08/28/12

Bound to Love the Torn Trilogy

My reading tastes fall all over the literary map, but the stories that I love most are the ones that I find myself thinking about after I’ve put the book down. The ones that have scenes that keep coming back to mind at random points throughout the day and scenes that you find yourself reenacting for friends.

Egads, I do reenact scenes from books to friends. Sorry, friends!

One series that I have talked up a lot over the last few months is the Torn Trilogy by Erica O’Rourke, and this isn’t just because I know how awesome Erica is (and she is!) but because the series truly deserves talking about. Maura Fitzgerald wakes up in the hospital at the beginning of the first book, Torn. The incident that puts her in the hospital killed her best friend and Maura “Mo” vows to do whatever she needs to do to avenge her friends death. Mo also discovers that her best friend has been hiding a secret, magical life. So, unmagical Mo decides to pick up where her friend left off and soon finds herself trapped between two worlds and two boys.

Throughout the series Mo learns more secrets about those around her–and more about herself. Where do fate and choice intersect? All of the books in the series captivated me until the wee hours of the morning and I didn’t want to see the series end. In Bound, the final book in the trilogy, Mo struggles to separate her own dreams from others’ expectations. She’s bound to the magic and still feels a responsibility to the memory of her friend, but she has also bound herself to dangerous alliances in order to protect those she loves.

Along with the textured magical world created in the series, I loved watching Mo change and grow. I struggled right along with her in deciding who I liked more, Colin from her life in Chicago or magical Luc from New Orleans. By the time we reached the end, the resolution worked perfectly for me–and also surprised me at a few turns.

An all around wonderful and satisfying read and I can’t wait for Erica’s release next year!

This just in: Erica will be with appearing several amazing YA authors at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL, on Thursday, August 30. Act now and get exclusive content from authors such as Veronica Roth, Erica O’Rourke, Dan Krokos, Susan Dennard and Leigh Bardugo. More info on the event can be found here.

08/26/12

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

My To Be Read pile is like another person living in our house. Each day, I look over to find it staring at me—taunting me with the rich stories just waiting to be discovered. So, this weekend, I said, “Okay, fine. I won’t clean the house. I won’t write. I won’t cook. I will only read, IF IT WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY.”

The pile took me up on the offer. First up was Brigid Kemmerer’s Storm, from the Elemental Series. I have been following Brigid on twitter for several months, and I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Romance Writers of America Literacy Signing this past July. Now that I read it—in a matter of hours—I can only say this: Go forth and read!

Becca Chandler is a teenager dealing with the typical high school dramas—and some not so typical. Before the story starts, she’s involved in a bad situation with an ex-boyfriend. This escalates into lies that spread like wildfire, leaving her reputation in tatters. She’s leaving the school after a self-defense class one night and spots two guys beating up on a third. Becca’s phone is dead and the parking lot is deserted, so she uses her car to save classmate Chris Merrick.

Chris’ family is no stranger to secrets. Becca soon discovers that the Chris and his brothers are anything but average. Chris can control water—while his brothers control wind, fire, and earth. They struggle to keep their powers under wraps, knowing that if the extent their abilities is discovered, it could spell disaster for them all.

The more time Becca spends with Chris, the more she starts to learn their secrets—and then she is targeted by the same people out for the brothers. Soon, a hunky new boy shows up and seems like everything Becca has ever wanted…but is he?

I couldn’t read this book fast enough. Realistic teen issues blend seamlessly with the troubles that magic can bring into our lives. The relationships between the four brothers was complicated and endearing—and I very much look forward to reading about the other brothers in the family.

Spark, Gabriel’s story, will be released Tuesday, August 28. Thank goodness for holiday weekends!

12/11/11

My Reading Life

Excuse me, when did it become December? My November was a blur thanks to deadlines-a-go-go, so when my Golden Heart entry was finally in the mail, I could breathe.

And read.

Remember what that was like? The anticipation of time to savor a great new fantasy? The wonder of meeting Jo, Beth, Meg, and Amy for the first time and knowing that you could spend the entire winter break with them? Sigh. So, I decided it was time to rediscover that anticipation. I checked out every appealing book I encountered at the library and surround myself with them this weekend. The first did not disappoint, even though it did make me stay up way too late.

Girls Don’t Fly by Kristen Chandler is a contemporary YA novel about a high school senior, Myra, who is dumped by her boyfriend out of the blue. Right there, I was hooked. I mean, I get that. Turns out that Myra is also the glue that holds the struggling household together. Her hard working parents rely on her to help transport, feed, and care for her younger siblings. When Myra’s older sister gets pregnant and moves back home, even more weight falls on Myra’s shoulders.

Myra struggles with the aftermath of the breakup. She needs a job, but is constrained by her responsibilities at home. When she learns of a scholarship offering a trip to the Galapagos Islands, she sees a chance to get away from her life–if she can raise $1000 by the scholarship deadline. Myra’s is a story of potential. She has loads of it, but even she doesn’t realize it. Those around her are too wrapped up in their own lives to notice what she could do if given half a chance.

I loved the rhythm of Myra’s first person narrative. The scientific threads added terrific texture to the overall story. The adults in this story weren’t perfect, and they weren’t villains, either, which made the story that much more believable.

In the end, I kept reading into the night because I wanted to know what happened to Myra, her scholarship application, and her budding relationship with cute graduate student, Pete. A great, realistic read with good conflict and decisions without easy answers.

Are you anticipating any great reads this month?

07/8/11

Go Ahead, Judge This Book By The Cover

The striking cover draws you in, but it’s the story that will keep you from putting it down. 17-year-old Maura “Mo” Fitzgerald wakes up in the hospital and finds out that the same brutal attack that put her there also killed her best friend, Verity. As the secrets emerge about that terrible night, her family and the friend she thought she knew,  Mo encounters two very different boys: one who was sent to protect her and one who wants her to help save the world.

Mo’s world is very real, even mixed with a fare amount of magic. Traveling between Chicago and New Orleans, she is faced with a decision that is wrapped in a debt-of-sorts to Verity. The more she learns about what is happening in her world, the more she learns about herself. The last few chapters race buy as the tension builds and lead you to a showdown you wouldn’t expect.

This is the debut novel for Erica O’Rourke, esteemed winner of the Golden Heart for Best YA Manuscript in 2010. It is sometimes difficult to be impartial when reading a book by someone you know “in real life”.  However, it was the storyline alone that kept me up too late reading it several nights this week. It will be hard to wait for the next one in the trilogy!

05/12/05

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: If the Pants Fit…

Okay, so I was finally convinced to try out this Traveling Pants phenomenon and would you believe that I actually liked the series (by Ann Brashares)? I want a pair of these pants, but I have a feeling that Eddie Bauer doesn’t carry them. Really though, I enjoyed this series and I am looking forward to watching the upcoming movie based on the first book. The four girls that comprise the sisterhood are unique, but I found something about each of them that I could identify with. The topics covered are both adolescent and mature, but I appreciated the way certain situations were handled (no spoilers here!). Try this series on for size; I’m certain it will be a good fit!Plus, if you want to find out which member of the sisterhood is your “soulmate”, try this website: http://www.randomhouse.com/teens/sisterhoodcentral/quiz.html.