Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Hourglass Door - Lisa Mangum

His past. Her future. Can love bring them together in time?

Abby's senior year of high school is going according to plan: good friends, cute boyfriend, and college applications in the mail. But when Dante Alexander, foreign-exchange student from Italy, steps into her life, he turns it upside down. He's mysterious, and interesting, and unlike anyone she's ever met before. Abby can't deny the growing attraction she feels for him. Nor can she deny the unusual things that seem to happen when Dante is around. Soon Abby finds herself drawn into a mystery whose roots reach into sixteenth-century Florence, and she uncovers a dangerous truth that threatens not only her future but the lives of those she loves.

I really liked this book and I'm definitely left wanting more. Luckily the next book is in my possession and next on my list. There was a fair amount of setup with Abby - getting to know her and her friends, and how she sees her life and her relationship with her boyfriend. The way she and Dante get to know each other reminds me a little bit of Twilight, but once things start being revealed the similarities end.

I truly enjoy Abby and being in her head - since she's the narrarator. She's very relatable as a 17 year old girl trying to please those she loves while also trying to find her independence and figuring out what she wants out of life. She's very kind hearted and I find her an excellent herione. Dante is mysterious, sensual, and incredibly sweet, I loved him from the beginning. Some of the supporting characters didn't seem quite as fleshed out as others, but the villians were definiletly well written.

As for the mythology, it was very different from anything else I've read since for the most part everyone is just ordinary humans, but there are "circumstances" that make it otherwordly. It wasn't terribly hard to follow, but I still feel as though there are many things left unexplained or unexplored. This doesn't really bother me though, since it will be a trilogy and I have one more book to read and one more to wait for before I object to unanswered questions. I like how her "world" works and I find it a refreshing change from other paranormal romances I've been reading lately. (Although don't get me wrong, I love vampires and werewolves as much as the next fangirl.) I'm definitely excited to see what happens next for Abby and Dante.


The Hourglass Door
Lisa Mangum
Shadow Mountain Publishing
432 pages
$18.99 (hardcover)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Beautiful Darkness - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

Ok, this book was definitely more of an emotional read for me. The first book was so, so good but the main focus was Ethan's budding relationship with Lena and his introduction to her world. This book was much more about Ethan - I felt - than it was about Lena. Even though she remained his primary motivation for most of his actions, I really felt as though this was about him. It was so great to see him take charge of the situation and fight for what he wanted and not putting up with the stupid vague answers from the adults anymore. Lena just made me sad and slightly aggrivated (just like Ethan) and for most of the book I was so frustrated with her. By the end, most of it made sense, but it was tough reading whenever she was involved. There were definitely a lot of questions that were left unanswered by the end, but there's was also a lot that was answered. Overall the book was an emotional rollercoaster for me. I actually had to take breaks (I know!) because it was really getting to me. The angst and the loss and the confusion. It made me feel 16 again. And the twists they sprung on me - let's just say there were several times when I said "That did NOT just happen!!" I never knew what was going to happen next.

I loved seeing more backstory on Macon, Marian, and Ethan's mom. It was all very enlightening, and I really felt it added a great layer to the story. (Can I just say that sometimes Marian made me want to hit something? The rules just make me angry. Anyway, moving on...) I loved that Link was more involved. He really feels like main character now and I love him more than ever. I also liked the evolution of Ridley, and I'm hoping we see much more of her in the next two books. The two things that gave me the most turmoil in this book were the new characters - Liv and John Breed. While I now am more reconciled with the first, I have no idea how to feel about the latter. For the majority of the book I loathed the very mention of him, but by the end, I just don't know. *sigh* I suppose I'll just have to wait and see what the deal is with him.

All in all, and excellent second book in this fantastic series. I can't wait to see what happens next to Ethan, Lena, and everyone else in Gatlin.


Beautiful Darkness
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Little Brown
503 pages
$17.99 (hardcover)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

There were no surprises in GatlinCounty.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

*slightly spoilery*

Ok, words cannot even express how much I love this book, but I'm going to give it a shot. It was so fresh and original for me that I completely devoured this book in 2 days the first time and 3 days the second time around. It's honestly that good. The story was always taking me by surprise and even when I thought I knew what was going to happen, it was rare that I was right. The writing itself is rich and completely wraps me up in this small town in the south. The descriptions, the accents, and the characters make me feel like I'm actually in Gatlin. It was never hard for me to envision in my head what I was reading. I was THERE. I LOVE that.

As for the characters, they don't disappoint. Lena is quirky and different and while she embraces her uniqueness to a point, there's still that 16 year old girl in her that wants to blend in and have the same experiences as all the other kids in school. And even though she's a Caster and not a Mortal, she's still struggling to find her place in the world around her, like everyone else. I love her hesitancy to put herself out there, because I'm just like that so I could completely relate - and I'm 25, not 16. And while I'm no poet - not by a long shot - I LOVED the scenes in her room where her thoughts would appear on the walls and mirror in poem form. It helped me understand her thoughts better, since the majority of the book is from Ethan's point of view.

And Ethan - oh Ethan - I love, love, LOVE him. He's the definition of "sweet boy next door" for me. He's a complete sweetheart and it was really fun to see a love story from the boy's point of view, which I don't find very often. He truly cares for Lena and for his family and anyone else in his life that he cares about. He struggles to stand up for what he thinks is right, like any 16 year old trying to find their voice, but he never struggles to see the wrongs in the antiquated traditions in his town. I love that through his relationship with Lena he is able to find himself more, and try to stand up to the prejudices in Gatlin. And his friendship with Link always made me smile - reminded me of my brothers and their friends. :)

The "minor" characters were also so well developed that they really didn't seem like minor characters at all. I love Amma and Uncle Macon even though sometimes they frustrated me to death, while the stunts that Mrs. Lincoln and Ridley pulled always surprised and infuriated me. Marian the Librarian was fantastic and I'm hoping I get to learn more about her in later books.

All in all, this was one of my favorite books of the year, and I've already got my little sister and two of my friends reading it as well. I have to share the awesomeness! I just started Beautiful Darkness and I can't wait to see what happens next!


Beautiful Creatures
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Little Brown
563 pages
$17.99 (hardcover)