Great Reads brings you book reviews on teen books that parents will love from such great young adult authors as Garth Nix, Clare Dunkle, DJ Machale, Stephanie Meyer and many more.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Six Months in Review

Wow- I didn't realize the other day that it's been umm...since last December...that I posted a review (blame it on my day job). So, as I'll never catch up with everything I've read since then, I'm going to do some shorter reviews with a love it or leave it.

The Fablehaven Series by Brandon Mull. Brief summary: Siblings Kendra and Seth discover their grandparents are the caretakers of one of several magic "reserves" where fantasical creatures are able to live safely, yet shielded from the outside world. Of course, it's not all fun and games and someone, or somethings are set on freeing the creatures into the world, which would have devastating consequences for everyone. Absolutely LOVE IT. I flew through them, my husband is reading them and the nine-year old is reading them as well. They're smart, funny, serious when needed, are great about teaching consequences for our actions. I highly recommend this series.

The Immortals by Allyson Noel. After almost dying in car accident that claimed the lives of her parents and younger sister, Ever discovers her new boyfriend is immortal, has amazing powers and she now has the choice to become like him. I both love and leave this series. The concept is unique, but the main character often makes stupid choices, doesn't ever consult her boyfriend, which consequently bites her on the butt. In the most recent installment, Dark Flame, Ever finally starts to wise up a bit, so I'll stick with the series for now, but I do hope that it's going somewhere. Right now, I have no idea what the crux of the series is.

Vampire Academy. LOVE it. I'm sure most of my followers have read these- but if not, I highly recommend this series by Richelle Mead. Love, betrayal, cool powers, vampires...what's not to love?

I'll be back with more reviews soon!

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tempted- Book Six of the House of Night

I've started to have a love-hate relationship with this series, but I found myself really liking this latest installment of the House of Night series. Zoey begins to learn even more about Kalona and his relationship to Nyx and about her own past life in relationship to him. Stevie Rae is still hiding secrets from Zoey, and in this book, her secrets grow as she brings home a wounded Ravenmocker who, while "evil" appears to her more human than not and may be more just a product of his upbringing and parentage (he's Kalona's first and favorite son). Zoey finally ditches the overbearing and controlling Eric and while still balancing her relationships with Stark and Heath, these two come to some what of an understanding as both would do anything to protect her and she legitimately needs both of them in her life.

Tempted is different from the first five in that the book is no longer just from Zoey's perspective, but bounces around to Stevie Rae and the hurt Ravenmocker (I'm VERY interested to see where this will lead). There are several reviews on Amazon saying that they hated this about the book, but I found it a refreshing change of pace. Being constantly in Zoey's head, with the same repeating thoughts about Stark, Heath and Eric were getting to be a little much.

The ending is perhaps the biggest cliffhanger in this series to date and I'll be anxiously waiting for next in the series, Burned, which is due out in April 2010.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Shadowland: The Immortals by Alyson Noel

After the devastating ending of Blue Moon, Ever finally tells Damen about the curse that now separates them. Desperate to find a cure, Ever confronts Roman who poses a riddle of sorts that she must solve. Ever also meets Jude, a surfer with mysterious gifts of his own that Ever feels drawn to, despite her love for Damen. Who is this mysterious Jude and what does Roman really want? I can't say too much about the plot as I don't want to spoil it. I will say that I found this book, up until the end anyway, better than book two. In YA romances, the characters are typically nearly perfect (thinking good old Bella and Edward here), but these characters aren't. They're flawed, they make bad choices. And even though we know that Damen has been far from perfect, we learn a few surprising things about his character and past transgressions in this book and how he may have been altering Ever's true destiny all along. I find his character much more intriguing than Ever, who doesn't seem to be learning anything from her mistakes and doesn't listen to those around her. Ironically, she's trying to do the right thing, but it just continually blows up in her face.

I think fans of the series will enjoy this next installment, and the next book is due out in April 2010.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Moonstone: Book Two: Moonrise

Even though Allie Emerson is a prophesied Star Seeker, her world really couldn't get much worse. Her mom is still dating losers, her dad still hasn't told his family she exists. Her boyfriend has taken off and hasn't been heard from since. But worst of all, her powers seemed to have vanished as well. Moonrise has some pretty interesting twists and turns and Allie soon learns that all is not what she thought in her world. Her grandfather appears and insinuates there's more to his and her mother's story than her mother has let on. The school's guidance couselor seems to have it out for Allie and thinks she should be removed from her home, The new guy in school is supposed to help Allie heal and get her powers back. But not only is he super hot, he's also half-demon with powers of his own and a twin sister who doesn't think much of Allie. And if that wasn't enough, the Tri-Marks are gunning for her amulet.

Moonrise is an exciting installment in the Moonstone series and I can't wait to see what book three brings.

ArchEnemy- Book Three- The Looking Glass Wars

"Action shall be taken to ensure the safety of the Heart Crystal. For Everqueen."

"ArchEnemy" begins with WILMA having depleted the Heart Crystal, rendering the denizens of Wonderland without Imagination, which also then affects our world as well. Determined to find out what happened, Alyss, in disguise, Dodge and a few others leave the castle. In Alyss' absence King Arch moves his forces into the palace and assumes command, taking the Heart Crystal into possession and sneaking it from the Castle to hide it someplace he hopes it will not be found. Not only must Alyss deal with Arch, but Redd and the ever enigmatic Caterpillar's who are working with an agenda of their own- one that involves the mysterious Everqueen.

Desperation leads Alyss to Earth, as well into an uneasy alliance with Redd, who's dealing with her own issues with Arch (hell hath no fury like that woman scorned). While this series about Wonderland comes to a satisfying close, I don't think it's the last story we'll hear about the magical place. Something tells me there are many stories in Wonderland's past yet to be told.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

The Prophet of Yonwood

I want to start off by saying I loved The City of Ember and People of Sparks (though that held a little less magic than the first), but this book was just "eh".It centers around 11 year old Nickie who comes to Yonwood with her aunt who is preparing to sell their Grandfather's home, Greenhaven. Nickie hopes Yonwood will be a good place to escape the building terror in the world around them- a world that is on the brink of war. But what Nickie finds is a town that's overshadowed by fear and is listening to the ramblings of a woman named Althea Tower, whom the residents call the prophet. After a vision of fiery doom, the town began listening to her and taking everything they think she says seriously in hopes of avoiding her vision. But it's clear that those interpreting the visions have their own agenda. And, although Yonwood is trouble-free and peaceful on the surface, the people there are just as terrified and feed into a scary mob mentality where the Prophet is concerned.

The relationship to city of Ember is slight and could really be a standalone novel. I found it slow moving and while thematically it was a good story, I didn't really connect with the it or the characters and nothing terribly exciting happens. It's almost more of a drawn out fable. SPOILER: I also found the ending a little disturbing- Nickie eventually becomes one of Ember's first settlers, but leaves behind her (grown) children and family?

I haven't read the final book of the series yet, The Diamond of Darkhold, but from reading descriptions, it does tie in some what to this book. I do highly recommend reading the City of Ember and People of Sparks, both really great, imaginative novels.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Quick Reviews: Great Teen Reads

As I've got a lot of books and a little bit o' time, I'm offering up some short reviews of recommended books:

"Wings"- Aprilynne Pike A little slow to get started, but I'm quite looking forward to her next book. Laurel seems like she's just like other teens, until flowering vines that look like wings sprout from her back. After an initial freak-out, she confides in her new best friend, David, who, being more scientifically natured, looks at a piece of her wings under a microscrope, as well as some of her cells and discovers she's not human, but made of plant cells. Laurel's discover leads her to a world she's been made to forget (of her own volition) and another fairy that claims to know and love her. Despite the conclusion of this particular story, there's a lot of tale left to be told.

"Evermore"- Alyson Noel Ever is an orphan who's family was killed in a terrible car accident she feels responsible for. The accident has left Ever seeing Auras, hearing thoughts and seeing the ghost of her younger sister. Ever goes to live with her Aunt who's not so experienced with kids, and seems to feel as lost as Ever. But things change when another new kid, Damen, enters Ever's life. She partly can't stand him and is attrached to him, and things start to get even stranger in her life the more he's around. It's a good book for the Twilight lovers (though no vampires involved), though you may find yourself questioning Ever's actions at times.

"Blue Moon" Alyson Noel- This follow up to "Evermore" was really good, but I was really disappointed in the main character's stupidity in the end. I won't ruin the ending, but up until then, the story of Damen and Ever is good and intriguing, as Damen's powers start to fade and Ever must figure out what is wrong and how she can save his as he starts to "disappear". She suspects new kid Roman may be involved, but no one will believe her- everyone seems to love him.

"Lament" Maggie Stiefvater. When talented harpist Diedre gets ill right before a competition she meets flautist Luke Dillon. When they end up playing together, their music is magical- literally. Suddenly Dee starts seeing four-leaf clovers everywhere, and discovers that if she wants something badly enough, it happens. Unfortunately her new abilities attract the atttention of the faeries who all seem to have their own agenda where Dee and Luke are concerned. Luke, of course, is not what he seems. But their journey is an interesting one and I can't wait to see what's next for them.

"Fairy Rebels- Spell Hunters"- R.J. Anderson Don't let the title or the girlie cover of this book fool you. It's good, really good, and much more in keeping with Holly Black or Melissa Marr. Young fairy Knife's fairy world is dying out. Their magic is nearly gone, and some fairies are becoming sick and dying, and no one knows why. Even though Knife is a troublemaker as far as fairies go, she's made the Queen's Hunter which allows her to go outside of their home to help other fairies forage for food and to help protect him. But in a battle with a deadly crow, she's injured and found by human Paul. While he sort-of keeps her hostage, they form a true friendship and Knife struggles to find out what happened to the fairies and fights to save them. And while that sounds like a typical story- it's anything but. I made several assumptions about this book based on the cover and title- I thought it took place in the late 1800s (why, I don't know), but it takes place now. I thought it was going to be a girly-fairy story, but in fact it's anything but. I don't want to give too much away- but it's definitely a great read. A better title would've been "The Sundering" or Knife (which I guess is an alternate title somewhere), but regardless, don't hesitate to get his book if you're a Holly Black or Melissa Marr fan. It's not quite as dark, but there are some surprises and content for older teens.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Teen Book reviews: Evernight & Stargazer by Claudia Gray

Vampires are hot and Evernight is a great and surprising book in that genre. The story centers around Bianca, who's been pulled out of public school to attend Evernight Academy, a boarding school where her parents are going to be teaching. Like any teen would be, Bianca is angry and upset about her parents decision, but has no choice. Things start to look up when she meets Lucas, a brooding, handsome teen. But as it turns out, both have a secret that threatens to destroy their relationship.

This book surprised me, oh, right around page 140 as I suddenly found myself reading a very different book than I initially thought- and this was a good twist. I won't spoil it here, but if you like vampire novels, loved Twilight and the House of Night series, then you'll want to pick up this book and it's sequel.

In Stargazer, Bianca and Lucas have been separated by circumstance and to keep each other safe, but Bianca soon finds out that there are even more secrets at Evernight, and something is after her. Miss Bethany, the school's headmistress, and even her parents, all seem to know more than they are letting on and their secrets could kill Bianca.

I guarantee if you read Evernight, you'll want to follow up with Stargazer, and you won't be disappointed. I can wait for the next book in the series.

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