Monday, June 30, 2014

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Publication Date: July 1st, 2014

Series: Wolves of Mercy Falls (bk. 4) or a Standalone Spin Off/Companion

Genera(s): Contemporary/Paranormal Romance

Subjects: werewolves, musicians, reality shows, fame, love

Setting: Los Angeles, California, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, and the greater L.A. area

POV/Tense: 1st person POV past tense, rotating between Cole and Isabel 

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 357 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $18.99

Publisher: Scholastic

Summary/ product description: “A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy.

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved?”

My Review:  Sinner is a fun, exciting companion/spin-off to the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. It rotates between Cole and Isabel POVs and is set in L.A. A far cry from Minnesota where the previous books took place. I enjoyed the book thoroughly, but it was nothing like I expected. I loved it, but was slightly disappointed because it was so different from Shiver, Linger and Forever. This book still deserves 5 stars. I love the characters so much and it’s great that Isabel and Cole get their own book about only their relationship.

Cole seems as sunny and exciting as his new L.A. home. He’s always saying and doing the craziest things. Befriending his driver, Leon. Firing the guitarist and bassist that Baby hired for him. Using phrases that normal people wouldn’t use in conversation. Cole’s great at improvising and acting. He can also come up with lyrics out of pretty much anything. Cole is so different from Sam in Shiver. He craves attention and the crowd. I love his narration. He’s like the most interesting guy in the world. He’s got charisma, humor, hotness and depth.

Isabel is very angry and doesn’t seem to care about anything. She’s logical and icy. She wants to be a doctor. She’s working at a clothing store, and taking a CNA class. She’s living with her mom, Aunt Lauren and cousin Sofia, who loves to cook for others. She misses Cole, and Cole surprises her at work with his presence. Isabel’s life has been pretty complicated too. Her brother was a werewolf and he was killed back in Minnesota. Her parents are breaking up. He cousin keeps trying to do stuff for her, but Isabel yells at her. Cole and Isabel try to do stuff together, but sometimes the cameras get in the way and they have to find private places, like the bathroom, to talk.

Sinner is less focus of the werewolf stuff and more focused on Cole’s return to fame and him relationship with Isabel. The story is about Cole dealing with being famous again and making an album. This book has barely any paranormal stuff. Shifting is more like Cole’s addiction since he doesn’t do drugs or drink anymore. Cole become part of a web reality show ran by a lady named Baby who loves to ruin the lives of her subjects. She wants him to look like a mess for good TV. Cole’s running around, doing the crazy thing she suggests. Things that rock stars are supposed to do, and things that someone like Cole St. Clare would do.

Sinner is nothing like you’d expect it to, and everything you never knew you’d want. If this was a contemporary book in which the shapeshifting was replaced with drug using, I still would love the book because it’s written that well. Fame games and fans. Rockstars, music, and all kinds of crazy. I recommend it to fans of Maggie Stiefvater’s other books. Also if you liked Audrey, Wait by Robin Benson, which is a contemporary book about a rockstar and his girlfriend (From Audrey’s perspective), thing book has some similar appeal.

Cover Art Review: I like this vector color with the gradients and silhouette of Cole, a wolf and palm trees and buildings. Goes with the other covers, yet is different. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

In My Mailbox 6-28-2014

No free books recently, but some purchases and library books. I had pre-ordered Ruin & Rising. I found Sinner at Meijer days before the actual release! I started reading it right away.

I also checked out a lot of books.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton

Series: The United States of Asgard (bk. 1)

Genera(s): Paranormal Romance/Fantasy/Alternate History

Subjects: adventure, mythology, Norse mythology, gods, magic

Setting: Alternate version of the USA

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, present tense: Soren Bearskin

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 350 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover and now in Paperback

List Price: $17.99/$9.99

Publisher: Random House

Summary/ product description: “Fans of Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" and Holly Black's "The Curse Workers" will embrace this richly drawn, Norse-mythology-infused alternate world: the United States of Asgard. Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood--the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd's Academy. But that's hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That's not all Astrid dreams of--the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.
When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they've been told they have to be.”

My Review:  This book is pretty unique. I have not read many books with Norse Mythology in them. I can name only a few. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I hoped. There’s were a lot of things that confused me, and the language used didn’t sound very modern, eve though it’s Alternate History fantasy supposed to be set in contemporary times.

The romance was a bit of insta-love/love at first sight. Soren has the hots for Astrid and Astrid notices him and knows about his past and the fact he’s a Berserker. Astid’s a Seether and can read the future and is a daughter of Fray, goddess of magic. Soren’s narration seems like too much brooding and feeling sorry for himself. The characters were not super interesting, but I loved the world building and mythology stuff.

In the United States of Asgard, also know as New Asgard on Middle Earth, everyone worships one of the Norse gods. The gods are real and make appearances. There’s Odin, Thor, Loki, Baulder, Freya, Freyr, and Tyr. Almost all the states have different names. Some make sense, some are ridiculous. I tried making a map, but we didn’t learn all 50. There’s a lot of interesting cultural differences. There’s caravans, Seethers, Berserkers and holmgangs. There’s a lot of terms I didn’t understand. I’m not sure how much Tessa made up, and how much was researched.

I mostly enjoyed the book, but I found myself skimming a lot. I didn’t enjoy the adventure and travel. Especially the part when they go to the Badland, which I’ve been to 3 times. South Dakota is South Lakota in this book. If you’ve read Loki’s Wolves by Kelly Armstrong, that was about Norse mythology and set in South Dakota too. This book goes from Kansas (Kansa), through Nebraska, Colorado, Idaho, Washington, and Colorado.

If you like book with mythology, such as Loki’s Wolves, Valkyrie Rising, the Need series, books by Lesley Livingston, or Rick Riordan, then you may enjoy this book.

Cover Art Review: Love the metallicness of the cover, and the title type. The guy’s face doesn’t look so good with the trees on top of it.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Publication Date: July 1st, 2014

Series: Standalone

Genera(s): Contemporary Romance/Mystery/Paranormal Horror

Subjects: murder, death, ghosts, supernatural, winter, love

Setting: Gill Creek (a made up town based of real towns) in Door County, Wisconsin

POV/Tense: 3rd person POV, past tense: Maggie, with interludes of a ghost’s 1st person POV

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 259 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I'm tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind

My Review: This book wasn’t your typical paranormal mystery. I don’t think I can even consider is a ghost story. It takes place in a small town called Gill Creek, Wisconsin. This is not a real town, but it’s supposed to be in Door County. Maggie and her parents move there from Chicago and fix up this old house. She meets a girl named Pauline, who becomes her best friend there, and Pauline’s friend, Liam, who’s not the boyfriend, but Maggie and Liam do end up liking each other. There’s some romance. All the while girl are getting murdered in other town through fall and winter.

My favorite this about this book is definitely the setting, and that Maggie is from Chicagoland, like me. For those of you who have never been to or even heard of Door County, it’s most of the peninsula, or “Wisconsin’s Thumb” that juts out into Lake Michigan. It’s about 70 Miles long and has bunch of state and county parks, beaches and rocky outcroppings and all kinds of natural beauty.When I went there in August 2011, I took tons of photos of nature and buildings while my dad drove. We drove through every town there, but not Washington Island. Gill Creek is probably based off of multiple towns in the county. There’s Gills Rock, Fish Creek, New Port, Sister Bay and Ephraim (which have a Water Street).

There are chalets and cottages that have very a Scandinavian look to them: 

This is in Whitefish Dunes State Park, and Cave Point County Park, near Jacksonport:

This is Death's Door Bluff, Door Bluff County Park between Ellison Bay and Gills Rock:

This is in Peninsula State Park, near Fisk Creek, you can see Adventure Island: 

This is the draw bridge in Sturgeon Bay:

We camped in Potawatomi State Park near Sturgeon Bay. 

I also took lots of photos of moths. They flew into our lanterns, our campfire. They sat on the walls of the shower houses and I took photos of they and posted them to this website that identifies them.  

There’s a lot of magical realism and eeriness to the story. It’s creepy at times and you don’t really know what’s going to happy. I like the story, but was a bit disappointed with how it ended. I ended up crying a bit. This book was kind of like Lies Beneath by Anna Greenwood Brown, but without the mermaids. If you love books with realistic settings based off of real lakeside/seaside towns, then you’ll love this. This book has great atmosphere and is well written. I usually have issues with books in the 3rd person, but this book had good story telling. It made ordinary seem extraordinary. I have not read anything by Jodi Lynn Anderson, but I might check out Tiger Lily after reading this.

Cover Art Review: I love the illustrations of the moths and snow and swirls. Awesome pen work. The tree photo doesn’t say “This is Door County” to me. No rocky or sandy Lake Michigan shoreline.