Monthly Archives: April 2013

Review: A Touch of Scarlet by Eve Marie Mont

A Touch of Scarlet

A Touch of Scarlet
Eve Marie Mont
Teen Fiction
Rating: 4

I was very excited to receive this book through NetGalley, because I really enjoy re-tellings of other stories I’ve already read (even though I didn’t exactly enjoy or even understand The Scarlet Letter when I decided to read it by myself in 9th grade).  A Touch of Scarlet is a great read and I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would.  I expected a frivolous love story somehow taking place back in Hester Prynn’s time, but what I experienced was so much better.  A story of making the right choices, standing up for what you believe in and becoming who you truly are despite what others may think is at the heart of A Touch of Scarlet.

Having not read the previous book, A Breath of Eyre, in Eve Marie Mont’s series, I was still able to enjoy this story on its own because the background information from the previous novel wasn’t necessary to enjoying the plot, but probably would have added to the overall effect (if I had more time I would have read A Breath of Eyre first).  I’m sure the reader would feel even stronger connections to the characters having read the first book in the series also. (I am adding to my TBR list!!)

Emma, the main character has had some traumatic experiences; a rough sophomore year of high school, dealing with the suicide of her mother, however she perseveres and is having the summer of her life with the boy of her dreams, Gray.  Having helped him out of a rough patch the previous year, they seem to share an uncanny even telepathic? bond.   However, their love will be tested, just like Hester Prynn’s and Dimmesdale’s, but is their love doomed from the start too?  And while Emma tries to sort out her love life she seems to mistakes at every turn, putting all of her relationships with friends and family in danger of falling apart.

“There is no right path,” she said. “How would you know the right path if you never chose the wrong one?”

~A Touch of Scarlet by Eve Marie Mont

Her best friend and roommate, Michelle  has isolated Emma and become friends with their once arch enemy Elise. Emma doesn’t even know who she is anymore and to top it all off she keeps going into trances when she goes running and ending up in The Scarlet Letter, but when she wakes up from these subconscious sidetrips she finds herself lost with no recollection of getting there.  Alongside dealing with all of the difficult relationships that come with highschool, Emma also has to deal with a difficult and close-minded principal who has the power to make her life miserable.

Not only does this story deal with Emma’s tumultuous relationships and problems, it also hits on the topic of same-sex couples and the difficulties and hardships of being gay in high school.  I think this book did a great job of opening my eyes (and hopefully others) to this issue as it is the first Young Adult book I have read involving lesbians.  It was a wonderful way to introduce people to the subject and making them understand how important it is to be supportive to people who are struggling to come to terms with who they are.

Love itself was a decision. And if Gray and I really loved each other, we would stay together because we wanted to, not because it was written in the stars. Being with Gray wasn’t my destiny but my choice.

~A Touch of Scarlet by Eve Marie Mont

All in all I loved this book, at times it was bit slow, but overall the messages were outstanding and I feel I gained something from reading it!

Hmm…Fantasy? Review: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Changeling (Order of Darkness, #1)

Changeling (Order of Darkness #1)
Philippa Gregory
YA Historical Fiction
Rating: 3

I have loved Philippa Gregory’s Tudor series in the past, so I was pretty excited when I saw she had written a young adult novel taking place in the 1450’s which was in the historical fiction/fantasy genre. BUT, this was just an OK story for me and I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been expecting so much out of it. I just don’t see where the fantasy was in the book though. I kept waiting and waiting…and waiting and then the book was over and I was very confused about how this was classified as a fantasy novel. Putting aside the fact that I was holding my breath the whole time for something paranormal to happen, the actual storyline wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t amazing either. It was very hard for me to stay focused on the story and took me quite a while to finish reading. I really didn’t feel a strong connection to any of the characters either which didn’t help my meandering attention.

The main male character, Luca, is taken from his home at the monastery and finds himself working for the Pope as a part of the “Order of Darkness”. Luca’s job is to investigate all forms of evil throughout the land since the end of days is believed to be near. He travels with his quirky, yet good-hearted friend, Freize, and a “spy” of the Pope, Brother Peter, who makes sure they follow their duties and complete their inquiries.
Luca’s story interweaves with Isolde’s tale. Isolde has recently lost her father and, to top it all off, been told by her brother that she’s been stripped of all inheritance and must either marry a horrible prince or become abbess of their land’s nunnery. Isolde, along with her faithful friend Ishraq, head to the nunnery where their paths cross with Luca’s.

Luca has come to the nunnery to discover the source of a mysterious problem which started occurring ever since Isolde and Ishraq arrived. What will Luca discover about the mystery of the abbey and what are the implications for Isolde and Ishraq? After the abbey mystery is solved and you think How can this story go on? it does, and it gets a little more interesting, but not more paranormal (so don’t hold your breath).
If you want a historical fiction mystery, check this book out. However, if you are looking for a historical fiction fantasy novel, I would look elsewhere. I will continue to read Philippa Gregory’s purely historical fiction novels because they are fun and you feel like you are learning something from them, however I don’t think this particular series will be one I continue on with.

2013 Reading Challenge!

reading challenge logo - participantI have been looking everywhere for a reading challenge to participate in and finally found one that I think I can do: The YALSA 2013 The Hub Reading Challenge!

This challenge started on February 3, but I’ll give it a go anyway.   This one has a wide variety of titles to choose from (83) and you only have to pick 25. (Click on the picture to go to the YALSA site to find the list of title options.) It will give me an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and read some Junior/YA non-fiction and graphic novels and (hopefully) improve my reader advisory skills.

I’ve read already one, Seraphina, which counts toward the challenge too so that’s exciting! At the moment these are the titles I intend to read (it may change) and I will have to add some more to make it 25.

Pure by Juliana BaggotPure (Pure, #1)

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens by Brooke Hauser

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children ‘s March Cynthia Levinson Wonder

Every Day by David Levithan

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

First Test by Tamora Pierce

The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir by Gaby Rodriguez

Juvenile in Justice by Richard Ross

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire SaenzAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

How many other people are participating in this or other reading challenges this year??

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I Would Crush On If I Were Also A Fictional Character

Top Ten Characters I Would Crush On If I Were Also A Fictional Character

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

So this will be a “Top Five Tuesday” for me, because I honestly can’t think of anymore than that! And I’m just going to preface this post with the fact that I have notorious “bad taste” in guys.  Typically, the guys I think are so awesome are actually complete jerks, but the good thing about fiction is that the jerks can actually change.

Jace!! from The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

My number one fictional crush  🙂 I would definitely crush on him, but then be yelled at by everyone who cares about me for my “poor taste”.  He’s a bit of a jerk, but you just know he cares deep down! I’m terrified of watching the movie and having my “book” Jace destroyed :S

Wolf from Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

I want a wolf, not a werewolf, a Lunar wolf.  He’s mysterious, cocky, and has a few problems…but oh so perfect.

3Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter by JK Rowling

Yeah, I don’t know about this. Apparently I’m not alone in this crush (thank goodness) but again it’s a typical “bad boy” syndrome. (And in the movie version, I developed a huge crush on Tom Felton.)

397844Miles from the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig

Cute, quirky, fun, and caring.  But honestly, I would crush on all of the main male characters in Willig’s books…

Princess diariesMichael Moscovitz from the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot

He would be the perfect boyfriend.  He’s got his life figured out and he cares! (And no one could yell at me about him being a bad choice.)

Well there you have it, my mostly list of bad boys.  Any you agree/disagree with?

Where My Reading Obsession Came From

Since I don’t have a book written yet (it’s in the works, so someday hopefully 😉 I’d like to at least dedicate a post to the person who played one of the greatest influences in my literary life, my grandma.  This time of year is always a rough one for me, being it marks the anniversary of her losing the battle of breast cancer, but it does give me a chance to reflect too.  It’s been 9 years now since she’s passed away, yet some of the strongest memories I have of her revolve around reading, which I believe plays a very important part in making me who I am today and why books are so important to me. Everyone has a story of why they’re a “reader”, so here is mine…

The two of us.

The two of us.

Every summer I would get to spend one whole week with my grandparents by myself and what I looked forward to the most during that week was the time spent reading with my grandma.  One of the first things on our agenda when I got to her house was to go to the library and pick out a huge stack of books for the week. We would spend quite some time in her tiny little hometown library picking out the “right” ones (I’d always end up making her choose mine). Then every night she would sleep in my bed with me (because the basement was scary) and we would read into the wee hours of the night, however, I would always fall asleep first.  Sometimes I would try and see if I could finish reading a page before her (it never worked). I would even try to, sneakily, read parts of her “grown-up” books too, because it made me feel like a rebel. I remember reading Many Waters by Madeliene L’Engle, and Stuart Little and Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White during my weekly stays. These were my gateway reads…and she was my influence.

Since then I’ve gone on to get a degree in English, had a chance to work at four different libraries, and now have the amazing opportunity of managing a small town library and going back to school online (simultaneously) for my Masters in Library Science, all the while reading voraciously.  And all of this is, I can almost guarantee would not have happened if not for my grandma’s influence.

Well since this is still a book blog, I do have a list to tie in 🙂 Not too long ago my mom gave me a list she found in one of my grandma’s old wallets, a “library” list.  Now, even though my grandma was a huge influence on me when it comes to reading, I’ve found we really don’t have the same tastes after reading this list.  However, since I don’t seem to have evolved into reading the same types of books she did, it does give me the opportunity to challenge myself by trying to read a few of the titles on her list.  So without further ado here are some titles from my grandma’s library list (unfortunately you can’t see her gorgeous handwriting):

Sons of Fortune by Jeffrey Archer

Light in Shadow by Jayne Ann Krentz

This Time Love by Elizabeth Lowell

A Dream to Follow & An Untamed Land by Lauraine Snelling

Whispers at Midnight by Karen Robards

The Other Twin by Katharine Stone

By the Light of the Moon by Dean Koontz

Answered Prayers by Danielle Steele

Now none of these are ones I would choose on my own, but maybe by reading them I will learn to like something else…or at least know what more patrons are talking about 🙂

If anyone wants to recommend me one of these, I’d appreciate a starting point!

Another Addicting Teen Dystopian Fiction Story: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

DeliriumLauren OliverYA Dystopian FictionRating: 4

Delirium
Lauren Oliver
YA Dystopian Fiction
Rating: 4

This was another addicting teen dystopian fiction story.  I found it to be closest in relation to Matched because it focused on a government’s complete control over the citizen’s choices. And I liked the main character, Lena, more than Cassia from Matched because she seemed to be stronger and much less whiny. It wasn’t as violent as the Hunger Games (thank goodness) or Divergent although there was some violence throughout the story, I felt it did serve a purpose.

In Delirium love is considered a disease and at the age of 18 all citizens are “cured” with a neural surgery so that they are incapable of loving others.  To prevent this disease boys and girls aren’t allowed to converse or touch and music, literature, and all information is censored by the government.  Lena has been looking forward to being cured so she can be just like everyone else; normal and safe with a husband she is paired with by the government.  However, Lena’s boundary pushing BFF (or at least until the cure when she will no longer feel) and a mysterious boy by the name of Alex threaten to change everything in her almost normal life.

Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That’s what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two.  Before and after. The rest of world falls away on either side.

~Delirium, Lauren Oliver

Lena is a strong heroine I really enjoyed reading about.  Yes, there were times when I wanted to shout at her, but Oliver does a good job at showing her transformation from weak-minded to strong-willed throughout the book.  I admire Lena and would hope I could show her courage and bravery in similar situations.  The ideas touched on throughout this book are very important, and even though they are in an extreme setting, relate to many goings on in our nation and throughout the world today.  Freedom.  How much control should the government have? Is it up to them to tell us something is wrong if it isn’t actually hurting someone? I’m not a very political person, but I do have opinions and this definitely made me look at the news with a different perspective.

And according to Oliver’s blog, Delirium is going to be made into TV series on Fox next year! I’m pretty excited about that, as there aren’t many TV shows I enjoy, but I will make time for this one!  The only other book-to-TV show I’ve watched has been Gossip Girl, but I feel this will be completely different from that.

One recommendation though; have the second book on hand before you finish this.  I’m still in a little bit of shock as I write this from the ending…

One of the strangest things about life is that it will chug on, blind and oblivious, even as your private world – your little carved-out sphere – is twisting and morphing, even breaking apart.

~Delirium, Lauren Oliver

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