Spotlight Friday (12)

Looky here!  It’s week 12 of new, awesome books that will shortly be released!  (That’s pretty much 3 months of books.)  And it’s such a nice Friday, since I only had 1 class today!  Yay me!

Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Release Date: October 13, 2011

Summary (from Goodreads): When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she’s deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem’s muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she’s chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.

What’s To Like: I’m a dancer, so I love reading about other dancers.  Plus, it’s so artsy sounding, I’m excited.  To dance or to write?  That is the question.  It just sounds like a cool story to me.  I like the struggle she’s facing.

Wherever You Go by Heather Davis

Release Date: November 14, 2011

Summary (from Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Holly Mullen has felt lost and lonely ever since her boyfriend, Rob, died in a tragic accident. The fact that she has to spend most of her free time caring for her little sister and Alzheimer’s-stricken grandfather doesn’t help. But Holly has no idea that as she goes about her days, Rob’s ghost is watching over her. He isn’t happy when he sees his best friend, Jason, reach out to help Holly with her grandfather—but as a ghost, he can do nothing to stop it. Is his best friend really falling for his girlfriend?
     As Holly wonders whether to open her heart to Jason, the past comes back to haunt her. Her grandfather claims to be communicating with the ghost of Rob. Could the messages he has for Holly be real? And if so, how can the loved ones Rob left behind help his tortured soul make it to the other side?
     Told from the perspectives of Holly, Jason, and Rob,Wherever You Go is a poignant story about making peace with the past, opening your heart to love, and finding the courage to move forward into the light.

What’s To Like: I LOVE ghost stories and stories about life going on.  They fascinate me, seeing what everyone believes, because it’s all different.  So this is pretty much a no-brainer that I’m going to read this.  The only thing is that I haven’t been thrilled with any Heather Davis book yet.  Perhaps this will change that.

My review of Wherever You Go.

Illuminated by Erica Orloff

Release Date: December 8, 2011

Summary (from Goodreads): Some loves are not made to last . . . Like Romeo and Juliet, Heloise and Abelard were doomed from the start, and their romance was destined to pass into history. Yet when sixteen-year-old Callie Martin discovers a diary hidden within an antique book, their story—and hers—takes on another life. For the diary leads Callie to the brilliant and handsome August, who is just as mysterious as the secret the diary hides. Their attraction is undeniable. As the two hunt down the truth behind the diary—and that of Heloise and Abelard’s ancient romance—their romance becomes all-consuming. But Callie knows it can’t last . . . love never does. Will their love that burns as bright as a shooting star flame out, or will these star-crossed lovers be able to defy history?

What’s To Like: Again, I’m a complete sucker for star-crossed lovers stories.  I’m 100% a romantic at heart, even though people argue Romeo & Juliet is more tragic than romantic (and it kind of is, but that’s a bigger argument than I want to get into).  The point is that, as the summary says, love really doesn’t last.  Star-crossed lovers are like soulmates, I suppose, so it’s very interesting for me to see how their story goes.

Possess

First Lines: Bridget stared at the clock on the wall and cursed its painfully slow progression toward three fifteen.  Was the big hand even moving?  She slipped her cell phone out of her backpack for cross-reference.  Damn.  Seven more minutes.  It was so like a Catholic school to make Latin the last class of the day.  Institutionalized Purgatory.

This was one book I picked up at the library, but I didn’t want to read it right away.  I wanted to read the other, more hyped-up books I had.  This got pushed off until it was the last one.  And I almost wish I’d read it first.

Bridget Liu’s life hasn’t been the same since the day nine months ago when her father was murdered.  But it’s even more bizarre now, since she started exorcising demons with the local priest.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, her mom has started flirting with local men again and the son of one of these men has a crush on Bridget.  She so does not want to get involved with that.  When demonic activity picks up to dangerous levels, the Vatican sends in reinforcements in the form of another priest.  But who is responsible for all this demonic activity?  And can Bridget stop them before they hurt someone?

I thought it was really good.  It wasn’t your average demon story, at least in my opinion.  Half the demon stories out there are like girl-meets-demon, demon-is-good, girl-and-demon-fall-in-love.  Blech.  This was refreshingly normal in that these demons were BAD.  There’s one plot line that wasn’t really resolved that talked about good demons…?  I’m not sure.  I guess there’s a possible sequel for 2013.

Anyway, I thought it was a fairly complex story.  There was a good mystery, good suspense, and characters I adored.  I will say that the ending came quite suddenly.  It was like plot lines appeared out of nowhere and things the characters shouldn’t have known, they did.  The intro to the ending was just a little weird, I guess is what I’m trying to say.  The actual climax was pretty awesome.  I enjoyed it.

Honestly, I think it’s a pretty cool read.  Bridget’s very snarky, sassy.  It made interactions with other characters quite fun to read.  I think I giggled a few times.

The Next Big Thing (11)

Hello lovelies!  I haven’t forgotten you, no matter how poorly I’ve been updating.  Time slips by like sand through my fingers now.  I barely have time to catch my breath anymore, let alone read/update!  But I’m working on it, as evidenced by this post.

The Next Big Thing – Well-Known Stories With a Twist

This is actually insanely popular, as far as I can tell.  Think of it as the book industry’s version of what movies are doing now.  They steal the plot or general idea from a well-known story or legend and revamp it.  Some tell it from a different character’s point of view while others retell the story in a different era.  Mostly, I’m excited to read these books instead of being bored and upset, like I am with the movie industry.

As a quick catch-all, I’m going to say that I consider all stories based on Greek mythology to be included in this.  So instead of filling half of my post talking about Greek mythology, I’m just going to tell you to look at my very first Next Big Thing post.

For the non-Greek stories, we actually have quite the selection.  In just a few days, we’ll have The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, which is about a Jack the Ripper copy cat murderer.  In a year or so, we’ll have Tiger Lily, a story from the point of view of Tiger Lily in Peter Pan.  Along the same vein, there’s Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber, which is a mix of Pride and Prejudice, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin is based directly off of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story of the same name and Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen is about Will Scarlet from the Robin Hood legend, if “Will Scarlet” was actually just “Scarlet”, a girl.

Was I lying when I said there were a lot of these?  This is only a fraction of the ones I know of.  There’s also Juliet Immortal, anything that has a biblical/angel story, and anything else with a Romeo and Juliet-esque (which are a lot of love stories now).

Will they be good?  I feel a majority will be.  There may be a few duds, but I’m interested.  I’m particularly digging the darker stories, like the Poe-based one and Darker Still.  What can I say?  I’m a gothic girl at heart.

Starcrossed (Starcrossed, #1)

First Lines: “But if you bought me a car now, it would be yours when I go away to school in two years.  Still practically new,” Helen said optimistically.  Unfortunately, her father was no sucker.

Initially, what drew me to this was the Greek mythology.  Admittedly, I know very little about Helen of Troy, the legend upon which this story relies heavily.  I’m more into the Greek gods and goddesses.  Plus, I’m just a sucker for star-crossed lovers.

Helen has lived a normal life.  She has her friends, and her enemies.  Life in Nantucket was just…life.  Until the Delos family arrives.  The instant Helen see Lucas Delos, she feels a murderous rage, unlike anything she can explain.  Suddenly, life just got a whole lot more complicated.  Why did the Delos family come to Nantucket?  Why do they keep looking at Helen like she’s an enemy, but also one of them?  And why is she always so angry when she sees them?

When I started reading, I thought, “Oh great.  Another Twilight.”  The first couple of chapters where nearly exactly like that from Twilight, if the Cullens had come to Bella instead of the other way around.  But after it took off, boy did it fly!  I was so drawn in by the mythology and the mystery and the characters themselves.  Particularly Helen, Lucas, Claire, and Jason.

I thought the story was incredibly unique and fun to read.  Claire’s snark definitely lightened many scenes and I’m excited to see her in the following book(s).

The final gripe I have is that all that uniqueness fell apart in about the last 100 pages.  A plot line from another very popular YA series was incorporated and I didn’t like it.  (I didn’t like it in the original story either.)  Of course, I will keep reading this series, but I’m just a little disappointed that the ending wasn’t more its own.  Great.  Now I sound like Simon Cowell.

Spotlight Friday (11)

Hey guys!  I’ll have a review of a pretty awesome book out later today, so stop back to check that out!  Here’s the spotlight for the week!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1) by Michelle Hodkin

Release Date: September 27, 2011

Summary (from Goodreads): Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

What’s To Like: Heck of a description, isn’t it?  It sounds a little trite, reading through it, but I’m curious.  Mara doesn’t have any memory of what happened.  Cool, I can work with that.  What I really want to know is what’s up with this person she falls in love with.  I want to know who they are!

My review of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

Carrier of the Mark (Carrier, #1) by Leigh Fallon

Release Date: October 4, 2011

Summary (from Goodreads)Their love was meant to be.

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she’s surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRís.

But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.

What’s To Like: Hello, tied fates that bring them together and destroy them?  I’m sold!  Normally, this kind of stuff is about Greek mythology, but I’m really hoping this has some heavy Irish, Welsh, or Celtic mythology.  Fun stuff.  Crossing my fingers.

There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

Release Date: October 4, 2011

Summary (from Goodreads):  In a small cottage house in rural Ireland, Finley discovers she can no longer outrun the past.

When Finley travels to Ireland as a foreign exchange student, she hopes to create a new identity and get some answers from the God who took her brother away and seems to have left her high and dry.

But from the moment she boards the plane and sits by Beckett Rush, teen star of the hottest vampire flicks, nothing goes according to Finley’s plan.

When she gets too close to Beckett, a classmate goes on a mission to make sure Finley packs her bags, departs Ireland-and leaves Beckett alone.

Finley feels the pressure all around. As things start to fall apart, she begins to rely on a not-so-healthy method of taking control of her life.

Finley tries to balance it all-disasters on the set of Beckett’s new movie, the demands of school, and her growing romance with one actor who is not what he seems. Yet Finley is also not who she portrays to Beckett and her friends.

For the first time in her life, Finley must get honest with herself to get right with God.

What’s To Like: Actually, a lot.  I’m quite drawn to the idea that a normal girl can end up in a relationship with a movie star (gee, I wonder why).  I also like the Irish setting for the story, which really doesn’t get as much recognition as it deserves.  Plus, Finley’s a wounded girl and I always want to see them win in the end.

My review of There You’ll Find Me.

The Next Big Thing (10)

As promised, I’m going to try to make this one better than the last.  Again, I apologize for that.  I just got so lost in doing homework and hanging with friends that I forgot about my segment.  I hope you like this one because it returns to how I originally started this segment and this next big thing is pretty hot right now.

The Next Big Thing – European Love

About the time we got Anna and the French Kiss is about the time we started seeing a spike in love stories taking place in different European countries, typically France and Italy.  And that’s really cool.  For those of us who can’t travel to foreign countries (you know, like broke college students), this is a great escape to a world I can only dream about.  The gorgeous backdrops to these stories are almost characters in themselves.

Already out, we obviously have Anna and the French Kiss, which is just beautiful.  There’s also Wake Unto Me, a historical fiction/ghost story set in a castle in France; The Juliet Club, a romance set in Verona, Italy; and Die For Me, a paranormal story set in France.

Coming soon, we have quite a few.  There’s There You’ll Find Me, a story of a normal girl and a celebrity boy set in Ireland and The Fine Art of Truth or Dare, which sounds a lot like Anna in the summary.  I’m not exactly sure where the book When You Open Your Eyes is set, but the boy in the relationship is very French.  In that same thread, I’m also going to mention The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, which technically takes place in New York, but the boy is English.

I know it’s not a European story, but I can’t complete this segment without also mentioning Stolen: A letter to my captor, which takes place in Australia.  It’s an amazing, amazing story that I cannot in good conscious not mention.  Finally, I also have an upcoming story, Wanderlove, which takes place in Central/South America.

Travel the world without leaving the comfort of your own home!

Supernaturally (Paranormalcy, #2)

First Lines: Oh, bleep.  I was going to die.  I was going to die a horrible, gruesome, painful death.

I will start off by saying that Evie is probably in my top ten favorite heroines because of her take-no-prisoners attitude with a side of sass when it comes to taking out anyone who needs to be taught a lesson.  I love it.  So I’m slightly biased.

*Potential Series Spoilers, if you haven’t read the first book*

Life for Evie has been normal lately.  And for Evie, normal isn’t as awesome as she thought it would be.  She’s bored with school, with having nothing to do after school except work at the diner, do homework, and wait for the weekend when she’ll get to see Lend.  When Evie is offered a job at IPCA again (completely confidentially), she nearly jumps at the chance to make a difference again.  But her new partner, Jack, isn’t ideal.  He’s hyper, annoying, and completely incompetent.  He’s also her only option of traveling from place to place unless she wants to align herself with the faeries again.  Which she doesn’t want to do.  When supernaturals start attacking Evie at an alarming rate, she realizes someone is trying to have her killed.  But who?

I thought it was really good.  It’s a bit darker than the last one, but that’s to be expected.  Evie is still sarcastic, still as sharp as a whip.  That’s really all that matters.

The story itself is a bit harder to follow this time as well.  I’ve seen reviews where people just didn’t like it because it was so complicated.  I didn’t think it was too bad.  Yes, there were a few plot lines that were surprising or appear to be superfluous at this point, but they’ll probably come into play a lot more later in the series.

I was glad to see more of my favorite characters and meet some new ones.  There were few new ones, admittedly, but still.  I just like seeing them.