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Review: Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buza

Thursday, February 28, 2013
2 Stars: An Okay Read
Hardback: 256 Pages
Publication: December 11, 2012 by Scholastic

Love is awkward, Amelia should know.

From the moment she sets eyes on Chris, she is a goner. Lost. Sunk. Head over heels infatuated with him. It's problematic, since Chris, 21, is a sophisticated university student, while Amelia, 15, is 15.

Amelia isn't stupid. She knows it's not gonna happen. So she plays it cool around Chris—at least, as cool as she can. Working checkout together at the local supermarket, they strike up a friendship: swapping life stories, bantering about everything from classic books to B movies, and cataloging the many injustices of growing up. As time goes on, Amelia's crush doesn't seem so one-sided anymore. But if Chris likes her back, what then? Can two people in such different places in life really be together?

Love and Other Perishable Items takes me back to the days of puppy love when you think so-and-so is perfect and beautiful and you're unworthy of him or her. You do everything you can think of to attract this person's attention and prove that you're awesome, that you're The One. That's what Amelia does. Honestly, I didn't have much to think about Chris at first, especially after reading from his perspective; his journal is filled with a lot of mundane activities; on top of that, he's in a slump and complaining about a lot of things (using a lot of bad words while he's at it) without doing anything to change his situation. I often found myself skimming the pages. Amelia is a good girl, on the other hand. A bit quiet, into English, and insecure about herself. She reminds me of me when I was her age, a bit. I was that quiet book nerd studying in between classes.

Amelia is starstruck with how sophisticated he is because of his age; she doesn't look at him like he's another human, but more like how one views an idol. And he's showing her this other world, one that pushes her out of her comfort zones.

For example (from ARC):
Chris buys a six-pack of beer on the way to Rino's.

"Special treat," he says, parting with a twenty-dollar bill. "You like beer, don't you?"

I hate beer. Hate it. "Yeah!"

Oh, well. Love is pain.

She's trying to fit herself into his world instead of thinking about how maybe she doesn't belong there, or at least compromising with him. I don't feel as though I have the right to judge her, as it took me a while to find where I belonged as well, but it isn't fun watching her go through all this either, especially since I know how destructive such behavior can be to one's self-concept. In a strange turn of events, I ended up sympathizing more with Chris than Amelia, namely because of their decisions at the end of the book and how they decide to move on with their lives after realizing their feelings towards each other. (Though I still don't like him all that much.)

On the writing style/general formatting: While I can appreciate multiple perspectives told in third person, I cannot read multiple perspectives told in first person. It's just too weird for me switching from one to the other. Another issue I had is with the formatting of the letters that Amelia and Chris write to each other. Italics would work just as well and would be easier to read. After a long day of class and looking at my laptop,  it was just too much of a strain on my eyes to read the cutesy font used for the letters. In addition, I feel as though we're giving too many details about unimportant things (like Chris's mundane life) and left out on other details (like more character depth, especially with secondary characters).

Warning: Heavy use of cuss words, alcohol, drugs, mentions of sex

An ARC was provided by Random House Children's Books for review

Review: Phoebe Pope and the Year of Four by Nya Jade & Giveaway

Friday, February 22, 2013
Today, as a part of the tour for Phoebe Pope and the Year of Four (Shapers #1) by Nya Jade, I have for you my review of the book and a giveaway.

3.5 Stars: A Great Read
Series: Shapers #1
Paperback: 335 Pages
Publication: October 30, 2012 by Dreamwell Publishing

The students of Green Lane Academy roam their halls unaware that below their manicured campus exists a prestigious school of an entirely different kind . . .

Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Pope has enrolled at the Campus Below: a spy academy for shape-shifters hidden deep beneath the grounds of a boarding school whose humans unknowingly protect it. There, thanks to a carefully planned schedule, she leads a double life: spy trainee Below and normal teenager Above.

As if two course loads, concealing a secret power she alone wields, and coping with her father’s recent death weren’t enough, Phoebe finds herself developing major feelings for actor and teen heartthrob Colten Chase, who attends the Campus Above and appears to be majoring in winning Phoebe’s heart. But when officials learn that Phoebe may be at the center of a startling prophecy, she becomes the target of shape-shifting assassins who will stop at nothing to suppress the truth.

Now Phoebe’s lessons about Shaper’s enemies and spycraft take on great importance as a menace stalks the campus, with Phoebe as its target. Meanwhile, what began as an unlikely relationship with Colten, quickly morphs into heartache when she suspects that something sinister lurks beneath this movie star’s glitter and fame. Suddenly, Phoebe’s caught in a mesh of lies, betrayals, and danger where she doesn’t know who to trust, and needs to rely on herself—and her secret power—to get to the truth and to stay alive.

Initially, I had a hard time getting into the novel. It leaps right into the action without delving much into Phoebe's character and the world of the Shapers. There were some concepts introduced as well that weren't explained until later on, which confused me. Once I got a feel for the world and Phoeobe's character, however, I found myself sucked into Phoebe's world. There are so many mysteries surrounding the Shapers and the Year of Four, and I enjoyed learning more about them with Phoebe in addition to the various skills necessary to become a spy. I'm sorry that we didn't get to learn more about the spy part, but I am so very glad that we got to see other areas of Phoebe's life as well. This book isn't all about the spy training. It is about prophecies, speculations, and Phoeobe growing into who she is meant to be.

Phoebe is a badass girl. It's not in the attitude permeating her everyday life--she's quiet and timid, the typical artsy girl who withdraws into her art (photography in this case) and doesn't quite like physical exertion. It's in her loyalty to her friends and her determination to do her best protect them even when she's overwhelmed with things and frightened herself. She also has an interesting ability that I'm looking forward to learning more about in the next book. Then there is Colten... a bundle of hotness and sweetness. The hot super-model boy is overdone, but I really love how it ties into who Colten is as a person. It also helps contribute to some steamy scenes. If Phoeobe ever gets tired of him, he's welcome to pay me a visit (innocent smile).

The strongest part of this novel is the dialogue. It's real and engaging. I especially love Phoebe's conversations with Hayley, her best girl friend on campus. Hayley is an interesting friend, filled with energy and always livening the atmosphere. She's a true best friend, supporting Phoeobe with cheers, cookies, and Spa Sundays as necessary. Their conversations about Colten are especial because they remind me of boy talks I've had with my suitemates. I could ramble on about the characters forever, but that would defeat the purpose of attempting to coherently summarize my thoughts in a review.

This isn't simply about the hot guy and the awesome best friend, however. It is also about the dangers that surround Phoebe and her friends as they navigate their human and Shaper lives and how they overcome challenges. There are enemies lurking within and outside the academy, and Phoebe isn't the only one hiding secrets. This is a solid first novel. More importantly, it has me wanting to read the second novel since a couple hours ago when I sadly reached the last pages.

A copy was provided by Nya Jade for review.

Nya Jade is a singer-songwriter and author based in San Francisco. In her free time, Nya enjoys hanging out with family and friends, searching for amazing gluten-free desserts, and bargain hunting for her next pair of funky shoes. Nya holds a B.A. in Economics and an M.A. in Sociology. Phoebe Pope and the Year of Four is her first novel.

Review: Street Magic by Tamora Pierce

Thursday, February 21, 2013
5 Stars: Keeper
Series: The Circle Opens #2
Hardback: 300 Pages
Publication: April 1, 2001 by Scholastic

Briar Moss been training four years as a plant mage, but he hasn't put his past behind him. He meets a street girl, Evvy, using powerful magic to polish stones for a merchant, and resolves to find her a teacher. But Briar understands the city's gangs as well as he understands Evvy. When gang warfare breaks out, he discovers that the fiercest gang is seeking a stone mage to lead them to hidden gems. Only Briar and his magic can offer Evvy protection. Swept up in a bloody conflict, Briar must decide if he's ready to make the final step away from his former life as a "street rat".

Enter three of my favorite characters in the series (after Tris because she's so awesome): Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy, in one of my favorite books in the world of Emelan. Chammur is one of the msot fascinating cities I've read about. It is set in a more Asian culture in a city surrounded by rocks and where gangs run rampant on the streets. The people dress differently, they have multiple roads (down in the streets and up on roofs), and they have a strict social hierarchy (from slaves and the poor to mages and the rich). Even the terms used are different with Briar being referred to as a pahan (mage), for example.

I had fun learning about gang culture, primarily because of its connection to Briar's past. With Briar befriending members of the Camelguts, we gets to see more into the gang mentality and how much he has changed since he was last a street rat. Though Briar has lived a comfortable life since Niko found him, it is difficult for him to separate himself from the gang mindset; he and Evvy often have heated exchanges on the topic of gangs.

Evvy. I love that girl to death. She is the perfect foil to Briar's character. On the one hand, we have a charming teenage boy with a gift for smooth language and working with plants. He is a delightful rogue, and I can imagine that it'd be hard to stay mad at him for long; he's such a charmer. Then there is Evvy: practical and down to earth like the rocks she works with. She has sound arguments and rarely speaks up without a cause. She's a sweet girl who hasn't had a proper upbringing; at least, until Briar takes her in. And Rosethorn, with her sharp tongue and warm heart, she is the mentor that Briar needs to keep him in line. It's good that Briar has matured so much over the years. I doubt he can stay in trouble for long with both Rosethorn and Evvy around!

Like Magic Steps, this is a crime novel. More political in nature, this novel has Briar encountering problems with the corrupt nobility and explores how the different classes view each other. Again, the 'criminal' is alluring, but this one is more frightening in a way because of the social power that she wields. More than a professional killer, she is someone who treats life indifferently and will sacrifice people without a care for her personal pleasure. This book gave me chills and thrills in certain scenes, especially when I found out just what can happen when you anger a plant mage!

Author Interview: Laurie Boyle Crompton

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Today, I have for you an interview with Laure Boyle Crompton, author of Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains)!

Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She's desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark's feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her "sext" photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now..

Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
I grew up in Pennsylvania in the same town were Blaze’s story takes place but I now live on Long Island near NYC with my family. We have a rustic trailer upstate in New Paltz where we spend summers and weekends and where I do much of my writing. I loved books so much as a kid I think becoming a writer was just a natural progression. When I was in high school I remember reading an essay I’d written to my English class and was amazed when they laughed in all the right places. It was like having a superpower and I’ve loved writing and trying to make people laugh ever since.

It's cool how your classmates were able to encourage you to become a writer. What inspired you to incorporate comic strips in a novel?
When I was in high school I read through my stepfather’s entire huge collection of superhero comics and based Blaze’s dad’s collection on that. I became a total comics fangirl as a result of that exposure and really wanted give a character like that a voice. I was a bit geeky and an outsider as a teen, but thought superheroes like the Silver Surfer and Thor were so cool that I got strength from their stories. That’s one of the places Blaze gets her strength as well.

I agree that fictional characters can be very inspiring. Much of the humor in Blaze is centered around the idea of superpowers, something that we'd all love to have. How did you come up with the idea and how do you feel this develops Blaze as a relatable character?
I always love to ask people what they would choose if they could have any superpower and it really tells you so much about a person. I had one friend who wanted to be invisible so she could listen to what other people said about her when she wasn't around and I think that is probably the worst superpower anyone could ever wish for. Much better off not knowing! Then I have friends who try to figure out some way to incorporate all of the possible powers into one. These are folks who are always trying to play some angle and get away with stuff. In the book I used it as a fun way to explore each character and it’s something I still enjoy discussing.

Haha... invisibility does have the potential to be an awkward power. Blaze is a teenage girl in the process of working out who she wants to be. What do you feel is her biggest challenge going through life during the time that we get to know her and what do you feel helps her overcome her self doubts?
I think being stuck driving her brother and his friends around in the beginning of the book is a challenge, but it’s one she makes the best of and instead of being bitter or cruel she has fun with the boys. Thinking she should be more popular or having more cool experiences is something that a lot of teens feel. Even though the cretins are younger she has a genuine relationship with them and I think that through nurturing them she rescues herself in a way. She makes some big mistakes, but she takes responsibility and stands up for herself.

I respect how Blaze grows over the course of the novel. Seeing her learn from her mistakes and stand up for herself is what won me over. Using lines from the novel, tell us about a couple of your favorite characters.
When Blaze drops the cretins off at their soccer game at the beginning of the book and commissions them to go forth I think you get a good idea what each of them is like just by the nicknames she gives them. Josh is her awesome little brother who she calls the Nuclear Dynamo. Dylan, the Colossal Hormone is obsessed with girls (particularly older ones). Andrew, the Galactic Goalie is super responsible and mature. And Ajay the Ozone Destroyer is pretty much a fart-bag who is obsessed with farting.

I love how each of the boys has their own superhero names. They're a rowdy bunch, but they're good inside. If you were a superhero, what would your superpowers be and what would you do with them?
I would absolutely pick the power to fly if I had a choice. I’d like to think I’d find some way of making my power useful to save lives and stop crime and stuff but am ashamed to say I’d spend a lot of time just soaring around enjoying the open sky.

What are you working on right now?
I’m thrilled to have more books coming out after Blaze and have been busy getting them all polished up and ready. Next year Sourcebooks will be releasing The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High, which is a reality show farce, and then I have another YA coming out with FSG/Macmillan, which is tentatively titled Adrenaline, about a risk taking girl who is injured while rock climbing who must overcome her fears in order to embrace life again.

Thank you so much for having me! J

Sounds like you have some awesome titles coming out n the near future. I'm looking forward to them.

Thanks for interviewing!

About the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter
Laurie Boyle Crompton is a YA author who caught the writing bug back in high school and proceeded to graduate first in her class from St. John's University with a major in English and minor in Journalism. Some of her hobbies are hiking, going to the movies, cycling, swimming, and reading. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Agency.

Review: Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce

Monday, February 18, 2013
5 Stars: Keeper
Series: The Circle Opens #1
Hardback: 272 Pages
Publication: March 1, 2000 by Scholastic

Four years after we last saw the young mages Sandry, Tris, Daja, and Briar in the Circle of Magic quartet, Sandry is back. Now 14 years old, she is helping her great-uncle, Duke Vedris IV, ruler of Emelan, recover after a heart attack. But there's no rest for the weary mage. A mysterious murderer is afoot, and it quickly becomes clear that Sandry and her reluctant young protégé, Pasco, are the only ones who can stop the killings. Unfortunately, Pasco comes from a long line of harriers, or provost's guards, and his burly family does not think highly of a boy who dances magical spells. It takes some fancy footwork to convince Pasco of the need for his special brand of magic, and Sandry is just the girl for the job.

Over break, I expanded my Tamora Pierce collection once again--with The Circle Opens quartet. Fortunately, I was able to find copies of the original hardbacks at bargain prices. These were the copies I first read as a child, and I'm attached to them. I didn't want to buy copies with the new covers. While I was at home a couple weekends ago, I got nostalgic and found myself rereading the quartet. These books target a middle-grade audience and are a quick and easy read for older readers like myself. Nevertheless, the magic is still there, and I am as much in love with them as when I was a child.

Magic Steps is about the girl who was left behind in Summersea while her friends go explore the world. While the other books show that her friends all miss each other, Sandry is the only one to be physically left behind where they met and grew up together as mages. Other than taking care of her great-uncle and managing affairs, there is little excitement in her life until she happens upon Pasco using dance magic. Despite her youth, Sandry must teach Pasco how to control his magic, as she was the mage to discover his talents.

Sandry has always been the patient one among her friends, and she has grown more mature over the years. In this book, she becomes more comfortable with who she is, if possible. There are few as suited to the role of teaching as Sandry despite her initial insecurities about taking on the same role as Lark did for her not so long ago. She is a clever, obstinate girl, and I enjoyed following her as she stands up to older men who think that investigating crime scenes is not a suitable task for a young noblewoman. Pasco, I didn't like as much. He's young and foolhardy; he only wants to dance. At the same time, I understand that he's a child and doesn't understand the dangers around him, so I wanted to give him a chance. Unfotunately, he takes on increasingly smaller roles as the novel progresses.

For the most part, this didn't take away from my enjoyment of the novel. Truth be told, I didn't think much about it until I began writing my review. The crime investigation is fascinating, especially when the criminals' viewpoint comes into play. I love when the authors delve into the criminals' minds. The protagonists are almost always biased against the criminals (and I would be if I were them), so we never really get to truly understand the criminals' motivation unless we get to look from their perspectives. These criminals are intriguing and relatable, though morally speaking I cannot say that I approve of their method of taking care of their rivals by killing them even if they have a bad feud going on.

This is a book that will stay on my bookshelf forever. Its reading level is perfectly suited for younger readers, but older readers will also enjoy reading this book and delving into the magic of Tamora Pierce.

Imaginary Chats: What Happened to Timeliness?

Saturday, February 16, 2013
When I first started college, my greatest fear was that I would be too busy to keep up my reading schedule. I managed it just fine my first year and actually managed to pull off some big events with the help of breaks, during which I read until I could read no more. This year, I've been having more trouble what with taking more advanced classes and having heavier reading/project schedules for these classes. Honestly, I have no idea how I pulled off what I did last year. I really wish that I could hop into a time machine, go back to the past, and examine last year's me because I need that energy and drive back.

I'm really embarrassed by how little I've been posting this year and how poorly I've been able to keep on top of reviews and other posts that I've told myself that I was going to make. I've had to reschedule some posts and have been late responding to email or sending out emails that I mean to send. In the past, I've always managed to stay a couple weeks ahead of schedule and was always planning for the future, not the present. At minimum, I was hoping to post two reviews a week this semester, and you can see how well that's going. I suppose this is what I get for signing up for two English classes on top of other classes that actually assign homework unlike all the psyc classes I took last year (which only assigned textbook reading).

I'm trying to get through the next couple of weeks and my first midterms, after which spring break will hit and hopefully I can get caught up with all of these. In the meantime, I'll be floundering along and trying to stay sane. And again I apologize for my lack of timeliness. I am doing my best to get caught up!

Author Interview: Kasie West

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Today, I'm delighted to interview Kasie West, author of Pivot Point, which comes out today!

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
I was a reader first. I love books. I read everything I could get my hands on as a kid/teen. I took a few creative writing classes in high school/college, but never really thought of myself as anything near a writer. But one day, I had an idea for a book, so I thought I would give it a try. That book was horrible. Like really bad. I didn't know it at the time, but it was. (I'd like to take this time to apologize to all the agents I sent out awful queries to for that book. I shudder thinking about those queries. The queries were even worse than the book itself.) But I enjoyed writing so much that I kept going. Six books later, I wrote Pivot Point.

I'm glad that you persevered! I saw that you dabbled with different ideas for abilities that the mind can control before settling on the abilities, such as looking into the future, telling truth from lie, persuasiveness, and erasing memories. What drew you to these abilities?
Addie's ability of seeing two futures was obviously the basis for the book. That was the one I started with. But the other abilities I ended up with complemented the plot perfectly and helped shape the book. Plus, they were really fun to explore. I mean, a character who can always tell if you're lying? How fun is that to work into a plot? In book 2, I explore/focus on some different abilities as well so that was fun too.

It is fun to read about a character who can tell if people are lying, though I'm not sure how many of us would like to be put under that kind of scrutiny. Sometimes, we need to tell a white lie to get through the day. If you could have one of these abilities, which would you like and why?
You'd think I'd have the answer to this question down, considering the book I wrote, right? It's also a question that one of the boys in the book asks my main character too. But yeah, my answer changes daily depending on my trials. So let's see, today I have the worst cold ever so I think I'd want to be a Healer. But it also took me 6 hours to talk myself into taking a shower, so maybe I need a little more Persuasion in my life. :)

That's true. If I had an awesome ability, I'd probably find myself wishing I had a different one two or three times a day, depending on circumstances. Addie sees two potential lives for her, one outside the Compound with her dad and one inside the Compound with her mom. What challenges did you face portraying the two lives and Addie's struggle over what she really wants in life?
Portraying the two lives period was a challenge. To try to weave them together so they made sense without being repetitive was really hard. But outside the Compound it was a challenge to place Addie in situations that she wouldn't be used to. To try to figure out how she would react. I needed her personality to be consistent between the two realities and yet she was facing two totally different scenarios so she couldn't be exactly the same. Writing this book hurt my brain a lot. :) But it was also really fun to explore what she wanted and how she was going to make her choice.

The effort that you put into the writing has definitely paid off. Pivot Point is only being published with a sequel along the way! There are two hot boys in Addie's potential futures. Could you tell us a little about them and their appeals?
Ah. Yes. The boys. They are completely different. Duke (her Compound boy) is Telekinetic--he can move things with his mind. He's also charming and charismatic and popular and outgoing. Addie doesn't have to over-analyze and over-think when she's around him like she's prone to do. He makes her feel happy. Trevor (the Norm boy) is kind of the opposite. He's quiet and reserved. But he's sweet and thoughtful. He's perfectly okay with silence. But his laid back nature puts Addie at ease and she finds herself easily able to talk to him. I love them both. And I make her choose! It's so cruel.

Sometimes knowing the future isn't always the best. Then she wouldn't have to know two such different but equally appealing lives! Addie isn't the only teen girl worrying over her future, but she has the unique ability to look at the posisble outcomes. It has its uses, but there are also complications, such as her worry over which life would be better for her. How do you feel this impacts her as a character and how did you balance her Searcher side with the teenage girl inside?
Addie doesn't like to use her ability too much because then she has all these false memories. Things that never actually happened but feel like they happened. So that has a big impact on her. On her relationships with other people. On her decision making. She often wonders if she should look into the future. Or if she shouldn't. It's turned her into a perfectionist. She wants to make sure every choice she makes is perfect. She needs to be in control. So this book is a lot about letting go. Of trusting that things are going to turn out how they're supposed to. Of being a normal teenage girl.

I can understand that. While I may enjoy reading about Addie's life, I wouldn't want to be able to look into the future and have to make all these hard decisions knowing what the potential outcome may be. Knowing what I'd have to give up if I chose one future. What are you working on right now?
I'm always writing something. I just finished a contemporary murder mystery that I'll be sending to my agent soon. I'm waiting for copy edits for Pivot Point #2. And I just finished copy edits on my contemporary that's coming out in the fall of 2013. I like to keep myself busy. But I also make sure I have a lot of time to read. Like I mentioned at the beginning, I started as a reader and I will always be a reader. :) I love books.

Thanks for having me, Kris! Great questions.

Thanks for interviewing, Kasie!

About the Author

Kasie's Website | Twitter
Kasie West writes YA easts Junior Mints. Sometimes, she goes crazy and does both at the same time. Her debut novel Pivot Point comes out February 2013, followed by its sequel in 2014. She also has a contemporary, The Distance Between Us, coming out in the Fall of 2013 with HarperTeen. Her agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.

The Mirrored Shard Tour: Review & Giveaway

Friday, February 8, 2013
Today, as a part of tour for The Mirrored Shard by Caitlin Kittredge, I have for you my review of the book and a giveaway.

Series: Iron Codex #3
Hardback: 304 Pages
Publication: February 12, 2013 by Delacorte Books for Younger Readers

Aoife Grayson must face death to win back Dean—the love who was ripped from the Iron Lands of the living when he was shot in the arctic north. But getting to the Deadlands is something that Aoife can't do on her own. And if she can find a way there, Tremaine would surely never allow it. He has sworn to keep her in the Thorn Lands, the fairie home of her mother, Nerissa. But Aoife is determined to find her way out. And she has no trouble if that means she has to kill Tremain and his queen to do it.

Overall, this is a solid book. The plot is simple and straightfoward at this point, but that is mostly because this is the third and final book in the series, and we know what has to be done for Aoife to right the turmoil she has caused in the worlds. What complicates my feelings about this book is that I fell so much in love with the first book my expectations for this book were that much higher, and unfortunately I didn't feel the same magic that I did with The Iron Thorn. One reason may be the length of the book. The Iron Thorn was almost 500 pages, and The Nightmare Garden was just over 400 pages, whereas this one is only 304 pages long. There wasn't nearly enough room in this book for the elaborate imagery and complexities of plot and character that The Iron Thorn gave us.

Aoife grew into the 'rebellious' child in The Nightmare Garden, which I could understand. It was a transition book, and Aoife was disillusioned with the world around her. She couldn't trust anybody but herself, so it was only natural for her to backtalk and sneak around behind even sane adults. In this book, she is wracked by guilt over the damage that she has inflicted on the world and her grief causes her to take great risks, jeopardizing her life and her relationships with the living for Dean. It was a conflicting experience watching Aoife go to hell and back for him. I understand her feelings and was delighted that there was a chance to bring Dean back; at the same time, he didn't die for her to place herself in greater dangers for his sake. On the other hand, it's really amazing to see how powerful her connection to him. It takes a seriously awesome guy for a girl to do what Aoife does to get him back (and he is seriously awesome)!

I enjoyed visiting the Deadlands with Aoife. It is such an interesting world and has some brilliant, unique characters, and I am sad that we didn't get to explore more of it. I also feel as though this book is less about character growth than about achieving a resolution to the greater plot, which is really disappointing because I loved the characters and there was so much potential for this world to be expanded. Nevertheless, while in the Deadlands, the stakes grow even higher and Aoife learns that there is more than her own life at risk (isn't there always?). Most of all, I appreciate how Aoife's relationship with her family has been resolved. I'm a family girl and love to see families patch things up. I also like how Aoife faces her fears and shows some maturity at the end, showing that she has learned from her mistakes and has grown into a stronger person, if a not yet fully matured adult. And that's what the YA genre is all about!

An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Related Posts
Review - The Nightmare Garden (The Iron Code #2)

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Caitlin collects comic books, print books, vintage clothes, and bad habits. She loves tea, loud music, the color black (especially mixed with the color pink) and ghost stories. She can drive a stick shift, play the violin and knows more English curses than American ones. Caitlin lives in Olympia, WA with two pushy cats.

Review: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Monday, February 4, 2013
4 Stars: A Great Read
Series: Ascendance #1
Hardback: 342 Pages
Publication: April 1, 2012 by Scholastic

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

You have to read this from start to finish to fully appreciate the true extent of the plot. I appreciate this, as it keeps us guessing about the great secret behind all this, and I understand why we don't get to learn about these things until the time that we do. It's cool to learn what Sage has been up to all this time right before the climax (also because we can't be sure who is his enemy for much of the plot). At the same time, I had been looking forward to learning about Conner's plans along with Sage. The way that the plot unfolds leaves us with a simplified, predictable version of what could have been a deep, complex plot. The elegant simplicity with which the story is told makes it good for the intended audience of middle-grade readers, but older readers may find this lacking in depth. For me, I still loved this book, though I can easily imagine how this could be tweaked to target an older audience.

Sage is a crazy, obstinate, clever boy. I couldn't have asked for a better protagonist. I admire how he's not afraid to antagonize Conner and how he'll hold onto his beliefs even if it gets him into trouble. Within the bundle of mischief that he is, Sage has a kind heart and strong beliefs. He knows what he needs to do, and he'll do what's best for the people around him, even if it means sacrificing his own needs. And these people are worth it. In spite of the dire situation he finds himself in, Sage manages to liven the situation and make good friends. I especially love Roden and and Mott.

I do feel that this book is lacking in character development. While we get to know the boys and their respective circumstances, I don't feel as though they really matured and grew as characters. The character that I feel grew the most is Tobias. He starts off as an arrogant brat who sucks up to Conner, but he learns to humble himself (after being put in his place, but still) and becomes a decent kid. There is change in Sage; however, I feel as though it's more because he reverted back into who he was supposed to be but was suppressing all this time.

This book seems to be more of a setup for larger events to take place, and I hope to see more development of Sage's character and those of the friends he makes over the course of this novel. I am looking forward to reading The Runaway King, book two in The Ascendance Trilogy!

An copy was provided by Scholastic for review.

Imagine Weekly: Mailbox #41

Sunday, February 3, 2013


* I'm hosting a giveaway of Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) on the blog along with the review. To enter, click on the cover above. Open to US / Canada.


* Check out more book hauls at Tynga's Stacking the Shelves *

What did you get this week? Leave a link in the comments section, and I'll check out your week's haul!