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Waiting on Wednesday: Defy

Yes, it is my birthday! Yay! Happy Birthday to me!

Since my husband had to be out of a town for a few days we’re waiting to celebrate with a little shin-dig on Friday!

It is still Wednesday though and with that comes another edition of Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine)! This week I’m waiting on Defy by Sara B. Larson.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Defy by Sara B. LarsonAlex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

I am pretty much always in the mood for a good fantasy and Defy sounds like it has the potential to be a fun read! It sounds a little like a mix between The Cadet of Tildor (Alex Lidell)and The False Prince  (Jennifer A. Nielsen), both of which I enjoyed so hopefully that is a good omen! We’ll have to wait until January 2014 to find out though!

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The Troll Toll: The Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking

Well hello there BookTasty Fans!

*props to whoever gets the tv show reference in the title…*

I’m back! I know I haven’t posted a review in a little while (because the end of the school year is always jam-packed with events that take up my time) but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. I promise!

Recently I read (listened to) the entire Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking….see I was reading!

When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. Eleven years later, Wendy discovers heSwitched by Amanda Hockingr mother might have been right. She’s not the person she’s always believed herself to be, and her whole life begins to unravel—all because of Finn Holmes.

Finn is a mysterious guy who always seems to be watching her. Every encounter leaves her deeply shaken…though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she’d ever admit. But it isn’t long before he reveals the truth: Wendy is a changeling who was switched at birth—and he’s come to take her home.

Now Wendy’s about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that’s both beautiful and frightening. And where she must leave her old life behind to discover who she’s meant to become. (summary from book one, Switched)

I was at my public library searching for an audiobook to listen to. It seems that they can’t keep up with my listening habits because there wasn’t anything that a. I hadn’t already read or b. was actually interested in. So there I was scouring the small audiobook section, when I came across Switched, Torn, and Ascend all sitting there like they were waiting for me to choose them. So I did.

I’m kind of lazy, so this post will be about the whole series, rather than reviewing each book independently.

When I started Switched, I was surprised by how much I was actually enjoying it! From the start I saw Wendy as an interesting character. She is flawed, hurt and knew that she never quite seemed to fit in. I love the whole idea of WTorn by Amanda Hockingendy’s mother trying to kill her because she believed her to be evil…I mean that whole scene described was pretty intense! No wonder Wendy is so messed up! I even liked the potential romance that was heating up between Wendy and Finn. The whole premise behind Wendy’s feelings of not fitting in is pretty cool and makes a lot of sense once you’ve realized what actually happened when Wendy was born. And she really does mature in some ways by the end of book three.  So, book one…I’m cool with you!

Then I got to book two, Torn. And this is where I realized that I wasn’t loving the series as much as I had while reading Switched. Don’t get me wrong, so much more happens in book two, and so much more is explained, but it’s also where the love triangle is introduced….DUN DUN DUUUUN!! I don’t normally have major issues with love triangles, but this one was super frustrating to me. Wendy pretty much gets tossed back and forth between Finn and Loki and can’t seem to get her own emotions straight.

And then we get to Ascend where the love triangle becomes…WAIT FOR IT…a love QUADrangle! That’s right…three guys and one Wendy! What’s a girl to do?! Kiss them all and marry one (whom she doesn’t love) so she can pretend she doesn’t need the others.  Oh Wendy…I can see right through you! Stop it! Be a strong young woman and just pick one of these guys instead of running into their arms one after the other. uurrrggghhh

Ascend by Amanda HockingOkay, so what was pretty frustrating for me while reading the Trylle trilogy is the way in which the love tri…quadrangle overshadows the rest of the plot. There was some really potentially cool stuff happening between the Trylle and Vittra tribes involving war, secret powers and birthrights, but all that is treated like small potatoes compared to the romance, which is such a shame.

So, all this aside. Was the Trylle Trilogy entertaining? Yes.

Did I enjoy these book? Sure.

Did I love them? No.

Did they have major flaws? Heck yes!

I have students who completely love and highly recommend The Trylle Trilogybooks, but in my mind these books are categorized as superficial fun romances with a little supernatural/fantasy thrown in. Not the first books I’d recommend to readers, but if this is what you’re in the mood for, like I was, then go for it.

Author: Amanda Hocking

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (Switched 2010, Torn 2010, Ascend 2011)

Format: Audiobook

Length: Switched (8 hrs, 48 mins), Torn (9 hrs, 2 mins), Ascend (7 hrs, 59 mins)

Series: The Trylle Trilogy

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Switched (Trylle)
Torn (Trylle Trilogy Book 2)
Ascend: A Trylle Novel

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Burning Sky

Welcome back everyone!

Most of you know that Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that I like to participate in and is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. The goal is to showcase an upcoming new release that we just can’t wait to get our hands on.

The Burning Sky by Sherry ThomasThis week I’m all about The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas.

It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he’s also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to revenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

I’m pretty much always in the mood for some good fantasy! And throw in a little bit of love and romance and I’m most likely hooked! It sounds kind of like it has Kristin Cashore-like qualities, which if it does I’m sure I’ll be in love with this book by the end of the first page!

Sadly, we do have a little while to wait before The Burning Sky is released since it’s scheduled for September 17. What do you think? Are you waiting patiently for this one or another title today?

 

 

 

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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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I Really Wanted to Like It: Beastly by Alex Flinn

Well hi there!

Let’s talk Beastly by Alex Flinn.

I am a beast. A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with Beastly by Alex Flinnfangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell. Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

So, Beastly is a modern-day retelling of the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast, set in New York City. Beauty and the Beast had always been one of my favorite fairy tales ever. I felt a that Beauty (at least the Disney version of her) was a kindred spirit since she always had her nose in a book. She’s bookish and I’ve always loved that about her. I’ve always loved this story so you’d think I would have loved a modern retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales. Well, you’d think so, but you’d be wrong. I was pretty disappointed in Beastly. Flinn’s version of the story just didn’t connect with me.

I’m not usually a fan of male main characters, so maybe that has something to do with my disappointment. I just couldn’t like Kyle Kingsbury. Yeah I know he transforms from his snooty, wealthy, narcissistic self into someone kinder and more gentle, but I still just didn’t like him. I also felt that Linda (our story’s Beauty), although bookish and nerdy (yay!), was pretty boring and one-sided. Now, this could have also been the fact that I listened to this on audiobook and wasn’t impressed with the narrator’s female voices. Oh well.

This is pretty much a point for point retelling of the classic tale without much new to add to it other than the setting. I will say, that I did enjoy the chat room scenes. Kyle joins an online support group for those who have been magically transformed and meets some other famous fairy tale characters, like the Bear in Snow White and Rose Red (another of my faves!), the Frog from the Frog Prince and the Little Mermaid. These scenes are super cute, fun and too far and few between. Other than those bright scenes the rest of this story was slow going and I had to force myself to finish it.

So, overall I was disappointed in this story. I had high hopes because I love fairy tales retold and I’ve so many people recommend Alex Flinn’s books to me. I really, really wanted to enjoy it, it just fell flat with me. Maybe I started with the wrong Alex Flinn book? Suggestions anyone? Now, just because I wasn’t a huge fan, it doesn’t mean others won’t enjoy Beastly, in fact I know many who do. If you’re into fairy tale retellings go ahead and give this one a try, it might end up being something you like!

Author: Alex Flinn

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (June 22, 2010)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 6 hrs and 41 mins

Narrator(s): Chris Patton

Series: First in The Kendra Chronicles

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Beastly

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Book Trailer of the Week: The Iron Fey series

Book Trailer of the WeekIt’s Friday!

And you know what that means! Book Trailer of the Week time! Every week I bring you a book trailer that I believe deserves a little attention.

Iron Fey series by Julie KagawaToday I’ll be showing off the book trailer for the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa.   I honestly can’t escape good the buzz for these books! They’re raved about on tons of book blogs, so I know I’m going to have to make these a priority!

Half human. Half faery. Fully endangered. Meghan Chase is about to come into her legacy.  The Faery realms have always weathered the clash of Summer and Winter fey, the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. Now a new breed of faery has emerged to challenge both—to their peril. Forged by Man’s insatiable pursuit of technological superiority, the terrifying Iron fey are massing…and the fate of all faeries hangs in the balance. The greatest weapon in this epic magical war? A half-human teenage girl.

Doesn’t it sound like a fun supernatural fantasy series?  Like I’ve said, I keep hearing great things about these books and the trailer makes me want to read them that much more!

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Book Trailer of the Week: Grave Mercy

 

Book Trailer of the WeekWelcome back to BookTasty!

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversI love book trailers and think they’re a fabulous way to reach potential readers. So, every week I bring you a book trailer that I think deserves a little time in the spotlight! :)

This week’s book trailer is for Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. This book just screams awesome and I’ve had my eyes on this book for a few months now. It was released this past April (2012) and I’ve heard that if you liked Graceling by Kristin Cashore, this is one is for you!  I loved Graceling so I want to get my hands on this one as soon as possible.  Plus, that cover is so beautiful! For realsies!

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.  Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I am a huge fan of this book trailer so hopefully you will be too!

 

Honestly, it sounds like Ismae could kick some major butt! I love it!

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Fairy Tale Awesomeness: Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Hi there! Who likes fairy tales?  I do and I recently read 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.Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Like I mentioned before, I love fairy tales.  I’m always a sucker for them. All the time.  This one had been sitting on my “To Read” shelf for a few years and I’m so glad I finally got to it because although it took a little for me to get into, once I was hooked, I was hooked!  Completely enthralled!

In Wildwood Dancing, Juliet Marillier masterfully weaves together multiple fairy tales giving this story its own unique appeal.  I can’t tell you which fairy tales Marillier uses without giving away major plot lines and twists, but I will say that the main one is The Twelve Dancing Princesses which has been one of my all time favorite fairy tales since I was a child.  In fact, the main reason I love this fairy tale so much is due to an animated show that used to be on Nickelodeon in the 90s when I was a kid.  Does anyone remember this series?  It was called Grimm’s Fairy Tale Classics and this particular episode was The Word Out Dancing Shoes.

I used to love when that episode came on!  Well, Wildwood Dancing reminded me  a lot of this episode!

One of the main things I really enjoyed about this story is the setting.  Marillier places her characters in Transylvania, a region in Romania, circa 1500 – right smack dab in the middle of the medieval era!  I love how Marillier pulled in the rich Transylvanian folklore to make her story stronger.  Wildwood Dancing combines historical fiction, folkloric fantasy, romance and drama all into one big bowl and mixes it all together to create fairy tale awesomeness.  Seriously.

Although this is a take on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, this story only has five. Jena, the main character, is a smart and opinionated  young woman who is used to being the practical one. She is, although not the oldest sister, the mother-like figure to them all; she keeps an eye on her sisters when they travel to the magical Wildwood on full moon nights.  Her main flaw, which Jena comes to realize, is her constant attempt to control everything, especially change.  Jena is both the traditional princess who follows rules and a more modern girl with some spunk.

I will say that the beginning of the story was slightly slow and difficult to get into, but once the story picks up you’re in for good.  I listened to the audiobook, as part of the 2012 YA Audiobook Challenge.  It is narrated by Kim Mai Guest and was enthralled.  I’m quickly realizing that Kim Mai Guest is my favorite audiobook narrator out there.  I’ve happened to listen to three or four books narrated by her and am constantly amazed at her range and ability to speak with difficult accents so well.  She’s kind of my audiobook idol. :)

Wildwood Dancing comes highly recommended to those who love fairy tales and fantasy, but I definitely suggest the audiobook because Mai Guest is a master at accents and this is her narration best!

Author: Juliet Marillier

Publisher: Listening Library; Unabridged (January 13, 2009)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 12 hrs and 52 mins

Narrator(s): Kim Mai Guest

Series: First in a series of two

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Wildwood Dancing

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I Adore a Good Fairy Tale: Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Happy Monday!
Have you entered for a chance to win an audiobook of Tempest by Julie Cross yet?  The giveaway runs until February 20, so there is still time!
Now, how about a book review?

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie’s favorite days. That’s when the Castle magically grows a new room, a turret, or sometimes an entire wing.  No one knows how or why the Castle does it, and no one except Princess Celie has ever bothered to map out the Castle’s many twists and turns.
 But when the king and queen disappear and Councilors from neighboring kingdoms arrive to “advise” the three Glower children, even the Castle seems to know that something is wrong… Take the new tower room, which is stocked with mysterious objects and has a knack for appearing just when Celia needs it.  Then there is the secret passageway that leads the children to a room the Councilors don’t want them to know about.
To find their parents and hold on to their kingdom, Celie and her siblings will need all their ingenuity, Celie’s maps, plus some help from their beloved Castle – before it’s too late.
I adore fairy tales.  I always have.  That’s why Jessica Day George is one of my favorite middle grades authors; she writes fairy tales!
In Tuesdays at the Castle George has created an endearing story that captured me from the beginning.  I actually have been looking forward to reading her newest title for a while and was super excited to receive it in December from my Secret Santa (Thanks to Heidi over at YA Bibliophile!!)!    Plus look at that gorgeous cover!
I think George does a good job of writing heroines that are normal – in that they are strong but not overly independent.  Vulnerable but not weak.  Celie  is a charming character who is still young and sometimes has to catch herself from saying things that are not becoming to a princess.  I like the sassy-ness Celia has, but she doesn’t let it get her into trouble which is good because I dislike characters that have so much attitude they keep digging themselves into more and more trouble. Although Celie is smart and brave, she does welcome help from her brother, Rolf, and her older sister, Lilah.  She also acknowledges that she needs help from the castle as well.
The castle is an interesting character too.  It listens to the needs and desires of its inhabitants and provides for them as necessary.  However, the castle is incredibly clear about who it likes and who it dislikes and has been known to literally eject enemies from itself.  The whole idea of a magic castle is fun and very unique (further proof that Jessica Day George is awesome!) and I think she has opened herself up to tons of stories to tell about Castle Glower (which is good because this is supposed to become a series!).
One thing that cracked me up was the dialogue for the foreign princes visiting Castle Glower.  George writes their speech grammatically incorrect as one speaking a language not their own might sound.  I loved it and actually read those parts out loud because they reminded me of my husband and I attempting to speak with foreign accents.
“Yes, and very powerful,” Celie said pointedly.  “That is the true,” Prince Lulath said.  “I have already the thanks given, that the rooms we stay in have been nice and more nice.”

Seriously read it out loud with  an eastern European accent.  hehehe

Sometimes middle grades fiction is a wonderfully refreshing escape from more mature Young Adult fiction I read.  I just need something a little more innocent at times, which is another reason why I love Jessica Day George’s books.    I highly recommend this book to middle grade readers (even older elementary readers) who enjoy a good fairy tale.

Author: Jessica Day George

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (October 25, 2011)

Format: Print copy, hardcover

Length: 225 pages

Series: First in a series

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: Tuesdays at the Castle