Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review of Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

MasqueoftheRedDeath Basic Info

Release date: April 24, 2012

Pages: 320 (hardcover)

Interest: debut author, Edgar Allen Poe

Source: Goodreads First Reads program/contest

I won! I won!  I won!  Okay, this is the first ARC I’ve ever gotten besides in a book tour.  It was very exciting for me.

Rating: **** 4 stars

The story was a bit creepy and dark, and not so happy.  I am more of a happy story girl, so I think it dropped a star in my mind for it’s creepiness.  It could be a 5 star book for you, if you don’t mind the darkness.

Summary from Goodreads.com

Everything is in ruins.
A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.
So what does Araby Worth have to live for?
Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.
But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.
And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.


I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book. I have since learned that Masque of the Red Death is an Edgar Allen Poe story. Which explains the feel to this novel. It's deliciously creepy. A book that works it's way into your thoughts even when you're not reading, and keeps you up at night.
It has the feel of a dystopian novel, due to all of the discontent, political unrest, and destruction. The story takes place in a world ridden with plague. Everyone is scared, society has crumbled, and is ruled by a cruel man who calls himself Prince Prospero.
Our main character Araby, is the daughter of a renowned scientist. He invented the masks that keep people safe from the contagion. Unfortunately the prince limits their distribution to the wealthy, so disease and fear still abound. Araby is complex and strongly affected by the death of her twin years earlier to the disease. Araby was harder to like at first because she was so depressed. Once she starts living again the novel really takes off though. Then we get a little bit of love triangle, a crazy religious zealot, and the makings of a revolution.
Content issues: The teens of the upper crust party late into the night in the debauchery district. Despite the name, there really wasn't too much smut described. No swears either, but a darker subject matter, drug/alcohol use, plenty of death, and puss filled sores.

Book pairings

Dearly Departed by Lia Habel (also about raging disease: in this case zombies.  Also about the daughter of a scientist, but a bit happier book in tone)

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (also gets its inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Top Ten Fairytale Retellings


Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. As lovers of books and of lists, they post a list each week. Check it out for other lists, and to link up your own list there.

This week’s topic is:

Top Ten (choose your own genre) Books

In my case, I’m going with fairytale retellings since that was one genre I knew I’d read more than ten books in that I could recommend!


10. Entwined by Heather Dixon-Retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I’m always glad when there are so many princesses and the author alphabetizes their names so I can tell who the oldest is :)


9. Cinder by Marissa Meyer-Retelling of Cinderella. I was thrown off at first by the cyborg element, but even for those, like me, who aren’t sure if they’ll like the science fiction bit of it, it was well worth it :)


8. Beauty by Robin McKinley-Retelling of Beauty and the Beast (middle grade fiction).

Ella Enchanted

7. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine-Retelling of Cinderella (middle grade).

Violet Eyes

6. Violet Eyes by Debbie Vigue-Retelling of the Princess and the Pea. Anyone else always wondered why a pea proves that you’re a princess, and who would want the queen for a mother-in-law after that treatment? This story finally gives a good background.

Wide Awake Princess

5. The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker-Retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Middle grade fiction. Sleeping Beauty’s parents don’t trust fairies at christenings anymore, when their second daughter is born, they ask for no magical pronouncements or gifts. The result is that their second daughter is immune to magic, and therefore able to help break her sister’s spell. A fun adventure, and a bit of romance.

Sun and Moon

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow-Retelling of East of the Moon and West of the Sun (or something like that). It’s the polar bear king story. Anyway, not told often, but a gem among fairytales.

Goose Girl 3. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale-A retelling of, you guessed it, the Goose Girl. There’s a whole series and world built off of this story, but the first book here is by far the best.

Wildwood Dancing

2. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier-Retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and the Frog Prince.

My Unfair Godmother1. My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison-Retelling of Robin Hood and Rumplestiltskin. Unbelievably funny and sweet.

Anything you’re dying to add to my list?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Review of Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

PrettyCrookedBasic Info:

Release date: March 13, 2012

Pages: 358 (hardcover)

Interest: Debut author, Robin Hood-like thievery

Source: Debut Author Challenge ARC tours

Rating: **** 4 stars

Summary (from Goodreads.com):

High school sophomore Willa and her artist mother move to Arizona where Willa starts attending an elite prep school after her mother finally sells some paintings, and Willa attempts to even things out by stealing from the rich students and giving to the poor ones.


Willa has been living in small trashy apartments with her mom her whole life.  Suddenly, her mother is successful as an artist and they start over in a new community with a nice house and money!  Willa is almost immediately accepted by the popular girls (“the Glitterati”), and thinks that life can’t get any better.  Then, she starts to see how the scholarship girls at the school are treated because they can’t afford all of the trendy clothes.  She also realizes that she doesn’t know or like her new best friends at all.  Here comes the Robin Hood plot: Willa decides to steal from the rich, undeserving, kids at her school and help out the less fortunate.

A little cliché at times, and often predictable, but a fun read.  Some reviews I’ve seen criticize Willa for her way of evening the playing field, and her not having more sense.  Really, at sixteen, I don’t think any of us are at our brightest…

I wasn’t sure what to think when I read the prologue.  I’m so used to movies like Ocean’s 11, 12, and 13, the Italian Job, and books like Ally Carter’s Heist Society.   I’m used to rooting for the thieves, and then catching myself later and saying, “wait a minute, isn’t stealing wrong, illegal, etc.?”  Pretty Crooked started you out knowing that Willa was likely to be caught.  While this put me off for a minute, it wasn’t what I’d expected, I wanted to know how she got to the point of stealing, and running from the law.  Really, that’s the draw of the book. 

So, if you are looking for clever, successful criminals, read Ally Carter.  If you want a story of the haves and have-nots, with a cute, cocky, persistent boy, and a protagonist who’s still learning about herself, then read Pretty Crooked.  There are some loose ends to the story that definitely set it up for a sequel, but no looming cliffhanger.

Content issues: teen drinking, I can’t recall any swearing

Monday, February 20, 2012

Top Ten Books I’d Quickly Save if my House was Going to be Abducted by Aliens

TopTenTuesdayTop Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. As lovers of books and of lists, they post a list each week. Check it out for other lists, and to link up your own list there.

This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Books I’d Quickly Save if my House was Going to be Abducted by Aliens (or any other natural calamity were to occur)

We actually had a wildfire within 100 yards of our house two years ago, when I thought about saving things, particularly books, I knew that I’d be able to replace them.   So, for the sake of argument here, I’m going to pretend that I won’t be able to get online and reorder them as soon as the dust settles.  Here are my picks:

Sentimental picks

SorceryCecelia_mech.indd *Sorcery and Cecelia by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede.  Hey, I named my first born child out of this book, and I absolutely love it, so for sentimental and entertainment reasons it’s coming.

*Scrapbooks-I know I’m cheating a little, because I have more than one, but all of those pictures, and all of that creative effort, I’m bringing them!

“I’m going to need a good laugh/ pick me up after the alien invasion” picks

My Unfair Godmother * My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison

*Revenge of the Cheerleaders by Janette Rallison

-Janette Rallison is by far my favorite writer for romantic comedies.  Her characters are fun and witty, and always make me laugh out-loud and smile.

*The Season by Sarah MacLean

“I can’t imagine never reading this book again” picks

DieforMe *Forgotten by Cat Patrick

*Die for Me by Amy Plum






“I might be able to glean some survival tips from these” picks

The Host *The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

*Divergent by Veronica Roth

*The Host by Stephenie Meyer-aliens, see the relevance here?

Review of Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

ScarletUS.indd Basic Info

Released: February 14, 2012

Pages: 292 (hardcover)

Interest: Debut Author, Robin Hood

Rating: **** 4 stars

Summary (from Goodreads.com)

Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.
Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.
It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.


I was pretty intrigued when I heard about Scarlet, pretty much all I knew was that it was the story of Robin Hood where Will Scarlet is actually a girl.  Since I didn’t know much about Will Scarlet, it was easy to make that switch in my head.

Scarlet was a quick and exciting read.  There was plenty of adventure and a dose of mystery.  I think I could guess Scarlet’s background before Robin and the rest did.  You probably will too, the other characters were a little dense about it :).  The setting is well developed, and the characters a younger, more hot-headed generation.  The one thing I wondered about was: where is Prince John?  I’m so used to seeing him as the villain.  In this case we had the Sheriff of Nottingham and Gisbourne the thief taker, who were both superb villains.  Maybe Prince John will enter the storyline in later books…

There is a touch of romance, and a big helping of jealousy involved in the story.  If you’re looking for adventure, the romance won’t be enough to distract you, if you’re reading for romance it will just whet your appetite.  The characters actually know each other, or are working on it, as opposed to simply groping each other.  No instant romance here, just the conversation and development that could lead to a more lasting romance later. 

Scarlet did not have a big cliffhanger, but it did leave enough loose ends for the weaving of the next story.  I’m betting on this becoming a series, but it could also settle here if it needed to.

I would highly recommend this book to fans of Robin Hood, or others looking for an adventure with a pinch of romance.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review of Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

bornwickedBasic Info

Released: February 7, 2012

Pages: 326 (hardcover)

Interest: witches, and debut author

Rating: *** 3 stars

Summary (from Goodreads.com)

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship, or an early grave.


Enter a world like turn of the century New England society. I think it's supposed to be set closer to the 1990s, but the cultural aspects and lack of technology put it back a century. New England used to be run by witches, then their temples were burned, the witches were rooted out and likewise burned, and the Brotherhood came into power. Everything is limited, everyone is watched, and the Brotherhood pretty much tells girls how wicked they are for being female. They also preach against education, independence, and lesbianism, and since their other teachings are so far fetched it felt like I was supposed to encourage homosexuality now and was bad and evil like the Brotherhood if I didn't.
So, we have a domineering Brotherhood going on witch hunts, and three sisters who happen to be witches. The Cahill girls lost their mother and since then Cate has been trying her hardest to keep her promise to protect her sisters. There's a suspicious new governess, a nosy neighbor, the boy next door ready to marry Cate, and of course the gardener that Cate just can't stop thinking about.

Jessica Spotswood built an interesting world, I liked the premise, and there were some good twists and turns.  There’s also a lot more to learn about this series.

If you took out the girl on girl kissing, I would have liked it more. For me at least, I'd want it from the library, but not to own.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Books I’m Excited to Read in 2012


Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. As lovers of books and of lists, they post a list each week. Check it out for other lists, and to link up your own list there.

This week’s topic is:

The Top Ten Books I’m Excited to Read in 2012

Sometimes I have trouble getting a full ten books on my list, this time I think I’ll have trouble narrowing it down!

SomethingStrangeandDeadlybig 10. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard-An army of the dead loose in Philadelphia, and it sounds like it’s set around 1900.





Enchanted 9. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis-A retelling of the Frog Prince by a debut author!






Cursed 8. Cursed by Jennifer Armentrout-Ember died in a car accident, after her sister somehow brought her back, Ember’s touch makes things die.  Now she’s on a no touch policy, and realizing that the car accident may not have been an accident after all.  Cursed reminds me of the TV show Pushing Daisies, so I can’t wait to read it!


Selection 7. The Selection by Kiera Cass-Sounds like a dystopian version of the bachelor :)  35 girls competing to marry the prince, while rebels attack the castle.





6. Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George-No cover yet

Hallowed 5. Hallowed by Cynthia Hand-Sequel to Unearthly (the best Angel book I’ve read).






Erasing Time 4. Erasing Time by C. J. Hill-I don’t know anything about this book except that the cover looks cool, and it’s written by C.J. Hill (Janette Rallison) who’s one of my favorite authors of all time!




Revived 3. Revived by Cat Patrick-I loved Cat’s book, Forgotten, which came out last year.  Revived isn’t a sequel, but another stand alone book.  It’s about a future in which there’s a drug called revive (used by a secret government agency) that can bring people back from the dead.  I’m thinking sci-fi meets psychological thriller meets romance.


Until I Die 2. Until I Die by Amy Plum-Sequel to Die for Me, my favorite paranormal read of 2011.






Insurgent 1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth-Sequel to Divergent.  Need I say more?




What are you excited about reading this year?