September 29, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Fractured and The Traitor's Smile

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and features books that we just can't wait to get our hands on!

This week's picks:

Fractured: Happily Never After? 3 Tales by Joanna Karaplis

Goodreads' description:

"Everyone knows a fairytale or two. They’re the kind of stories that seem to stick with you. Maybe it’s the magic. Maybe it’s the handsome prince. Or maybe they’re just the absolute perfect place to lose yourself for a little while.

But what would happen if Snow White were around today? Would Cinderella still need a fairy godmother? And would the Little Mermaid show up on YouTube?

Joanna Karaplis has put an unexpected spin on Snow White, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid; she’s quietly fractured the stories and then reassembled them for the 21st Century. So, while there may not be a whole lot of horse-drawn carriages and magic potions, you can be sure that there will be at least one evil witch and maybe even a handsome prince (or two)…"

Normally I'm not big on short stories...usually I just find they're too short and I want more. But I love fairy tales, and unlike a lot of other genres I think these can actually work as short stories. Plus, that cover? Gorgeous. And I *love* that font. 

The Traitor's Smile by Patricia Elliott

Goodreads' description: 

"Eugenie de Boncoeur has fled the violence of the French Revolution to find sanctuary in England at the home of her cousin, Hetta. At first, the two girls find themselves at loggerheads: Hetta can't understand Eugenie's preoccupation with clothes and appearance, and scorns her politics. Soon, however, they are drawn together by a shared sense of danger, for across the Channel waits the vengeful Pale Assassin, determined to claim Eugenie for himself. With her brother's life at stake, how can she refuse his dreadful bargain? But it will mean sacrificing her chance of love and returning to Paris in the grip of the Terror. Eugenie must now decide her destiny - with or without Hetta's help."

This is the second book in the Pimpernelles series. I liked the first one but it didn't feel that complete, so it's good there's going to be a sequel! 

What books are you waiting on?


September 28, 2010

Twenty Boy Summer: In A Nutshell

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler 

Her best friend Frankie's brother just died, and Anna doesn't know what to do. Not just because Frankie is now acting like an entirely different person - but because Anna's got a secret. She was in love with Matt. They laughed, they kissed, they dreamed. And she swore she'd let him tell Frankie about it in his own way.

Now he can't, and Anna's left keeping a promise to a dead boy...

One sentence sum-up: A story of a girl, her best friend, and the memory of a boy they both loved.

My reaction: I really loved Matt and his relationship with Anna right away, so having him die from the get-go was pretty hard (that's not a spoiler!) It was easy to relate to what Anna was going through, being torn between wanting to let Matt go and wanting to keep his memory alive and untarnished. I had more difficulty sympathizing with Frankie, as I found her very irritating at times, but she's lost her brother and dealing with her grief by pretending to be something she isn't. The book isn't fast-paced - I found myself starting to skim in a few sections - but Anna's a sympathetic character you'll continue to root for.

Best aspect: The setting of the beach at Zanzibar Bay really suited this novel, by connecting Anna to the memory of Matt. I enjoyed the use of symbolism, from the glass pieces (especially together with the cover) to Anna's journal. Anna's character was also very well-sketched, portraying an understandably confused reaction to the death of one of her best friends.

If I could change something... I would make the parents a little less clueless. I mean, they didn't notice their daughter and her friend were sneaking out each night? Seriously? Also, I wanted a bit more depth from Sam; I liked what I saw of him (he's interested in Anna for her personality, and he respects her and listens to her) but really we just get a small snapshot.

In five words or less: true to life.

Quote: Tough to choose just one because there are several passages in this book that are written beautifully. Here's an example:

I can't stop thinking about what he felt like against my body, against my lips. I can't remember anything else, anything before that. And I realize in this moment that I've finally done it. That horrible, awful thing I swore I would never do.

The frosting. The cigarettes. The blue glass triangle. The shooting stars. The taste of his mouth on mine in the hall closet. Gone. All I can think about is Sam. Matt is – erased. My whole body is warm and buzzing. Sam is smiling next to me, because of me. And I've never felt so lonely in all my life.

Recommend for: anyone who likes a sad but good read about friendship, first love, loss, and moving on.

Final verdict: 4 shooting stars

Banned Books Note: As a happy coincidence I picked this one up at the library right in time for Banned Books Week! Twenty Boy Summer is being challenged, but why anyone would want to ban it I'm not altogether sure. There is some sex, yeah, but nothing very explicit - there are YA books out there with way racier stuff. Perhaps it's not suitable for the very young end of YA readers, but that's no reason to ban it!

Author's website:

September 27, 2010

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (8)

This meme is hosted by Sheila of Book Journey and showcases the books we recently read, are currently reading, and are planning on reading soon!

Over the past two weeks I've read Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols, Bloom by Elizabeth Scott, Losing Faith by Denise Jaden (review here), and The Language of Souls by Lena Goldfinch (review here).

Right now I'm partway through Juliet by Anne Fortier and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler.

Not sure what I'll read next... I got a few pages into The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo so I may try delving into that one further.

September 24, 2010

Book Blogger Hop (10)

It's Friday and you know what that means....hopping time! This awesome meme is hosted by Crazy-For-Books and this week's question is, "When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?"

Good question! I wait until I've finished the book, because I think that's only fair in case something I was concerned about is resolved later on. That said, as I read I often can't help but think about what I will put in my review - even though it's sometimes distracting to the reading process! (Any solutions for that, by the way?)

And for what I've been up to this week, some recent posts:

The Language of Souls: In a Nutshell 
Forget-Me-Nots: The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks
Waiting on Wednesday: The Near Witch and You Against Me
Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Quotes
Calling All Canadian Book Bloggers...
Musing Mondays 
Losing Faith: Review

September 23, 2010

The Language of Souls: In a Nutshell (Adult but "YA friendly")

The Language of Souls by Lena Goldfinch (e-book format)

One sentence sum-up: A young healer, desperate to find a herb to heal her grandfather, is captured by a scout of the feared neighbouring mountain people.

My reaction: I felt as though the premise of this story had potential, but the actual execution didn't quite follow through. I was interested in the world that Goldfinch presents, but some of the invented words (inyx, votif, torpista, etc.) threw me for a loop at the beginning, as they are introduced with little description.

I did like both main characters Solena and Rundan (although they are a little too perfect to be wholly realistic), and the romance, though it felt a bit rushed, was sweet. This story is short enough to be considered a novella, and with some more plot and worldbuilding - particularly with the introduction of a villain, since there was no real 'bad guy' in this story - I think it might work as a lengthier novel. Indeed, I found the ending to be somewhat abrupt.

Best aspect: Some of the customs of the two countries were intriguing - for instance, the connection between the embers in the votifs and a person's soul, and Solena's healing abilities. I would love to see these concepts fleshed out and learn more about the two cultures, particularly the Ober Eden mountain people. I also enjoyed the device of throwing together two characters unable to communicate in a common language (until near the end), and having them need each other. Rundan saves Solena at one point, and she saves him at another, and a relationship develops between them without words.

If I could change something... I would include a glossary for the terms specific to the world, or use more description as they are introduced. Also, there were some cliched metaphors sprinkled throughout, and a lot of description of the characters' thought processes and changes of heart that were 'told' more than 'shown'. While the story does succumb to some of the traditional fantasy conventions, I did want to learn more about the world, cultures, and magic (in the form of Solena's healing abilities). I think the story would benefit from more thorough editing.

In five words or less: Potential not quite realized.

Shooting stars: 3 (but barely)


"Her embers were burning bright, and his were nearly out. Why should she have so much? More than enough for a rich life. More than enough for both of them.

For both of them. The words shook Solena, but she immediately cast the idea aside. It couldn’t be done. In the next instant, she questioned why."

Author's website:

Note: this is an adult book, but the material is YA-appropriate.

Disclaimer: I received this book as a free PDF file from the author for review.

Forget-Me-Nots: The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks

This is a feature on my blog for highlighting books I enjoyed in childhood and the teenage years that I don't see getting much attention nowadays.

This week's pick:

The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks by Nancy McArthur

 (This was the cover of my copy...totally old-school style :D)

Goodread's description:

"The plant which Michael grows from mail-order seeds develops an appetite for dirty socks. Sloppy Michael and his neatnik brother convince their parents to let them keep the voracious greenery."

Okay, that description is way too short and doesn't do justice to the hilarity that is this book. Seriously, what could be more awesome than a plant that eats dirty socks? It's really funny, especially when you add in the fact that one brother is a neat freak, one is a slob, and there's a science fair going on at their school...

Plus, the title should win an award or something. 

I'm kind of doubting anyone else has read this one but...any takers?

September 22, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The Near Witch & You Against Me

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and features books that we just can't wait to get our hands on!

My picks for this week:

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

(Sorry, no cover yet.)

Goodreads' description:

"There’s an old ghost story in the town of Near. It tells of a Witch that lived on the edge of the village, and gobbled up all the darkness, and sang the hills to sleep, and loved the children almost as much as the garden she kept beside her house.

Sixteen-year-old Lexi Harris has heard the stories her entire life, first from her father, and then from old Magda and Dreska Thorne, the two Witches who live on the edge of Near. Everyone loves to tell the story, but everyone knows a different ending. Some say that the Near Witch blew away on a gust of wind. Others tell of darker things.

To Lexi, they’ve always been stories, nothing more. But when a strange and silent boy walks into the village of Near, and then the wind begins to lure children from their beds at night, she starts to wonder if there’s any truth in the tales. Why are the children vanishing? Who is the newcomer? And could the Near Witch be more than a ghost story?"

This one sounds like a mix between a ghost story and a fairytale...creepy but enticing! Also I love this line: "It tells of a Witch that lived on the edge of the village, and gobbled up all the darkness, and sang the hills to sleep, and loved the children almost as much as the garden she kept beside her house." Sounds poetic and folklore-y!

You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Goodreads' description:

"If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother's been accused of a terrible crime and you're the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn't that what families do? When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn't do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in at a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It's a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it's a book about love - for one's family and for another."

I like that there's an idea of torn loyalties in this one...sounds emotionally grabbing. 

What books are you waiting on?

September 21, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Quotes

The "Top Ten Tuesday" meme is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and this week's topic is our favorite quotes. I tried to choose a mixture of quotes that are funny and quotes that are lyrical and emotionally-moving, because those are usually the two types that will stick with me!

1.) "I hope you feel better today. Please ring me at work if you are dead." - Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

2.) "'When you asked for my hand a few minutes ago, I was still too young to marry.' I looked up at him and saw a smile start. 'I'm older now, so much older that not only can I marry, but I can beg you to marry me.' I knelt and took his hand. He didn't let me kneel before him. He pulled me up and kissed me again. I took that to signify his consent." - Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

3.) "An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. -- Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do." - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

4.) "'Do you love me?' he asked. I fell silent. 'For the rest of it is glitter and noise,' he said. 'At the heart of it all is love. You make that choice, and you go forward from there.'" - Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn

5.) "He peered into her eyes for a long moment, then sighed and shook his head. 'You just look like Tally to me.' She looked down, her vision blurring. 'What's the matter?'

'Nothing, David.' She shook her head. 'You just took on five million years of evolution again.'

'I what? Did I say something wrong?'

'No.' She smiled. 'You said something right.'" - Specials by Scott Westerfeld

6.) "Slowly I raise my eyes and take in the water spreading out in every direction. I can only form one clear thought. This is no place for a girl on fire." - Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

7.) "'Luckily for you,' he said, 'you shed hairpins the way Hansel and Gretel shed crumbs. I followed your trail.' He pressed a half dozen hairpins into the palm of my left hand. 'Now let us return to light, safety, and society.'" - Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

8.) "With happy enthusiasm, he stood up, his hand on his sword hilt, and shouted, 'I, Geric-Sinath of Gerhard, declare right now that you're beautiful and you're perfect and I'll slay any man who tries to take you from my side. Goose girl, may I kiss you?'

She answered by standing and kissing him first and held his cheeks and closed her eyes and felt sure as bones and deep as blood that she had found her place." - The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

9.) "Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! - I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you." - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

10.) "'My mother read that parents should spend quality time with their children. One way is to sign up for organized activities together. This month we're taking meditation to free the mind. Last month it was Rolfing. Have you ever Rolfed, Tone?'
'Only after the school's shepherd's pie,' I said." - Define "Normal" by Julie Anne Peters

September 20, 2010

Calling All Canadian Book Bloggers...

...there is now a directory for you!! Yes, a directory especially for Canadian book bloggers.

Bella from A Girl Reads a Book has started up the Canadian Book Bloggers Directory. So if you are a Canadian and also a book blogger, join the rest of us & submit a link to your blog! :D

Musing Mondays (1)

This is my first time I've participated in the Musing Mondays meme hosted by Should Be Reading...really like the question this week!

What makes you love / hate a character in a book?

Characters often make or break a book for me. I love characters that are human, flawed, with quirks like everybody else. I also often like characters with a good sense of humor and a relatable voice. And I enjoy characters that grow throughout the book, as long as it isn't done in a 'preachy' type of way.

I hate characters that are two-dimensional, shallow, perfect (Mary Sues), or very obviously have a certain trait just because the author wants to point it out. Also, I dislike characters' voices that are trying too hard to sound like teens and just end up sounding forced and wrong. It annoys me, too, when characters turn out to have this hidden talent you didn't know about for most of the book that is just the thing they need to get them out of a sticky situation (this mostly crops up in fantasy novels).

How about you?


September 19, 2010

Losing Faith: Review

They're sisters, but Brie feels like they couldn't be further apart. Faith's the good daughter with a passion for religion; Brie's the cynical one who sneaks off to parties with her boyfriend. And then Faith dies, and everything changes.

Her mom spirals into depression, her father refuses to talk about anything important, and Brie herself can't decide how she really feels. As she tries to make sense of it all, everything she finds out about Faith's life makes her question her sister's death. Was it really an accident? And will discovering the answer finally give Brie the peace she needs to let her sister go?

Losing Faith by Denise Jaden


I really loved Brie's voice. She's got a bit of a chip on her shoulder when it comes to church and religion, she's sarcastic, and she's really hurting. She writes terrible poetry (don't worry, she admits it) and she's totally phobic about heights. Brie feels very real. She may paint herself as the "black sheep" of the family, but she's not so rebellious that she falls into the over-the-top, roll-your-eyes cliche. Brie's just not at all like Faith - and that's great.

Also, the emotional rollercoaster she's on after her sister dies is believable. They weren't close in life, and they're even further apart now that Faith is gone. Brie resents her for having died, resents her for being so "perfect" in life, misses her terribly but can't shed a tear. I do wish we'd been given a few more glimpses of Brie's memories of Faith; when Brie does recall times she shared with Faith, we see a hint of that long-ago bond between them. Also, it might have fleshed Faith out a bit more - as the book goes on we get a better understanding of Faith's religious beliefs, but not as much of her as a person.

Jaden's characterization as a whole is excellent. Brie's mom and dad are both well depicted, her mother having an emotional breakdown and barricading herself in her room, and her father burying himself in his job. She does a fabulous job of showing how differently people can react to tragedy, and how the grieving process naturally takes time. Brie's acquaintance who gradually grows into a friend, Tessa, is an extremely colorful character. She's defensive, opinionated, and difficult to understand through much of the book - I had a much easier time relating to Brie - but her past (and present) explains a lot of her behaviour.

Reena's another intriguing character...won't say too much here as to avoid spoilers, but she's very unstable and in need of some serious help. As is Nathan, although his motivations are a little less clear than Reena's (and we don't really find out what happens to him at the end.) These two were both incredibly interesting from a psychological perspective, and although we are given some idea what's going on in their minds, I would have welcomed a bit more insight into their beliefs and their behaviour.

I enjoyed seeing the slow relationship build between Brie and Reena's brother, Alis (although his nickname is unfortunate). It was nice to see a YA book that wasn't *all* about the romance. Yes, the mutual interest between them is there, but they start out wary of each other, then become friends, and that leads to something more. Brie has enough on her plate with fishing around for clues about Faith's death, and having a huge heated romance happening at the same time would have been a bit much to swallow. Alis always remained a bit of a mystery to me as a character, but I think he felt that way to Brie as well, and at the end of the book we're left with the sense that they now have time to get to know each other better.

The one character I felt was a little flat was Celeste, Faith's friend. I didn't have a clear picture of her in my mind, and for a long time she just seems really timid and scared. She proves herself later in a crisis situation, but we never learn too much about her life or even her memories of Faith.


Jaden really manages to delve into the human psyche in this novel. Death, grief, depression, denial and OCD are all touched upon and handled well. It was great to see the psychological elements play an important role without taking center stage.

Religious beliefs are also discussed without coming across as preachy (this is a pet peeve of mine in books that handle religion, so I'm very happy that Jaden avoids that).

Spoilers here, highlight to read:

I'd heard that cults played a role in this book before I read it, so I could guess a good part of the mystery surrounding Faith's death. Nevertheless, I still found the religious fanaticism element of it intriguing, particularly in that it is tied in with Reena's OCD. Having majored in psychology, I knew this was a sub-type of OCD, but unlike depression or eating disorders, it's rare to come across it in YA books. The way the cult-like group was depicted - the morbid slogans, the levels of 'devotedness', the branding - was twisted but believable, especially given Reena's psychological problems.

The one thing I took issue with was the portrayal of hypnotism at the cliff edge. I didn't think enough of the necessary elements of hypnotism from real life (for instance, a soothing voice speaking for several minutes in a calming setting, coupled with an individual who wishes to succumb) were present for there to be any chance that one of the teens could be hypnotized. I did appreciate that it is later pointed out that the hypnotic trance can't be forced on anyone who doesn't want to be hypnotized. That's a little-known fact - many people believe that you can be made to do any number of things against your will - and so I was really pleased to see that myth blown wide open.


While I didn't find it to be a grip-you-to-your-seat read, I always came back wanting to know how everything ended. Also, if you like character development (and I do), then you'll enjoy Losing Faith. Brie, of course, goes through a lot of realizations, but you can see changes in her mother and Tessa as well. There's one very sweet scene that occurs between Brie and her mom, and another between Brie and Tessa involving a poem of Brie's that is actually quite insightful!

I did find the ending to be a little anti-climactic. Don't get me wrong - a lot of it is heart-pounding stuff that, if you're like Brie (and me) and share a fear of heights, will make you quiver. The resolution does make sense, and I liked that it paid tribute to the power of both of Brie's friendships, but it felt a little safe. Perhaps I was just hoping for something a bit more dramatic.

Also, I have to mention this one scene: where Brie is giving her testament to Faith at the memorial service, in the form of a poem. I really felt for Brie in that scene and I was so embarrassed right along with her! I hate public speaking and I can just imagine how awful she must have felt as she realized how the words must be sounding as they came out.

Writing style: 

It's written from Brie's point of view, and since I enjoyed her character and voice it was quite easy to read. The pacing for Losing Faith was just about perfect, with the device of Brie's stated "plans" working well to remind the reader where they were in the scheme of things while subtly reflecting Brie's need for control over the situation. 

Final verdict: 4 shooting stars. This is a thought-provoking book about loss, grief, secrets, fears, and trust.

Disclaimer: I won this book in a giveaway.

In My Mailbox (2)

In this meme, hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, we share the books we've received, bought or taken out from the library. I thought I'd participate this week because I actually received something NOT from the library!

I won a copy of Losing Faith by Denise Jaden from the AuthorsNow! giveaway, and because we both live in the Vancouver area she was nice enough to drop it off personally :D It was an awesome surprise!

And, from the library:

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Undone by Brooke Taylor
The Barn by Avi
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

September 18, 2010

Another Giveaway: Plain Kate - for Canadians only!

Melissa at YA Bookshelf's giving out a copy of Plain Kate by Erin Bow to...

one lucky Canadian!!

It's rare to see a giveaway just for Canada but this one is!

So if you are Canadian and want to enter, drop by YA Bookshelf :)

Head's Up: 100+ Followers Giveaway at Down The Rabbit Hole!

Amber at Down The Rabbit Hole has surpassed 100 followers and is thanking them with a giveaway!

Books up for grabs for US residents are:

Signed City of Glass (HB) by Cassandra Clare
Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi
Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison

And for people outside the US (like me!) there's the chance to win a book from the Book Depository.

So head on over to Amber's blog and check it out!

September 17, 2010

BBAW Day 5: Future Treasures

Hmmm, my blogging goals for the future...

Well, I've recently joined Twitter (as Word_Tapestry) so I'm hoping to get more involved on there. I want to participate in some more challenges & other blogging events, since I haven't done a lot of that yet. 

I've recently started a feature called Forget-Me-Nots, highlighting books I enjoyed from childhood, which I want to continue on with. And I'm hoping to get some author interviews happening at some point! Really I'm still getting started but I've definitely been enjoying blogging so far, connecting with other book bloggers and improving my review-writing. 

If you want to see what I've been up to the past few days, here are some recent posts:
The Grimm Legacy: Review
Forget-Me-Nots: Half Magic
Waiting on Wednesday: The Language of Souls & Where The Truth Lies
Top Ten Books I'm Dying to Read
Still Alice: In a Nutshell

Book Blogger Hop (9)

Yes, it's time once more for hopping around to other blogs! This awesome meme is hosted by Crazy-For-Books, and because this is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, we're giving some shout-outs to our favorite book bloggers.

I follow so many awesome blogs that it's really impossible to pick just a few. Some of the ones I check out on a regular basis are listed on my blogroll. *points to sidebar*

But here are a few that I want to highlight:

Melissa from I Swim For Oceans  - she's one of the people who regularly drops by and comments! And she has a fun Friday Fix feature with random, quirky questions :D

Stephanie from Books Are a Girl's Best Friend - she's my go-to blogger for YA historical fiction! Also she is always popping by and leaving really nice comments, and she appreciates children's books from many years ago (yay for Enid Blyton!)

Tina from Book Couture - because her comments always make me stop and think, and then we end up having an interesting discussion :) Also her blog has really grown amazingly fast!

Kelli and Natalie from I'd So Rather Be Reading - I can always count on reading really insightful, well-written reviews (and other posts) on their blog. And I really like their layout, too!

Daisy from Between the Pages - because we both often participate in Top Ten lists and it's fun to compare them! And she shares my dislike of Wuthering Heights and love for Crown Duel :D

All right, I'll stop at five but there really are so many more :)

Now HOP!

September 16, 2010

The Grimm Legacy: Review

Everyone knows the fairytales collected by the Grimm. The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White...the list is nearly endless. But hardly anyone knows that the Grimm storytellers also collected objects. Objects that are stored in a building called the Repository, that operates like a library. And still fewer are aware that these objects are actually magical...

Elizabeth Rew finds out when she's hired as a page at the Repository. She's thrilled with the opportunity to make new friends and discover more about the Grimm Collection. But there's something fishy going on there, something that involves magical objects being misplaced and a frightfully large and intimidating bird. And as she tries to solve the mystery, she's going to need all the friends - and magic - she can get.

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman


To be honest, many of the characters in this book felt quite flat to me, unfortunately, and others somewhat irritating.

Elizabeth was an okay heroine - she had a keen sense of adventure and curiosity, although this led to her behaving impulsively at times and me going, "Now why would you do *that*?" She also seemed shallow in some ways, particularly in her hero-worshipping of Marc Merritt and her self-deprecation of her appearance. Okay, I got that she thought she wasn't pretty, and that's a valid, realistic concern at her age - but seriously, she doesn't need to harp on it every time it comes up! I wish we could have been told some more of her backstory and her likes/dislikes, because she gets the job at the Repository right towards the beginning of the book and after that the whole plot is focused on her time there.

Marc Merritt was one of those characters I felt never really became 3-D. He's a slightly stuck-up basketball star who is always worried about picking up his kid brother from daycare on time. That's about all we ever learn about him. Oh, and he's head-over-heels for Anjali. Frankly, Marc just annoyed me most of the time - he always thought he knew best what to do and would act on his own initiative without consulting others. (Spoilers, highlight to read: actually I would have been okay with it if he had just stayed a brass figurine).

Anjali was a little more fleshed-out than Marc but she still could have used some work. She's supposed to be drop-dead gorgeous (of course she is, given all of Elizabeth's insecurities) and frankly I didn't get a good sense of her perspective most of the time. What are her motives? Does she actually genuinely want to be Elizabeth's friend? Is she intentionally leading both Aaron and Marc on? Since she appears to be so perfect a lot of the time it was nice to see that she had difficulty controlling her younger sister, Jaya, but apart from that she seems to have virtually no distinct personality.

Jaya, on the other hand, was a great character. She's spunky and at that age when everything seems to have a very simple answer that the older kids are just making more complicated. Like Marc she also thought she knew what to do all the time, but because she was younger this worked a bit better! And yeah, I think she was a little annoying at times, but hey, that's her role as a pesky younger sister.

The 'bad guy' (won't reveal here who it is) has to be one of the least developed characters in the book. You'll probably guess who it is early on, and you'll probably be right. Their motives are pretty simplistic, unfortunately, and they're not even a very scary villain. I did second-guess this a few times, thinking that it couldn't be the most obvious of choices...but actually, it pretty much is.

Also, I just have to say one thing - is Dr. Rust a man or a woman? Seriously, we never find out, and with a first name like Lee technically it could be either. At first I thought he was a guy, but then some of the stuff he (she?) said sounded more like what a woman would say...needless to say, it made it difficult to picture him/her.

My two favorite characters were Aaron, a snarky page with attitude, and the magic mirror. Yes, I'm listing the mirror as a character because frankly it had the most personality of anyone in this story. I knew I would like it from the first time it responds to Elizabeth's question, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?"

"You have to ask, Eliza Rew?
Then listen up: it isn't you."

Aaron's attitude (and tendency to continually mistrust other people and get all moody and angsty about it) frustrated me at some points, but the mirror never did! It clearly loved sarcasm and making fun of Elizabeth, and it's a stickler for true rhymes. That mirror rocked.


I have to say I loved the premise of The Grimm Legacy. I did think that the characters would actually be going into a fairytale(s) at some point, which they don't, but I think that was just something I must have made up in my head when I read the description.

It was such a lot of fun to see objects from various Grimm tales being used in the modern day (for instance, the Table-Be-Set - it sounds delicious! Who wouldn't want one of those?) I really, really liked Elizabeth's descriptions of the magic through scent; there were such a lot of different, fabulous and creative odors that Shulman included in there and it definitely made the reading experience more visceral. Also, the abstract nature of the 'deposits' required for anyone to rent out a Grimm Collection object was fantastic and really made you think about what you'd be willing to give away. Your first-born child? Your sense of direction? Your childhood memories? Your free will? The weighty importance of these attributes also lent more credibility to the premise of loaning magical objects, because it gives a definite incentive for having the borrower return it!

Of course, there's a bit of suspension of disbelief required for the whole concept of the Repository, and in particular for the Grimm Collection; if any Grimm objects existed today, I highly doubt people would be lending them out like at a library. However, the conceptualization of the Repository is well-executed, with the author detailing the system of how it runs quite thoroughly.

This does mean that it takes a little while for everything to get set up before Elizabeth's adventure really takes off. Once I reached Chapter 7, though, I started to get more into it. The plot itself was not super gripping (and a little predictable) and it felt more like lots of little climactic scenes rather than one continuous build-up. Maybe that was just the pacing but it made everything seem a bit disconnected, at least until we reached the major problem Elizabeth and her friends must solve - and even then they had to do a bunch more things first before they could solve it.

Most of the time I enjoyed seeing Elizabeth and the others using the objects in the Repository, but there was one point at which I thought it went over-the-top into absurdity. Highlight if you want to read these spoilers: The shrink ray was too much for me. Picturing them sliding down those tubes and doing everything they did at only six inches tall was just a little too ridiculous. And also, because everything else dealt with the Grimm objects the shrink ray just felt a little out of place. Not to mention it was a reminder of Honey, I Shrunk The Kids!

The explanation for the mystery was a little confusing for me, probably because it's given to the reader all in one go, and it's describing things that happened after the fact. I don't know how well the whole thing holds together, seemed a bit far-fetched that the villain's plans could come together so beautifully. And spoilers here once more: The 'true love's kiss' solution between the two figurines was a roll-your-eyes moment. I'm sorry, but that's just a bit too convenient, cliche, and sappy.

There is a little bit of romance for Elizabeth that develops throughout the story, and I have to admit that it's super cute. The two characters are always bickering but there's an attraction there as well - and the magic carpet scene is pretty darn adorable!

Writing style: 

For the most part it was smooth and quite readable, but some of the dialogue and Elizabeth's voice didn't sound genuine. Sometimes it sounded too cheesy or too forced, and not like real teens actually talk.

I really enjoyed all the rhyming going on. Yes, some of that was cheesy too, but it was a good type of cheesy! Also, I thought it was a great creative touch to feature an object at the start of every chapter and hint at what was coming up.

Overall verdict: It's a light, fun read with a unique premise, but the characters need more depth and the plot stretches the reader's credulity a bit too far. Personally, it didn't quite deliver what I was hoping for, but I think I might have enjoyed this one a bit more when I was younger.

Rating: 3.5 shooting stars

Forget-Me-Nots: Half Magic

This is a feature on my blog for highlighting books I enjoyed in childhood and the teenage years that I don't see getting much attention nowadays.

And I'm using this to be a post for BBAW's 'Forgotten Treasure' Day as well (although I'm a little late, sorry).  To find out more about Book Blogger Appreciation Week click here.

My pick this week: Half Magic by Edward Eager

(This was the cover of my copy of the book).

Goodreads' description:

"Edward Eager has been delighting young readers for more than 40 years with stories that mix magic and reality. Half Magic, the most popular of his tales about four children who encounter magical coins, time-travel herb gardens, and other unlikely devices, is a warm, funny, original adventure. The title refers to a coin that the children find. Through a comical series of coincidences, they discover that the coin is magic. Well, it's not totally magic — it's only (you guessed it) half magic. That means there's a certain logic to the wishes one must make to generate a desired outcome. Imagine the results emerging from inaccurate efforts: half invisible, half rescued, half everything! Half Magic is never too cute, and with just enough emotion to complement the magic, this classic is sure to hold a special place in any child's library."

There are others in the series, but Half Magic was the only one I owned. I think the concept of the magic doing everything by halves was fabulous, and resulted in quite a bit of humor - I remember really enjoying this book! So if you haven't read it and can get your hands on a copy: do!

Anyone else have fond memories of this one?

September 15, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The Language of Souls & Where the Truth Lies

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and features books that we just can't wait to get our hands on!

This week's picks:

The Language of Souls by Lena Goldfinch

Description from the author's website:

"Actions speak louder than words…

Solena, a young healer with a generous heart, is desperate to heal her dying grandfather. When she ventures into a hostile territory to find a rare herb, she finds out just how much she’s risked when she’s captured by the enemy and accused of being a spy.

As a soldier, Rundan has struggled all his life to please his father, a ruthless army commander, but when he’s ordered to take the beautiful trespasser to the royal courts, where she’ll be summarily tried and executed, he’s plagued by the most inconvenient desire to protect her at all costs.

Though terrified and anxious to escape, Solena is confused by the handsome young soldier who cruelly captures her and then displays uncommon kindness. When he risks his own life to save her, she discovers she may have risked more than her life… she may have lost her heart."

The cover of this one is gorgeous and the whole healer/soldier dynamic sounds promising!

Where the Truth Lies by Jessica Warman

Goodreads description:

"On the surface, Emily Meckler leads the perfect life. She has three best friends, two loving parents, and the ideal setup at the Connecticut prep school where her father is the headmaster. But Emily also suffers from devastating nightmares about fire and water, and nobody knows why. Then the enigmatic Del Sugar enters her life, and Emily is immediately swept away—but her passionate relationship with Del is just the first of many things that aren't quite what they seem in Emily's life. As the lies she's been told start to unravel, Emily must set out to discover the truth regarding her nightmare; on a journey that will lead her to question everything she thought she knew about love, family, and her own idyllic past.

This companion novel to Warman's critically acclaimed Breathless proves that sometimes the biggest lies are told to the people you love the most." 

I haven't read Breathless, but I like the sound of all the secrets in Emily's life - and it sounds like something in her past is causing her these nightmares... intriguing! Also that cover is the slanted font and the burgundy colors.

Also, for ten more books I'm looking forward to reading, go to my Top Ten Tuesday post here

And last but not least, exciting news: I won my first giveaway!!! I hardly ever win anything so I'm really thrilled :D

I won a copy of

from AuthorsNow! So a huge thank-you to them (and Denise Jaden) for this giveaway!

What books are you waiting on?

September 14, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'm Dying To Read

The "Top Ten Tuesday" meme is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and this week's topic is: books we are dying to get our hands on! These are by no means all the books I'm looking forward to reading, but I tried to pick an assortment of various genres, and also some that are less well-known.

1.) Matched by Allyson Condie - this is my number one anticipated book right now! I've heard so many excellent things about it, and it's dystopian with a romance - what could be better???

2.) Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper - a mystery involving orphans in Victorian London...sounds intriguing!

3.) Jasmyn by Alex Bell - It's supposed to be part fairytale for adults and part thriller...can't wait for this one.

4.) Delirium by Lauren Oliver - I enjoyed Oliver's Before I Fall and like Matched, this one involves dystopian + romance!

5.) Must've Done Something Good by Cheryl Cory - this one's already been released but I haven't managed to get my hands on a copy yet. I love stories about teaching that are part humor, part inspirational, and this sounds just like that!

6.) The Truth About Celia Frost by Paula Rawsthorne. Celia's grown up knowing she has a disorder that could kill her...or that's what she thought. But a knife attack leaves her wondering what kind of secrets have been kept from her, and she's determined to find out. Sorry, no cover yet (in fact there isn't even an entry yet for it on Goodreads).

7.) Entwined by Heather Dixon - Okay, part of it is just that I adore this cover. But also, it sounds like it's based on the story of the twelve dancing princesses and as you know I love fairytale retellings!

8.) Losing Faith by Denise Jaden - this one involves death and secrets and cults, from what I understand. Sounds gritty and emotionally intense!

9.) Memento Nora by Angie Smibert - another dystopian, this one's premise sounding reminiscent of Brave New World. You can pop a pill anytime you want to forget something. But Nora wants to hold onto her memories and rebel... Memory is such a slippery thing so it's really interesting when stories play on it.

10.) Divergent by Veronica Roth - I just found out about this one and the premise sounds phenomenal. It's a dystopian world where people are grouped into five factions, each representing a particular virtue. Beatrice must select one faction when she turns sixteen, and then undergo initiation...and sounds like there's secrets and romance in there too! Also, that cover = WOW.

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