Wednesday, May 18, 2011

City of Ashes

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, #2)City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

AR Reading Level: 5.0
On the library stacks: YA Fiction
Award: VOYA Award/Honor
Series: Mortal Instruments #2
Recommended for: Grades 9+

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's difficult to do a review of the second book in the series without alluding to events that happen in the first, so this will be a short one!

Basically, Clary is still trying to sort out her relationships and boundaries with Jace and Simon, all while trying to find Valentine and avoid the Inquisitor. Clary continues to learn about this new world of werewolves, demons, faeries and about her powers as a Shadowhunter.

The book is seriously entertaining and the pages race by. I thought this book was really strong for a second. I did think it was a little darker than the first one, but that's to be expected in this genre.  My husband has been re-reading this series at the same time I am experiencing them for the first time. It has been fun to have someone to chat with about everything that is going on. On to the next one!

Also reviewed by: eclectic/eccentric ~ Books & other thoughts ~ Bloggin' 'bout Books ~ Capricious Reader ~ Community Bookstop ~ There's a Book ~ My Own Little Corner of the World ~ Your link here?

Source: Purchased

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Beach Trees - TLC Book Tour

The Beach Trees by Karen White

Publisher: New American Library
Publication date: May 3, 2011
Paperback: 432 pages
Price: $15.00
On the library stacks: Adult fiction

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read three of Karen White's previous novels, I was so excited to be able to be on this tour for her new book, The Beach Trees. This is a rich tale set on the Gulf Coast in 2010 about two women from different generations struggling to rebuild their lives after someone close to them has been lost.

Julie Holt is an executive assistant at an auction house in New York City. Her best friend Monica dies from a heart attack, leaving Julie part-owner of a beach house in Biloxi and the guardian of her 5-year old son Beau. Julie heads to Biloxi, sees the ruins of the house left from Hurricane Katrina and carries on to New Orleans where she must confront Monica's estranged family with the news of her death and to introduce them to her son.

Julie is haunted by the kidnapping of her sister who has been missing for the past 17 years. Living her life in a holding pattern, she does not understand why residents of the Gulf feel so compelled to build permanent lives in a place that can experience such devastation. When she meets Beau's great-grandmother Aimee, she finds a purpose in figuring out why Monica fled as there appears to be a connection to her own family. Told in alternating voices between Julie and Aimee, the reader gets to know both women well as they work together to reach an understanding about past events so they can heal and ultimately put them to rest.

As in On Folly Beach, I love how Karen White uses multi-generational voices to add depth to the nice mystery element in this novel. She also did a terrific job creating the atmosphere of her time periods and locations. However, the framework of this story was its one weakness. I think that it was unreasonable to expect that it would take months for Aimee to tell her story, especially to someone living under her own roof. But it did work for keeping the reader in suspense until the end. A solidly satisfying read that is perfect for the beach this summer.

Find Karen at:
Please check out the other great reviews from bloggers participating in this tour. 
Source: I received this book from the publisher as part of the TLC Book Tour.

Monday, May 9, 2011

City of Bones

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

AR Reading Level: 5.0
On the library stacks: YA Fiction
Award: YALSA Top Ten
Series: Mortal Instruments #1
Recommended for: Grades 9+

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Clary Fray is a 15-year old girl who lives in New York City with her mom. One night she goes out to the Pandemonium Club with her best friend Simon and witnesses a murder. What Clary comes to learn is that the victim was a demon, killed by three teenage Shadowhunters, a group of warriors charged with keeping humans safe. 

Soon after, Clary is once again pulled into this bizarre new world that also includes vampires, werewolves, faeries when she is attacked by another demon and her mother disappears. Together with Alec, Isabelle and Jace, Clary learns that her mother was not just the woman she knew her to be. Torn between Simon and Jace, her old life and her new life, Clary must accept who she truly is in order to find her mother.

This book is kind of like Twilight meets Harry Potter meets Star Wars. While I thought the beginning of the book was kind of slow, the second half had heart-pounding action that had me staying awake until the wee hours of the morning to finish it. I had issues with some stylistic elements of Clare's writing, but this book is entertaining and just plain fun. I've already started the next in the series.

Also reviewed by: It's All About BooksLisa's Book Nook ~ eclectic/eccentric ~ The Bluestocking Society ~ Peeking Between the Pages ~ Book Addiction ~ Library Girl Reads ~ Royal Reviews ~ Bloggin' 'bout Books ~ Capricious Reader ~ Review From Here ~ There's a Book ~ My Own Little Corner of the World ~ Can I add your link here?

Source: Purchased

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The China Garden

The China GardenThe China Garden by Liz Berry

AR Reading Level: 4.6
On the library stacks: YA Fiction

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Clare Meredith is just finishing high school in London when her mother decides to move back to the countryside so she can nurse an elderly man she knew on the estate near where she grew up. Clare knows very little about her mother's past, but she decides to go with her for a few weeks before she starts college. When she arrives at Ravensmere, Clare starts realizing she's having psychic visions and that her destiny revolves around the house where she's staying.

Published in 1994, I think this book has the disadvantage of being written before its time. It's a fantasy novel that tries to throw in too much--Greek myths, Arthurian legend, Chinese landscape design, and Christian legends, not to mention strong messages of environmentalism, anti-development and anti-business practices. Today a fantasy author would write an entire trilogy about just one of those topics. I did appreciate that the story wrapped up in just one book, but the plot just felt kind of patched together.

There are some good moments in the book. I liked the storyline about Clare's mother in particular. But the romance element started far too late in the book, and was actually kind of creepy and uncomfortable instead of sweet.

Source: Library

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Tennis Partner

The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese

On the library stacks: Adult Biography

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Long before he wrote Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese, an internal medicine physician and professor, wrote this memoir. This book covers the short period of time in the mid-1990s when Verghese moves to El Paso, his marriage ends, and he strikes up a tennis-centered friendship with one of his medical students.

Verghese noticed David Smith right away. He was a foreigner, like himself, and a little older than the other students. Verghese had heard that Smith once played on the tennis pro tour. Against his better judgment, he asks David to hit balls one night, and their friendship begins. What Verghese doesn't know at the time, is that David was a recovering intravenous drug addict. But their bi-weekly tennis dates ground both men as they struggle through some big changes in their respective lives.

This book is a somber, but well-written account that includes tennis-as-life analogies, Verghese's impressions of the dichotomies of the city of El Paso, the dark world of drug addiction, and reflections on some of his patients, particularly those suffering with AIDS. This book was definitely eye-opening for me, but also heart-wrenchingly sad. I think this book would appeal to readers who are interested in the medical field and/or love tennis. But don't expect this book to be a pick-me-up. It's honest and raw and left me with a tender heart for those who suffer in both body and mind.

Source: Borrowed