Category Archives: NetGalley

Review: Dancergirl by Carol M. Tanzman

Dancergirl by Carol M. Tanzman
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: November 15, 2011
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: eARC
Purchase: Book Depository

Summary from Goodreads:
Ali Ruffino loves to dance. When her friend posts videos of her online and they go viral, she thinks her unexpected fame might propel her straight to center stage. But along with some real admirers she gets some nasty detractors—and a stalker who isn’t content to watch from afar.

Dancergirl is an explosive read that will grab you from the very beginning and not let go until you’ve read the last page. I read this in one sitting.

I’ve never been into dancing, whether I’m doing the dancing or just watching it. But I wanted to read this because it sounded interesting, and I always love reading about a character that is passionate about this one thing they’re doing. I would suggest reading this near a computer if you’re unfamiliar with dancing jargon, which I was. That did make the actual dances hard to imagine, but she used great detail as well, so I wasn’t completely in the dark.

As for the rest of the book, wow. Every single Ali was feeling paranoid and or frightened because of the paranoia, I felt it. Carol Tanzman wrote those scenarios well, because usually I find it hard to connect with a character in that situation, so I don’t always feel the tension that is present. And boy, was there tension. It’s incredibly creepy to think someone is watching every detail of your life. Ali handled it all amazingly well, as did all of her friends who helped her figure everything out. Sonya, Clarissa, even Charlie, all great supporting characters.

Then there’s the absolute best friend Jacy, who all of a sudden dumps everyone, but then all of a sudden reappears. And while there was an explanation for that, the reappearance was a bit too sudden, but I’m glad it happened. There is a hint of romance in the story as well, though it’s definitely second fiddle to the overall storyline of Ali being stalked.

All in all, Dancergirl was definitely gripping, and I’d suggest reading it during the daytime, and not in the middle of the night like I did. Very good story, but extremely creepy because it does happen, too often.

Review: Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: June 28, 2011
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Paperback, 324 pages
Series: Spellbound #1
Purchase: Book Depository

Summary from Goodreads:
What’s a girl to do when meeting The One means she’s cursed to die a horrible death?

Life hasn’t been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Connor, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she’s irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.

But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can’t stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma’s been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.

I always like a story with a past life that can somehow be remembered. That’s a good way of being immortal. You still die but you’re reborn. Not quite so lonely that way, since you can die with the people you care about, and start the process all over again. Except with Spellbound, Emma keeps gravitating towards Brendan in each life, and always dies. That kind of sucks.

Brendan is definitely a lovable male lead. He jumps in to help her out on her first day with a lie she’s telling, since she doesn’t want people knowing why she had to move. I also loved that he had green eyes, as green is my favorite color and would definitely be sexy on a guy. I could have done without the all-consuming love almost from the beginning, I almost always prefer a gradual build-up to that. Angelique was an awesome friend for her to make, although I didn’t really see any point in introducing her, and then pulling her away from the story for a while. She was there to help Emma, so why keep her out of half the book with the flu?

The danger that could have cost Emma her life surprised me, since I thought it would be something like what had happened in past lives, like a fire she couldn’t escape or something. I always like it when books can surprise me like this, although in hindsight I can definitely see that the author was pointing towards this outcome all along with certain events that happen throughout.

Spellbound is a light romantic read with plenty of otherworldly elements to keep you entertained throughout the story. There is a confirmed sequel, so I’ll be interested to see what Cara does with these characters, since Spellbound wrapped up Emma and Brendan’s storyline very nicely. I’m definitely hoping that Angelique may be the focus of the next book. I would love to see more of her.

Review: A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
Publisher: Candlewick
Release date: August 9, 2011
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Hardback, 352 pages
Purchase: Book Depository

Summary from Goodreads:
It should have been a short suspended-animation sleep. But this time Rose wakes up to find her past is long gone— and her future full of peril.

Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten subbasement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long gone, and Rose— hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire— is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes— or be left without any future at all.

A Long, Long Sleep is a heartbreaking story about abuse and loss, but also of finding yourself and finally fighting for yourself. I couldn’t put this book down, it took my breath away.
I’d read some reviews for this, and the general consensus seemed to be that people didn’t like Rose at the beginning. I liked her from the first page. She only acted the way she had in the beginning because of the way her parents raised her, there wasn’t anything she could do about it at the time. But throughout the book she wakes up to what had been happening and finally breaks free. I admired how strong she turned out to be.
What was hard to read about this book was the idea that you wake up and everyone you knew and loved is gone. Add the flashbacks to that, those glimpses of the people who are no longer alive, and that made it even harder. I was missing these people I couldn’t even have possibly ever known, since they weren’t real. And then the curve ball thrown in near the end, which was semi-predictable, changed things. That part of the storyline actually made me cry.
I know there were many who went into this expecting a good sci-fi story, but that was definitely not the primary genre for the book. It had only enough to help move the story along, and didn’t need more. I was blown away by A Long, Long Sleep and would definitely recommend it to anyone in need of a good story.

Review: Your Child’s Writing Life by Pam Allyn

Your Child’s Writing Life: How to Inspire a Love of Words and Instill Lasting Confidence and Creativity in Your Child by Pam Allyn
Publisher: Avery Trade 
Release date: August 2, 2011
Source: Publisher via NetGalley 
Format: eARC 
Series: N/A 
Purchase: Book Depository 

Summary from Goodreads:
An illuminating, first-of-its-kind resource to help parents foster a love of writing in their child’s life.

New educational research reveals that writing is as fundamental to a child’s development as reading. But though there are books that promote literacy, no book guides parents in helping their child cultivate a love of writing. In this book, Pam Allyn, a nationally recognized educator and literacy expert, reminds us that writing is not only a key skill but also an essential part of self-discovery and critical to success later in life. Allyn offers the “the five keys” to help kids WRITE-Word Power, Ritual, Independence, Time, and Environment-along with fun, imaginative prompts to inspire and empower children to put their thoughts on the page.

A groundbreaking blueprint for developing every child’s abilities, Your Child’s Writing Life teaches parents how to give a gift that will last a lifetime.

I don’t actually have any children at this time, nor do I plan to in the immediate future. I will someday though, so I accepted this request for review, especially since the subtitle says at any age. I can remember in school writing was a chore for me. I didn’t enjoy it, and I know I used to when I was younger. I remember having a journal where I’d write stories that popped into my mind. And when that one became full my mom gave me another to start in. Somewhere along the way though I lost my passion for it. I want to rekindle that passion. Not only for myself, but for the sake of any future children I have.
What I love about this book is that the prompts Pam Allyn suggests for getting your kid started is writing about what you see, what you feel, which is also a great way to become aware of the world around you. If we get children passionate about writing when they’re young, and being aware, they will grow up with that awareness and hopefully cherish it. They will see something and question why that is, and marvel at it. And then write about it. With awareness and literacy hand in hand, I think as children grow up, they would be less likely to take life for granted, because they’d have the skills they need to live life to it’s fullest.
She also talks about the importance of reading. I’ve heard it said by many people over the years that reading helps you write better, and that is absolutely true. With all of the writing tips she gives the reader in her book she also mentions picture books and chapter books that fit whatever idea she’s currently talking about. Examples for your child to see how poetry is written well, or humor. Anything. She also lists twenty books that are excellent at showing all the different writing styles there are, and how and why they work. And that while for writing there are some set rules, it’s also a creative outlet for your child to express themselves, however they want to. It allows them to think outside the box.
The last chapter is a wonderful resource for anytime you or your child has writer’s blocks. There are prompts about what to write when you’re lonely, where you think up an imaginary friend and write about him or her, about who that person is, what makes them that person. And almost all prompts also have an offering of books that talk about that topic in some way.
This book also got me thinking about traditional writing as well as writing with all the new technology we’ve gained even in just the last ten years. In the beginning I think you should definitely stick to traditional materials like paper and pens, pencils, crayons and markers like she says. And when the child is older add in the computer. Be careful though about how much time the child spends on the computer, because I know from personal experience that it is very easy for a younger child to get addicted to everything the computer and internet can offer, which can be a detriment to child’s development. Finding a balance between the mediums will allow him or her to get the best of both worlds.
This is definitely a book you’ll want in personal library if you have children, or are planning on having them soon. All of the ideas in this book can only help enrich their lives, help them appreciate everything around them, and like Pam says, keep your family close throughout the years, because you are actively helping your child in this process, instead of being a bystander.

Review: The Marked Son by Shea Berkley

The Marked Son by Shea Berkley
Publisher: Entangled Publishing 
Release date: August 2, 2011 
Source: Publisher via NetGalley 
Format: eARC 
Series: Keepers of Life #1 
Purchase: Amazon 

Summary from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Dylan Kennedy always knew something was different about him, but until his mother abandoned him in the middle of Oregon with grandparents he’s never met, he had no idea what.
When Dylan sees a girl in white in the woods behind his grandparents’ farm, he knows he’s seen her before…in his dreams. He’s felt her fear. Heard her insistence that only he can save her world from an evil lord who uses magic and fear to feed his greed for power.

Unable to shake the unearthly pull to Kera, Dylan takes her hand. Either he’s completely insane or he’s about to have the adventure of his life, because where they’re going is full of creatures he’s only read about in horror stories. Worse, the human blood in his veins has Dylan marked for death…

I really enjoyed The Marked Son, and when I started it I didn’t think I would. The Marked Son is told from the perspective of a male protagonist, which I hardly ever read, so I knew that would be kind of interesting. The beginning though was kind of slow for me, and didn’t pick up until Kera and her world finally start interfering with Dylan’s life. Then I was eating up all the fantasy elements, loving it. I was not, however, thrilled with how intensely Kera and Dylan needed each other. They let it rule them, and there were definite consequences to ignoring what was happening and who was getting hurt just because they absolutely had to be together or the world would end (not really though).
The action was very well written, I could picture every move in my mind, and I love being able to do that with action scenes. There was one part especially near the end though, when something happened. I kept wondering how this could possibly go on for another two books since it seemed unlikely given what had happened. There was a solution though that made sense.
I would definitely recommend The Marked son to fans of fantasy, it’s a fun read that is action packed and leaves you on the edge of your seat.

Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: May 24, 2011
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Hardback, 473 pages
Series: Steampunk Chronicles #1
Purchase: Book Depository

Summary from Goodreads:
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one except the “thing” inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch…

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits. Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help-and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on, even if it seems no one believes her.

The Girl in the Steel Corset was hard to get into at first, for me. If I used that rule of only giving a book 50 pages before passing the final decision of reading or not reading, I probably wouldn’t have stuck with this book. But I don’t hold to that rule thankfully, because I eventually got really into it and could not put it down.
I loved the story itself, especially since this may have been the first steampunk book I’ve read. But it was a little hard for me to imagine some things while reading, like Griffin’s machine for connecting to that other plane, the one where the power comes from. And corsets, but only because I’m not familiar with the fashion of the time. It has piqued my interest though, enough so to do some casual research on corsets.
My favorite thing about this book was the romance. Because of the time it’s set it, it’s more likely to be chaste, than I see you and have to jump your bones right now because I’m so filled with lust. I love chaste romance, filled with just looks and innocent touches. There was an interesting love triangle as well, and I found myself siding with the character I’d usually not side with most of the time, which was very interesting.
I would definitely recommend this for those wanting to enter into the up and coming Steampunk genre, it’s definitely a good read.

July is NetGalley Month!

Red House Books hosted this challenge back in April, and I didn’t participate then. But I’m going to this month, in addition to my other challenge. To find more information about this challenge, head on over to Red House Books. Most of these books will be read during the three day read-a-thon coming up on the 11th-13th. I’m using that read-a-thon to get caught up on computer ebooks as well as kindle books. July is going to be a busy month! I probably won’t get to all of these, but I’m hoping to get at least half. Seven or eight would be awesome.

01. Mercy by Rebecca Lim
02. Legacy by Cayla Kluver
03. Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz
04. Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson
05. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
06. A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
07. Misfit by Jon Skovron
08. Never Eighten by Megan Bostic
09. The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
10. Fireborn: Embers of Atlantis by Tracy Hickman
11. The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen
12. Blood by K.J. Wignall
13. Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release: July 4, 2011
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from HMH website:

Fourteen-year-old Luce has had a tough life, but she reaches the depths of despair when she is assaulted and left on the cliffs outside of a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village. She expects to die when she tumbles into the icy waves below, but instead undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid. A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: the mermaids feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks. Luce possesses an extraordinary singing talent, which makes her important to the tribe—she may even have a shot at becoming their queen. However her struggle to retain her humanity puts her at odds with her new friends. Will Luce be pressured into committing mass murder?
My Review:
I hadn’t read any mermaid fiction before, so I when I saw this book I was so excited.

We’re introduced to Luce, who lost her mom very young, and later her dad to the sea. She now lives with her uncle and is an outcast at school. Personally, I felt that no reason was given for Luce being an outcast, other than her father disappearing at sea, which I would think would be an unfortunate, but common occurance where they live. I feel that little point was thrown in there and then forgotten.

I had some small issues with a few of the characters. I felt there was no need for Jenna at all once Anais had arrived. Luce, while I loved her, seemed a tad bit more mature than your average 14 year-old. And Catarina, hot or cold, you didn’t know what to expect with her. I would’ve liked her backstory earlier so I could’ve understood her better, instead of at the very end.

The writing style of this author is beautiful. I loved the descriptions she gives of the different tail colors, of what the water does while Luce sings. Overall I really liked this book, quite possibly enough that I’ll buy it after it’s released. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this trilogy.

My first review for the Story Siren’s Debut Author 2011 Challenge!