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Sadly, Not Much to Offer:The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman

Welcome back friends!

I was lucky enough to met author Gordon Korman a few years ago, and he was such a friendly and humble individual! He’s one of my librarian crushes, I have to admit.  My students adore his books, mostly because he is a good storyteller and writes interesting and funny characters, but I was a little disappointed with The Hypnotists.The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman

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Jackson Opus has always been persuasive, but he doesn’t know that he’s descended from the two most powerful hypnotist bloodlines on the planet. He’s excited to be accepted into a special program at the Sentia Institute — but when he realizes he’s in over his head, Jackson will have to find a way to use his powers to save his friends, his parents, and his government.

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The world Jax (Jackson) lives in mirrors our own but with one big difference, some people have hypnotic powers. Overall, The Hypnotists was an interesting idea, but was also completely unbelievable and what it was lacking is the follow through to make be believe it.

The pacing of the story was quick and a lot of action happens, especially in the first few chapters where we meet Jax on a seemingly out of control bus speeding through the city streets. Adventure and action scenes like this are one of Korman’s strong points but unfortunately it’s the only thing that this book has to offer.

I’m sad to say that the majority of the characters, Jackson included, are not well developed, which is unusual for Korman. Jackson goes from being naive to knowledgeable and wavers between the two the whole time. I found myself more than halfway through the book when I suddenly realized that I just didn’t care about Jax or saving the world from evil hypnotists. Really. And because I had read so much of the book already, and I feel loyal to the author, from that point on I was skimmed the pages just so I could finish it.

I was disappointed in my usually awesome Gordon Korman, but The Hypnotists just doesn’t have much to offer the reader other than a few exciting action scenes and I wouldn’t make this book your introduction to Korman’s books. I do think some of my students will still enjoy anything written by this author because of his normally great track record, and the quick pacing might really appeal to reluctant readers, but I doubt that I’ll be doing much recommending of this one in my library, which is a shame.

Author: Gordon Korman

Publisher: Scholastic Press (August 1, 2013)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 232 pages

Series: First book in The Hypnotists series

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book:

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Shadow Cabinet

Hi!

I honestly can’t believe I haven’t posted about The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson, and how much I want it to be released already!!

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The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen JohnsonAt the end of Maureen Johnson’s New York Times bestselling novel, The Madness Underneath, Rory, Callum and Boo are reeling from the sudden and tragic death of their friend and squad leader, Stephen. The Shadow Cabinet picks up where readers left off, and now Rory is convinced there must be a way to bring Stephen back. Meanwhile, new dangers arise: Rory’s classmate Charlotte is missing, and Jane and her nefarious organization are clearly planning something big—with Rory as their most valuable asset. Time is running out as the ghost squad struggles to protect London and Rory fights to bring Stephen back.

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The Shades of London series is one of my favorite unfinished series out there right now! I’m not normally drawn to creepy reads, but these books combine the right amount of creep with humor, history, romance, and suspense. To make it even better, all of this fun stuff is placed smack dab in the middle of a boarding school in LONDON. YES!!!

According to Goodreads, The Shadow Cabinet isn’t scheduled to release until March 2015. So, we have a bit to wait don’t we?!

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Ups and Downs: The Flame in the Mist by Kitt Grindstaff

Welcome back BookTasty Friends!

I’ve been working pretty hard to get caught up with my book reviews, because as of now I’m still a month or two behind! *GASP* I just read so much faster than I can write a review, which isn’t really a problem! haha

Today’s review is for fantasy read, The Flame in the Mist by Kitt Grindstaff.

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Set in an imagined past, this dark fantasy-adventure is for fans of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass and features Jemma, a fiery-headed heroine held captive in Agromond Castle, yet destined to save mist-shrouded Anglavia.

Fiery-headed Jemma Agromond is not who she thinks she is, and when the secrets The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaffand lies behind her life at mist-shrouded Agromond Castle begin to unravel, she finds herself in a chilling race for her life. Ghosts and misfits, a stone and crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient prophecy—all these reveal the truth about Jemma’s past and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than she could have imagined in her wildest fantasies. With her telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and her trusted friend, Digby, Jemma navigates increasingly dark forces, as helpers both seen and unseen, gather. But in the end, it is her own powers that she must bring to light, for only she has the key to defeating the evil ones and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring back the sun and restore peace in Anglavia.

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Fantasy is most definitely my favorite genre. I just love the idea of different worlds where magic is the norm! Because so many of my favorite books are fantasy, so I was excited to pick up The Flame in the Mist. In the end this book had it’s ups and downs. I didn’t love it, nor did I totally hate it either.

First of all the pacing of Jemma’s story is pretty slow, which was a struggle for me because the book is well over 400 pages (which makes for a long audibook!). It’s not that I don’t have the attention span for slowish story-lines, but Jemma makes two perilously long journeys that just felt like they dragged on and on at times. These journeys were necessary and many significant events occurred on them both, but I found myself thinking that the story could have been condensed a bit to make it seem less sluggish.

Jemma is one of those characters that are, from the beginning, pretty easy to cheer for. Her life has been full of so many secrets and betrayals relating to her detestable family that the reader turns every page with the hope that the Agromonds will get what’s coming to them. Although Jemma is easy to root for however, she isn’t that multifaceted a character, which makes the cast of secondary characters all the more exciting because they all (mostly) are surprisingly complex, especially some of Jemma’s family members. In fact, I believe that one of this book’s strongest qualities is it’s characters. Also, let’s not forget about Jemma’s two sidekick rats, Noodle and Pie – I loved them!

The Flame in the Mist is definitely a middle grades fantasy novel, but will appeal to older fantasy lovers as well. As with most fantasy novels magic is a common theme in this story, but there are times where I wonder if some of the said magic is too dark and creepy for younger middle school readers. Although this wasn’t the best fantasy I’ve read, it was still a fun audiobook to listen to and it kept me entertained.

Author: Kitt Grindstaff

Publisher:  Delacorte Press (April 9, 2013)

Format: Audiobook (Listening Library)

Length: 13 hours and 29 minutes

Narrator(s): Rosalyn Landor

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG/YA

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Young Elites

Hi!

I hope you’re having a good week so far. If you haven’t made time to read a good book yet, what are you waiting for?! Get on it!

This week for Waiting on Wednesday I’m showcasing The Young Elites by Marie Lu.

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Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness The Young Elites by Marie Luswept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

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My husband and I listened to Lu’s Legend trilogy on audiobook together and really, really liked it. So, because I am always a fan of fantasy, and Marie Lu has a great track record so far, I have high hopes for this new fantasy series! The Young Elites is scheduled to release in October 2014, so I only have a few short months to wait!

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Waiting on Wednesday: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Hi there!

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine. It’s set aside as a time to celebrate upcoming new releases that I’m excited about. This week, I’m looking forward to Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the third installment in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie StiefvaterI read the first book, The Raven Boys, in the series and really, really enjoyed it! I was pleasantly surprised by how unique it was among all the other supernatural fiction out there. But then I read The Dream Thieves, the second book in the series, and had issues. Maybe it was just the wrong time for me to read it or something, but we just didn’t mesh. It took me forever to finish it. With that said, I’m definitely interested in Blue Lily, Lily Blue because I’m wondering how the rest of the series will go. I really, really want it to be as good as the first book…I want to love it!

I can’t find a summary anywhere online, so I guess Stiefvater hasn’t released it yet. I’ll have to keep my eyes out for it, but I do know that Blue Lily, Lily Blue is scheduled to be released this coming October.  I’m excited to see how this one goes!

What book are you waiting on this week?

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Lair of Dreams

Happy Wednesday!

We are getting closer and closer to the end of the school year! In my district there is only about 5 weeks left! It’s pretty amazing just how quickly this year has sped by…as cliche as that sounds.

I recently read The Diviners by Libba Bray and was completely and utterly entranced by it! Lair of Dreams by Libba BraySo, I’m trying to be patient, but I just can’t wait for book two in the series, Lair of Dreams, to release in 2015!

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities. Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

Pretty much anything set in the 1920s will make me a happy reader, and I can’t wait to see where Evie’s story goes next! Too bad I have so long to wait!

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Plain and Simple: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

PorchWell hi there!

The weather is beautiful today in South Carolina! So, I’m writing this review from my front porch basking in the late afternoon light. Le sigh…Fridays are great!

Okay, so today’s review is all about Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFevers, which is anything but “plain and simple”.

When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge – but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for.

This whole historical fantasy thing that LaFevers has going on is right up my alley. Sybella lives in Dark Triumph by Robin LaFeversmedieval Brittany in the middle of a resistance to French rule and is loyal to the twelve year old Duchess Anne who has recently been forced into rule due to the death of her father. Mixed in with this historical narrative, LaFevers mixes in a bit of the supernatural focused mostly on the convent on St.  Mortain, the god of death, and his method of communicating with his assassins. I have always been a bit of a history buff and adore the fantasy genre, so swirling the two together makes me happy!

Sybella isn’t as likable or sympathetic a character as Ismae is in book one, Grave Mercy and I wavered over whether I liked her story or not because of this part of her character. As you spend more and more time with her however, you begin to see the pieces of humanity within Sybella that she herself has shut away and is blind to. She has this strength to her that one can only get from tangling with harsh realities. I grew to like her more and more.

As you might expect in a story about “assassin nuns” Dark Triumph is full of action, suspense, and intrigue. Life inside Sybella’s father’s court is full of your usual gossip and social climbing but amidst those things there are much darker forces at play and Sybella is an incredibly experienced spy, assassin, and courtier who knows how to play the game to survive. Because Sybella will do whatever it takes to survive you know that she has little trouble using poisons, garrotes, or knives to complete a necessary task and you never know who will show up next on Sybella’s “hit list”.  Basically, Sybella is a bad@$$! Plain and simple.

And let’s not forget the romance. If I had the ability to add emojis into my blog posts (is this possible?!) I totally would be giving the little “thumbs up” one right now. Yes. The romance is good.

If you’re searching for your next read and you want to be completely riveted to the story you need to check out the His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers. Don’t read Dark Triumph (because it’s book 2, silly!) until after you’ve read Grave Mercy, but you should totally read them both! I actually listened to them on audio, so if you’re into audiobooks or want to get started these books are quality introductions!

Author: Robin LaFevers

Publisher: Recorded Books (April 19, 2013)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 13 hours and 36 minutes

Narrator(s): Angela Goethals

Series: Second in the “His Fair Assassin” series

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book:

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Waiting on Wednesday: Gods and Monsters

Hiya!

It’s time for another Waiting on Wednesday.

I have no idea how this series has snuck up on me. I wasn’t a big fan of the first book (Daughter of Smoke & Bone) but only listened to the second book (Days of Blood & Starlight) because I needed an audiobook. It turns out I really, really, really liked book two, so now I’m officially waiting on Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor.

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylorsteering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love. But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz … something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

I admit, the cover kinda freaks me out, but I need to know what happens next in Karou’s story!

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Falconer

Hello!

It’s time for another Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine) and today I’m showcasing The Falconer by Elizabeth May.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844. Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother. Now it’s the 1844 The Falconer by Elizabeth Maywinter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

I’m always in the mood for a fantasy read and The Falconer sounds like it could be a good one! I love the fact that this one takes place in 19th century Scotland because you know, I just don’t think there are enough books that take place in Scotland! Haha

Is anyone else excited for The Falconer?  If so, you’ll have to wait until May 6 to read this one…May is soon right?!

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A Sometimes Predictable Page Turner: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Grumpy Cat Dislikes Valentine's DayAwww…I hope you aren’t left alone with Grumpy Cat today!

In college I devoured Philippa Gregory’s shocking Wideacre trilogy (I totally don’t recommend that series…just trust me) and The Other Boleyn Girl pretty quickly. I love historical fiction, especially when it involves some romance thrown in there for good measure. So, when I heard Gregory had written a Young Adult novel, I was intrigued. Well, this YA novel, Changeling, was at my Fall Book Fair so I knew I had to buy myself a copy…to help the kids of course! :)

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger Changeling by Philippa Gregoryin its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

Philippa Gregory’s books, simply put, are fun travels through time, nothing more and I’m pretty sure I read Changeling in a manner of days. I was hooked from the beginning when you meet Luca in his medieval prison cell.  We quickly learn of The Order of the Dragon, a real religious order specially selected and tasked with defending Christianity from it’s enemies, which of course was a big deal in medieval Europe. Luca is so ready to be rid of his charge of heresy that he accepts the “call” to this order without really knowing anything about it. So, he is sent off to travel Europe to learn about the things Christians fear.

Enter Isolde, her mysterious ladies’ maid and the nunnery she is forced into.  Enter romance (wink wink)! Also, enter the mystery.  The nuns are having strange visions, there is talk of werewolves, witches and other heretical occurrences. What the reader gets is a historcial mystery that is so engrossing you really can’t stop turning the pages! I had to know what was really going on in this nunnery!

The burgeoning romance between Isolde and Luca is interesting because it’s forbidden. Both have committed to the monastic life, although each was forced into it in different ways. Romantic love is not a possibility for them, even though it’s staring them in the face. Gah! The tension and frustration was fun, but also incredibly predictable. There is another romance brewing however, that is a little more interesting and less predictable.

Okay, so Changeling wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it was entertaining and intriguing. It’s kind of like a YA Davinci Code, a page turner you can’t help but enjoy and I’m definitely down for continuing the series.

Author: Philippa Gregory

Publisher: Simon Pulse (May 24, 2012)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 256 pages

Series: First book in The Order of Darkness series

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Changeling (Order of Darkness 1) by Gregory. Philippa ( 2013 ) Paperback