I never just read a little bit. So, 3 hours and 10 minutes later, I finished. Personal. Best. 3) I’m really tired as I write this. I slept for 4 hours and worked an 8 hour shift. Tired. But, I’m that dedicated to my goal. So, here we go.

THE BODY FINDER by Kimberly Derting

Violet is no ordinary girl. She has had the ability, since she was child, to sense things that were marked by murder–animals killed by other animals called out to her and once, a girl that she found in the woods as a child. It was a safely-kept and managed secret that was guarded by her family and her best friend Jay. But then, things start changing–not only between her and Jay but also in her town as girls start disappearing and their echoes start finding their way to her. She is the only one who can stop a murderer.

This book, was again, recommended by the wonderful E. (I love her.) I kept putting it off, for whatever reason, but I enjoyed reading it. The things I loved: The humor–I found myself laughing a LOT, although many of the things probably weren’t meant to be funny. I loved Jay–his sarcasm and wit and all-around love-able-ness. The dynamics between he and Violet were so believable. I liked the best friend, Chelsea. She was minor character but she was so real. I know people like her. I loved the romance. I found myself aw-ing a lot also. I love when I can do that and get the warm and fuzzies. Need a book with Intrigue? Well, this one was full of it. Even when I wasn’t engulfed, I still found myself needing to know what would happen next.

There were, of course, things I didn’t like. There were parts that could have been described more rather than told. Parts that were slow and/or disturbing. Parts where the spacing in the letters were wrong (that bugs me!). And I wasn’t too fond of her family unit–I didn’t believe it as much as I wanted to. But still, it was a GREAT read. I’m glad that I finally got to it. It had great components and it was well worth my time and money. Go read it.

I couldn’t find the right section to quote. So, I pulled some quotes that other reviewers decided they liked. So, I hope they are a good insight to this book.

Teaser quotes:

“She heard her father gasp at the same time she recognized what she had uncovered. She felt his strong hands reaching for her from behind, pulling her firmly by the shoulders away from the fresh dirt and gathering her into his strong, safe arms…away from thh sound that was calling to her…

And away from the girl’s face staring up at her from beneath the soil.”

“She wanted to breathe, to inhale his lethally musky scent, but she couldn’t find the air around her. She was suffocated in the strength, the warmth, of him.”

“She tried to remember when exactly he’d started to smell so good to her, or when his touch had become like a mood-altering narcotic.”

“But he was bigger and stronger and his hands reached up behind her to the back of her head, ignoring her denials and pinning her in place. When his mouth finally landed on hers, the combination of his alcohol soaked breath and his brutish unrestrained actions made her quiver sickly beneath him….she felt like she was going to puke.”

Ah. The joy of teasers. haha. Anyway, go read it. You know you want to…

pages: 386

Follow on Twitter: @kimberlyderting

<3 Dani

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#18 Sisters Red

May 21, 2010

I feel as if I have fallen into a pattern of saying everything is awesome. Sorry. I’ll work on my adjectives and my critiquing. Starting now…

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce.

I just finished Sisters Red, the new book by Jackson Pearce, which comes out on June 7. A great YA author friend  gave me this advanced reader’s copy. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. It was incredible. It was well-written. It was unique. It was pitter-patter of the heart fabulous. It was suspenseful. It was original (which is different from unique, look it up!) It was raw. It was beautiful.

Yes. Beautiful.

Pearce has a way of telling the story that sucks you in. At one point, I was frustrated because I wanted to get to the end (and having just read almost 500 pages in a day) I didn’t understand why I was only half-finished after two days. Then, I absorbed a sentence. Read it twice. Three times. And I realized, that was why. She is that good. Her words are fluid and so artistic. She’s not just putting words on a page without a purpose. (And, having finished the book, I can say that is definitely true that each piece is purposeful.) This project has been great  for me as a writer because I can see what works, what doesn’t, what I like, what I dont. I can see who would challenge me to be better, who is good at what I’m not (like perfectly painting a picture of a room–hard for me) and I can figure out how to be better because of those things, because of those authors. Jackson Pearce, wherever you are, you taught me a lot.

Anyway, on to the story itself. (You can also watch the book trailer)

When we were little, Scarlett and I were utterly convinced that we’d originally been one person in our mother’s belly. We believed that somehow, half of us wanted to be born and half wanted to stay. So our heart had to be broken in two so that Scarlett could be born first, and then I finally braved the outside world a few years later. It made sense, in our little pig-tailed heads—it explained why, when we ran through grass or danced or spun in circles long enough, we would lose track of who was who and it started to feel as if there was some organic, elegant link between us, our single heart holding tghe same tempo and pumping the same blood. That was before the attack, though. Now our hearts link only when we’re hunting, when Scarlett looks at me with a sort of beautiful excitement that’s more powerful than her scars and then tears after a Fenris as though her life depends on its death. I follow, always, because it’s the only time when our hearts beat in perfect harmony, the only time when I’m certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we are one person broken in two. (page 46-7)

Sisters Red is a fairy tale with a twist. It’s about two sisters, Scarlett and Rosie March. They are survivors of a Fenris attack (aka werewolf) that killed their grandmother. Scarlett sacrificed herself for her little sister and still bares the marks of the attacks, the scars and a missing eye hidden by a pirate patch. Rosie lives with the thought that she owes her life to her sister. The two have given their lives to the hunt. The hunt of Fenris, destroying them before they can take innocent lives. There is nothing else that matters. That is, until Rosie falls for Silas Reynolds, their longtime friend and Scarlett’s hunting partner. These two sisters may be more different than they ever imagined.

The story is told from alternating POV’s between Rosie and Scarlett. Both voices are vivid and honest. I found myself loving Rosie’s voice the most, connecting with it in some way that I can’t explain.

This book will be released June 7. This awesome story is going to be a series as well. Why? B/c the YA world loves series. And well, I do too. And you, you should also. Especially this one.

Pages: 336

Follow this author on twitter: @JacksonPearce

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#17 Spirit Bound

May 19, 2010

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

This is book 5 in the Vampire Academy series and I, like so many, have been waiting and waiting. And yesterday, it finally came. Today, I finished it and my only complaint is that I have to wait until December to get the final book in the series. The wait alone may kill me.

If you don’t know anything about the VA series, then let me tell you a little. In the series, two races of vampires are in the world, the Moroi and the Strigoi. The Moroi are alive and magical; the Strigoi are the undead. There is another race of people called Dhampirs, descendants who have vampire qualities but are human, who grow to be Guardians, people who are trained to protect Moroi from the evil Strigoi. This is the story of Rose Hathaway, a dhampir/guardian-in-training, who is best friends with a Moroi princess, Lissa. She is the last of her line and Rose has sworn to protect her. Each book in the series takes us through their time together as Rose and Lissa survive unthinkable circumstances and forbidden romance.

Now, about Spirit Bound….You should stop reading this is if you haven’t read 1-4. It’s gonna be spoiler-y.

I loved this book. In the last one (Blood Promise) Rose searches for the now-Strigoi lover/instructor, Dimitri. In the end, we know that she unsuccessfully stakes him and returns to school. This novel picks up where that one left off but it is the end of their senior year and she is about to take her Guardian test and  graduate. Rose has managed to develop a somewhat “normal” exsistance, with a best friend and a boyfriend (none other than royal Moroi, Adrian Ishkov—whom, I think I really like.) Anyway, though things are stable, she still longs for Dimitri and she firmly believes that there is a way to make him alive again. Thus, their quest begins. I won’t ruin anything but I will say that it involves a prison break, a royal court, Vegas, a lot of lies, stakes and Dimitri. And of course, this conversation, which was one of my favorite scenes.

“We heard you freed a Strigoi once. That you were able to convert him–or her–back to their original state.”

Surprise flashed on Victor’s usually composed face. He certainly hadn’t expected this.

“Where did you hear this?” demanded Robert.

“From a couple I met in Russia. Their names are Mark and Oksana.”

“Mark and Oksana…” Again, Robert’s gaze slipped away for a moment. I had a feeling this happened a lot, that he didn’t spend much time in reality. “I didn’t know they were still together.”

“They are. They’re doing really great.” I needed him back in the present. “Is it true? Did you do what they said? Is it possible?”

Robert’s responses were always preceded by a pause. “Her.”

“Huh?”

“It was a woman. I freed her.”

“You’re lying.” It was Adrian who spoke, his tone harsh. “….There’s no way to save a Strigoi. When they’re gone, they’re gone. They’re dead. Undead. Forever.”

“That which is dead doesn’t always stay dead…” Robert’s words weren’t directed toward Adrian. They were spoken to me. I shivered.

“How? How did you do it?”

“With a stake. She was killed with a stake, and in doing so, was brought back to life.”

“Okay,” I said. “That is a lie. I’ve killed plenty of Strigoi with stakes, and believe me, they stay dead.”

“Not just any stake.” Robert’s fingers danced along the edge of his glass. “A special stake.”

“A stake charmed with spirit,” said Lissa suddenly….

“It’s really that easy?” I asked at last.

Robert scoffed. “It’s not easy at all.”

“But you just said…you just said we need a spirit-charmed stake. And then I kill a Strigoi with it.” Or well, not kill. The technicalities were irrelevant.

His smile returned. “Not you. You can’t do it.”

“Then who…” I stopped, the rest of my words drying out my lips. “No. No.”

“The shadow-kissed don’t have the gift of life. Only the spirit-blessed,” he explained. “The question is: Who’s capable of doing it? Gentle girl or Drunken Sod?” His eyes flicked between Lissa and Adrian. “My wager would be on Gentle Girl.”

Those words were what snapped me out of my stunned state. In fact, they were what shattered this whole thing, this far-fetched dream of saving Dimitri. (page 164-167)

As much as I love this series, there has been one complaint that I’ve mentioned to everyone who reads them alongside me. I need to address it. The recaps of the last four books. Yes, that seems dumb b/c I know they are important to act as reminders of where the characters have been, but in they seem to stick out a lot in this series. I’ve been evaluating and I think they seem too far out of Rose’s voice. Anyway. I think this book seemed to blend them in the best of any of the others. AND, I will say on the record that this could possibly be my favorite of the series. I’ll let you know for sure in December.

The thing I like about this series are the characters. Mead knows them and presents them well. They are always true to what they were in book 1, always developing with the story, always consistent. Many props to her on that. And, there’s always something else happening that you never expected. I like that in book. Spirit Bound had lots of those moments.

You should go buy it (all of them!) and read it (all of them!) The final book comes Last Sacrifice comes out Dec. 14.

Follow this author on Twitter: @RichelleMead

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