Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

March 1

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Recent Arrivals: Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

Darkness Becomes Her cover

First line: Under the cafeteria table, my right knee bounced like a jackhammer possessed.

Initial thoughts: This book is intriguing. The voice of Aristanae ‘Ari’ Selkirk is edgy and cynical and from the chapter I’ve read, it doesn’t sound like I’ll be drowning in her nattering. That’s a good thing. The book also doesn’t waste any time and I’m tempted to chuck my TBR aside once again to read it straight through. But, I must be strong…however, it’s definitely getting a spot close to the top.

Book description:

A curse beyond her darkest fears.

Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.

Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long-dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting too close. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: She must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush, rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very…different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.

Book Details: 288 pages; Simon Pulse; Pub. Feb. 22, 2011

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February 25

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Recent Arrivals: Abandon by Meg Cabot

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Abandon by Meg Cabot

Abandon cover

First line: Anything can happen in the blink of an eye.

Initial thoughts: I saw the cover (which is much shinier than the one pictured) and fell a little bit in love. Then I saw it was written by Meg Cabot and said, hey, I’ve always wanted to read something by her. (Yes, I’m probably the last person on the planet who hasn’t read a Meg Cabot novel…though I have one on my bookshelf.)

So, I laid down to read the first chapter, as is customary when I get a new book before I assign it a position in the TBR stack, and before I realized it, I was up to the 9th chapter when I finally put it down. What that tells me is that I need to finish this book, and likely will by tomorrow.

The premise is so intriguing (and I’m not just saying that because I have a morbid obsession with Death), but I have to admit some aspects are vexing–more on that when I write a proper book notes post or the flat out review–but right now I really just want to get to the bottom of Pierce’s situation and why she’s in it.

I may just have a winner on my hands and I’m a bit apprehensive because it’s a trilogy which means I’ll be left with a cliffhanger at the end and a long wait before I can get the second book. *sigh*

Book description:

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can’t help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she’s never alone…because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she’s moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can’t. Because even here, he finds her. That’s how desperately he wants her back. She knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven, yet she can’t stay away…especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

Book Details: 320 pages; Point; Pub. April 26, 2011; Read Excerpt

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October 17

Comments: 6

Book Notes: Until I Get Around to Proper Reviews

by Ann-Katrina

Hold on to your bookmarks, I’ve got a lot of book notes. I figured that since I have so many books waiting for their proper spotlight, I should give a few quick updates in the interim.

Koko Be Good by Jen Wang

Koko Be Good The artwork is heart-stopping, but the story is lukewarm. I cannot speak enough about Wang’s artistic style and eye. I even got a bit envious. However, when it came down to the writing, pacing, and clarity of the story, I winced. That’s why I’m ambivalent.

I want to tell you to run out and buy it just so you can stare at the pretty pictures, but I fear you’d hate me when you got around to reading the convoluted and mediocre story. So, for now, I’ll just say if you’re going to buy it, get it used.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Wicked Lovely There was something about this book that dug into me and made me continue reading, but there’s something else that made me say meh when I finished. The writing was adequate (though it could have used some more editing), and so was the storyline. ‘

I think where this book failed for me was in the characterization. None of the characters truly felt genuine and I never did latch on to the plot. In ways it felt too convenient and had too many holes. Still, it wasn’t the worst book I’d ever read, plus it was quick. I’d recommend this when you’re bored and just want something quick and fluffy with a slightly dark edge.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger GamesCatching FireMockingjay

I did it. I finally drank the Kool-Aid. I don’t even know where to begin with this series. I saw the first book while I was walking through a department store, it was $6 and I’d been hearing so many people talking about it that I just plopped it down in my cart. And for about a week it sat unread and unloved on my bookshelf. Then, out of the blue, I saw it and grabbed it and devoured it.

I was near tears because I was coming up on the last few pages and didn’t have the second book. But I couldn’t stop myself, I had to finish and when I did, I was numb. It was three whole days before I was able to pick up another book to read. Eventually I read all three of the books with the same zeal (the third book less so mostly because I was afraid of what was coming).

This series is raw, bleak, and unforgiving. Collins held no punches and I think that’s why I was so enamoured. I laughed, I cried, I balked right along with Katniss. I felt all of her emotions so vividly. The books sucked me right in.

The third book, I will admit, took some prodding since I was reluctant to read more than two chapters at a time. Everything in it was so bleak. I just didn’t understand how anyone was to recover. Then it picked up toward the middle and I simply couldn’t put it down. I’m going to have a hard time putting into words everything these books have done to me. I can’t wait for the movies to come out and I hope they don’t frack it up.

Radiance by Alyson Noel

Radiance This is my first book by Alyson Noel and only grabbed it on a whim. The cover looked interesting, the synopsis grabbed me (to be honest, because it sounded similar to a short story I’d written), and I pegged it for a light read. Ultimately I made a good decision. The book was a quick, light read although it dealt with some heavy subjects (death and coping).

It was also interesting to learn that it was a spinoff of the Evermore series I’ve been hearing about, but never felt compelled to read. Even after reading Radiance I still don’t feel compelled to read it, but probably will eventually.

The writing was well done, spare and evocative; the protagonist was spunky and felt natural; and the storyline held my interest, but I didn’t care much for the heavy new-age spin. Overall though I have few complaints about this book.

The House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle

The House of Dead Maids Perfect book for the Halloween season. It’s a prequel to Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, but you needn’t have read it to enjoy The House of Dead Maids. This book stands well on its on and is truly a chilling gothic ghost story—well-written, and strange.

It’s a rare thing when a contemporary horror novel, especially written for children, can get me to think twice about the sounds I hear outside my window, but this book did exactly that. Worth every penny.

The Amulet Books 1-3 by Kazu Kibuishi

The StonekeeperThe Stonekeeper's CurseThe Cloud Searchers

I have a new favorite graphic novel series. Or, at least it’s in the Top 5. The illustrations are amazing, as is the coloring, as is the story. OK, I’ll admit the story is a bit reminiscent of some other hero tales of the past, but the other areas of the graphic novel series makes up for that. Plus the characters are quirky and entertaining. Plus, the editing and pacing are worthy of note.

With as many graphic novels as I’ve seen published with shoddy writing and inconsistent stories and art, it’s clear that Kibuishi takes his time and carefully crafts his graphic novels before sending it off to the masses. I cross my fingers and hope that it doesn’t change with future issues.

Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

Mrs. Kimble This is the product of a commenter’s recommendation. And I’m glad I listened. This book held my interest from the beginning to the very end.

It starts on a strange note, with a mysterious man dying in his car while waiting for a drawbridge to lower, and then travels back through time and shows us who this man is and how he affected the lives of three (actually more) different women.

This book is a tapestry. All of the lives, though separate, are connected. Though there were some editing faux pas, noticeable writing quirks, and few areas where the thread was dropped, it was still an expertly woven story.

This is a book for people who enjoy gawping at the lives and inner workings of others rather than plot-driven tales. It’s languid in its telling and will leave you with much to ponder afterward.

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April 8

Comments: 2

Recent Arrivals: Puppet Master by Joanne Owen

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Puppet Master by Joanne Owen

Puppet Master

First line: Standing alone on Prague’s Old Town Square, a small dark-haired girl with eyes like emeralds and five freckles sprinkled on her nose dances from one foot to the other to keep warm.

Initial thoughts: I don’t remember at which blog I read the initial review (my sincerest apologies), but as soon as I finished, I went straight to Amazon and pre-ordered the book. (I know I could have ordered a copy from a UK seller, but I actually liked this new cover over the previous.) Well, today it finally arrived–more than a month early yay!–and I can’t wait to read it. I already flipped through it and I have to say, it looks like it will be a full-fledged visual reading experience.

photo 3photo 2photo 4photophoto 5puppet-master-pic

(Sorry about the image quality. They were quick snaps with my phone.)

One small gripe I do have, though, is the binding quality. It’s tough to open, which means spine-creases ar inevitable, and it also feels as though if the spine is creased sheets would start falling out. Such a shame for such a visually appealing book.

Book description:

From riches to rags, Milena is growing up in the city of Prague at the turn of the 20th century. Her parents’ once prosperous theater lies in disrepair, and her life seems to be in ruins since the fateful night her father died in a tragic accident and her beautiful, talented mother went missing. Milena has never lost hope that her mother will come back. The day she meets the flamboyant Puppet Master and his menacing twin protégés, Zdenko and Zdenka, under the shadow of Prague’s famous Astronomical Clock in the Old Town square, is, coincidentally, the date of her mother’s birthday. It’s also the day Milena’s grandmother chooses to reveal to her the story of her ancestors—and of her legacy. Perhaps it’s not such a coincidence?

Book Details: 240 pages; Orion Children’s Books; Pub. May 1, 2010

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October 21

Comments: 11

Recent Arrival: Fallen by Lauren Kate

by Ann-Katrina

I smell a fallen angel craze on the horizon. (It was inevitable once the teen vampire angst-ridden romance market became saturated.) And so far, it smells good.

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Fallen by Lauren Kate

Fallen by Lauren Kate

First line: Around midnight, her eyes at last took shape. The look [...]

Initial thoughts: I saw the cover for Fallen on another blog a few days ago, so I was super surprised and excited when a UPS man showed up on my doorstep with an ARC (the cover of the ARC is not half so lovely as the cover in this post, but I’m concerned more with what’s inside).

After finishing Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, I’m anxious to see what else is being done with the fallen angel theme. Plus the description sounds positively addictive.

Book description:

There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a page turning thriller and the ultimate love story.

*******From the Back of the Book******

What if the person you were meant to be with could never be yours?

Daniel’s gaze caught hers, and her breath caught in her throat. She recognized him from somewhere. But she would have remembered meeting someone like him. She would have remembered feeling as absolutely shaken up as she did right now.

They were still locking eyes when Daniel flashed her a smile. A jet of warmth shot through her…but then he raised his hand in the air. And flipped her off. Luce gasped and dropped her eyes. Her momentary delirium vanished. What was that guy’s problem?

Just before she ducked into her first class, she dared to glance back. His face was blank, but there was no mistaking it–he was watching her go.

Book Details: 464 pages; Delacorte Press; Pub. December 8, 2009

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