Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Trailer Tuesday (23)

I like the unusual video game-style animation of this video - it really works.  Plus the little "dead stylish, dead powerful, dead," quotes were pretty funny.  Overall, I thought this video was clever, intriguing, and unique.  What do you think of this video?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: The Iron Thorn

This book counts towards the Debut Author challenge.

Aoife Grayson's time is running out.  She lives in Lovecroft, in what was once America, where a great engine turns underneath the streets to provide steam and aether to power the city.  She studies to be an engineer, but she knows that she will never truly become one.  Her mother is locked up in an asylum and her brother tried to kill her; the same madness, a dormant form of the necrovirus, lives in her blood.  When she turns sixteen, she, too will go mad.

But a few weeks before her birthday, she gets a letter from her brother.  Find the witch's alphabet.  Save yourself.  To save her brother - and her sanity - Aoife will have to flee the Proctors and escape her city.  She will have to survive ghouls and all sorts of dark necrovirus monsters.  She will have to open the gate between worlds - and she will have to save them both.  Or go mad trying...


Loved it to death.  The steampunk elements were tasteful and cool, the faerie world(s) were awesome, the characters were interesting and unique... overall: awesome.


I liked the plot, and I loved the twist/twisted ending.  It was gripping, exciting, fast-paced... yeah, it was pretty cool.


I took off a star here because I didn't like Dean all that much.  He seemed kind of shallow - not self-absorbed, just like there wasn't a lot of depth to him, nothing really interesting.  That would have been fine if he was a side character or something, but I expect a little more from a love interest.  Cal was cool, until his secret was revealed, and then he transitioned to amazing.  Aoife herself was pretty neat, a strong kickass heroine with an interesting Weird (magic gift.)  The side characters and villain(s) were also quite well done.



End Result: five stars.  A really excellent book.  Read it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

It's my birthday!

Review: The Hollow Kingdom

When the newly-orphaned Kate and Emily arrive at the Hallow Hill estate, they have no idea of the dark secrets it holds.  Young women have been vanishing from the Hill for thousands of years, never to be seen again.  They quickly discover the truth of the legends, however, when they are lost in the woods and stumble upon a group of goblins.

Marak, the King of the goblins, is clever, sarcastic, and ugly.  He wastes no time in setting his sights on Kate - for the goblin King needs a non-goblin bride.  Kate is determined to escape the monster who is determined to capture her... but sometimes it's hard to tell who the real monsters are...

Entertainment: ★★★★★

Well, I enjoyed this book.  Adored it.  Absolutely fell in love.  I can't pinpoint what exactly I loved so much about The Hollow Kingdom, but I know it's going in a place of pride on my shelf of favorite books.

Plot: ★★★★

The plot would've had five stars, except for a time jump that was disappointing (I felt like I missed a significant chunk of relationship development between Marak and Kate.)  Also, the first and second half of the book were a little disjointed.  That said, it was an entertaining, exciting plot that I enjoyed reading.  It was also quite unique.

Characters: ★★★★

I liked Marak very much, and I liked Kate too.  Kate was an interesting mix: feisty, and yet still able to scream and faint with the best of the well-bred ladies.  It's nice to have a heroine that's not impervious to everything, and yet also doesn't melt into a puddle of gushing goo the moment she meets her Soul Mate.  Marak was sarcastic and rude and yet somehow totally charming; one of the best love interests I've read in a while, not overly pefect (come on, he's downright ugly) and yet he still makes you fall in love.  I took off a few points since I didn't find the final villain at all interesting or threatening, but the rest of the characters were wonderful.

Writing: ★★★★★

The description is really masterful - I could picture every scene, every setting, every character, and yet somehow the description doesn't bog down the story at all.  The dialogue is entertaining yet doesn't sound fake, and as mentioned above I was very impressed with the characters.  Overall, Dunkle has done a truly amazing job with this book, and I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

End Result: five stars.  A really excellent book.  Read it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Review: Death Mill Mansion, A Light-Hearted Comedy

This book counts towards the Shifter challenge.

You've read about them, seen them in movies, you know how they work.  Big, mysterious mansions atop a lonely hill that induce mysterious car trouble for anyone traveling alone at night.  You go to knock on the door and ask for a phone, and you disappear forever.

Robbie, predictably, experiences car trouble while driving past one such a mansion late at night.  He promptly finds himself trapped in a house of robots, vampires, werewolves, old ladies with secret agendas, ghosts, psychos, musical squid, and a whole host of other creatures.  But Robbie isn't just going to sit back and disappear without a fight...


This book is hilarious.  It's snarky, clever, and unique.  I loved it.


Although essentially Death Mill Mansion is a compilation of cliches, it still manages to be intelligent, interesting, unique, and exciting.


I loved how the authors turn cliches on their heads, sometimes exaggerating them (one of my particular favorites: the main characters attract a vampire by dressing a female party member in a nightgown and putting her in an old-fashioned bedroom; the vampire arrives within minutes, irresistibly drawn) sometimes overturning them, and in general breathing new life into them.


I don't think I've ever read anything similar (except maybe Terry Pratchett) and I absolutely loved it.  There were hilarious footnotes (books with footnotes are almost always great), I could visualize everything perfectly, and I enjoyed reading the book which is of course the most important thing.

End Result: five stars.  A really excellent book.  Read it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Author Interview: Daniel Coleman's Book Picks

First, a brief biography of Daniel:

When he’s not firefighting, Daniel Coleman spends his free time jumping genres in fiction. In 2006 he discovered small-town living and isn’t looking back. Jabberwockya novellais available now (and the ebook is only $.99 on Amazon and Smashwords; the paperback is only $4.99 on Amazon.)  Hatter comes out June 10th.  If you’ve got a few hours to kill he’d be happy to discuss PEZ, ice cream, or Scrabble.

Now, on to the books!

Thanks for the invite, Novapsych.  I could go on for days about my favorite books, but I’ll try to quit before your readers pull out the virtual rotten vegetables.   
Let’s start with some classics.
Les Miserables is probably my favorite book.  It’s emotionally impacting and the characters are so easy to identify with.  Victor Hugo knew how to put his characters through the ringer. 
My best friend, a 20 something-year-old guy, recommended Jane Eyre.  I laughed and called him a wuss, but a year later I picked it up and had a hard time putting it down. 

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is an amazing glimpse into the duality of man.  And, it’s a novella (short novel), like my book, Jabberwocky.   
Okay, on to more recent books.

I loved 
Ender’s Game as a teenager and I still love it.  I read the Harry Potter series as an adult and I am in awe of the world J.K. Rowling built.  I finally read Jurassic Park a few years ago.  As a science guy, I love how Crichton made the science behind genetic engineering so approachable for the layman. 

I love everything I’ve ever read by Neil Gaiman.  I can’t think of any books that beat the creativity and storytelling of Neverwhere and American Gods.   

I follow quite a few Utah authors.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting them at conventions and conferences across the state.  Brandon Sanderson, Larry Correia, Dan Wells, James Dashner.  Being a friend or fan of these authors makes their books much more enjoyable.  And even though I’m biased, you can’t go wrong with any of their books 

While I tend to write and read Fantasy, the genre matters much less than the quality of the book.  Pillars of the Earth is an unmatched historical fiction.  John Adams and 1776 made history come to life for me.  Somehow David McCullough wrote textbooks that read like novels.  The Help is a great glimpse into life in the South in the Civil Rights Era from three different viewpoints.  I’ve studied viewpoint considerably and haven’t seen anyone pull it off better than Kathryn Stockett.  

I just can’t stop!  Here are a few more: The Screwtape LettersThe Hunger GamesLone SurvivorAtlas ShruggedLonesome DoveThe Princess Bride, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy all get 5 stars in my book. 

Thanks for dropping by, Daniel!  Great picks - especially Ender's Game and The Princess Bride.  Those are some of my favorites too!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: Jabberwocky

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves, 
Did gyre and gymble in the wabe: 
All mimsy were the borogroves, 
And the mome raths outgrabe.

You know the poem, but do you know the story behind it?  The story of Tjaden, a brave young man; Elora, his sweetheart; and, of course, the monstrous... Jabberwocky.


I've always loved that epitome of delightful nonsense, Jabberwocky.  It's one of my very favorite poems.  I was thrilled to discover an entire novel about it!

I thought Coleman put a wonderful spin on the poem - never straying too far from the wording of the poem but at the same time giving it new life and new meaning.  I've never read a book based on a poem before, so I don't really have any standard of comparison - but I loved, loved, loved Jabberwocky (the novel).


Admittedly, it's hard to have a surprising or exciting plot when the poem has spoiled the ending for your whole audience.  Still, I thought it could have been a bit more interesting than it was, as in and of itself the plot came off as rather average.


Tjaden was fabulous.  He was brave and all that, like you'd expect from a hero, but he was also modest and determined and had lots of other admirable traits.  He was easy to cheer for!  Elora and the other side characters were also well written, and the villain was believable and easy to dislike.


On the one hand, there was a slightly awkward sense to the writing.  Some of the sentence phrasing and things like that - well, it just didn't flow as smoothly as it could have.  That said, it was overall pretty well written.  Plus, there was some really great wordplay in there.  And Coleman used the odd words from the poem in creative and fun ways.

End Result: four stars.  A good book, definitely worth your time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday

One summer night in Vermont, 12-year-old Lisa went into the woods behind her house and never came out again. Before she disappeared, she told her little brother Sam about a door that led to a magical place where she would meet the King of the Fairies and become his queen.

Fifteen years later, Phoebe is in love with Sam , a practical, sensible man who doesn’t fear the dark and doesn’t have bad dreams—who, in fact, helps Phoebe ignore her own. But suddenly they are faced with a series of eerie, unexplained occurrences that challenge Sam’s hard-headed, realistic view of the world. As they question their reality, a terrible promise Sam made years ago is revealed and could destroy them all.

The description actually made me shiver a little. This book sounds interesting and delightfully creepy.  What do you think - will you be reading Don't Breathe a Word when it comes out?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Trailer Tuesday (22)

I love the music for this trailer - slightly tinny music-box music.  It fits the whole Gothic air of the trailer quite well.  The music was my favorite part, but I also liked the little teaser sentences - really makes me curious about the book.  Overall, I liked this trailer - and now I want to read Eternal.  What did you think of this trailer?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: Soulless

This book counts towards the Shifter challenge.

Miss Alexia Tarabotti is a spinster in Victorian London. After all, who would want a woman with scandalous Italian heritage and far too much wit than is strictly good for her?  And that doesn't even mention the secret that Alexia is a preternatural - she doesn't have a soul, which gives her the ability to neutralize the powers of supernaturals like vampires and werewolves.  As a result of this power, Alexia is unwillingly dragged into a supernatural struggle.  With vampires and werewolves disappearing and murderous new beings appearing, all of London is in danger - none more so than Alexia herself.  With her trusty parasol in hand, Alexia will have to take on evil scientists and monsters she never imagined - not to mention one very handsome Alpha werewolf who is taking quite an interest in her...


Hands-down awesome.  A funny, witty, clever, steampunk-supernatural novel with a cool heroine, some action scenes, and a great romance.


I actually expected the romance to be much more marginal and the action to be the focus of the story, not the other way around, so that was a little surprising.  But it worked out all right and made for an enjoyable story.  There were twists, there was dramatic tension, there was romantic tension, and there was a nice ending.  Or at least I thought it was nice.  Overall, a well-done plot.


I liked Alexia, I loved Lord Akeldama, I thought the villain was pretty good, and I thought most of the side characters were quite well done.  I'm still neutral about Lord Maccon, the love interest, but other than that I liked the rest of the cast.


I loved the "quaint" writing, the clever dialogue, and the entertaining, light-hearted tone.  That said, there were a few things that bothered me: some obvious anachronisms, and an odd narration style. When the two romantic leads were together, they alternated narrating the story by switching viewpoints each paragraph, which was a little jarring and kind of confusing.  That said, though, Soulless was pretty well written.

End Result: four stars.  A good book, definitely worth your time.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Review: Raised by Wolves

This book counts towards the Shifter challenge.

Bryn was adopted into a werewolf pack as a child after her family was killed by a Rabid, a crazy loner wolf.  Now a teenager, she struggles to stay independent and human and her, despite the constant pressure from the pack to fit in and give in to the dominance hierarchy.  She is constantly stuck on the line between being loyal to Callum, the pack's Alpha, and becoming a mindless servant.

But everything changes when Bryn discovers Chase, a boy in a cage.  Chase, a werewolf that used to be human; Chase, transformed in a vicious attack by another Rabid; Chase, who should be impossible.  Bryn finds herself irresistibly drawn to Chase, who seems to feel the same.  Bryn finds herself defying the only family she's ever known in order to be with Chase...


Although the book's summary didn't blow me away - I was expecting a cliche Twilight-esque romance - in reality it turned out much, much better than I thought.  The romance wasn't too over-the-top, the characters were unique and interesting, and the villain was quite well done.  Overall, a good book.


It was a bit cheesy at times, but at others intense, emotional, and exciting.  So it balanced out to a pretty interesting plot.


Chase was pretty cool - he was interesting, and he had a personality, and he had flaws, but he was still relatable.  I liked him.  I'm still not decided about Bryn - at times she was fierce and cool, at others spoiled and annoying and naive.  So I haven't actually made up my mind whether I like her.  The villain was awesome, many of the side characters were unique and interesting, and Callum was pretty awesome.  Overall, a good cast (with the possible exception of Bryn herself.)


Well-written, except for the psychic bits (when the characters were in each others' heads, I got confused fast.)  But otherwise, decently written.

End Result: four stars.  A good book, definitely worth your time.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Review: The Iron Witch

This book counts towards the Debut Author challenge.

Donna Underwood is homeschooled, and she always wears long gloves that cover her arms.  Her father was killed in the same horrific accident that mangled her arms; and magical iron tattoos now cover her hands and forearms.  She spends her time learning alchemy and hanging out with her only friend Navin.

But when Navin is kidnapped by wood elves, Donna is forced to re-enter the magical world of the fey.  With the gorgeous half-human Xan by her side, she will do anything to save Navin...


It was just absolutely average.  Seriously, it seemed like every single YA book I've read in the past two months were put into a blender and made into a generic YA novel that was written following a script. The only slightly unique aspect of of the story was the alchemy, and that was hardly explored at all.


As just mentioned - there was really nothing new to it.  The love triangle, especially, with mysteriously powerful and angsty gorgeous guy and comfortable slightly-nerdy best-friend archetypes, was just obnoxious.


Donna was weird.  She was absolutely bipolar, going from one extreme emotion to another in the space of a sentence and switching personalities and behavior so quickly I couldn't keep up.  Also, the girl was ditzy.  She's in a dangerous, life-threatening situation where she's betraying her family and everything she's ever known - and she pauses to reflect on Xan's super-hotness.  And she said and did several other things that just made me want to hit her with a copy of her own book.

The other characters - well, when they got any mention besides omg Xan is soooo sexy!! - were quite bland.  I still don't know much about any of them.


It was okay.

End Result: two stars.  I was not impressed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review: The Devouring

Fifteen-year-old Reggie is working at a horror-story bookstore, going to school, and mothering her little brother Henry.  Since her mom ran off, it feels like she's the only one holding their family together.  She's getting tired and frustrated and is sure things coudn't get worse.

And then one night she discovers the Vours.  Reading about them in a mad woman's journal, she thinks they sound pretty cool: creatures that invade human bodies on Sorry Night, a night in December, and then use the bodies as puppets to spread fear.  As a game, she tries to summon the Vours with her friend Aaron.  She doesn't expect a Vour to actually appear - or to attack her little brother.  Henry's personality is completely different - he's mutilating his stuffed animals, possibly killing neighbors, and scheming to make sure Reggie can't do anything about it.  Reggie is determined to fight off the Vour and save Henry... but can she ever actually win against fear itself?

Entertainment: ★

I actually didn't want to finish.  The gore was at times over the top, and I wasn't really scared by any aspect of the story.

Plot: ★

From the first three chapters, I predicted the exact ending with nearly 100% accuracy.  The foreshadowing was kind of obvious.  There wasn't any real suspense.  Also, some parts I just didn't understand.

Characters: ★★

Henry was mildly interesting as a Vour, but only mildly.  The rest of the characters were all just bland.  The characters that were supposed to have a big twist, or something, weren't actually surprising.  Reggie was downright boring.  Aaron's non-personality made him an extremely disappointing love interest - at least, I assume that's what he is, since the author shoved kept shoving Reggie and Aaron together.  I didn't connect with or care about any of the characters.

Writing: ★★

See the above comment about the gore.  To be scary, you need to have either intense psychological terror or extremely well-done gore.  Holt seemed to settle for half-hearted gore, which mainly came off as gross instead of scary.  Also, the characterization was disappointing, the descriptions confusing, and the foreshadowing obvious.  I just couldn't get in to The Devouring at all, and by the end I wasn't at all scared.

End Result: two stars.  I was not impressed.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday

Description from GoodreadsClarinet Reid is a pretty typical teenager. On the surface. She’s smart, but a bit of slacker; outgoing, but just a little insecure; not exactly a mischief-maker… but trouble tends to find her wherever she goes. Also? She unwittingly carries a centuries-old Druid Blood Curse running through her veins. 

Now, with a single thoughtless act, what started off as the Summer Vacation in Dullsville suddenly spirals into a deadly race to find a stolen artifact, avert an explosive catastrophe, save a Celtic warrior princess, right a dreadful wrong that happened centuries before Clare was even born, and if there’s still time—literally—maybe even get a date. 

This is the kind of adventure that happens to a girl once every… never.

Wow, this sounds like one fun little adrenaline rush of a book!  I'll definitely be reading it when it comes out - will you?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Trailer Tuesday (21)

Great music, gorgeous undersea special effects, exciting teasers - what's not to love?  Dark Life was one of the first books I reviewed on novapsych; I was thrilled to discover that it had such an excellent book trailer!  What did you think of this video?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Review: Another Pan

John and Wendy Darling are students at the prestigious Marlowe School for the rich, fabulous, and special - and being neither rich nor fabulous nor particularly special, they are only allowed to attend because their father is a teacher there.  John is determined to spend the year reinventing himself as a cool guy, not just a scrawny dweeb.  Wendy just wants to get a job, do well in school, and stay with her steady (if unexciting) boyfriend Connor.

Both their plans are derailed with the arrival of Peter.  The new RA, Peter is dangerous, sexy, exciting: everything Wendy secretly wants and everything John secretly wants to be.  Peter has come searching for an ancient Egyptian book, a book housed at Marlowe, a book which can open a gate to the underworld.  Peter wants the secret to eternal life.  The Dark Lady wants to corrupt the human world.  John wants an adventure, and he's convinced the underworld will make him cooler.  Wendy just wants things back to normal - and she wants Peter to look at her the way he looks at his sidekick Tina...

Entertainment: ★★★★

It was confusing, but really exciting, and I loved both the ties to Egyptian mythology and history, and the Peter Pan story.

Plot: ★★

Frankly I spent the first half of the book with only a vague understanding of what on earth was going on.  Maybe the first two-thirds.  The plot gets bonus points for being exciting and fast-paced and interesting, but loses a lot for being just too confusing.

Characters: ★★★★★

Okay, Peter is officially my favorite character ever.  First of all, I loved how he was updated for a modern story - his LBs (Lost Boys, but shortened for texting) have become a network of teenagers from all around the world.  Peter is constantly clued in to everything that goes on, everywhere.  Also, as a character, he was just plain badass.  I loved reading about him.

Otherwise, I thought the twist on the crocodile was clever and amusing.  I thought John was both relatable and a little pitiable, a very rare character type.  The villain was actually rather creepy.  Also, did I mention that I loved Peter?

Writing: ★★★

It was, overall, pretty well written.

End Result: four stars.  A good book, definitely worth your time.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Review: Poser

When Tallulah moves from Florida to California, all she wants is to fit in.  So when the most popular girl in school asks if she surfs, a little lie kind of slips out.  A lie that snowballs into a huge mess.  When Tallulah is exposed as a surfing newbie, the whole school labels her a poser.  The student body seems to be united in making her miserable.  So Tallulah is forced to take drastic measures...

Entertainment: ★★★★

It was cute.  A little shallow for my tastes, but enjoyable.

Plot: ★★★★

I loved the concept of this plot.  A character gets herself into trouble and then gets herself out.  I'm a little bored with characters thrown into situations they have no control over, and characters that have their problems solved by somebody/something else.  No, Tallulah makes her own mess and then works her butt off to clean it up.  It's a nice message and a nice change of pace from most YA novels.

That aside, it was interesting, a little predictable towards the end, but interesting overall.

Characters: ★★

They were just a little overdone.  Jenna is a little too stereotypical blonde insecure mean girl, Katie is just a little too weird, Coco is just a little too evil, and Corey is just a little too perfect.  Unfortunately they come off as pretty cliche.

Writing: ★★★

It would've got four stars, but it was a little casual valley-girl and I guess I prefer my writing a little more formal.

End Result: three stars.  A decent book, but not amazingly excellent.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Review: Rapture of the Deep

Jacky's been a beggar, a pirate, a thief, an artist, a dancer, a ship's boy, a lady, a prisoner, a captain, and a spy.  Now, she gets to add treasure hunter to the list.  The British Intelligence service kidnaps her on her wedding day and sets her to bringing back to the light thousands of pounds of long-lost Spanish gold.  Of course, with handsome Spanish pirates, cruel Spanish warships, lots of pretty gold, and her very own true love Jaimy Fletcher... Jacky's in for quite an adventure.

Entertainment: ★★★★★

I've become quite the devoted fan of this series.

Plot: ★★★★

I love how Jacky doesn't just let life pass her by - she stands up for herself, makes the best of things, and finds adventures everywhere.  She makes this good old pirates, guns, and treasure story new and exciting again.

Characters: ★★★★

You can't help but love Jacky.  She knows she's smart and she knows she looks good, and she uses both to full advantage.  She's got a weak spot for handsome men.  She's quite a sinner.  And yet she's really just an ordinary girl trying to do well for herself - a character I imagine people everywhere can relate to all too easily.  The side characters were less interesting, but Jacky really shone.

Writing: ★★★★

Meyer has a wonderfully light, entertaining writing style.  Sometimes it slips into some overly casual slang, which I usually don't like - but it works for Meyer's style and Jacky's voice.  There's just something very appealing about the writing.

End Result: four stars.  A good book, definitely worth your time.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Review: Snakecharm

This book counts towards the Shifter challenge.

Zane Cobriana and Danica Shardae have united their warring kingdoms of bird and snake shape shifters in an unease peace with their marriage.  It should be happily ever after, right?  But nothing is ever that easy.  Although Zane and Danica have come to love each other, their people are still uneasy and wary of each other - and of their rulers.  Both queen and king have had to survive multiple assassination attempts from their own subjects, angry about the peace and angry about the prospect of Danica's unborn child - an unheard-of half-breed - taking either throne.

Now a falcon has arrived in their court.  Ancient, unimaginably powerful, and cruel, the falcon is searching for a falcon traitor she claims is hiding among the serpiente or the avians.  But this traitor may be just an excuse for the falcons to stir up trouble and destroy the fragile, hard-won peace...

Entertainment: ★★★

It was a short, happy, positive-message-having read.  A nice way to kill a few hours.

Characters: ★★

There was simply not a lot of characterization.  I didn't really feel like I got to know any of the characters, which was disappointing, given that they all seemed to have interesting starting points and I really would have liked to learn more about them.

Plot: ★★★★

It was pretty interesting, and I thought it had a fabulous message about acceptance, getting along, and lovely things like that.  Messages which frankly more people need to hear.  And those messages weren't shoved down my throat, either, they were blended seamlessly into the story.

Writing: ★★★

It was pretty well-written, I thought.

End Result: three stars.  A decent book, but not amazingly excellent.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday

Description, courtesy of AmazonMaddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.

Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

This sounds like a sweet, touching little read about a dystopia that's not too different from today...  And the cover is pretty intriguing, too.  I'll be reading Awaken when it comes out - will you?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Trailer Tuesday (20)

I've only recently started reading the Keys to the Kingdom series, but I love it!  And wow, is this trailer perfect for the series!  A bit creepy, a lot whimsical, just a little jarring - it's amazing.  I love the music, which fits perfectly, and the art is spectacular.  New favorite book trailer?  I think so.  What do you think of this trailer?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Review: My Bonny Light Horseman

Jacky Faber - beggar, sailor, musician, jockey, painter, fine lady, pirate, girl - has finally been captured by her old enemy, the British Intelligence Service.  After faking her death, they send her off to France.  Napoleon is well on his way to conquering the world, and Jacky herself has been sent to spy on him.  Jacky is better at being a spy than anyone expected, and in just a few weeks finds herself - disguised as a boy again - working as a messenger for Napoleon himself...

Entertainment: ★★★★

Another exciting, fun installment in an excellent series.

Plot: ★★★

Meyer loves to use fortuitous coincidences - miraculous occurrences surround Jacky, defying the laws of time, space and probability.  I don't really like stories made up of a series of wonderful coincidences.  However, to be fair, only about half Jacky's luck is really luck - the other half she works hard for and makes for herself.  So in the end I was pretty neutral about the plot: a lot of coincidences I didn't really like, but also some romance, some adventure, and some excitement that I really did like.

Characters: ★★★★

I love Jacky to death - she's one of my favorite protagonists of all time.  I do take minor issue with the fact that nearly every male character either falls in love with her or is willing to die to protect her, but I'm willing to look over that because Jacky's just plain awesome.  She makes an effort to be good - and all she wants, really, is to live a good, simple, quiet life - but when adventure happens to her she takes it in stride, makes the best of the situation, and has a good time.

Writing: ★★★★

Meyer does an excellent job of painting pictures with words - as cliche as that sounds - and really brings the story to life.

End Result: four stars.  A good book, definitely worth your time.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Review: Capt. Hook

James arrives at Eton an intelligent, angry, and vindictive young man.  Bastard son of a lord that ignores him and a dead mother, he wastes no time in arranging himself as King Jas.: hero of his class and bane of his superiors.  He's handsome, superior, manipulative, and clever.

King Jas. could have been happy at Eton, but he dreams constantly of a beautiful fantasy island he called Neverland. So after falling in love, exacting revenge on his tormentor Arthur Darling, and learning to control spiders, James flees Eton and sets sail for his eventual destiny as Captain Hook.

Entertainment: ★★

I read the first few chapters, happily enjoying myself, thinking, "Oh, what a clever spin on the Captain Hook storyline!"  And then, frankly, it got weird.  Even tacky.  First James's blue eyes turn red when he's angry.  Then his blood is yellow.  Then he learns to control spiders with whistling.  I think at that point I actually put the book down and thought, "What the heck?"

And it got weirder from there.  Not in a good way.


 Maybe this book was intended for a much younger audience.  Because frankly I couldn't take the plot seriously.  I just kept thinking, "Really? Really?  Is he serious?" as I was turning the pages.


As previously mentioned, James is gorgeous, incredibly clever, has color-changing eyes, can control spiders for no apparent reason, and basically is the definition of a Mary-Sue (or Gary-Stu, if you prefer.)  If you haven't heard the term Mary-Sue, it refers to a character that is overly, obnoxiously perfect.  Google it and you'll see what I mean.

James also has an unhealthy obsession with the guillotine.  He was actually very unpleasantly macabre at times.  He also decides at a drop of a hat that his life is not worth living without a girl he just met.  This girl, of course, is a Sultana - a princess - who doesn't want to be royal and just wants to ride horses and fight and tomboyish things like that.

I don't think the word cliche can express all of my feelings towards these characters.  Ridiculous  might do a better job.  Honestly the characterization alone made finishing this book very, very difficult.

Writing: ★★

Aside from all the weirdness mentioned above, some fairly noticeable grammar errors, and some very oddly written dialects, I suppose the writing wasn't too bad, technically at least.

End Result: two stars.  I was not impressed.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Review: My Sparkling Misfortune

After being tricked by a hero (in a rather un-heroic way), Lord Arkus is on the run.  He's a villain, the worst of the worst, and so of course he intends to get revenge.  To do so, he captures a dark spirit...

Except he made a mistake.  The spirit turns out to be a sparkling named Tulip, a good and kind creature that helps out great heroes.  Now, everything Arkus does is construed as a good deed.  Kings and maidens are showering him with love and admiration... how's a villain supposed to stay evil like this?

Entertainment: ★★★★

It was quite witty, a very funny twist to the cliche old hero-and-villain fairy tales, and also surprisingly touching.  Although it was short, it packed a pretty big punch.

Plot: ★★★

A sweet little story.

Characters: ★★★★

I liked Arkus quite a bit - how much trouble he went to to look like a bad guy when really, he was kind of nice.  Tulip was alright - a little weird, but cool too.  I really liked the "heroic" prince, and how un-heroic he turned out to be; in fact, he was the real villain of the story!

Writing: ★★

I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style, particularly the double punctuation (??, ?!, !!), since I usually prefer more formal writing.  Not to say it was badly written - it wasn't - it just wasn't to my personal taste.

End Result: three stars.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Blog Hop, Follow Friday!

Hi, blog hoppers, welcome to novapsych!

Book Blogger Hop

Follow Friday Question: 

What character in a book would you most like to be, what character in a book would you most like to date?

Who would I most like to be... well, I'm probably going to have to go with Tally Youngblood from the Uglies series.  First of all because she's awesome; secondly because although she has adventures, she doesn't have any really horrible traumas like most YA heroines do.  

Now, who would I like to date.  Hmmm, that's tricky... mostly because there's so many amazing(ly hot) guys in novels!  I'm torn between a few.  Mr. Darcy is the obvious first answer, but really that's pretty cliche.  Jace (City of Bones) is pretty cool too - funny, smart, talented, and gorgeous.  And of course, if I'm Tally Youngblood, I get to choose between kind David and awesome Zane, both of whom I am a little bit in love with already.  Really, I can't narrow that list down any more!  Can I just have all of them, please?

Blog Hop Question: 
Which book blogger would you most like to meet in real life?

Oh, wow, I don't even know.  I guess "all thirty-something bloggers I follow" isn't a very good answer.  Let's see, I suppose if I had to pick it would be either Parajunkee or The Story Siren, because they were the main inspiration for me to start a book blog.  

Review: Hawksong

This book counts towards the Shifter challenge.

Danica Shardae is an avian, a human-hawk shapeshifter.  She is the princess, soon to be queen, of the avians.  It will be her job to rule them and to lead them in their endless war against the serpiente.  Her heart breaks at the violence and bloodshed that constantly surround her, but she knows of no way to end it.
Zane Cobriana is graceful, lethal, and powerful: the image of a serpiente prince.  He scares Danica like nothing ever has before.  And yet, he has approached her to ask for peace.  Danica is a queen without a king.  Zane is a king without a queen.  If they want to end the killing, they will have to unite the royal families into one.  But that means learning to trust, and trust may the one thing Danica can't give...

Entertainment: ★★★

It was a nice quick little read, a sweet semi-romance.

Plot: ★★★

It's fairly predictable, really not any surprises.  Of course, I read it expecting it to be predictable and I enjoyed it for its predictable-ness - if that makes any sense.  So if you want a nice familiar-seeming read, Hawksong might be for you.

Characters: ★★★

Zane was pretty cool - I have to admit I fell for him a bit, even in only 243 pages.  Sadly Danica didn't really hold up her end of the romance - she was just a little too distant.  I couldn't really empathize with her.  But Zane was cool.

I also liked the well-thought-out cultures and the differences between them.  The world-building, culture-wise, was quite interesting.

Writing: ★★

Atwater-Rhodes has an interesting, unique style that's pretty enjoyable to read.

End Result: three stars.  A decent book, but not amazingly excellent.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson is average, going about his high school career as unnoticed as possible.  The only special thing about him, really, is his friendship with Tiny.  Tiny is huge and hugely, proudly gay.

Will Grayson is a loner, angry and unhappy and venemously antisocial.  The only thing he enjoys is talking with Isaac, a boy he met online and fell in love with.

When the Will Graysons accidentally meet one unhappy night in Chicago, their lives entertwine suprisingly.

Entertainment: ★★

This book was just... I don't know.  It had a cool cover and what sounded like a cool premise, plus I've read good things by both authors before.  Will Grayson, Will Grayson just seemed kind of... pointless.

Plot: ★★

Like I just said, there just wasn't much point to the plot.  And I couldn't bring myself to care about whether or not it would all end happily.  And when it did end, in a rather cliche way, I wasn't impressed.

Characters: ★

Will One was a wimp, Will Two was an emo wimp, Tiny was literally and figuratively larger than life (and not in a good way)... and the side characters were just boring.  I couldn't connect with any of them, and I didn't want to either.  And the "romance" was severely lacking on so many levels.

Writing: ★★★

I will say that I liked the distinction between the two characters' voices.  And WG,WG was actually fairly well written.  But not well enough to salvage the non-plot and bland characters.

End Result: two stars.  I wasn't impressed.