Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder

Synopsis (from STORM GLASS (GLASS BOOK 1)
As a glassmaker and a magician-in-training, Opal Cowen understands trial by fire. Now it’s time to test her mettle. Someone has sabotaged the Stormdancer clan’s glass orbs, killing their most powerful magicians. The Stormdancers—particularly the mysterious and mercurial Kade—require Opal’s unique talents to prevent it happening again. But when the mission goes awry, Opal must tap into a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. And the further she delves into the intrigue behind the glass and magic, the more distorted things appear. With lives hanging in the balance—including her own—Opal must control powers she never knew she possessed... powers that might lead to disaster beyond anything she’s ever known.

My Review:
First, let me say that it was Emily who first turned me to Maria Snyder. It was her review of Poison Study (a most excellent book) that led me to check out from the library it's sequel, Magic Study, and put on hold the third book in the Yelena series, Fire Study.

While I waited for the third of that series to become available, I also checked out both Storm Glass and its sequel, Sea Glass. These both feature Opal Cowen, a character we meet in the second of the Study series, and take place 5 years after the end of that series. While it's not necessary to have read the Study series first since Snyder does a good job of reviewing important information, it might be handy to read them first so that you don't get any spoilers.

One of the things that I love about Snyder's books is that she does a great job of creating realistic characters with a depth and complexity of emotions. Unlike fierce and determined Yelena, Opal Cowen is a young magician with some serious self-confidence issues. She's never totally sure of her abilities and doesn't put herself forth as a powerful person. She's certainly not a pushover, though. I don't think I could like a character like that. Opal's growth through the story is believable and interesting, and her sense of ironic humor adds a little sparkle to the narration.

Another thing that is wonderful about the book is the relationship between the characters, particularly Opal and the two men in her life, Ulrick and Kade. As you read in the synopsis, Kade is mysterious and 'mercurial'. As a Stormdancer with his share of tragedy in his past, he keeps himself distant and pushes himself away from Opal without seeming like, let's face it, just another emo hero that our YA heroine's keep falling for. As readers, we know we like him, but he isn't really available. Ulrick, however, is a fiercely protective and loyal friend who is willing to take it slow. It's fun to watch the development of these relationships and I loved that the book didn't have a totally straightforward romantic plot and that it wasn't all about 'does he like me or doesn't he?'.

Dialogue is also something Snyder does well in this book. Opal engages in some witty and playful banter that I imagine must have been fun for Snyder to write. And although there is a lot of travel back and forth between locations, the book doesn't seem like a travelogue, which is something that has bothered me with a few books I've read recently.

About the only thing I can think of that I didn't really like in the book is that Opal occasionally gets a little mopish, and I wish I could slap some sense into her, but I think that's the way good books are. You have to feel like the characters are real people, insecurities and all, and love the people anyway. And I most certainly do. I've gorged on 4 Snyder novels in the last two weeks and I'm having some serious adventure withdrawals waiting for the third in the series to be released.

Also, remember that this is not categorized as YA fiction. There is a fair amount of violence, although it is not necessarily gruesome, and there are allusions to some pretty tough things that characters have undergone in their pasts. Danger in the book is real, as are the consequences of being a female in some tough situations, but nothing of this sort is written in a graphic or descriptive manner.

My Rating:
4 Stars

Profanity: None
Drugs and Alcohol: Moderate
Sexuality: Moderate
Violence: Moderate (no gore)

Related Links:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Body Finder By: Kimberly Derting

By: Kimberly Derting
Synopsis (From Goodreads):

"A serial killer on the loose. A girl with a morbid ability. And the boy who would never let anything happen to her.

Violet Ambrose can find the dead. Or at least, those who have been murdered. She can sense the echoes they leave behind... and the imprints they leave on their killers. As if that weren't enough to deal with during junior year, she also has a sudden, inexplicable, and consuming crush on her best friend since childhood, Jay Heaton.

Now a serial killer has begun terrorizing Violet's small town... and she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him."

My Review:
I can't even tell you how excited I was to get a finished copy in my mailbox from HarperTeen. I did a happy dance all over my living room. I read the first few chapters on HarperTeen's website and I was hooked. 

Kimberly Derting did a lot of things right with this novel. It was engaging, suspenseful, and just a tad creepy.  I liked that Violet didn't have this secret that she was trying to cover up, like in other paranormal novels.  Her family knew about her ability, and so did her friend, Jay.  They were all there to support her and help her as she learned what she was supposed to do with her ability. Just like a normal family would act. Or at least I like to think so.

I especially loved reading from the point of view of the serial killer. It added a very interesting flavor to the book and certainly added to the suspense. I think for the most part Kimberly nailed the psyche of a killer. It was very believable. My only complaint is that I wanted to see more of his thoughts. I know, I must be really weird or morbid or something, but sometimes I thought the book went too long without checking in with the killer.

There were so many awesome and wonderfully crafted passages in this book. I wanted to share one of my favorites:
She reached in again, this time not to dig, but to sweep away the thin layer of dirt to get a better view of what lay beneath.  She had captured her father's interest, and he leaned over her, looking into the shallow hole.
Violet worked like an archeologist, carefully sifting and brushing across the top of her discovery, so as to not disturb what might be buried there.
She heard her father gasp at the same time she recognized what she had uncovered.  She felt his strong hands reaching for her from behind, pulling her firmly by the shoulders away from the fresh dirt and gathering her into his strong, safe arms... away from the sound that was calling to her...
And away from the girl's face staring up at her from beneath the soil.
Now, about Jay and Violet's relationship. Some aspects of it I could really sympathize with. One of my most significant crushes of high school was on my best friend. We liked each other on and off for most of high school, but couldn't ever quite connect and gave it up... Anyway, while the does-he-like-me-like-I-like-him was believable, it did get a little old. I found myself wanting a lot more of the suspense and drama of the murder and less of the suspense of who Violet was going to go to homecoming with.  And, I was really bothered by Violet and Jay using other people to make each other jealous. Even though the people they were using were not the nicest of people. Still, it seemed a little sleazy to me.

Also, I felt like there was a surprising amount of profanity in the book. Generally, I just overlook it, and it doesn't bother me. For the most part I was able to do that with this book, but there were a few times where it really interrupted the flow of the story for me and it would have seemed more natural just to leave it out.

This was a fantastic book. I saw on Goodreads that there is going to be a sequel. I'm definitely going to pick it up. I think there is a lot more than can be done with this story, and I'm anxious to see where Kimberly takes it.

Book-A-Likes: The Mark by Jen Nadol, Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

My Rating:

 4 Stars!

Profanity: Moderate
Drugs and Alcohol: Moderate
Sexuality: Moderate
Violence: Moderate

Monday, May 17, 2010

New Blog Features!

We're making some fun changes to the blog and wanted you to be aware of them.

We now have a paypal donate button on the blog, located in the left-hand sidebar. All the funds received through paypal will be used to fund our activities, supplies and books. We'd love any support you can give us in our efforts to promote literacy throughout our community.

We also have a new events page. Here you can view our google calendar and see when upcoming events are scheduled. We will also have updates on local author events in the area. If you have an event that you'd like to put on our blog, please contact us!

Thank you for all your fantastic support!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Amaranth Enchanment by Julie Berry: Review

By: Julie Berry
Synopsis (From Goodreads): When Lucinda Chapdelaine was a small child, her parents left for the royal ball and never returned. Ever since, Lucinda has been stuck in perpetual servitude at her evil aunt’s jewelry store.
Then, on the very same day, a mysterious visitor and an even more bizarre piece of jewelry both enter the shop, setting in motion a string of twists and turns that will forever alter Lucinda’s path.
In this magical story filled with delightful surprises, Lucinda will dance at the royal ball, fall under the Amaranth Witch’s spell, avenge her parents’ death, and maybe — just maybe — capture the heart of a prince.

My Review: This book was on the verge of being something I totally loved, but for some reason it fell flat. I really can't figure it out.  There wasn't anything horribly wrong with the story, the writing or the characters, but there were little flaws in each that added up to something that came very close to being a favorite book.

First, the dialogue was a little strange. I found it switched from being old-style english to modern-day slang too often. It probably would have been fine either way, but the combination of the two was really weird for me.

Second, the characters weren't quite engaging enough for me. I didn't really like the prince, and it didn't seem believable to me that Lucinda would like him. It seems like the only thing she liked were his looks. And she didn't seem like the type of girl that would only care about that.

Characters I did like: Dog and Peter. Peter was so much fun. I liked his boldness and the way he instilled confidence in Lucinda. He was very charming and interesting. Much better than Gregor if I must say so. Lucinda's goat, Dog, was so sweet and loyal you couldn't help but love him.

The ending wasn't quite what I wanted it to be. A lot of things happened that were a little hard to believe, and didn't quite flow with the rest of the story.  There were two twists in the story that I really liked, and one even made me audibly gasp.

Overall, it wasn't a bad book, just not a fantastic book. I think a younger audience might like it better than I did.

My Rating:
I gave this book 3 stars

Profanity: None
Drugs and Alcohol: None
Sexuality: None
Violence: Mild

Thursday, May 6, 2010


By Nancy Werlin

Summary: (from

Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that the women of her family have been cursed through the generations, forced to attempt three seemingly impossible tasks or to fall into madness upon their child's birth. But Lucy is the first girl who won't be alone as she tackles the list. She has her fiercely protective foster parents beside her. And she has Zach, whose strength amazes her more each day. Do they have enough love and resolve to overcome an age-old evil?
Inspired by the ballad "Scarborough Fair," Impossiblecombines suspense, fantasy, and romance.

What I liked:
I had heard from a friend that this book was amazing, and I have to agree. I really liked it.It was a beautiful blend of contemporary fiction and fantasy. Lucy is such a real character, and while she is very different from me, I understand why she does what she does. And what's nearly as important is that all of the supporting cast was very well-crafted as well. For a book that is based in reality with elements of the fantastical, the supporting characters had to have realistic reactions to Lucy's belief that she has been cursed by the Elfin Knight. I appreciate that Leo believed Lucy, but that all Soledad could bring herself to believe was that Lucy believed in the curse, and that was enough. Werlin allowed Soledad to remain true to herself and still be there for her family at the same time. Family, Love, and Unity are all important to the survival of Lucy, and I appreciate a book that can give us an example of a mixed, modern family that functions as a family ought to.
I also loved that this book had a 'good guy' as the romantic lead. Zach is a guy that you can be happy for Lucy to love. He's decent, and honorable, and straight-forward. He stands by Lucy in, let's face it, the oddest of circumstances. What a relief compared to so many of the bad boys who have to waffle in their affections, concerned that they're not good for the heroine.

What I didn't Like:
There's really not much to put in this category. I didn't feel that the villain was a strong as he could have been. Manipulative, certainly, but I didn't fear him or feel that he was really as malevolent as he could have been, which is odd because his actions certainly are devilish. I also felt the ending was just the tiniest bit lackluster, but that's probably just me and the type of endings I prefer.

Recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars
I've already passed this book on to 3 women, and all have just loved the book and recommended it to others.
Profanity: very mild
Drugs and Alcohol: some references to drinking at the Sr. Prom
Violence: Lucy is raped at the prom, but Werlin does a good job of leaving it to implication and not description. I was comfortable enough with this that I still gave the book to my younger sister.
Sexuality: Mild. Again, a reference to the prom, but nothing that I personally found offensive.