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Not a Lot of Follow Through: The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar

Hi there everyone!

So, I’ve let a few weeks fly by with no book reviews…but hey it is what it is. :)

And now I’m back with a review for The Art of Wishing, a debut by author Lindsay Ribar.

Guys. This was a DNF book for me. I did not finish it.

So, those of you who’ve been following BookTasty for a little while probably know that I absolutely HATE not finishing a The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribarbook. I’ve finished some pretty poorly written stuff in the name of finishing.  But I had an epiphany recently and I just made up my mind to not finish this one.

Margo McKenna has a plan for just about everything, from landing the lead in her high school play to getting into a good college. So when she finds herself in possession of a genie’s ring and the chance to make three wishes, she doesn’t know what to do. Why should she put her life into someone else’s hands?

But Oliver is more than just a genie — he’s also a sophomore at Margo’s high school, and he’s on the run from a murderer. As he and Margo grow closer, she discovers that it will take more than three wishes to save him. A whole lot more.

I had been really excited for The Art of Wishing since I first signed up for the 2013 Debut Authors Challenge. The book’s summary sounded fun and it seemed to have a lot of potential – “A genie! Cool! I haven’t read a book about a genie before!” Plus I thought the cover was adorable.

But in the end (well actually around 70% of the way through) I just realized that I wasn’t enjoying this book.  The writing felt somewhat disjointed and I had a difficult time keeping my attention on the story. I’d start reading only to find myself putting my Kindle down after only two or three pages because something else seemed more interesting. I just wasn’t invested in any of the characters and there wasn’t anything captivating about the story that made me want to keep reading.

I did like Margo at first. I thought she was interesting because she wasn’t your average YA female character who hasn’t yet realized her strengths. Margo knows she an awesome singer and actress. She is very aware of her strengths in an almost cocky way.  This made her fascinating for a while, but then she slowly began to lose the interest factor for me.

The romantic relationship between Oliver and Margo also seemed too easy. These two fall in love almost overnight, which was pretty hard to believe. I also don’t understand why a smart, talented girl like Margo fell so quickly for a guy who continues to keep information from her.  I mean come on! It’s not until more than halfway through the story when Oliver decided to tell Margo about a significantly important piece of information that she could have used A LOT sooner. She already knows you’re a genie dude…nothing else is going to shock her. Just fill her in!

So, although I was so sad to add another book to my small DNF pile, I had to do so with The Art of Wishing. I just realized that it was taking me forever to read and that there were other books I’d like to spend my time on. There was a lot of potential with not a lot of follow through.

All in all, I know for a fact that my students would enjoy this book, but it just wasn’t for me at all.

Author: Lindsay Ribar

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (March 21, 2013)

Format: e-book (ARC)

Length: 314 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book:  The Art of Wishing

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I Just Knew: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

Hi there everyone!

Did you know that this is the second year I’ve participated in the Debut Author’s Challenge?  Well it is! I really enjoy this particular challenge because it allows me to read at least 12 debut books by new authors each year. Through completing this challenge I’ve been introduced to some really awesome new authors.

One of those awesome new authors is Elizabeth Ross. When I saw the cover (isn’t it pretty?!) for her debut Belle Epoque I just knew. Then I read the summary and I just knew.

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth RossI just knew that Belle Epoque would be right up my period drama loving alley!

When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new “friend” is the hired help, and Maude’s very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

I adored this book!

One of the things I love about Belle Epoque is how unique the whole idea of a “repousser” is. It took me a while to understand, so let’s tease this definition out a little. Imagine you have a pile of nice looking peaches sitting in a bin. They’re all decent so none of them stand out amongst one another. But when you take one of those decent peaches and sit it next to a bruised and broken peach suddenly the normal looking one become beautiful and more desirous! It’s the same with a hired repousser. Really interesting right?! 

And all tied in with this repousser theme is the juxtaposition between the building of the Eiffel Tower (because Belle Epoque is set in the late 1880s while the tower was being built) and Maude (our main character). When the Eiffel Tower was first introduced many Parisians thought it was hideous and declared it a blight on the beautiful city scape. Likewise, when Maude is first introduced to the Agency, she is seen as an ugly, or plain, girl. As the tower gets taller and taller Maude grows as well…it’s so good!

In particular I was so happy to read a book set in Paris after I visited there for the first time this past November. The city of Paris is such a huge part of Maude’s experience in the story. Being a hired repousser Maude gets to see two sides of Paris first hand: the luxurious, gilded aristocracy as well as the bright and seemingly vulgar bohemian nightlife (very Moulin Rouge!). As Maude plays dress up in one, she slowly comes to realize her passion for the other. Just being able to picture the streets Maude walks down made the story that much more enjoyable for me.

Speaking of Maude, I thought she was a very true-to-life character. Throughout the book, Maude tries to hold onto what she knows to be truth but is so easily distracted (as anyone would be) by the shininess and glitter of what is on display before her. I mean who wouldn’t want to wear gorgeous gowns while being wooed by dukes and viscounts at French chateaus?! Additionally, Maude is a young lady who can grow and make her way on her own, while also accepting help from loved ones.

All in all, Belle Epoque was a fabulous debut and I hope to read more of Elizabeth Ross’ work in the future. This one comes to you with the BookTasty stamp of approval, so if you’re looking for a good period drama read you should definitely check it out!

Also a huge thank you Elizabeth Ross and Delacourt for the digital ARC!

Author: Elizabeth Ross

Publisher: Delacourt Books for Young Readers (June 11, 2013)

Format: e-book (ARC)

Length: 336 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Belle Epoque

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Waiting on Wednesday: Belle Epoque

Hi BookTasty friends!

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. This week I am pleased that announce that I am waiting on the release of Elizabeth Ross’ Belle Epoque!

When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Belle Epoque by Elizabeth RossDesperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive. Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new “friend” is the hired help, and Maude’s very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

I am so in love with this cover and the art nouveau design surrounding the title. I was already intrigued by the tag line, ” A Novel of Love and Betrayal”, but then I read the summary and am hooked! Who doesn’t want to read about a little love and betrayal?! Maybe I need a beauty foil in daily life? haha

Belle Epoque will be Elizabeth Ross’ debut YA novel, and won’t be released until June 11 so we have some time to wait. But, Elizabeth Ross herself contact me about receiving a review copy of the book! (THANK YOU!!)I’m very excited and hope that it is a good as it sounds!

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On Its Own Merit: Poison by Bridget Zinn

Southern Book Bloggers ARC ToursHi there!

I’m honored to be a part of the Southern Book Bloggers Poison ARC Tour! Poison just happens to be Bridget Zinn’s debut YA novel, so of course it counts for the 2013 Debut Authors Challenge as well! YAY!

So, let’s talk about this book shall we?!

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she

Poison by Bridget Zinndoes best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend. But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

When I first saw the cover for Poison I automatically knew this would be a book I would really get into. The cover is reminiscent of classic fairy tales but also has more modern themes woven in.  The cover does a good job of depicting the story itself – classic fantasy mixed with more contemporary themes. Plus it’s just a really pretty cover…and look at the pig!

The main character Kyra is not your average girl. She has a ton of secrets and is on the run, although you don’t find out from what until a little ways in. She is multifaceted character with conflicting feelings and emotions which makes her pretty darn relatable. Kyra is emotionally scarred, and on habit (and necessity), tends to protect herself from the world by building walls and pushing people away.  And while she is fiercely independent, she is also incredibly loyal and will stop at nothing to do what she believes it right. In some ways, Kyra reminds me a lot of  Katniss Everdeen.

Zinn’s writing is pretty humorous and Kyra can be pretty sassy sometimes. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story, it kind of freshened up the traditional fantasy/fairy tale genre and made it more modern. There were a few scenes and dialog that had me laughing, especially the river crossing scene…you’ll know what I mean when you get there.

What I like about the narration style is that we don’t know all of Kyra’s secrets. She reveals them to us when she wants (or in some cases when others call her out on them), which makes learning about her more realistic.  It’s like we’re getting to know Kyra as we would get to know someone in real life. The minor characters, Fred, Ariana, and Rosie (yes Rosie is that sweet little pig on the cover!) were also likable and fun, although we don’t get to know as much about them as I would have liked.

Honestly, I could see Poison making a really good movie. It has adventure, romance, mystery and some really loveable characters (including the pig).  The whole story would translate well on-screen and I would definitely go see it in the theater.

On another note… if you’ve also read Jolted by Arthur Slade, you’ll know that I’m pretty sure Rosie (the pig) is related to Josephine, Newton’s ultra talented pet pig. Two sweet and talented pigs in books? They MUST be from the same family.  :P

In the end, I finished Poison craving more. I want more Kyra and more Fred and more adventures in this fantasy world they live in. I want to know what happens next, in fact I’m sure most people who read Poison feel the same way, but sadly Bridget Zinn passed away, after battling cancer, in May 2011, so we won’t get any more of these characters. To read more about her story visit her website. I do want to be clear about something though, her book stands alone on its own merit without the unfortunate circumstances behind it, which is, I think, very important.

If you are in the mood for a delightful fantasy (and why wouldn’t you be?!) then you should definitely pick up Posion by Bridget Zinn, you wont regret it. The story is perfect for middle school aged readers and those of us who are a tad bit older *cough cough* and definitely has the BookTasty stamp of approval!

Author: Bridget Zinn

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (March 12, 2013)

Format: e-galley (ARC)

Length: 288 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book:  Poison

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Pretty Generic: Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

Hi there!

If you follow BookTasty at all you’ve probably realized that I’m participating in the 2013 Debut Author Challenge again this year. The goal is to read at least 12 debut young adult books throughout the year and you can learn more about it here.

The second debut novel I read was Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed.

One house, two worlds…

Rose Cliffe has never met a young lady like her new mistress. Clever, rich, and beautiful, Ada Averley

Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

treats Rose as an equal. And Rose could use a friend. Especially now that she, at barely sixteen, has risen to the position of ladies’ maid. Rose knows she should be grateful to have a place at a house like Somerton. Still, she can’t help but wonder what her life might have been had she been born a lady, like Ada. For the first time in a decade, the Averleys have returned to Somerton, their majestic ancestral estate. But terrible scandal has followed Ada’s beloved father all the way from India. Now Ada finds herself torn between her own happiness and her family’s honor. Only she has the power to restore the Averley name—but it would mean giving up her one true love . . . someone she could never persuade her father to accept.

Sumptuous and enticing, the first novel in the At Somerton series introduces two worlds, utterly different yet entangled, where ruthless ambition, forbidden attraction, and unspoken dreams are hidden behind dutiful smiles and glittering jewels. All those secrets are waiting . . . at Somerton.

Sometimes you just need to read something kind of mindless and fun, but I was hoping I’d enjoy Cinders & Sapphires a little more than I actually did.

First let’s clarify that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE British period dramas. I adore reading about the fashion and the upper crust of polite society during pretty much whatever time period you throw at me! There always has to be some good scandal and intrigue mixed in too. Well, in this way Cinders & Sapphires was satisfying! It had all of the above! But sadly, that’s about all it had.

The characters were flat and incredibly one-dimensional. Let’s just lay it all out there: you had your maid with hidden talents who dreams of a better life (of course she does), you have your wealthy debutante who is a closet academic and is, of course, in love with a man of a lower class (or ethnicity) *gasp!*and don’t forget about your eligible bachelor who is scandalously (and secretly) gay *gasp!*. Let’s not ignore the stylish but hateful stepmother and her equally jealous daughter! Throw in an upwards grasping lady’s maid and some mean-spirited (why?!) servants to get our plot moving and…viola! You have it! An unsurprising and  kind of boring version of Gossip Girl in period costume.

So much was predictable that it made me lose interest and I had to force myself to finish reading this one…I didn’t want to DNF the second debut I read! The only storyline I was remotely interested in was Ada’s but that’s just because I like romance, even if they are pretty generic.

There you have it.  I was disappointed in Cinders & Sapphires, because I felt like it missed the mark that all guilty pleasures should… it wasn’t even bad enough to make me love it! But please remember, don’t take my word for it.  A lot of people, including some of my students, really seemed to enjoy this book, so give it a try for yourself…it may turn out to be what you’re in the mood for.

Author: Leila Rasheed

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (January 22, 2013)

Format: e-galley (ARC)

Length: 400 pages

Series: First in the At Somerton series

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book:  Cinders & Sapphires (At Somerton)

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Magic and Mobsters Unite: The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell

Well hello there!

As you may already know (from the buttons on the left side of the page or my earlier post) 2013 is the second year I’m participating in the Debut Authors Challenge! I had so much fun with this challenge last year, as it introduced me to so many new authors to love! Well, this year the first debut novel I read was The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell. Thank you to Dial books for the e-galley!

There is a new king on the throne of Tildor. Currents of political unrest sweep the country as two warring crime families seek power, The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidellangling to exploit the young Crown’s inexperience. At the Academy of Tildor, the training ground for elite soldiers, Cadet Renee de Winter struggles to keep up with her male peers. But when her mentor, a notorious commander recalled from active duty to teach at the Academy, is kidnapped to fight in illegal gladiator games, Renee and her best friend Alec find themselves thrust into a world rife with crime, sorting through a maze of political intrigue, and struggling to resolve what they want, what is legal, and what is right.

I love fantasy! I really, really do! And I really, really, believe that The Cadet of Tildor is a great addition to the genre. The world building is well done and I felt like I could clearly imagine this world where magic and mobsters unite.  There is just so much political and criminal intrigue that I want to know more about this world Renee, Savoy and Alec live in! Give me more Tildor books!

Lidell’s take on the heroine, Renee, is an interesting one. Renee, although talented, isn’t the strongest student at the Academy.  She is weaker than everyone else and is even in danger of loosing her place in the school. I appreciate that Renee, isn’t automatically this crazy beefed-up warrior girl, but that she instead works hard to get to where she wants and needs to be.

I had head a few other bloggers saying that there was no romance in The Cadet of Tildor, and how relieved they were. No romance?! I completely disagree! Although there was no major romantic story line, I found tendrils of romance throughout the story and can’t wait to see what forms in the next installment…I assume there is a sequel! I asked author Alex Lidell about this on Twitter and all she did was smile…so we’ll have to wait to see if my romance sniffing skills are as good as I think they are!

I was a little disappointed with Alec’s character. Throughout the story we’re reminded that he is Renee’s best friend, but in my opinion, he sure doesn’t act like it!  Alec doesn’t defend Renee when he should and pretty much leaves her on her own for most of the story. I guess, I need to consider the inner confusion and turmoil Alec is dealing with, but I just wasn’t a fan of Alec and how he treated Renee.

There is some violence…okay a lot of violence! But I think Lidell does a pretty good job of being realistic without being too graphic, which is always a good talent to have!

If you’re a fan of the fantasy genre, I think you’ll be pleased with Lidell’s debut, The Cadet of Tildor. It is a fun example of what can happen when fantasy and political thrillers unite! If there is to be more of Renee’s story, I will definitely be on the lookout for it!

Author: Alex Lidell

Publisher: Dial (January 10, 2013)

Format: e-galley (ARC)

Length: 400 pages

Series: standalone

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book:  The Cadet of Tildor

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2013 Reading Challenges

Happy 2013 everyone!

This morning I got to sleep until 9 a.m., go for a run, and now we’re about go to the Citrus Bowl to see Georgia get whooped by Nebraska. No, we’re not Nebraska fans, but we are Florida Gator fans and we are not fond of Georgia! If you’re not from the south and college football means nothing to you, I apologize…

But now, let’s talk reading challenges for 2013.

I always think it’s good to have a goal set to encourage and motivate in anything we do. I sign up for races frequently so I don’t get slack with my running for example.  I think it’s a good idea to have reading goals as well.  Why?! Because it’s just fun! So, let’s take a look at the three reading challenges I am participating in this year.

GoodReadsChallenge20131. I am want to redeem myself in the 2013 GoodReads Reading Challenge this year. I have a goal of reading 80 books. I missed the same goal this year by 6 books so I’m going for it again! I hope to exceed my goal and read even more in 2013!

2013audiobookchallenge32. I also plan of being a part of the 2013 YA Audiobook Challenge again this year,  If you’ve read my blog at all you probably know how much I love audiobooks so this one is super-duper easy for me! I’m going to attempt the Head Bang’n level where I have to listen to 36+ audiobooks, and review at least 24 of them. I got this. Thanks to A Book and A Latte for hosting!

2013DAC3. Last year I completed the 2012 Debut Authors Challenge, and although I loved it, I wasn’t sure if I was going to participate again this year.  Well, this morning on my run I decided that YEAH! I AM going to do it again! I look forward to being introduced to some brand new YA and MG authors! Yay for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge! Thanks to Hobbitsies for hosting!