Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: Beautiful Creatures

Back cover blurb (well, actually it's the Amazon blurb):
 There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.

At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.


Beautiful Creatures was recommended to me by my aunt.  I give it four out of five stars.

The biggest issue I had was that it was a romance.  But it was a pretty clean romance, which is always a plus.   I just like "Let's save the world!" plots more than "I love you and our parents will never keep us apart!" plots.  That being said, this was pretty good. I liked the characters, and there's a chance that the story will develop into a "let's save the world!" story in later books. (Though I'm not sure I'll read the rest of the series soon. I have a really big pile of books on my dresser that give me dirty looks every time I bring something home from the library.)  The writing itself was good, and there are some great plot twist.

Currently I'm reading The Dark Hills Divide, book 1 in the Land of Elyon series, by Patrick Carmen.  I'm over 100 pages in, and I still don't know what the plot is, but other than that it's pretty good. And it's short, so the plot is bound to show it's face soon. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Review: The New Recruit by Jill Williamson

The New Recruit is a Christian teen spy novel. Yes, you read that correctly.

The backcover blurb is:
Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club. 
These guys mean business.
Stumbling into a case involving a gang of homeless boys a chilling tattoo, and the always beatuiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration.

On a scale of one to five, I give this one a five.

The plot was fun, the character development was good, and there's this really great cliffhanger at the end that leaves room for more books in the series. In fact, Mrs. Williamson has self-published a sequel novella called Chokepoint (click here to see it on Amazon), all the proceeds of which go to help a family adopt a little girl from Eastern Europe.


I had feared that, since this was a book about a skeptic being converted, it would be super preachy/gushy.  Don't get me wrong, it's nice to hear people talk about their faith, but one can only take so much.  I did not think there was too much of that in the book. And it balanced out with Spencer's snarky voice.  There is one "force the Bible down your throat until you believe" character, but the rest were very low-key, "you'll believe in your own time" folks. 

All in all, I really enjoyed it.  I won my copy in a giveaway at The Life of a Teenage Writer, run by the lovely Katelyn. Mrs. Williamson actually gave the book away herself, and she even signed the book to me! I meant to post a picture of it, but frankly I'm too lazy to do that. 

Currently I'm reading Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, which my Auntie S recommended.  So far it's pretty good. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: Born to Rule: a Camp Princess novel by Kathryn Lasky

Born to Rule is a lower middle grade modernish fantasy about a summer camp for princesses. 

My sister found this one at our library's book sale, and she begged me to read it. She loved it.

I give it 3.5 out of five stars. 

The story centers around three princesses: Alicia, Kristen, and Gundersnap, all, I'd guess, around the age of 12.  The first half to two thirds of the book was about them doing princessy stuff, like catching song birds to train to sing, embroidery, having makeup lessons, etc., and a long set up for a mystery involving a ghost, a tragic romance, a missing tapestry, and some magic at the end.

My thoughts:
The characters were all really shallow, which, considering they were mostly pampered princesses, wasn't surprising. Most of them, however, had funny character quirks that made them (mostly) fun to read about.
For as short a book as it was, the mystery wasn't bad. The pacing at the beginning was a bit slow.

Up next on my reading list is The New Recruit by Jill Williamson (author of the Blood of Kings trilogy), which is about a Christian spy organization. I won my copy in a giveaway at The Life of a Teenage Writer.  And it's signed! To me! Squee!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Series Review for The Blood of Kings Trilogy by Jill Willamson. Also, I Make a Vow.


Okay, now that's over.

I just finished the last book in the Blood of Kings trilogy (or as I call them, the Preposition Darkness Verb books) by Jill Williamson. Oh. My. Gosh. I loved these books.  They get six out of five stars.

Back Cover Blurb for By Darkness Hid (book 1) from Ms. Williamson's website:

Half of Er’Rets is locked beneath an impenetrable shroud. On the side that still sees the sun, two young people struggle to understand the mind-communication abilities thrust upon them. It’s called bloodvoicing. Some say it’s a gift. One of the newly “gifted” wish it had never come.
Achan has been a slave all his life. He is consigned to the kitchens of a lord and forced to swallow a foul potion every day. When an enigmatic knight offers to train Achan for the Kingsguard, he readily accepts. But his new skills with the sword do not prepare him for the battle raging between the voices in his head.
Vrell Sparrow is not who she seems. She masquerades as a boy to avoid capture by the powerful forces that seek to exploit her. But Vrell feels called to help a young squire who recently discovered his bloodvoicing gift, even if doing so requires her to work with those who could destroy her.
While Achan learns to use his new ability, Vrell struggles to shut hers down. All the voices strive to learn Achan and Vrell’s true identities—and a different kind of voice is calling them both.

I won't go too far past that, 'cause there's a really big spoiler at the end of this book that I don't want to reveal.  The two things I will say are that Vrell and Achan wind up going on a quest together, all the while he thinking she's a boy, and that most of the key characters practiced a fantasy form of Christianity, which plays a huge part in the story, especially in Achan's character development. 

These books had it all. Okay, they didn't have dragons, but they had epic battles, deceit, great plot twists, complicated love polygons (yes, I like those), the characters were all delightfully flawed, and there was some good humor. Vrell and Achan's banter back and forth was hilarious.

 Cleanliness wise, these were pretty good. There was no swearing, though there were some insinuations made to "advanced snogging", as one blogger put it. Mentions of men having mistresses, and the like. 

After finishing the last book, instead of feeling that sadness that the story had ended, I felt giddy, 'cause the end was so good. I don't know what that says about the book, but I thought I'd mention it. 

Well, I think that's all I have to say, coherently and without giving out more spoilers anyway. Hopefully I'll be better at reviews by the end of the year.

Next on my reading list is Born To Rule: a Camp Princess novel by Kathryn Lasky.  It's one my sister bought at our library's book sale, and she begged me to read it. So, that's next.  I'll have a review next week.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top Ten Movie Soundracks

Happy New Year, Chaps!

A couple of the blogs I follow have compiled lists of their ten favorite bits of movie soundtracks. It sounds like fun, so I will join them.

You will notice that I like period dramas. 

Note: The tracks are not listed in order of preference.

1. The theme from the 2008 version of Sense and Sensibility. It's the first 35 seconds of this video.  Then there's the kinda sad piano bit, and then another good theme after that. 

2. The theme from the 2009 version of Emma.  I happen to know that Liam, Head Phil's sisters like this piece, and now nearly every time I hear it, I think of them.

3. I've Seen Hell from the 2004 version of North and South. The best part is toward the end.

4 and 5. Test Drive and Forbidden Friendship from How to Train Your Dragon.

6. The theme from Little Dorrit.

7. The theme from the Keira Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice. 
Here's the link to the video, since I cannot seem to find it on the silly Blogger YouTube search thingy.

8. I am the Doctor from the 5th season of Doctor Who. Not a movie, I know, but I love this piece.

9. The theme from Pirates of the Caribbean.

10. Septimus from Stardust

Bonus bit:
11. Fairground from Penelope.

There's a really good chance that I've left out some great pieces.  The soundtrack from the new Star Trek movie is great, but I don't know of a specific track that I like. 
Check out Liam's list and Erin's list too.

What are some of your favorites?