3

My Love Just Keeps Increasing: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Hello everyone!

Recently I was able to receive an advanced reader e-galley of Maureen Johnson’s The Madness Underneath. I was so excited to read this one because I really, really enjoyed the first book The Name of the Star. If you’re interested in my review of The Name of the Star check it out here. But for now, let’s talk The Madness Underneath!!

After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory The Madness Underneath by Maureen JohnsonDevereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends. But Rory’s brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she’s become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades—the city’s secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it’s too late.

I really need to say that I am in love with this series. They are my absolute favorite Maureen Johnson books. Boarding school?! Mystery?! AND London?! SCORE!

The main character, Rory is engaging and witty despite dealing with some emotional issues following her previous Ripper encounter. Actually, it’s because of this humor despite hardship that she is slowly becoming one of my favorite characters in teen lit. She reminds me of myself a little mostly because she just talks when she feels awkward, which is something I have been known to do as well! In fact there were numerous times where I had to stop and chuckle at something Rory said – especially her conversations with Jerome and Stephen. Johnson’s dialogue is just so smart and hilarious.

I was wondering where Johnson was going to go with Rory’s story after the first book and I totally didn’t expect her to go the way she did in book two. This isn’t bad though, as I was super into the twist(s!) that were thrown in! OH! THESE TWISTS! These twists were so sudden and intense that I had to click back a few pages (on my kindle) to reread because I found myself stopping and asking, “WAIT?! What the heck just happened?!” I had to reread it to believe it.

What I appreciate about this sequel is that it’s not just a continuation of the first book. Of course it does continue the story, you can’t not do that in a follow-up, but not in a way where you just feel like it could have been the same book. All of Rory’s relationships have changed forever and she now has to learn how they work, or in some cases don’t work. The story widens from simply being a supernatural thriller into something more complex. It’s not just another murderous ghost on a rampage, which although fun would get old after a while!  And of course, there is a MASSIVE unbelievable cliffhanger that makes you want to tear your hair out!

I need to say that I do wish we could have seen a little bit more of some of the supporting characters though. I definitely wanted more Jazza and Boo and even more ghosts! But…there is a supporting character that we do get to see more of! I can’t say anything because that would be spoilery and that’s not how we do things at BookTasty…but EEEK! I like what I see! *wink wink* *giggle*  Hopefully we’ll get even more when book three releases in 2014 (so far away!).

So, I can strongly report that I was pleased with The Madness Underneath and my love for this series just keeps increasing! If you’re a middle school aged reader and up and you enjoyed The Name of the Star you’re really going to like this one too. If you haven’t read The Name of the Star….then stop what you’re doing and go read it so you can get to this one!

Author: Maureen Johnson

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (February 26, 2013)

Format: e-galley (ARC)

Length: 290 pages

Series: Second book in the Shades of London series

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book:  The Madness Underneath: Book 2 (The Shades of London)

3

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

5

Seductive Sirens: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Southern Book Bloggers ARC ToursHello!

I was lucky enough to read Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama as part of the Southern Book Bloggers ARC Tour. (THANK YOU!)

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth FamaFierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

I have to start by clarifying that Monstrous Beauty was my second venture into mermaid fiction and I found it absolutely mesmerizing!  It was so incredibly different from the first mermaid book I’ve read (Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs).  Where as Forgive My Fins was a light-hearted teen romance, Monstrous Beauty was a dark and foreboding mystery.

Fama weaves together a story rich in historical fiction and fantasy.  The story is set in both historical and modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts.  The town is almost a character in and of itself and acts as a means of connecting Hester and Syrenka’s narratives to one another. Siren mythology isn’t one you hear much about, so I think the historical setting of Monstrous Beauty works well with the story of mythical sea creatures.

Let’s talk about these mermaids for a second.  They’re not fun frolicking Ariel type mermaids. No.  They’re actually dangerous beauties with fins sharp as knives and razor teeth. I like this more traditional approach to the siren mythology which details seductive sirens luring unsuspecting men to their watery deaths. It’s just so intriguing and yet Fama makes you question the truth behind the myths.

Each chapter switches from Hester to Ezra and Syrenka’s perspective which I loved because both stories were so intriguing. I really felt connected to Hester (despite her unfortunate name) because of her love for history. I was a history major in college and I’ve always wanted to work as a historical interpreter at a historical site like she does! My husband knows he’s taking a gamble if we ever visit Colonial Williamsburg…I might end up in costume and he’ll never get me home!

Now, I will say that I did guess the truth to the mystery surrounding Hester’s family way before I think I was supposed to, but this didn’t hinder my interest in the story in any way. There is one pretty graphic scene, that would make me hesitate to recommend Monstrous Beauty to middle grades readers. All in all, I think readers who are high school aged and older will really enjoy this magical mix of fantasy and history.

Author: Elizabeth Fama

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (September 4, 2012)

Format: ARC, paperback

Length: 295 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Monstrous Beauty

15

Tasty Treats (3)

Well what do ya’ know?!

I am actually posting a Tasty Treats review of books I received recently.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve shared my new reads with you guys.  I’ve just been lucky enough to receive many books over the past few weeks that I had to share! :)  Seriously, this is an awesome looking group of books!

So, let’s start out with books I was given by other bloggers!  I just have to say that since I’ve been blogging, and especially since I’ve been on Twitter, I have met some really nice and friendly book bloggers who help make my blogging experience that much easier (and fun!).

One of these bloggers is Kyle over at A Reader’s Pensieve  who is incredibly sweet and fun to chat books with on Twitter!  Well, this week she and I decided to do some book swapping (YAY!) so I sent her and ARC of In Too Deep by Amanda Grace and she sent me an ARC of Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale!  This was my first time swapping with another blogger and I was so excited I did a little shimmy and yelled about it to my husband who was on the other side of the house.  hehehe  As you probably already know, I’m a big Shannon Hale fan so I can’t wait to start this one.  Thanks Kyle!

Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

Palace of Stone (Princess Academy #2) by Shannon Hale

This week I also stumbled across Jennifer Dee’s from Novel Thoughts and learned about her new ARCycling idea on Twitter. I was so intrigued I emailed her about it. It’s an awesome idea!  She pulls select titles from her “donate” pile of ARCs that are about to come out or recently come out and give them to other bloggers, librarians, teachers, booksellers strictly for continuing promotion.  Awesome!  I requested two ARCs and she sent them!  I’m planning on donating some too, to help out.  Thank you Jennifer!

The Sweetest Spell and Lucky Fools

The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors
Lucky Fools by Coert Voorhees

Additionally this week, I received an audio copy of Forgive my Fins (Fins #1) by Tera Lynn Childs for review from Harper Collins! Mermaids!!!  A bunch of my students told me I needed to read this one so I’m finally able to give it a go!  A huge thank you goes out to Harper Collins!

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

And last but not lease I picked up some more of the Florida Sunshine State books! These are the final four of the fifteen titles I needed.  Now I can focus on reading them all instead of finding them all! I’m not a huge fan of the Happenstance Found cover, but as we all know, you can’t judge a book by its cover! :)  But with that said, My Fair Godmother just looks like my kind of book! haha

Hide and Seek, Happenstance Found, Wild Things

Hide and Seek by Katy Grant
Happenstance Found by P.W. Catanese
Wild Things by Clay Carmichael

My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

So, those are some of the tasty treats I’ve been able to get my hands on over the past few weeks, I can’t wait to read and review them! Have you read any of these already?  Did you get any tasty treats of your own recently?

By the way: Tasty Treats is based on mailboxlike memes like In My Mailbox, Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves.

1

Book Trailer of the Week: Tiger Lily

Book Trailer of the WeekHappy Friday everyone!

It’s time again to showcase a book trailer that has caught my attention.  As a school media specialist/librarian I love book trailers because they help me to promote awesome titles and Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Andersonmotivate my students to read.  They’re just awesome and I love them!

This week’s book trailer is for Jodi Lynn Anderson’s new novel Tiger Lily.  I was lucky enough to be a part of the Tiger Lily ARC Blog Tour hosted by Southern Book Bloggers (THANK YOU!) so I got to read this book before the release date which was this past Tuesday, July 3.

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. .. Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Seriously.  I really, really enjoyed Tiger Lily (you can read my full review here) and think you should check out the book trailer for it now!

I love the colors of the dress/flower on the cover! It is a beautiful cover, one of my favorites of 2012 for sure!

Standard
2

One Hot Romance: Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

Hello! Glad to see you back!

High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever.

Such a Rush by Jennifer EcholsBut Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business — until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers — and the consequences could be deadly.

First, I need to thank the author, Jennifer Echols, for my ARC copy of Such a Rush! When I received it I was so surprised and happy to discover that it is personalized! I love it so much, thank you!

Now, I must admit that I was a little hesitant to read Such a Rush because of the flying and airplane themes. I was worried that I’d come across pages and pages of piloting description that I’d have no interest in, and this was my introduction to Jennifer Echols so I had no idea what her writing style was like. I was pleased to find that this book didn’t bog me down with technical description at all. The flying details were there, but they were woven into the story so gently that they fit in perfectly. The funny thing is that I read most of this book on the airplane to Boston (book about flying while flying!) and became so engrossed that I stayed up late for the first three nights of my vacation to finish Leah’s story.

So, let’s talk Leah. I really loved Leah despite the fact that I didn’t immediately connect with her on a deep level. Leah is not the type of main female character I automatically relate to. She is gorgeous, tough and confident. I usually relate more with the bookish, average, smart girl who uncovers her hidden strength type, so Leah was a little difficult at first. The more I got into the story though, the more I realized that with Leah what you see on the outside isn’t always a reflection of whats going on inside. Her tough confident character is at times a wall she puts up so that she can’t be hurt by others. Leah doesn’t want people to know she is feels deeply and is as vulnerable as she is; she is complex. One thing about her that I don’t get though, is why does she so often just let people misinterpret her? Why doesn’t she stand up for herself when she knows people are judging her unfairly? Maybe she realizes it ultimately doesn’t matter. I don’t know. But I do like Leah.

Oh yeah! Leah also has crazy curly hair, and I laughed at Echols’ description of how Leah finally realized that she needed to embrace her curly hair because I had a moment just like that when I was in high school!

The romance in this book is hot. Yeah, that’s right. I said hot. There is some major pent-up passion just waiting to be released and although I loved the Hall brothers, I’m still not sure if I forgive some of their words or actions at specific parts in the story. I guess that’s okay though because it seems to me as I’m writing this review, that maybe that’s the point. Echols is writing contemporary fiction, not fairy tales, so her characters are ultimately incredibly flawed, but just like real people. Her characters are flawed because people are flawed.

I wouldn’t recommend Such a Rush to readers younger than high school because of some of the content. There is quite a bit of discussion about sex and even a sex scene or two (although Echols does leave us to imagine most of them).

The back of my book says that Such a Rush is “engrossing and intense” and I would completely agree. This is a really enjoyable summerish read for anyone searching for a quality contemporary romance. I’m definitely going to be on the look out for Echols’ other novels!

Author: Jennifer Echols

Publisher: MTV Books (July 10, 2012)

Format: ARC, Paperback

Length: 336 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Such a Rush (pre-order)

9

Bittersweet Symphony: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Hi there!

Today I bring you a review of Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson!  I received this book as part of the Southern Book Blogger’s Tiger Lily ARC Blog Tour, and this was my first time participating in a blog tour ever!

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in theTiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.  Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

I can’t say it enough (I say it a lot on this blog!) but I absolutely adore fairy tales retold!  Now, I have to be honest that I’m not and never was a huge fan of the Peter Pan story, but reading Tiger Lily has caused me to revisit my feelings for this tale.  I was also a little hesitant because we all know that the romance between Peter Pan and Tiger Lily is pretty short-lived, but although my heart broke multiple times while reading it I really, really enjoyed this novel. (Also, look at that breathtaking cover! The colors are just lovely!)

First let me say that Anderson’s prose is gorgeous! Her descriptions of Neverland and it’s inhabitants is at times poetic and lends this story more romance and mystery.  There is very little dialogue as the story is narrated through the eyes of a very loyal and observant Tinkerbell.

Every little detail Anderson gives us is like a puzzle piece that fits perfectly into the story you thought you already knew. Anderson fills in the gaps in the narrative that weren’t answered in the original tale in a way that just makes sense.  The way the world of Neverland is imagined as an actual island somewhere in the Atlantic that you cannot find if you’re looking for it is incredibly creative and mythic.  Also, having Tink as the narrator is such a fabulous idea and allows the reader to see multiple sides of the story that they wouldn’t have seen had the narrator been Peter or Tiger Lily or anyone else.  Tink has the ability to go unnoticed so we see Tiger Lily’s life in the camp with her people and also the Lost Boys’ burrow when no one is watching them.

I never really understood the lure of Peter Pan (the character) before, but reading the story through a different narrator (not Wendy or her brothers) allowed me to see the appeal.  Peter is such an excitingly flawed character.  He is incredibly savage in a way that is both enticing and frightening.  He is also not willing to accept reality, which is both refreshing and frustrating at the same time.  There is this allure to him that I can only describe as the “bad-boy” pull.  Tiger Lily knows that nothing good can come from knowing Peter, but in her fearlessness she is drawn to him none-the-less.  Let me also say, I used to like Wendy.  Now I don’t think I do.  And that’s all I have to say about that – you’ll see!

Despite being a little slow to start, Tiger Lily is vivid, mysterious, beautiful and bittersweet all at once.  There were times where I wanted to put the book down to have a break from the heart-break, but at the same time I couldn’t wait to read more.   If you’re a fan of Peter Pan (Ha! That rhymed!), love fairy tale re-tellings, or are just in for a tender love story you should definitely get your hands on this one!  As far age ages go, the book is good for high school aged readers as I think middle schoolers might get bored with the lack of dialogue.

Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson

Publisher: Harper Teen (Scheduled Release July 3, 2012)

Format: ARC, paperback

Length: 304 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Tiger Lily (Pre-order)

Standard
19

In My Mailbox (9)

20120325-082556.jpg
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme created by The Story Siren to highlight new books and allow book bloggers to get to know each other better.

This week was slow in the book department, but what I did get was so fun and exciting!

Such a Rush by Jennifer EcholsI came home from an incredibly busy (but good) day at work to find an envelope stuffed into my mailbox. I had forgotten I had requested anything, and was pleasantly surprised to see I’d received a print Advanced Reader Copy of Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols! (THANK YOU SO MUCH!) I can’t wait to read this one! She also personalized the autograph! How awesome is that?!

Such a Rush autograph
So, there you have it! What did you get in your mailbox this week?

0

Currently Reading

As usual I’m reading a ton of books all at the same time.  How I manage this, I have no idea! This time around I’m in the middle of some audiobooks, e-books and print copies.  Here they are:

On Audiobook

Dont Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter (MG/YA)

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (listening with my husband so this may take longer to finish) (YA)

Print

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George In Too Deep by Amanda Grace

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George (MG)

In Too Deep by Amanda Grace (ARC) (YA)

Ebooks

May B A Novel by Caroline Starr Rose

May B.: A Novel by Caroline Starr Rose (MG)

I have no idea when I’ll actually finish these, but there they are!  What are you currently reading?  Any suggestions for my “Too Read” stack?