Thursday, September 24, 2009

Undone by Brooke Taylor

Title: Undone
Author: Brooke Taylor
Publisher: Walker & Company
Publication Date: July 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Age Group: Young Adult

Recently I have been in a bit of a reading slump. I was reading books that I thought I would really enjoy and ending up a little disappointed in them. For the most part, they were good books but they just didn't grab me the way that I thought they would. Undone by Brooke Taylor certainly broke out of that slump.

Something happened to Kori during the summer before eighth grade and she changes from perky cheerleader to dark daredevil. So when she tells Serena that they are more alike than Serena realizes, Serena doesn't know what she means. The unlikely friendship between the girls turns into an unbreakable bond. Unbreakable until Kori is killed in a car accident and Serena must find a way to go on living without her best friend. A school assignment leaves Serena with a list of things that Kori wanted to do and Serena vows to complete this list even though she doesn't understand what is on it.

Although I have read some reviews that felt Undone was a bit predictable, I was completely taken in by the story. I wanted to know what happened to Kori that caused her to change so dramatically and understand why Serena went along with her friend's crazy ideas. Kori and Serena were both highly emotional characters and Taylor did a great job bringing those emotions off the page. I could feel the depth of Serena's loss and how utterly lost she was in her own life without Kori to ground her. All of the secrets which are revealed in the book are highly emotional as well and reveal a lot about the characters' interactions with each other and their own behaviors.

I think this is a great book for older teens as there are many references to sex and drug use, as well as some foul language. Normally these are things that would turn me off to a book but they all fit into this story of rebellious (and hurting) teens. I don't think the book would have the same impact without these elements.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chill Factor by Rachel Caine

Title: Chill Factor
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: Roc
Publication Date: January 4, 2005
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Age Group: Adult
Series: Weather Warden (Book 3)

Spoiler Alert: Please do not read this review unless you have read the first two books in this series, Ill Wind and Heat Stroke. Each book in this series (so far) picks up where the last book leaves off and I would hate to give away the ending to a previous book. I posted a review of Ill Wind in July and a review of Heat Stroke in August. These are not books that can be read out of order as they are so heavily dependent on previous books.


Chill Factor follows Joanne Baldwin, Weather Warden, as she attempt to fix the mess created at the end of Heat Stroke. Kevin, an angry teenager with a lot of power, has control of the most powerful Djinn and is keeping all the Wardens out of Las Vegas. The Djinn have been disappearing and the Wardens cannot combat the unusual weather changes without them. Joanne, who is now human again, has been sent in to try to get Jonathan away from Kevin and restore order before the world is destroyed.

As in the previous books, Joanne doesn't fully understand the situation she is placed in. She is being used by others who either have more power than she does or at least think they do. Although Lewis is weakened because Kevin stole his powers, he still feels that he has the moral high ground and can use Joanne to his own ends. The Wardens also feel that they know how the world should be and that their control over the elements is saving humans from nature instead of destroying a delicate balance.

The events of this book also tie into events from Joanne's past. This leads to sections of the book featuring her memories. The majority of the time, I was able to keep straight what was in the past and what was currently happening, although there were a couple of times when I did get confused. The addition of past events solidifies Joanne's connection to current events and gives a reason why Joanne must be the one to diffuse this situation rather than one of the other Wardens.

Joanne is feisty, impulsive, stubborn, and determined. Despite the risks to her own life, she knows she cannot walk away from the situation and leave the world in peril.

I continue to enjoy this series, although I would not say it is one of my favorites. I am certainly understanding more of Joanne's character as the books progress and am beginning to like her a bit more than I did in the first book.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog

Title: Fairy Tale
Author: Cyn Balog
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: June 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Age Group: Young Adult

Morgan Sparks and Cameron Browne are more than just neighbors. They were born on the same day and have been inseparable (and totally in love) ever since. So when Cam starts being moody and mysterious a week before their sixteenth birthday bash, Morgan is worried. Things get even stranger when Pip shows up at the Browne's home claiming that Cam is a fairy changeling and he is their true son. As Pip reveals more about the fairy Otherworld and Morgan's visions fail to show Cam's future, Cam and Morgan must face the reality that they may be torn apart.

Fairy Tale sounded like a great book based on the description and it definitely fits in with the types of books I usually enjoy reading. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed in this book. Fairy Tale isn't a bad book by any means but I think I was expecting a bit more from it. Morgan is upset about everything that is happening throughout the entire book and, although she keeps saying that she is going to find a way to keep Cam with her, she doesn't really try to put much into action. She is incredibly self-centered as well, wondering how she will survive without Cam. Morgan doesn't seem to stop to think about what Cam is going through even though she can see how miserable he is. Morgan does at least try to help Pip fit in a bit better. I never really connected with Morgan as the main character. I didn't really like her enough to care about what she was going through.

The attempt to fight Cam's destiny seems half-hearted by everyone involved, like they never truly believe that they have a chance to change things. All I will say about the relationships is that teenage love sure is fickle even when the people involved claim true love for years.

I think it is very likely that teen readers will enjoy this book more than I did. Although I have read a lot of young adult fiction that I truly enjoy, I realize that I am not the intended audience for this story. For me, Fairy Tale was a quick read which entertained but didn't really leave me wanting more or thinking about the characters or story after I finished the book.

This review is based on an Advance Reader's Copy with the original title of Fairy Lust which I received in a prize package from author Brooke Taylor. Look for a review of Brooke's novel, Undone, coming soon.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

Title: Turn Coat
Author: Jim Butcher
Publisher: Roc
Publication Date: April 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Age Group: Adult
Series: The Dresden Files (book 11)
In Turn Coat, the eleventh book of The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden, wizard, is once again battling dark forces to save the lives of innocents... and his own. Donald Morgan, Warden of the White Council, stands accused of murdering a senior member of the Council. Despite his long standing distrust of Dresden, Morgan feels forced to turn to Dresden for help in proving his innocence and exposing a traitor within the White Council. As with the previous books in this series, nothing is exactly as it appears and Harry is generally struggling to fit all the pieces together while keeping at least one step ahead of those trying to kill him.
Turn Coat keeps the action moving and increases the political intrigue while providing some comic moments via Dresden's inability to control his smart remarks as people repeatedly threaten him. Harry is again surrounded by familiar friends and allies - Murphy, Thomas, Molly, and Mouse all take center stage at various points in the book. Although Harry has been hardened by the events over the years covered in the books, he has grown considerably. He is now able to connect seemingly isolated events together to form a larger picture and he has realized that, as much as he hates putting his friends in danger, he does need help to prevent the crazies from killing more people.
Each book in The Dresden Files keeps getting better as the reader is able to see the development in the larger situation and the growth in Harry's character. The relationships between characters grow stronger as well as they learn more about each other and face deadly situations together where they are forced to rely on each other for survival. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, Changes, which is due out in April of 2010.