Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Just One Wish by Janette Rallison

From Back Cover: Annika will do anything to fulfill her little brother's only wish before a frightening surgery. The trouble is, he wants the superstar actor who plays Teen Robin Hood to pay him a visit. Annika has only a few days to drive to California and convince the celebrity to come home with her. On an impossible adventure that includes paparazzi, bows and arrows, and one enormous snake, Annika learns a few lessons about family, love, and having her own wishes granted.

My Rating: 5 hearts
Thoughts on the Novel: Out of all the books I’ve read by Janette Rallison, Just One Wish would have to be my favourite one. Like all of Rallison’s novels, it’s cute, witty and easy to read, but this one seems to have more depth and has a very unexpected ending! I loved that twist though because life doesn’t always work out the way that we want, and yet Rallison still left me with the upbeat feeling that I’ve come to expect from her work.

I also loved the protagonist, Annika. It’s clear that she adores her brother Jeremy – he’s such a cutie – and is willing to do whatever it takes to make the surgery easier for him. Regardless of whatever obstacle is in her way, she just keeps going and refuses to give up. Rallison however also allows the reader to see the frightened and vulnerable girl beneath Annika’s spunky exterior, which makes Annika a loveable character that you can’t help but empathize with. 

Just One Wish was released by Putnam Juvenile in March 2009.

Comments About the Cover: It’s nice and simple but it makes me think that the story features a fairy godmother, which is totally not true. Fulfilling Jeremy’s wish may have required hard work, creativity and persistence, but there’s definitely no magic involved.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge

Kristi from The Story Siren is hosting the 2011 Debut Author Challenge. The challenge is open to everyone and requires participants to read twelve Young Adult or Middle Grade novels from authors who are making their debut in 2011. Click here to find out more and sign up.
Here's my list of novels I'm hoping to read:
  1. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
  2. Warped by Maurissa Guibord
  3. Timeless by Alexandra Monir
  4. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
  5. A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
  6. Haven by Kristi Cook
  7. The Demon Trapper’s Daughter by Jana Oliver
  8. Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach
  9. Entwined by Heather Dixon
  10. Clarity by Kim Harrington
  11. Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker
  12. Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Friday, November 19, 2010

Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

From Inside Jacket: Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything - including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

My Rating: 4.5 hearts

Thoughts on the Novel: I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump with all the essays and midterms I have to study for. So, Nightshade by Andrea Cremer was the perfect book to get me out of my funk, especially since it brings you into the action right away and then explains gradually what’s going on.

The world Cremer has created is my favourite aspect of Nightshade because it’s so detailed and captivating. Calla even describes the origin of the Keepers, the Searchers, their enemy, and the Guardians, essentially leaving no questions about how this society came about.

I also really liked reading about the different Banes and the Nightshades and their interactions with each other. They were all solidly developed – especially Mason and Neville – and it was interesting to see how the two packs initially backed their own alphas, but as they started to merge into one, loyalties started shifting.  

It’s only when thinking about primary characters that I get mixed feelings about Nightshade. I thought it was great that Calla was an alpha who could protect herself and those she loves, but didn’t find her as appealing when it seemed like she was stringing along both Ren and Shay. I get that she’s conflicted – hey, there’s two hot boys to choose from – but even when it finally seems like she’s made a decision by declaring her love to one, she refuses to admit it to the other! How aggravating!

Speaking of boys, to me, Shay only appears interesting because of how he connects with the bigger picture. Calla’s attraction to him seems more physical, which is the only reason I’m assuming she saved him in the first place (since Calla herself doesn’t know the reason why). I find Ren on the other hand more intriguing because of his history and more similarity to Calla, but sadly, he isn’t featured as much as I’d like him to be. Here’s to hoping there’s more of Ren in Wolfsbane, the sequel to Nightshade.     
If you want a fast-paced, suspenseful and passionate novel, Nightshade, released by Philomel in October 2010, is it!

Comments About the Cover: The white and red of the lilies stand out really nicely against the backdrop of light purple, but it's the green eyes and the intense stare of the model that make the cover mesmerizing. I also really like the tiny details that have been added to make the cover even more gorgeous such as the glitter on the model's face to make her more otherworldly and the drop of blood on the "T" of Nightshade.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review: My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

From Back Cover: After a dramatic breakup with her picture-perfect boyfriend, Savannah needs a true prince - and fast, because the prom is only weeks away. But looking for love can be a Grimm experience! If only Chrissy were more than just "fair" in the wish-granting department. After two botched attempts that land Savannah in the past, first as Cinderella and then as Snow White, Chrissy must send Savannah to save Tristan, a surprisingly cute boy from school whom Chrissy accidentally sent to the Middle Ages. Hopefully the third time's the charm ... as in Prince Charming.

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Janette Rallison consistently writes creative and funny stories, which is why I figured My Fair Godmother would be a good stress reducer while studying for my midterms.

For some reason though, I didn’t connect with Savannah’s character as much as some of Rallison’s other protagonists possibly because Savannah’s initial cluelessness was pretty amusing but sort of got annoying after awhile. However, Savannah does redeem herself a little by maturing and getting more quick-witted as the novel progresses.  

What I did like about My Fair Godmother was Rallison’s version of the Middle Ages. Not only are Cinderella and Snow White real, but there’s also a Cyclops and a dragon. In addition, real magic also exists because people can be turned into goats and a lying curse can cause you to spit out a frog, a gecko, etc. (gross!). Nevertheless, Rallison’s Middle Ages felt very authentic and you forget that Cyclops and dragons are mythical creatures that have never actually existed! 

Walker Books for Young Readers released My Fair Godmother in January 2009.

Comments About the Cover: It’s cute and I like the moon and stars in the background because it brings up the idea of wishing upon a star. You better hope you don’t get stuck with Chrissy though because as the cover shows, she definitely isn’t your typical fairy godmother!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Review: I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan

From Inside Jacket: Eighteen-year-old Bronwen Oliver has a secret: She’s really Phoebe, the lost daughter of the loving Lilywhite family. That’s the only way to explain her image-obsessed mother; a kind but distant stepfather; and a brother who has a small personality complex (he thinks he’s Jesus). Bronwen must have been switched at birth, and she can’t wait to get away from her family for good. Then she meets Jared Sondervan. He’s sweet, funny, everything she wants – and he has the family Bronwen has always wanted too. She falls head over heels in love, and when he proposes marriage, she joyfully accepts. But is Jared truly what she needs? And if he’s not, she has to ask: What would Phoebe Lilywhite do?

My Rating: 5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan was such a delightful read! It’s poignant, witty and completely captures what it’s like growing up and trying to figure out your place in the world.

The cast of characters McCahan has created is also wonderful. Bronwen is a great narrator who is smart, funny and remains firm in her beliefs – a quality that I find sometimes seems to be lacking in female protagonists. I especially loved the fact that Bronwen was convinced that she was adopted since she looks or acts nothing like the rest of her family. Who hasn’t grown up and wondered “Am I actually related to these people” when thinking about their family?

Then, there’s Jared. Gorgeous and thoughtful Jared with his charming family not only captured Bronwen’s heart but mine as well. Jared and Bronwen’s relationship is adorable and even though their courtship is fast, it definitely didn’t feel like it!

An engaging novel that will earn some laughs (and maybe even tears), I Now Pronounce You Someone Else was released by Arthur A. Levine Books in June 2010.  
Comments About the Cover: The cover is simplistic but manages to catch the eye, and is what made me originally put the novel on my wishlist. Plus, it does a good job portraying that Bronwen is young and getting married because along with the title of the novel, there’s a stack of schoolbooks with a bouquet on top.