Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: Mind Games by Kiersten White

Cover Blurb:
          Perfect for fans of Sara Shepard’s Lying Game series, Kiersten White’s Mind Games, a novel about two sisters trapped in a web of deceit, was called "lightning fast and fabulously fun" by bestselling author Laini Taylor.
Fia and Annie are as close as two sisters can be. They look out for each other. Protect each other. And most importantly, they keep each other’s secrets, even the most dangerous ones: Annie is blind, but can see visions of the future; Fia was born with flawless intuition—her first impulse is always exactly right. When the sisters are offered a place at an elite boarding school, Fia realizes that something is wrong . . . but she doesn’t grasp just how wrong. 
          The Keane Institute is no ordinary school, and Fia is soon used for everything from picking stocks to planting bombs. If she tries to refuse, they threaten her with Annie’s life. Now Fia’s falling in love with a boy who has dark secrets of his own. And with his help, she’s ready to fight back. They stole her past. They control her present. But she won’t let them take her future.

          I loved Fia and Annie far more than I have loved characters for quite a while. I enjoy characters all the time, but I honestly loved the characters in Mind Games. Fia and Annie make such a sharp contrast: Fia, fiery. Annie, reserved and thoughtful, but not dramatically so. They were realistic and unique without shifting into the land of the stereotypical. And despite the hard things they go through their fierce loyalty and love for each other is inspiring. I also found myself appreciating James. At the beginning I thought I had him pegged as the arrogant yet sexy bad boy (I rolled my eyes at this, but felt I could suffer through it). But boy oh boy is he deeper than that. He still isn't a person I can respect, but I don't think that's Kiersten White's intent. Despite his important position, he becomes someone simply trying find his way through the storm around him. But most especially, I loved Adam. Adam was sweet and average and totally adorable in an underused way. He was the kind of character you want everyone to find.
Characters: 5 Stars
          And the plot! The PLOT. Kiersten promised us something grittier than the Paranormalcy Trilogy, and we got it. Two girls being manipulated through their love for each other, each trying to simply make it to the next day. The book seems short (Only 237 pages), but it packed so much bang for its buck that I didn't notice the length. I am tremendously grateful that Kiersten White realized this as well and let the story tell itself despite its shorter length. I loved every second of it, and then the ending came and knocked me over flat. Suddenly everything made sence, and was so much brighter and deeper than I expected! (I'm really not one for spoilers of even the mildest sort.)
Plot: 5 Stars
         Of course the style was wonderful as well. It was definitely different from Paranormalcy but not so different that it felt strange. Kiersten White has a trademark flowing style that pours the story into the reader's mind at the pace it should be taken, no slower or faster. And I cannot wait till Chaos of the Stars.
Style: 4.5 Stars

Rating: 4.8 Stars
Source: Library
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy?
YA Fiction

Monday, April 15, 2013

Review: Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

         High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It's an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle's hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm. 
         But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he's there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena's sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom--an impossible union it's up to Jena to stop.
         When Cezar's grip of power begins to tighten, at stake is everything Jena loves: her home, her family, and the Other Kingdom she has come to cherish. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can't imagine--tests of trust, strength, and true love.

       I can't believe I've never read this before! I have a small disclaimer to very quickly make: I finished this book at 1:00 a.m. and books tend to seem better then than they really are, but then again, I stayed up till one reading it.
       Jena's matter-of-fact character was a breath of fresh air. She wasn't snarky, comical, or angsty. She was just nice. And, though I do enjoy a good sarcastic character, it was nice. As the second oldest left with the responsibility of her family, she was very sympathetic. I loved her and could safely wish her a happy-ever-after. But Cezar! He made my blood boil! (Which, to be honest, was kind of the point. So it was good.) Tati and Sorrow were perfect and lovely together. And to top off this cake of beautifully crafted characters was Gogu (Jena's pet frog). He had such a strong will for a frog.
Characters: 5 Stars
       Wildwood Dancing is very loosely based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but it didn't take the same overused path of narratio. It took an entirely new angle, one that managed to be classic and incorporate the mystical nature of Transylvania while still being unexpected and exciting. I thought I saw what was coming, but I didn't (admittedly, I am quite gullible). It was satisfying, and bitter-sweet.
Plot: 4.5 Stars
        The book did start out a bit slow and excessively wordy, but this aspect faded out after the first few chapters. Those chapters are definitely worth sticking through, and I think this narration helped reinforce Jena's character. It also brought to mind the straight forward nature of fairy tales and made the tale more beautiful.
Style: 4 Stars

Rating: 4.5
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy
YA Fiction

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Book Snatch: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

             This week's book snatch, that I hope all of you raving fans have already downloaded, is Drumroll...Seige and Storm by Leigh Bardugo! And not a measly two chapters either. We have been presented a peace offering of five whole chapters!

                Shadow and Bone, though I didn't review it, gets an easy five stars. That being said, I was a bit apprehensive about reading this excerpt. Surely nothing could trump the beauty and artistry of Shadow and Bone. How could the fascinating characterizations continue with everything we adored from the first book and avoid becoming stale? And why, most importantly, can't a particular character have a whole new series to himself? (i.e. the Darkling, of course) But I was pleased with the sneak peak we are alotted. And though I can definitely sense a different tone than Shadow and Bone's, I decided it would be fantastic (at which point I hit myself over the head and exclaimed. Duh! It's Leigh Bardugo!)

Tell me what you think!
Gorgeous, right?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Interview & Giveaway: Shawnda Currie

           I am a Resource Management Support Clerk in the Canadian Armed Forces. I have been married for fourteen years and have two boys and two cats. I love reading and watching movies in my spare time.

Favorite reads?
           I recently finished reading the “Caster Chronicles” series (Beautiful Creatures). Loved them all!
I’m also a huge fan of Alyson Noël’s “The Immortals” series.

Inspirations for the book?
          I wanted to come up with a storyline other than vampires or zombies (not that I have anything
against either, I quite enjoy them) so I racked my brain for something fresh and original. I
couldn’t sleep one night and as I tossed and turned, I came up with a very basic plot. I told my
husband the next day that I was going to write a trilogy about time travel and psychic abilities.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
          I always enjoyed telling stories and basically entertaining people. I used to tell my friends that
I was going to write a book one day. Many of them have expressed how proud they are that I
followed my dream. It’s never too late to dive in and try something new.

Any Pet Peeves?
          When people smack their gum.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
          Definitely chocolate.

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
          My family and I have a twisted sense of humour and laugh at basically everything so I have a
hard time determining exactly what is considered weird anymore. I do enjoy making Halloween
costumes for my children and myself each year. I dress up at work and even wear it when I’m
out trick or treating with my kids. Some of these costumes include Dog the Bounty Hunter, Buzz
Lightyear, Charlie Sheen and Spock. Normal is boring. I say embrace your oddball behavior!

 Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?

          There is no soundtrack to the book. However, I tend to replay Adele songs over and over during the typing phase. Her music is very therapeutic.

Do you need anything to write?
          The only thing I need is paper and a pen as I handwrite my books first and then type afterwards. Can I add another pet peeve? I get a little irked when I’m frantically writing and my pen runs out of ink. Now I have a few on standby when I’m in my zone.

How long do you write on any average day?
          My writing varies. If I have the time and the creative juices are flowing, I can write a couple of chapters in a day. Other days I don’t write at all. But my mind is always spinning with ideas.

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
          My book is a quick and engaging read with a few twists and turns.

Author Info:

   Twitter: @ShawndaCurrie
   Amazon: Shawnda Currie
   Facebook page: Shawnda Currie
   Blog: Shawnda Currie
   Goodreads: Shawnda Currie

Abandoned by her family, Lacey is sent to a juvenile detention 
center known as Clear Waters. Her teen years don't look promising 
until she is befriended by a mysterious stranger named Taylor, a 
gorgeous guy whose captivating eyes seem to stare into her soul. 
Convinced she is in danger at Clear Waters, Lacey joins Taylor in a 
daring escape. As she meets Taylor's group of friends, she 
discovers that they're more than they seem – they've been sent 
from the future to head off an evil corporate plot that will lead to
a world war unless averted. With Lacey as their only hope to 
prevent a grim future, Taylor shows Lacey how to tap into her 
psychic abilities known in his time as evolved humans. 
Travelling with her new friends, she discovers the magic of love 
while she grows into the powerful warrior chosen to make the 
difference to the world!