masson_scarlet-in-the-snowBel:

Cover

A beautiful young lady in a black & white with a vine accent around the edges. Smack bang in the middle of the cover is an exquisite rose bloom in a wonderfully vivid scarlet. The title is in red, and I quite like the effect.

Characters

Magic practitioners, young women climbing the social ladder, and the stereotypical hero and heroine can be found in this one.

Favourite

Old Bony. She’s a bit of a nasty character, but her heart is in the right place.

Least Favourite

Ivan. I know this is a fairytale retelling, but seriously?

Beginning

A Beauty and the Beast retelling: girl becomes the prisoner of a beast and this is where it all gets a little too convenient.

Storyline

Girl is sent home, but things occur to make her want to go back to the beast.

Ending

Not quite the Disney version of the happy ending, but it’s close enough.

Thoughts

This was a quick read, but some things fell into the way-too-convenient basket for my liking. However, I do appreciate that Natasha is a brilliantly strong female lead character.

This would definitely be a nice entry-point to fairytale re-tellings for the middle grade crowd. But for the older YA audience, it’s just not as strong as other versions.

Quote

“Tonight, you ride in the sleigh with my pretties.” ~ Old Bony making evening plans for Natasha

 

sophie-massonKrista:

Cover

The cover had immediate appeal to me, the red really stands out with the white background and represents the story. 

 Characters

Natasha and Ivan. Beauty and the Beast, Natasha comes from  poor family, Ivan from a rich. They both come under the care of Luel for the beginning of the story and the relationships blossom from there.

Favourite

Luel, the care taker of Ivan, an intelligent and magical woman who brought a wonderful motherly element to the story.

Least Favourite

The villain. Usually, I really enjoy the drama the villain adds to this story, but with this one I just didn’t like him much.

Beginning

Natasha gets caught in a snow storm in the forest; she runs from wolves and finds sanctuary in a mansion. She finds there is nobody around and finds herself drawn to one red rose in the garden. Upon her touch, the rose falls apart and the home-owners demand repayment for their loss.

Storyline

Even though, at first, Natasha is held at the mansion until her debt has been paid, she soon learns of the mystery of the man-beast, Luel and the magic that keeps them in hiding. Natasha soon grows very fond of Ivan and Luel and wants to help him release him from the curse.

Ending

Very powerful, eventful, and big moments that really made this story a beautiful read.

Thoughts

I was a little wary at the beginning but once it really gets going, Natasha begins her travels and meeting the witch it really took off. Set in an alternate Prague, the story recreates the landscape, cultures, and languages. Great world building and characters that you really want to root for. Natasha is a strong and admirable character. I very much enjoyed this fairy tale story and highly recommend it. I love stories that take us on a trip, getting a glimpse at different cultures and social life. Great story telling all around.

Quote

For who as seen Old Bony these days? Not a single soul. Not once in a hundred years has she shown her long thin nose and sharp teeth to people anywhere.  Who knows, maybe her brand of magic, the magic you hear of from the old stories, cannot survive in our modern world of telegraphs and trains and typewriters. 



You all remember that scene from Mean Girls, where Janis is explaining the cliques in the school cafeteria?

 

van wagen-popular-a-memoir-by-maya-van-wagenenMaya starts out below the bottom rung on the popularity ladder at the beginning of eighth grade.

In short, she rediscovers a book written in 1951 by a woman called Betty Cornell, and embarks on a year of experimenting with ideas from the book to see if the Teenage Popularity Guide could do the seemingly impossible–make Maya popular.

The chapters are broken into months and each one tackles a different ‘issue.’  So from top to tail ‘things’ are addressed, and Maya steadfastly battles to not cave in. She has small wins along the way, and to begin with, people react the way you would expect.

There are so many moments of snort-giggle inducing hilarity, that when Maya gets serious, it carries an impressive amount of weight. There are definitely more things going on here than learning how to wash your hair and how to have better posture.

I originally got this book hoping my daughter would read it, because she’s having difficulty connecting with the cliques at her school. Her initial thoughts were that Maya ‘changed herself for the expressed purpose of being popular’, which meant she wasn’t being her authentic self.  I’m still holding out hope she’ll change her mind and give it a chance. Maya is still Maya, but she’s just less fearful of what other people think of her.

There are some things in the book the average Aussie teen won’t be able to put into place at school like the dress code and the string of pearls. The majority of the other ideas will produce surprising results.

I believe Popular was more about blurring the lines chasms between the separate groups in a school, than it ever was about a person becoming more pleasing to the eye.

Maya is a really well spoken young woman, and I do hope she’ll continue writing, as she has a brilliant sense of humour and a fearless outlook on life.

The most important question that started it all was what does popular mean?

You’ll be astounded to read what Maya and her peers come to realise is the truth of Popularity.

I’d love to know what you consider to be the definition of Popular.

https://twitter.com/MayaVanWagenen

 

Paperback, 259 pages

Published April 15th 2014 by Penguin

ISBN 0141353252 (ISBN13: 9780141353258)

 



Kunze_Kill-the-Music-cover1-263x408Bel:

Cover

The title draws the eye with grungy bright wording. Pink sneakers standing on a stage door pass covered in blood, hinting at the storyline. All in all, it is highly effective!

Characters

All standard issue boy band types can be found here.

Favourite

Genevieve. Awesome best friend.

Least Favourite

Alan Knightley. Just grrr!

Beginning

Lorna starts at a state high school while her brother’s band, Turmoil, spends some time back on Aussie soil.

Storyline

While doing homework in a dressing room, Lorna overhears a plot to kill the band. Can she figure out who wants to endanger her brother and the rest of the boys before they put the plan into action?

Ending

Guess ya gotta read it to find this one out.

Thoughts

This was a fun, quick romp. I enjoyed the banter between the band members. Nansi Kunze has a knack with creating tension and writing likeable characters. This would be perfect for those in the Northern Hemisphere to take on a summer vacation, or just read in a warm sunny spot.

Quote

“Apparently I’m a disruptive influence,” I said, “Or do you think it’s something else? Jealousy maybe? Perhaps he had a band once, and they never made it big because he was too damned ugly…” ~ Lorna talking about her home-room teacher.

 

 

Nansi-Kunze-profile-picKrista:

Cover

Punk Rock! Gritty background of purple and black with bright lettering, cute shoes and bloody pass! Very appealing, attention grabbing, and cute.

Characters

Variety of characters in this one; Lorna the MC who is the sister of a band member of Turmoil, her friend Gen, and the members of the band.  The characters have great chemistry together, and it shows through the writing.

Favourite

Marius–he is a joker, ladies man, member of the band, and hilarious.  And Flint, he is a really great, caring brother.

Least Favourite

I really didn’t have a least favourite (besides the villain who I will not name). Every character had a place and fitted into the story perfectly.

Beginning

Lorna’s guardian is her older brother who also happens to be in a very popular international band. She has been travelling with them but finally has a chance at a more settled life and a normal school. Bad thing is that everybody knows her brother, and she’s bombarded with questions from classmates until she finds a friend in Gen. Then she overhears a possible plot to kill the band members by somebody inside the entourage. Since she’s on the inside, the Constable asks her to help figure out which person it could be.

Storyline

Lorna agrees to take on the job of being “undercover” to help figure out who is plotting to kill the band.

Ending

Heart pounding and very climatic. A lot of things happen at once and big secrets revealed.

Thoughts

What I loved most about the book was the travelling. Lorna travels anywhere the band goes, so the whole book is not just set at the school with all the love-struck girls. I also loved the friendship that Lorna and Flint (her brother) have. There is constant movement in the story which keeps everything fast-paced and entertaining. It’s a very humorous and cute read.

Quote

I watched in alarm as Marius undid the belt of his yukata and let it slip from his shoulders, so that only his underwear remained. Clearly I had to stop him before he went any further. The problem was, all my instincts went against it-after all, I was naked in here. And though I’d seen Marius in very little clothing plenty of times, there’s a big difference between seeing someone in a pair of Speedos and revealing that you’ve been spying on them while they stripped off.

Marius’s hands reached for his undies. It was now or never.

“You do realise this is the woman’s bath, right?”

Lisa:

mishaps_Nansi KunzeCover

I didn’t get to see the cover, so I can’t comment.

Characters

Sadly, I didn’t really relate to any of the characters. We don’t get to know much about Lorna except that her brother is in a band named Turmoil and that she travels and spends a lot of time with them. I expected more from her, considering she’s the little sister of such a huge star.

Favorite

I didn’t really have one other than Gen, simply because she was such a good friend. But no one in particular really stuck out.

Least Favorite

I don’t really have a least favorite either, but there was one scene that really bothered me. Lorna was at school and a lot of people wanted to ask her questions, so she decided to answer a few. When one student asked her if Marius really cheated on his ex-girlfriend, Lorna responded by saying, she isn’t sure and can’t really release information like that anyway…

But then later she turns around to Gen, and basically tells her all the rumours she’s heard about the situation; that Marius let the fame get to his head, and that he was caught with another girl, making out.

Later Lorna finds out that the rumour wasn’t true, and she feels like crap about it.

It irked me so much, that at first Lorna defends the band, but then completely throws one of its members under the bus, when she, herself, doesn’t even know what’s true. I hate it when people gossip, so this definitely bothered me.

Beginning

The beginning was pretty fast paced. We learned about the band, and that Lorna was going back to a normal high school. We also witnessed Lorna make a new best friend and avoid a creepy guy. It was only a few pages in when Lorna over hears someone plotting to kill her brother and his friends.

Middle

Lorna learns the truth about Marius. We, the readers, get to discover what happened to Lorna, Flint, and Marius’s parents.

Ending

I’ll have to admit that the ending was pretty intense! It did keep my attention and had me sitting on the edge of my seat. The entire story, I was back and forth between who it could be trying to bomb up the band, but I never did I guess who it actually was. The ending of Kill the Music was my favourite part.

Overall Thoughts

I think I didn’t enjoy it as much as Bel and Krista because I simply couldn’t connect with any of the characters. 



kenyon_illusionJust when you thought there is nothing Sherrilyn could do to make Nick Gautier suffer more…along comes Illusion. Two words: alternate reality. Uh huh, everything is not as it seems, and how the heck is Nick going to get back to his own type of ‘normal’?

We flick between Nick’s usual reality and the one he’s stuck in. We see his friends trying to get him back to where he’s supposed to be, and his ‘friends’ trying to make his life a living hell. I don’t think Nick will ever see his destiny in the same way again.

I’ve loved this series to date, and Illusion ups the stakes by so much you wonder how the next book will top that. (Didn’t I say something similar in the review for Inferno?)

Kenyon is skilled at making her characters relatable yet vulnerable, without being complete pushovers. Her female characters have no problem saving the day and doing what needs to be done, regardless of the cost. Each person has their own quirks and mannerisms, with voices as individual as a fingerprint. There really is something special about how Sherrilyn has crafted this series.

Her world building is second to none, and considering she now has over 70 books published, you would expect the level of confidence and strength we see in both The Chronicles of Nick and the Dark Hunter series, along with many others.

Defiant, book 6, is due out in 2015 and will absolutely be on my most-anticipated-reads list.

http://www.sherrilynkenyon.com/ 

Paperback, 464 pages

Published April 3rd 2014 by ATOM (first published April 1st 2014)

ISBN 1907411577 (ISBN13: 9781907411571)



bishop_crowsMeg Corbyn, a Cassandra Sangue (one who sees prophesies with a little bloodletting), has finally found her place among the Others, living in the Lakeside Courtyard. Life is getting back to a semblance of normal.

Beyond Lakeside, two addictive drugs have become a problem for both humans and the Others; it is a problem for the Others because it reacts badly with their physiology, and a problem for humans because, with the threat of humans using the drugs to overpower the Others, they’re all about to be evicted, or ‘dealt with.’ Special meat anyone?

Meg is at her wits’ end trying to balance her need to speak prophesies and keep Simon Wolfguard (lakeside’s leader) off her back. Will she able to defuse the threat of humans being murdered before more of the Others fall victim to these two heinous drugs?

The dynamics between Meg and the other characters in this book is something special. When they’re not in kill-mode, the residents of Lakeside are sweet and generous. There’s humour and a generous helping of suspense to be found in Murder of Crows.

Anne Bishop is a master of making her characters work together, in spite of her males being alphas and her females not being helpless and meek little things. By getting them to work together, I think Anne gains a complexity in her storylines that others may lack.

That being said, I think perhaps this series is better suited for the older age brackets of YA, as there are some truly heinous acts towards the other Cassandra Sangue that was perhaps only hinted at in Written in Red.

Vision in Silver is due in March 2015 and, my goodness, that seems like forever away. I cannot wait to find out what happens next with Meg and Simon. Awrooooooooo!

 

http://www.annebishop.com/

Paperback, 337 pages

Published March 2014 by HarperCollins

ISBN13 9780732296827



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