From that time on, the world was hers for the reading....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Carrie Ryan: The Dead-Tossed Waves

The biggest surprise--and most excellent book--I encountered last year was The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I mean, it absolutely captivated me from beginning to end. So, of course, I found myself counting down the days until I could read The Dead-Tossed Waves!

Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She's content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry's mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry's generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother's past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

It didn't take more than a chapter for me to fully immerse myself in Gabry's world.

There are many parallels--characters losing loved ones to Mudo (zombie-like humans thirsty for blood and a need to infect everyone), exploring the Forest of Hands and Teeth (looking for answers and safety while dodging the Mudo and other dangers), and falling in love (coping with a painful love triangle)--but The Dead-Tossed Waves is unique in its narration and initial seaside location.

What I loved the most was how the characters and stories from both books were tied together so perfectly. A lot of the questions I had as I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth were answered. But, like good writers should, Carrie Ryan had me asking even more questions and wanting to know everything.

The new setting and characters open the reader up to a different side of the post-apocalyptic world, but the always-looming Mudo make it just as frightening (maybe more)! I was looking over my shoulder as I read and trying to talk the characters through the Forest.

This book did not disappoint. In fact, I expected it to be amazing, and it exceeded all of my expectations. Once again, Carrie Ryan created a downright terrifying world filled with uncertainties, horror, and maybe even a little hope. She told a mesmerizing story that left me in awe of her imagination and writing talent.

I am literally on the edge of my seat waiting for The Dark and Hollow Places, the third book in the series, which is scheduled for publication in Spring 2011.

For more information, visit Carrie Ryan at:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kimberly Derting: The Body Finder

I love a good murder mystery, so I was excited to read The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting.

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies--or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer--and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

With such an interesting premise and a main character whose senses can help find the bodies of murder victims (whether she likes it or not), I had very high hopes for this book.

Some parts were interesting. Having chapters narrated by the serial killer interspersed throughout the book added a spine-tingling touch. And I couldn't help but feel sorry for Violet as she stumbled upon corpses and struggled with her "power." When she got close to the killer, my heart raced and I worried for her.

However, the book was a major letdown as it focused too much on the relationship between Violet and her best friend Jay. The story was bogged down by endless descriptions of their "breathless" and "exhausting" make out sessions that left Violet "craving more."

Still, Kimberly Derting has a great imagination and I would not hesitate to give her next book a chance.

For more information, visit Kimberly Derting at:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lindsey Leavitt: Princess for Hire

At the beginning of the year, I won a contest. My prize? Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt ()! I was very excited because this book ranked very high on my "to read" list.

When an immaculately dressed woman steps out of an iridescent bubble and asks you if you'd like to become a substitute princess, do you

a) run
b) faint
c) say Yes!

For Desi Bascomb, who's been longing for a bit of glamour in her Idaho life, the choice is a definite C--that is, once she can stop pinching herself. As her new agent Meredith explains, Desi has a rare magical ability: when she applies the ancient Egyptian formula "Royal Rouge," she can transform temporarily into the exact lookalike of any princess who needs her subbing services. Dream come true, right?

Well, Desi soon discovers that subbing involves a lot more than wearing a tiara and waving at cameras. Like, what do you do when a bullying older sister puts you on a heinous crash diet? Or when the tribal villagers gather to watch you perform a ceremonial dance you don't know? Or when a princess's conflicted sweetheart shows up to break things off--and you know she would want you to change his mind?

In this hilarious, winning debut, one girl's dream of glamour transforms into something bigger: the desire to make a positive impact. And an impact Desi makes, one royal fiasco at a time.

I thought Lindsey Leavitt came up with a really interesting premise for her debut. Seriously. What little girl hasn't pretended to be a princess? Or fantasized about replacing her ho-hum daily existence with something more exciting and glamorous? I know I have, which made "Princess For Hire" a delectable treat from beginning to end.

I thought the characters were marvelously entertaining, especially Desi's no-nonsense princess agent Meredith. She's tough on the outside, but has a soft spot or Desi and really wants what's best for her and all of the princesses involved.

Desi is a typical girl dealing with boy trouble, bullies, and daily humiliation. This not only makes her sympathetic, but also easy to relate to. I enjoyed reading the shenanigans she got herself into as she subbed for various princesses. Some of her faux pas were laugh out loud funny.

I was also impressed by the character development. The story alternated between Desi's princess adventures and her home life in Idaho, which not only shines a spotlight on how very different the two worlds are, but also helps Desi come to a better understanding of each lifestyle, turning mistakes into valuable lessons. Being a princess isn't all about a life of luxury, makeovers, and popularity, it's also about having a heart and caring for others. And Desi has a gigantic beating heart.

As the cover suggests, Princess For Hire is girly and pink and fun. It was a quick read and a delightful escape. I really liked it and look forward to Desi's future princess adventures.

For more information, visit Lindsey Leavitt at:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rachel Hawkins: Hex Hall

Ever since my first viewing of "The Wizard of Oz" at age four, witches have fascinated me. When I started hearing about Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, I knew I had to read it.

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father-an elusive European warlock-only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Going to school with witches, faeries, shapeshifters, and vampires sounds like an adventure. I mean, could you imagine eating lunch with a shapeshifter? Taking a class taught by a vampire? Having a witch (literally) as your worst enemy? The mind boggles.

Going to school with witches, faeries, shapeshifters, and vampires in need of a little discipline for magic gone awry sounds like a hazardous undertaking. But also kind of fun.

And that's just what Rachel Hawkins delivered in her debut--a lot of fun in the form of a magical, unique world housed within the walls of Hecate Hall (Hex Hall). Her sense of humor was also a nice touch.

The characters were unique, and the heroine, Sophie, is very likable--vulnerable, but also resilient and perceptive. More importantly, she's a loyal friend.

The story was chock full of tension, murder, romance, and "Mean Girls" antics, which moved the plot along at a quick pace. I couldn't stop reading and needed to know what was going to happen next. There were several twists and turns, which kept the ending from being too predictable.

I'm eager to see what happens in the sequel Demonglass, which is scheduled for publication in March 2011.

For more information, visit Rachel Hawkins at:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Birthday -- Jeri Smith-Ready: Shade

Not too long ago, one of my favorite authors, Stephanie Kuehnert, raved about a book called Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready. Music. Ghosts. It sounded like the perfect book for me, so I immediately put it on my "to read" list. Today is the official publication day, and I hope my library gets it soon!

Happy Book Birthday Jeri!


Love ties them together. Death can't tear them apart.

Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.

Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.

Well, sort of.

Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.

It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart?and clues to the secret of the Shift.

Check out the trailer here:

For more information, visit Jeri Smith-Ready at:
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