Sunday, February 27, 2011

A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull

Title/Author: A World Without Heroes (Beyonders #1) by Brandon Mull
Publisher/Date published: March 15th 2011 by Simon and Schuster
How I got this book: received it through Simon and Schuster's Galleygrab programme.
Why I read this book: I've been meaning to read Mull's Fablehaven series, because I heard good things about his writing, so when I received this one I was excited to get to know a new to me author.

Goodreads summary: "Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable - until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he's ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.
In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes."

Let me start by saying this book is MG (you probably catch that bit from reading the summary, but still). I don't normally read MG and while I do think a book should be judged on its writing and not the age-category, it's good to keep in mind while reading something who it was meant for originally.

This book took me back to my 9-year-old self, I think I would have loved reading this book at that age. I still really enjoyed it now, but it would probably have been my new best friend back then. I did think some of the violence in the books would be shocking to MG readers, but the overall feel of the book is magical. Right at the start Mull had me smiling at Jason entering Lyrian by getting swallowed by a hippo. You don't get that in YA or adult fantasy!

Jason is a likeable boy and while what he really wants is to find a way home, he's not a reluctant hero. He and Rachel team up to try and free Lyrian from the tyrannical king. The king is a wizard and every wizard, no matter how powerful, can be destroyed using one word of power. So Jason and Rachel set off to gather the 6 pieces of this word, hidden throughout Lyrian. They make friends who help them and land in all kinds of trouble along the way.

I though Brandon Mull painted the picture of a truly magical world, the different races he created were really interesting and unlike anything I've encountered before. Though some parts were a bit predictable, I really enjoyed the story. I just wished I would have read this as a kid, so I could have really appreciated it the way it's meant to.

My rating: 3 stars

Friday, February 25, 2011

What I Did For A Duke by Julie Anne Long

Title/Author: What I Did For A Duke (Pennyroyal Green #5) by Julie Anne Long
Publisher/Date published: February 22nd 2011 by Avon
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: revenge, intrigue, innocence, probably true love: of course I read it!

Goodreads summary: "For years, he's been an object of fear, fascination... and fantasy. But of all the wicked rumors that shadow the formidable Alexander Moncrieffe, Duke of Falconbridge, the ton knows one thing for certain: only fools dare cross him. And when Ian Eversea does just that, Moncrieffe knows the perfect revenge: he'll seduce Ian's innocent sister, Genevieve — the only Eversea as yet untouched by scandal. First he'll capture her heart... and then he'll break it.
But everything about Genevieve is unexpected: the passion simmering beneath her cool control, the sharp wit tempered by gentleness... And though Genevieve has heard the whispers about the duke's dark past, and knows she trifles with him at her peril, one incendiary kiss tempts her deeper into a world of extraordinary sensuality. Until Genevieve is faced with a fateful choice... is there anything she won't do for a duke?"

I was so relieved when I start reading this book and felt connected! To the story, to the characters, to the passion I was sure would come creeping out soon enough. I know I keep yapping on about this, but I need to feel connected in order to feel the romance and really care about what happens. Especially with romance novels this is so incredibly important to me. So yay for that.

Seeing as this is part 5 in the series, other people may be familiar with Genevieve's older and wilder brothers. They sound like a swashbuckling, innocence-stealing bunch and all really charming. Genevieve herself is a sweet girl, who thinks she's in love with a boy she's known for years. And is heartbroken when he tells her he intends to propose to her friend at the houseparty.
Alex, the duke of Falconbridge, shows up unexpected, fully intending to take revenge on Genevieve's brother for attempting to steal the virtue of his now ex-fiancée. However, he hasn't counted on the lady he wants to use for his revenge to be so witty and hadn't expected himself to actually enjoy her company. Slowly revenge changes to something else, but with Genevieve's mind on another man, will she see what's in front of her in time?

Genevieve is nice and caring and doesn't just blush and titter at the duke's sometimes outrageous comments. Their conversations flow nicely and I really enjoyed getting to know them more through this. There is also some mystery surrounding Genevieve's sister and one of the neighbourly boys and I feel a story brewing there, which I'd enjoy reading as well.

Alex has the right amount of mystery and handsomeness. He is almost twice Genevieve's age, but this didn't bother me at all. He is the more mature one, but Genevieve is no giggling debutante either (unlike her friend, who paints mainly kittens *cringe*) and they suit each other very well. Alex has some demons in his past, he's experienced huge losses and is changed by this, but hasn't closed himself off completely because of it.

I did think it a bit unlikely that they were never discovered throughout their nightly adventures, but the romance was wonderful. And I had tears in my eyes towards the ending, I loved it. Though I really wanted to slap Genevieve for mooning after that other guy, I didn't really get what was so great about him other than that he was safe. And boring. The only thing that bothered me was that Alex was constantly named the Duke and it took me a really long time to learn he was actually called Alex. I would have preferred Moncrieffe to the Duke almost every time.

I really enjoyed this book, and I love that there's the promise of another story in it.
My rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

Title/Author: Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
Publisher/Date published: the House of Books B.V., first published in 2003
How I got this book: bought it cause I couldn't resist the nice shiny cover
Why I read this book: I reread it for a challenge

I've read this book for the second time and I loved it again. I first read it in 2006 or 2007, back when I read a load of chicklit on a regular basis. A lot of them haven't really stayed with me, but this one has. I must say that besides her Shopaholic series, I've loved every one of Sophie Kinsella's (or Madeleine Wickham's) books. They all have really likeable heroines, cute guys and great plots and are just relaxing reads. I always feel like I'm hanging out with one of my friends when I read one of her books and I think that's what chicklit is supposed to do. She and Jill Mansell are among my instant-buys when it comes to this genre. I'd totally recommend them, especially as beachreads.

But onto this one: Emma is a girl who keeps a little secrets like every other girl. There are those things you think about but never ever tell anyone else, except maybe your best girl friend and maybe not even her. Until she panicks on an airplane ride, thinking the plane will crash, and tells all to the man sitting next to her. Every emberassing little detail about her life. After she can't believe herself, but luckily he's a total stranger and she'll never have to look him in the eye again.
Except she's dead wrong about this and he turns out to be her new boss, who flew in from America to see to the English office. And he remembers. Everything.
How will she ever live this down?

This book is just hilarious. I had so much fun rereading it! I've been so caught up in romance books and YA and the occasional classic or Oprah-approved book that I forgot how much fun chicklit can be! Granted, there are lesser ones, but Kinsella is really good at what she does.

Emma is a really likeable character, she is so human with all her little secrets and the mortification she feels at facing the man who know every last one of them. I love that she takes her anger on one of her colleagues out on her plant, feeding him orange juice. And that she thinks her boyfriend looks like Ken, from Barbie.
And then she has the ones that are real, like the fact that she never told her parents she thinks they love her cousin, who lived with them since she was 13, more than her and that she feels intimidated by said cousin's success.

And she has the most amazing chemistry with Jack, her boss, who seems like a really good guy. He does make some major mistakes, but how can you help falling in love with a guy who pays the busdriver 500 dollars to drop you off in front of your house in a street where the bus doesn't ever normally go through? He's totally adorable and though their first couple of dates were less than great, I was rooting for them the whole time.

All in all, this book was just such a relaxing, funny read and I loved it. I bow down to Sophie Kinsella as one of the reigning queens of this genre.

My rating: 4,5 stars

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Heiress by Lynsay Sands

Title/Author: The Heiress (Madison Sisters #2) by Lynsay Sands
Publisher/Date published: February 22nd 2011 by Avon
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: I was interested to see how Suzette would do in her story after reading the Countess.

Goodreads summary: "Desperately seeking a husband...
Suzette is not like other heiresses; she wants a poor husband, a gentleman who will be so grateful for her dowry that he will allow her access to it so that she can pay off her father's gambling debts. When this alluring beauty encounters Daniel Woodrow—handsome, titled, single... and even more impoverished than she could have hoped for—it seems Suzette's wildest dreams have come true.
But Daniel has not been truthful. Tired of being accosted by an endless stream of vapid coquettes and their fortune-hunting mothers, Daniel has decided to plead poverty to stop them in their tracks. Yet here is a most refreshing and delectable lady, who claims to be thrilled by his penury. Now all Daniel has to do to find true happiness is to keep a little white lie alive... while avoiding a villain who's determined to prevent this union by any means necessary."

So, I enjoyed The Countess, the first book in the series about the Madison sisters, if you're interested you can check out my review of it here. I actually think I liked Christiana's sisters more than her and I was really loooking forward to reading a story centered around Suzette, cause she seemed so spunky. The whole story through which we meet the sisters is a bit farfetched, but it seems like the author realises this and it is funny as well.

In the Countess we're introduced to Suzette and the possibility of a lovestory between her and Daniel, a friend of the main hero in the Countess, Richard. Suzette is looking for poor man who'll let her keep part of her dowry to pay of her father's debts. When she asks Daniel about his income, he thinks she's just another fortune-hunting debutante and tells her he's poor as a churchrat. What he hadn't counted on was Suzette's proposal as a reply to this.
During all the sneaking around with the dead man, often in a carpet, Daniel needs to distract Suzette. And what better way to do this than kiss her. And effectively compromise her. When she finds him in her room she thinks he has come to accept her proposal and he doesn't know how else to explain his presence. And after that he's not sure he doesn't want to marry her.

So I did like to explore the relationship between Suzette and Daniel a little more. What I did not appreciate however, was the complete retelling of the Countess from a different viewpoint. This is the first part of the book and it continues after this storyline is concluded, but the first part felt really rushed and I think you have to have read the Countess in order to make sense of everything that's going on. Else it will probably all seem a bit vague.

Suzette is a really likeable character and Daniel is too and together they have wonderful chemistry. I really believed Suzette in her heartbreak when she was convinced Daniel didn't love her. Sister loyalty is also strong in this one and I really appreciate that. I also really liked Daniel's mother, who we meet towards the ending of the book.

I did like the book, though the first part I just kept thinking: yes, I know all this, when is the good (original) part gonna show up?? And then it did and I really liked the last part of the book, so because of this and because I really liked Suzette and Daniel, it still gets a good rating. But the author better not pull something like this again with the book I'm sure she wrote about the last Madison siter! Third time is not the charm in this case.

My rating: 3 stars

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. I always love seeing what everybody else got, all those nice and shiny new books :)

This is actually a massive IMM, telling you what I got in the last 4 weeks. And I took pictures with my ancient digital cam (3 megapixel), probably not the best quality... I went a little crazy at 2 booksales, which amounts to 19 bought books.

Need - Carrie Jones
The Rose of Sebastopol - Katharine McMahon
Melissa Nathan - The Waitress (I think I actually already own this one in Dutch, but I'm not sure)
The Virgin's Lover - Philippa Gregory

Dutch version of Pilate's Wife - Antoinette May
Dutch version of Dreaming the Eagle - Manda Scott
Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel

Daughter of Troy - Sarah B. Franklin
The Trouble With Magic - Madelyn Alt
Five Quarters of the Orange - Joanne Harris (loved Chocolate and The Girl With No Shadow by the same author)
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell

Two's Company - Jill Mansell (I have a lot of her books, but had never heard of this one)
Holder of Lightning - S.L. Farrell
Cathy Kelly - Past Secrets
Dragon's Blood - Jane Volen

Dutch version of Burning Bright - Tracy Chevalier
Dracula the Un-Dead - Dacre Stoker (I'm currently reading Dracula, so hoping to get to this one soon after)
Dutch version of Brideflight - Marieke van der Pol
Inda - Sherwood Smith (I was so happy with this find! I loved Crown and Court Duel!)

I also got some really awesome books as eGalleys.
From NetGalley:

A Kingdom Besieged - Raymond E. Feist: it's been years since I read a book by this author, but I remember really enjoying them.
A Long, Long Sleep - Anna Sheehan: debut author! Sounds amazing.
Angel Burn - L.A. Weatherly: debut author.
Eleven Scandals to Start To Win A Duke's Heart - Sarah MacLean: I've loved the first 2 books in the series, MacLean knows how to write good romance!

The Goddes Test - Aimée Carter: SOOO excited about this one! Also a debut author.
Phoenix Rising - Philippa Ballantine
Midnight's Wild Passion - Anna Campbell

The Restorer - Amanda Stevens
Ember and Ash - Pamela Freeman
A Tale of Two Lovers - Maya Rodale

From Simon & Schuster's GalleyGrab program:

Wither - Lauren DeStefan: OMG, I GOT WITHER!!! (Yes, I squealed) I'm SOOO excited about this one. The cover is beautiful and it sounds amazing. Am reading this ASAP. Also debut author.
Invincible Summer - Hannah Moskowitz
Red Glove - Holly Black

Huge THANK YOU for the egalleys to all publishers!

So, this was my massive IMM post. What did you get?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

Title/Author: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Publisher/Date published: Cossee in 2009, first published in 1995
How I got this book: bought it.
Why I read this book: I always try and read the book before I watch the movie. And I love Kate Winslet in almost any movie, so I knew I had to read this!

Goodreads summary: "Michael Berg is 15 when he begins a long, obsessive affair with Hanna, an enigmatic older woman. He never learns very much about her, and when she disappears one day, he expects never to see her again. But, to his horror, he does. Hanna is a defendant in a trial related to Germany's Nazi past, and it soon becomes clear that she is guilty of an unspeakable crime. As Michael follows the trial, he struggles with an overwhelming question: What should his generation do with its knowledge of the Holocaust?"

I don't know what it is exactly that I expected from this book, but let's just say that it was something.. well.. more than this. Though I have no special reason for it, I always dislike reading about World War II. I guess it's my living in Holland and it all being a bit too close for comfort. I know my grandma remembered those times, but though she told me a lot of stories, she never mentioned anything about this period in her life.

This book is not set during WWII, but it is definitely a huge part of the novel. Hanna is on trial in the aftermath of it and the whole of Germany is dealing with their country's dark past. It's all rather depressing.

The affair going on between 15-year-old Michael and the much older Hanna was not as tastfully done as I would have thought somehow (though I know it's ironic that I thought it would be tastful, seeing as weirdness surrounds the age-gap) and I did not connect with either of them. I did however cheer for Hanna when she noticed Michael skipped school to be with her and told him not to come if he skipped again.

Neither of the characters is very engaging and during the trial I was just baffled at the lengts Hanna went through to protect a secret. I mean, it's just crazy! I'd rather know a little shame than rot away in prison for the rest of my days. I can imagine trials dealing with WWII crimes going the way this one did. Everybody wants to lay the blame on someone else. And there has to be someone who is punished for something a lot of people were guilty of. This is probably not just something of the past.

I did think it was sweet that Michael continued his reading to Hanna, their relationship is so complicated. And weird. And I thought it was sad that their being together influenced Michael so much throughout his life, imagine what it would have been like had he never met her that one day.

Anyway, though this book was interesting, I did not feel invested and it somehow was less than I expected. I hope the movie will be better for me.

My rating: 2,5 stars

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One Night Is Never Enough by Anne Mallory

Title/Author: One Night Is Never Enough by Anne Mallory
Publisher/Date published: Avon, February 22nd 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: same reason as always

Goodreads summary: "Powerful, ruthless, seductive - the lord of London's underworld - Roman Merrick gets anything he wants... and he burns for Charlotte Chatsworth, a polished jewel in the glittering ton. So he engages her debt-ridden gambler father in a game of chance, wagering ten thousand pounds against one night with the man's exquisite daughter. And Roman Merrick never loses.
Charlotte is devastated to learn that her reprobate father has lost her in a card game to the most dangerous man she's ever met. With the threat of ruin behind every corner, Charlotte embarks upon a perilous path with the man she cannot forget. But in truth, it's Roman who has everything to lose - for a game undertaken for pleasure alone soon has him gambling his heart. And love and passion unleashed could bring his great, dark empire tumbling down..."

I'm still trying to figure out what my feelings are towards this book, I hope it'll be clearer when I reach the end of this review.

See, what I look for in a historical romance is tension and stolen kisses and scandal looming ahead. And this did have that. But I also want a heroine I can relate to. And a swoonworthy man to fall in love with myself for a bit and who I can understand in his ways. And I think that's where I felt things were missing out.

I didn't connect with Charlotte or Roman. And though he sounds really handsome, he was also a bit odd. And though I know he's not a gentleman of the ton like most rogues in historical romance are, I still didn't get him. Or his annoying brother. Who I'm sure we'll see in another novel, possibly falling in love with Charlotte's sister?

But I'm making silly predictions here, when what this really is about is this particular book. Let me tell you the things I did like about the book.
There was definitely tension and towards the ending, I swear, I would have cried had I connected more with the characters. Everyone should know by now what a huge sap I am, I cry at romance novels all the time and I mention it all the time too..

I also liked how Charlotte felt responsible for her family, she really wanted all the best things in the world for her sister Emily and wasn't afraid to sacrifice her own happiness and reputation in the process. The sisterly affection was heartwarming. I also really liked Emily, she had spunk and I hope as I said above, that we'll see her and Roman's brother have their very own story, but we'll just have to wait and find out what comes next.

Roman was, well.. I'm not sure what to make of him. And I'm not sure exactly why I should be falling in love with him and therefore I didn't. I enjoy falling in love with the men in romance novels, that's part of the fun. There was a lot of angst, though it probably had more to do with him brother than Roman himself.

I'm not really sure what caused me to feel disconnected from this story, but I did and that is in the end why this story doesn't get more stars, cause it was a nice story, it just wasn't for me somehow.

My rating: 2,5 stars

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Top Ten Favourite Love Stories

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the other blog I participate in: The Broke and the Bookish. We are particularly fond of lists, so hop on over and show us yours!

This week's Top Ten:
Top Ten Favourite Love Stories

1.Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: this one keeps showing up on my Top Ten lists and it is with good reason: it's my favourite book of all-time and I loved rereading it last month. The lovestory here is amazing and Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy will always hold a special place in my heart.

2. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: everyone and their sister has heard of Scarlett and Rhett and though it isn't necessarily the happiest lovestory of the bunch, it is epic and I love it. Oh, and I also love the sequel Scarlett that was written by Alexandra Ripley, which gave me a much happier ending than this book did. I love happy endings.

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: everyone should read this book (or watch the movie that's coming out in March I think), I love it. I love the lovestory between Jane and Mr. Rochester, though I've always thought of him as very hairy and I have no idea why.

4. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks: Noah and Ally's story is beautiful and heartbreaking and I cried for them.

5. Graceling by Kristin Cashore: Katsa and Po are among my favourite couples, they are awesome. Po doesn't feel less of a man because Katsa is stronger than he is and I love him for that.

6. Delirium by Lauren Oliver: Alex and Lena... So beautiful, so sad, so amazing! I can't wait for the sequel to find out what happens with them! ***SPOILER, light up to read:***
You CANNOT tell me he's dead, I won't accept it! He has to be alive, right? RIGHT??

7. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman: Lyra and Will, so amazing, so SAD!! I cried so hard for this one.

8. Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce: Alanna and George, such a perfect couple. So much ignorance on her part before finally deciding on the man who was right for her all along.

9. Emma by Jane Austen: Emma and Mr. Knightley are among my favourite couples as well, this is another book of Jane Austen I love with all my heart. It's due a reread I think ;)

10. The Lovestories in Romance Novels by Various Authors: I'm gonna cheat like Julia did and group these together. Of course I love these stories, I wouldn't read them if I didn't, but unlike the characters listed above, they usually don't stay with me for long after I read the book.

So that's my list, tell me about yours!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Spotlight!

Yes, I totally stole this from Lolcats, I love them!

First of all I want to wish you a very happy Valentine's Day! I don't care if people think it's corny and overly commercialized, I love being corny with my boyfriend. So there.

Second, let me be geeky and say that though I know hearts are represented as seen in the above-shaped cookie, when I think of a heart, it looks more like this:

Must be my medical training :)

So, thirdly, and the whole point of this post: I thought I should spotlight two romance novels I've read lately, that I felt no desire to analyze by writing a review for them, but LOVED them and wanted to share that with you all.

Once Upon a Wedding Night by Sophie Jordan: so a lot of you probably know Sophie Jordan as the writer of Firelight (which I'm ashamed to say I still haven't read yet..), but did you know she also writes romance novels? And really good ones at that? This story had everything I could possibly ask for in a romance novel, a relatable heroine, a handsome, swoonworthy man, REAL problems that needed resolving and TENSION!! This story spans more than the three days some others take to get their characters to fall deeply in love, so that earns the author brownie points in my book. And not to forget: Jordan knows how to tell a story, her writing is very engaging and I totally loved this book. I read it for a challenge where you had to read an author's book which had the lowest average rating and I have to say I do not get why this was that one for Jordan. If you ever want to try romance novels or already love reading them, this book is your way to go. Highly recommended!

Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean: This is the second in her Love By Numbers series, I loved the first one and this one did not disappoint! There's real conflict, the main characters are both stubborn and I totally loved them together. Likeable: check. Swoonworthy man: check. Tension: check. Total heartbreak and finding a way to be together in the end: CHECK! Highly recommended as well!

And both books get brownie points for making me cry, they were amazing.

So that's it, now I'm gonna go and make reservations at a Mexican restaurant for tonight. How are you spending your Valentine's Day?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Seducing the Governess by Margo Maguire

Title/Author: Seducing the Governess by Margo Maguire
Publisher/Date published: Avon, February 22nd 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher throught NetGalley
Why I read this book: historical romance = guilty pleasure

Goodreads summary: "A Proper Governess Should Never...
Assist a handsome stranger, alone on an unfamiliar road... unless the rake happens to be her new employer.
Take a position in a crumbling manor... especially if the household staff has been replaced by unruly former soldiers.
Allow her young charge entrÉe to her heart... for once done, it will be impossible to maintain proper distance.
Permit her charge's uncle a breathtaking kiss under a star-lit sky... henceforth she will most certainly lose composure whenever he is near.
And above all, she should never, ever fall completely, irreversibly in love with her employer... for nothing good can possibly come of it."

Mercy hasn't had the most amazing homelife and after both her adoptive parents have passed away, she is left with not other option than to find a way to make a living for herself. She accepts a post as a governess and on the way to her new job is nearly run down by several men on horses. After the group has passed, a lone rider follows, who falls from his horse. Mercy escorts the man to the manor, he turns out to be her new employer.
Her charge is an emotionally traumatized little girl and Mercy has to employ every trick she can think of to pull her out of her shell. Meanwhile, she's growing more and more attracted to Nash.
Nash needs to marry a girl with a huge dower in order to fix up his property, but he doesn't seem to be able to focus on this task when Mercy is around.
Meanwhile unbeknownst to Mercy, her birth family is trying to track her down, how will this all play out?

This book had two distinct parts in it, the part before and after Mercy and Nash consumated marriage before the marriage (trying very hard to keep things tastful). Before, there was tension, tension, TENSION.
And after... well... let's just say that it kind of fell flat to me.

I mean, there were heated glances and stolen kisses under moonlit skyes and angst on Mercy's side that she should leave, because this can't be going anywhere. And Nash is trying to find himself a wealthy wife and doesn't really need a distraction in the form of an attractive woman in his household.

And then there's after and the tension is MIA. Even when Mercy discovers Nash has been courting the wealthy lady next door, there is no tension. **SLIGHT SPOILER**I was hoping she'd leave and he'd have to chase after her or something, but this did not happen.**

And the whole thing with falling of a horse and the earl being physically marred by a fire felt a bit too Jane Eyre for me and though I LOVE Jane Eyre, it felt to much like a deja vu. And the fact that Mercy seemed to be the only one not completely horrified by his scars bothered me a bit, especially since she 'didn't even notice' them, which is weird if they're so gruesome to other people. I mean, I can see not really seeing them anymore once you know someone longer and love them, but not right from the moment you meet them.

There was a lot of promise in the story, but it somehow didn't reach its full potential for me.

My rating: 2 stars

Mystify Giveaway Winner!

I used Random Number Generator to pick the winner, the result:

So congrats to Lu @ Lu's Bloody Big Book Blog (awesome name by the way)!!

I've send you an e-mail, if I don't have a respons in 48 hours, I'll have to pick another winner.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Title/Author: Angelfire (Angelfire #1) by Courtney Allison Moulton
Publisher/Date published: HarperCollins, February 15th 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: because ever since I first read the summary I felt the desperate urge to get my hands on it. Oh, and it's a 2011 YA debut, so it fits the challenge :)

If for your 17th birthday someone gave you insight into you being an ancient creature, constantly reborn, who fights off reapers intent on literally dragging your soul to hell, what would you say? No thank you comes to mind.
Unfortunately, Ellie does not have this choice. She is the Preliator, the only mortal who can fight these beings. And she has two kickass swords that light up with angelfire at her will to help her do this. And of course, there's Will, a mysterious boy who knows more about her than she does and who fights alongside with her.
Every time Ellie dies, her soul is reborn, this has been going on for thousands of years. At 17, her powers are awakened and so is her memory of her past lives. But somehow this time it's different, memories come terribly slow.
And Ellie does not have the time to sit around and wait for them to return, because her old enemy Bastian is searching for a creature who may well be able to destroy Ellie's soul once and for all, ending her rebirthing cycle and meaning a tipping of the scales in the war of good against evil.

There has been a lot of angel-YA showing up lately. While Halo wasn't for me, I loved Unearthly and had mixed expectations about this one. And was surprised. Pleasantly so, actually. This one is not about angels in the literal sense of the word, though the reapers can choose to sprout wings.

Ellie is a bit of a reluctant heroine. Sure she understands the need to fight the evil soulconsuming monsters, but does that have to interfere with her social life? There's no easy way to explain to your friends your skipping movienight to hang out with a college-aged guy you've known for 3 days because he's trying to help you remember all your fighting skills.

There's also no easy way to tell you parents exactly why there are clawmarks on the car you just got for your birthday. Or that it's totaled within a week. Needless to say, Ellie's homelife is tense. She constantly has to lie to her parents and friends and does not like it. Her father has been acting strange for a while, he used to be loving and now verbally abuses Ellie every time she runs into him.

***SPOILER, light up to read***
For those who've read it: how much will you bet Ellie's 'father' turns out to be a vir?
***End of spoiler***

What I did not get is that the big baddies had several chances to kill Ellie and didn't. Sure, I get that they want to get rid of her once and for all, but why not finish this rebirth-cycle, search for the real soul reaper and then just lie in ambush when she's reborn? Now she's trying to ruin their plan, it just did not make much sense to me.

A big revelation towards the ending was unexpected and I liked it a lot. I also thought the romance between Will and Ellie was really well done and I'd love to see more of it in the next book. Though it wasn't sitting on the edge of my seat exciting, it was an interesting tale and a great debut.

All in all, I enjoyed this book and can I just say that I hate the books in all these wonderful new series having a year gap between being published?? The wait will kill me for sure..

Rating: 3.5 stars

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tunes on Tuesday

This could as easily have been called (and will in the future at random probably be) Tunes on Thursday, Music Monday, What Are You Listening on Wednesday, Song for Saturday etc.

I was going to participate in Top Ten Tuesday, until I realised my kids would probably kill me if I named them after book characters.

I got the urge to tell you about some of the songs I love to listen to at the moment.
But first I want to have an honorable mention to this awesome piece of lyrics:
I'm just a notch in your bedpost, but you're just a line in a song
from Sugar We're Going Down by Fall Out Boy (just heard it on the radio, isn't it awesome?)

I'm going to spotlight 3 songs today:

This song is SOOO amazing! I almost always love her songs and am getting my hands on her new album soon.

I thought I'd show a little patriotism and showcase a Dutch artist, this is actually live at the radioshow I always listen to in the morning. I've been singing along to this in my car at the top of my lungs every time I got stuck in a traffic jam or was just cruising along.

And last but not least this beautiful song that I had forgotten all about until I heard it on the radio last Friday. It perfectly describes the heartache I remember from my teens.

So that's it for this Tunes On Tuesday, which may or may not return in the future.

Tell me, what are you listening to these days?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Title/Author: Delirium (Delirium #1) by Lauren Oliver
Publisher/Date published: Harper Collins, February 1st 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: a dystopian world where love is seen as a horrible disease. Do I really need a reason to read this?

Goodreads summary: "Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: she falls in love."

I was so looking forward to reading this book, and I know that I'm probably the one-billionth person talking about this book, but I just have to say how much I loved it!

In other reviews I've read, I've heard people wonder why Lena would be the main character, because she seemed not-so-exciting at first. Let me say I did not have this problem. I thought it was SOO interesting to learn about this society through the eyes of a person that agrees with how things are done! With books like this one I always wonder why people accept the rulings of the goverment and seeing it through Lena's eyes is pretty enlightening.

Lena has a personal reason for wanting the treatment: her mother commited suicide because of this disease and Lena is afraid something like this will happen to her as well. She's horrified by the comments her best friend Hana makes, they seem rebellious and Lena fears for her well-being (and sanity). Even so, Hana manages to convince her to do some things that are not strictly considered legal. Then she meets Alex, a boy who is somewhat older than they are and therefore has already had the treatment. So it's considered safe for Lena to hang out with him. But is it really or is Lena in danger of catching the disease?

The transition in Lena's thoughts about the cure and the goverment in general is slow and because of that very believable. If you've been told one thing all your life, you wouldn't change your mind about it in a heartbeat either. But she does, for Alex.
Alex.. He sounds like a boy I'd fall in love with as well. He's sweet and patient and generally a good guy with strong opinions. He seems to be the right guy for Lena.

I really should know better than finish books like this right before going to sleep! It was so exciting and sad and I needed hugs after because I cried like a baby. And OMG, what a cliffhanger! I can't believe Pandemonium (the sequel) won't be out until 2012! This one has a bit of Hunger Games anticipation going on..

Anyway, as you can tell, I thought this book was amazing, so if you haven't already: add it to your to-read list or just go out and get it and READ.

My rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Top Ten Debut Novels

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the other blog I participate in:The Broke and the Bookish. We are particularly fond of lists, so hop on over and show us yours!

This week's Top Ten:
Top Ten Debut Novels

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling: well of course I was gonna list this one first! The sheer epicness of the Potter-craze and seeing how the books are still among my favourites.. I can't imagine anything topping this for me.

2. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand: LOVED this book and can't wait for the next one in the series!

3. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: LOVED this one as well and so hoping March gets her soon with the sequel!

4. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin: after falling in love with the cover, I absolutely loved the story as well! The sequel is sitting on my shelf, waiting for next week when I have vacation and all the time in the world to enjoy it properly :)

5. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder: the first book I ever read by this author, and have loved several others since. She always has strong heroines and swoonworthy heroes.

6. Graceling by Kristin Cashore: I loved the whole concept of Gracelings and have yet to read Fire, but I'm sure I'll love it as well. I loved Katsa and Po both.

7. Wish by Alexandra Bullen: loved this book and hope to love Wishful Thinking as well!

8. War For The Oaks by Emma Bull: SOOO good! Go read it!

9. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell: for the epicness is the lovestory of Rhett and Scarlett. Watched the movie on Christmas Day and really enjoyed revisiting my old friends.

10. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen: to close it off the debut book of my all-time favourite author.

It seems I haven't read that many debut novels.. Took me a while to come up with these!
What's on your list?