Hex Hall

Title: Hex Hall (Book 1 in Hex Hall)
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Books
Release Date: March 2, 2010

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 student 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.

As far as first books go, this is certainly a keeper! I am certainly intrigued by this supernatural world that Hawkins spins with fae, shapeshifters, and other magical creatures. The school where the story takes place is in and of itself enough to capture a reader’s attention, but add in Sophie and you’ve got yourself an entertaining, suspenseful, and absolutely thrilling read.

From possible romance to definite danger, Sophie’s adventures are numerous in just this first installment. I love her character and personality – not only is she spunky and snarky (favorite traits of mine in heroines), but she’s also friendly, loyal, and relatively normal. All she wants is to get by, and survive being a teenager while balancing crazy magical powers and crazy-dangerous situations at her school. I love how her voice comes through, especially with her relationship with Jenna. And, even though her mom is not very present in the book, it’s not hard to tell how Sophie feels about her mom because she is present; just not omnipresent, which is appropriate considering that Sophie’s basically attending a boarding school.

The adventure and mystery that accompanies the book are big portions of it, and are mostly increased by the characters. To me, any author who can advance the plot solely through a focus on character interactions is talented, and Hawkins does not disappoint. Plus, the way it all ends is definitely not what I expected, and although some answers to Sophie’s questions were predictable, I loved how it all turned out. I also loved that I got the second book to read, because with that ending, I am definitely starting it tonight!

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in supernatural/paranormal books who may be looking for a fast-paced, quick, but fun read. Hex Hall will keep you flipping pages until the very last!

~Yours Truly

*Note: I do not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 13 due to mild language and violence.

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Venom Trilogy

Title: Sweet Venom (Book 1 in Sweet Venom)
Author: Tera Lynn Childs
Publisher: Katherine Tegen – HarperCollins
Release Date: September 6, 2011

Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.
Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.
Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they’re triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.
These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight
.

This was an excellent start to the trilogy. I loved the characters – yes, even Greer (and what an interesting name that is) – and the writing style was truly incredible. To juggle three distinct but similar narrators is a feat to be celebrated, and Childs does an excellent job of it. Even though there were moments, mostly in the beginning, where the writing wasn’t as fluid and so my ability to suspend my disbelief faltered a little, Childs recovers beautifully to spin thw awesome tale of Medusa’s descendants.

The plot and the secondary characters are great, too, and I can’t wait for the author to delve more into those people and their secondary plotlines. On to the second book!

 

Title: Sweet Shadows
Release Date: September 4, 2012

Three teenage descendants of Medusa must figure out where their fate will take them. The warring factions among the gods of Olympus are coming for them, the creatures of the abyss are pushing into San Francisco, and the boys in their lives are hiding dangerous secrets.
Gretchen has fought the monsters the longest, but teaching the girls the ropes is hard. Can she rely on Grace and Greer, or even trust herself to keep them safe? Greer has pressing social commitments and little time to train her newfound powers. But her second sight won’t leave her alone. Grace is worried about her brother, Thane, who has disappeared. His secrets might have to do with the heritage the triplets share.

The trilogy just keeps getting better and better! I love how we get more of the family aspect in this book rather than just the three girls on their own; and not only their familial bond, either, but also that of their parents and friends, at least when it comes to Grace and Greer. Thank and his situationis also very intriguing, even more so than in the first book, and since this book was extremely plot-focused, what with the abyss, Sthennos, and other occurrences, the end that Childs gave was less than satisfying! All I now want to do it grab the third (and last) book and find out what happens!

 

Title: Sweet Legacy
Release Date: September 3, 2013

The girls cannot hesitate as they seek the location of the lost door between the realms, even as monsters and the gods of Olympus descend on San Francisco in battle-ready droves.
Greer must use her second sight to step up and prevent anything from stopping her sisters’ mission, even though a god is playing with her mind. Grace wants to trust her adopted brother, Thane; but will his secret put the girls in even more danger? And Gretchen has trained her sisters to stop the monsters, but her role as a huntress comes with more responsibility than she ever imagined. What will the girls’ immortal legacy be? Three teenage descendants of Medusa must unite to restore balance to the world.

Fantastic. This conclusion to the series was action-packed and most definitely sweet. I loved the characters, I loved the plot, and Childs’ writing is just awesome. Everything was just so appropriate and right – it left me wanting more, but I was still satisfied with what I got from the books. It was creative and just un-put-down-able. Hooked until the very last page, despite, again, some choppiness, I am so very glad I was finally able to get these books from the library. I loved the romance, and even though I would have liked more of a focus on the family aspects (especially where Thane is concerned), Childs did eventually get to that, too, so it wasn’t as frustrating as I thought it was going to be. Lastly, the covers fit together perfectly (both versions of them, too!) – three books, three sisters, three poses for the cover models. They were great for the series’ plot.

I highly recommend this series – it is a fun, suspenseful, romantic, mythological, and positively amazing trilogy; definitely pick up a copy if you ever get the chance!

~Yours Truly

*Note: Due to mild language and violence, I do not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 13.

 

 

 

 

Awake at Dawn

Title: Awake at Dawn (Book 2 in Shadow Falls)
Author: C. C. Hunter
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: October 11, 2011

From the moment Kylie Galen arrived at Shadow Falls Camp, she’s had one burning question: What am I? Surrounded by vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, fairies and witches, Kylie longs to figure out her own supernatural identity…and what her burgeoning powers mean. And now she’ll need them more than ever, because she’s being haunted by a new spirit who insists that someone Kylie knows—and loves—will die before the end of the summer. If only she only knew who she was supposed to save. And how…
But giving Kylie the most trouble is her aching heart. Gorgeous werewolf Lucas left camp with another girl, but he’s still visiting Kylie in her dreams. And Derek, a sexy half Fae who’s always been there for her when she needed him, is pushing to get more serious—and growing impatient, especially when Lucas returns. Kylie knows she needs to decide between the boys, and it’s tearing her up inside.
Yet romance will have to wait, because something from the dark side of the supernatural world is hiding in Shadow Falls. It’s about to threaten everything she holds dear…and bring her closer to her destiny.

This is book just as good as the first, if not better. The romance and tension is thicker than ever, the plot’s suspense increases, and all the characters evolve further in this book. I love Kylie, especially, and her relationship with Holiday. There’s a lot that goes on in Kylie’s life – all the changes that she’s continually going through – and Holiday seems like the only adult that is stable and open enough for Kylie to trust and confide in. The scenes with the two of them are amazingly written, and Hunter does a great job of giving all of the characters realistic relationships and personalities. I think that the realism of the characters is what brings her book(s) to life.

Another thing that I noticed was that the emotion and situations that Kylie gets into (not necessarily on purpose, but still) are highly relatable. Even though supernaturals may not exist, and the situations therefore won’t be exactly the same, what person hasn’t had a friend who they want to ignore for a while, or a best friend that they want to help, or gone through something scary, or felt as though they don’t fit in, or…well, the list goes on and on. Hunter brings these situations into the plot with a slightly supernatural twist to keep not only the reader’s attention, but also their emotions. Della, Miranda, Holiday, Perry, Burnett, Derek, Lucas, Sara, and Fredericka all contribute to this aspect of Hunter’s writing in this story.

Since I don’t want to sing too many praises (there’s got to be something to be saved for the rest of the series!), I’ll close with this: I really cannot wait to read the rest and to pick up the next book, and I highly recommend this series based on what I’ve read so far!

~Yours Truly

*Note: I do not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 13 due to sexual references and some violence.

All These Things I’ve Done

Title: All These Things I’ve Done
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Release Date: September 6, 2011

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight–at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

As far as dystopian novels go, this is certainly a unique book. If I’m being perfectly honest, there were a couple times where I debated even reading it at all – the cover wasn’t really engrossing, and the summary only barely caught my attention because it was so strange. However, once I started reading, it got better and better; I got emotionally invested in the story, and I grew to love all the characters, but especially Anya, Natty, and Leo. Win was cool, too.

The plot was amazing. I don’t know how Zevin managed to create such an interesting dystopia, or come up with such a creative plot for with these people and places. Everything about it was intriguing and just plain cool, from the mafia family to the 90 second showers (yeah, get that through your head) to the speakeasies. And that’s another thing – despite the futuristic setting, I imagined everything as 1920’sish, which was awesome (and yeah, I think this is another book that would make a great movie). One of the things that I think caught my attention was how normal it all seemed – at least, until Anya went to Advanced Fencing instead of gym or drank illegal coffee. The strange newness of this dystopia combined with the contrast of the familiarity of the setting – it does, after all, take place in the same century, despite its futuristic dystopia – created a sort of vacuum that sucked all my attention until the book was over and I wanted more.

So I loved this book, and everything about it. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes dystopian novels or a 20’s setting. This book will suck you in until you’re so invested with the characters and the plot that anything and everything will have an effect on you. Plus, the ending is just as unique as the rest of it, and I loved how it focused a lot on the family and less on the romance, although that was definitely present, too. I definitely think that you should pick up a copy soon!

~Yours Truly

*Note: I do not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 14 due to some sexual content and violence.

Jekel Loves Hyde

Title: Jekel Loves Hyde
Author: Beth Fantaskey
Publisher: Harcourt – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: May 3, 2010

Jill Jekel has always obeyed her parents rules; especially the one about never opening the mysterious, old box in her father’s office. But when her dad is murdered, and her college savings disappear, she’s tempted to peek inside, as the contents might be the key to a lucrative chemistry scholarship.
To improve her odds, Jill enlists the help of gorgeous, brooding Tristen Hyde, who has his own dark secrets locked away. As the team of Jekel and Hyde, they recreate experiments based on the classic novel, hoping not only to win a prize, but to save Tristen’s sanity. Maybe his life. But Jill’s accidental taste of a formula unleashes her darkest nature and compels her to risk everything, even Tristen’s love just for the thrill of being . . . bad.

I haven’t read anything by Beth Fantaskey in a while, but reading this book made me remember why all of her books are on my TBR list. Her writing is excellent, and I love the style in which she writes – alternating first person. Plus, her twist on the supernatural is always entertaining and captivating; I started this book this morning and finished it less than twenty minutes ago. Once you’ve read a chapter or two, the words get their hooks into you, and the characters get in under your skin, until its all you can do to look up from the pages to eat and sleep and other important things.

I loved Jill, partly because I could really identify with her. I think that at some point most, if not all, people have wanted to do something they know is wrong, sometimes just for the sake of being bad. I liked Tristen because his struggle with himself and his family history felt real. Creepy, but real, and I felt bad for him. Put the two of them together, and it just seemed as though everything was conspiring against them. However, there were definitely parts where I wanted to hit one or both of them. Sometimes they took turns.

The twist of the Jekyll and Hyde story I thought was very original. Fantaskey worked it into the plot so effortlessly that I never doubted that it was real. I also liked how the book wasn’t overtly long. It was a great standalone novel, and the ending was perfect.

I highly recommend this book, and probably anything else by Ms. Fantaskey, to anyone looking for a quick, intriguing read.

~Yours Truly

*Note: I do not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 15 due to violence, sexual content, and language.

Weekend BookBlogger Hop: 74

The BookBlogger Hop is hosted by Billy from Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer every weekend. Basically, if you blog about books, answer a question provided and if you link to their post in your blog, you can add your blog to their list of participants. This week’s question is:

Do covers pull you in?

Absolutely! Most of the books that I read hook me through covers or titles, and if a title gets me curious and I don’t like the cover, I don’t generally get curious enough to read the summary. If I do end up reading a book and liking it, and the cover isn’t appealing, I feel genuine concern and pity for the author, because every good book deserves an amazing cover.

Rapunzel Untangled

Title: Rapunzel Untangled
Author: Cindy C. Bennett
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Release date: February 12, 2013

Rapunzel is not your average teenager.
For one thing, she has a serious illness that keeps her inside the mysterious Gothel Mansion. And for another, her hair is 15 feet long. Not to mention that she’s also the key to ultimately saving the world from certain destruction. But then she meets a boy named Fane, who changes all she has ever known, and she decides to risk everything familiar to find out who she really is.

This book was FANTASTIC!! Everything about it was captivating: the characters, especially Rapunzel herself, were amazingly written so that they came to life; the plot was suspenseful and hooking; and the writing was terrific.

As far as retellings go, I generally enjoy them and their unique twists on original stories. This, though, goes above and beyond what I was expecting and I loved every second and every word of the book. And even though some parts were predictable and I saw them coming, the writing got me so caught up in the story that I nearly forgot that I knew what would happen. It swept me away in a whirlwind of romance, adventure, and magic (not all of which is attributed to the plot – I have to say that the writing itself was pretty magical in the construction of Rapunzel’s world).

The cover is pretty, too, and I love how it doesn’t actually have a person on it. The author and publishers did a great job in coordinating to bring this book to life; it is definitely now one of my favorites, and I will be on the lookout for more by Ms. Bennett. Her clever writing and amazing retelling of this one story has me hooked, for sure, and I can’t wait to pick up another of her books. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fairy tales, or is need of a great quick read!

~Yours Truly