Friday, April 30, 2010

Fantasy Friday and Giveaway: Shadow

Shadow, by Jenny Moss

Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 375
Reading Level: 12 and Up
Enjoyment Level: Highest

I’ve been so fortunate, lately, to pick up books that I love. Maybe I’m getting better at my selection. Or maybe it’s just a phase and I’ll read a mediocre book soon… I have to say, though, with this book, I’m so glad I loved it so much. I was slated to get an ARC, but it didn’t happen that way. The post office apparently didn’t want me to have it, so I anxiously waited for a while until I had to just inquire about the book again. The author’s publicist was very nice and sent me a second copy. So a lot of work went in to get this book to me!

Shadow has been the queen’s shadow for as long as she can remember. She’s mistreated, ignored, and generally disliked by everyone. When a prophecy at long last comes true, Shadow thinks it’s her chance at a free life. Despite her resolve to escape, though, she stays with her knight, Sir Kenway, and discovers that there’s a lot she never knew, and by embracing her fears, she will be able to live happily.

Throwback. It’s one word I’d use to describe how I feel about this book. It reminded me of the first memories I have of reading fantasy novels and loving them. I can’t think of a specific book, but there’s a feeling that I’ve had before. The feeling kept me reading for five hours straight the day I got it (and a couple more hours while my babysitting charge slept). I don’t think I’ve felt so connected and engaged since I first started reading the Pern series (Anne McCaffrey).

I won’t say too much since this is a brand-new release, but the characters are wonderful. The setting is wonderful. There were parts where the descriptions were so good that I swear I’d been to that place before. (Wow, could I gush any more?)

The plot is very typical to fantasy, but with twists and turns, and characters that add so much. I called one major plot point, but was delighted when another major point caught me by surprise.

If you hadn’t planned to read this, you’ll need to rectify that situation fast. Put this in your TBR pile. You won’t regret it. And then listen to my interview with Jenny Moss on the podcast.

Until next time, go read something good!

~ Vilate



If you want to read Shadow, you're in luck! The author graciously signed a copy of the book for me to give away! The winner will be chosen at random and will receive an autographed copy of Shadow, by Jenny Moss. To enter you must do the following:

1. Comment on this post with your name, age, email address, and twitter name
2. Tweet this blog post to your followers

That's it! Simple, huh? Good luck! You have until Friday, May 7th to enter.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

LA Times Festival of Books 2010

This past weekend I had a chance to attend the LA Times Festival of Books. It is housed it each year at UCLA. There are hundreds of book and writing related vendors, author signings, stages with book events, and author panels. Here are some pictures of the events that I attended.

This was the first year that there was a YA Stage. The colors were cool!

With a line-up like this, I didn't feel like I needed to leave the area.

First up on stage was WriteGirl, a teen mentoring program. I have had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer with this amazing organization this past year. Our girls had a chance to read some of their writing. Though there isn't a picture, I was asked to read a piece from our anthology. Afterwards, I realized I was on the same stage as some big name authors.

On Saturday, I met up with Kami Garcia and Margie Stohl, authors of Beautiful Creatures and blogger Khyrinthia and her mom. Khy was off with CGYvette when this picture was taken. I also met Allen Zadoff who signed my copy of Food, Girls, And Other Things I Can't Have. And I got to hang with Tenner, Kiersten White and her friend Chelsea. A shout out to Chelsea for having sunscreen. I would have been burnt to a crisp without it.

On Day Two of the Festival, I arrived early to wait in line with a bunch of Nerd Fighters. We were all waiting to see the rock stars of YA Literature,John Green and David Levithan. If you get an opportunity to see John and David - GO!

On Sunday, the YA Stage had another wonderful line-up.

If you haven't experienced a LAYApalooza, it is a fantastic experience. I was first introduced to this game show extravaganza last June. On Sunday, nearly a dozen YA authors answered book trivia questions. The prizes - copies of signed books by the authors at the Festival. I won a signed copy of Carolyn Cognan's The Lost Children.

I wrapped up the weekend with a YA panel with Sonya Sones, Gayle Forman, Cynthia Kadohata, and Jandy Nelson.

It would be an understatement to say I had fun last weekend. I was definitely in book geek heaven.

Would love to hear about the experiences that others had at the festival. If you were there, what did you do?


Three Viewpoint Thursday: Evil Genius

It's Three Viewpoint Thursday, where Aly, Renee and I sit down to chat about one book. This time around, we got to read Evil Genius, by Catherine Jinks.

Cadel is a genius. He lives with his adoptive parents, who have never shown him much concern or care. When he's forced into counseling after disrupting a complex system, Cadel meets Thaddeus, a man that changes his life. For better or worse? Cadel doesn't know until he attends the Axis Institute, where people are eccentric at best and evil at worst. He can never be sure who to trust, and it takes all of his brainpower to get himself out of the biggest mess of his life.

Vilate: So, this one was a long book - kind of difficult to finish, but was it difficult to stay interested?

Renee: I didn't think it was difficult to stay interested. I think that the first chapter, where Cadel has his first meeting with Thaddeus about his computer hacking problems and Thaddeus' only comment is, "Don't get caught," was a great way to start the book. I think that chapter could have been a prologue though and then we fast-forwarded to Cadel going to the institute -- the 60-70 pages in between talking about Cadel's life at 11, 12, 13... was a little unnecessary...

Aly: I kind of agree. I feel like the book could have been cut down by 100-150 pages and not have lost anything. I know that at first I just really didn't like Cadel and so it was hard, but by the end I really liked him.

Vilate: I also agree that the first little bit of the book could've been condensed, at least. On the other hand, though, the characterization would've been different if we didn't have his history, too. But the plot itself didn't seem like it would've been all that affected by chopping the beginning down a bit.

Vilate: On that note, what did you think of the plot?

Aly: I think I got confused at several points and had to figure things out. There were a lot of characters and some technical stuff and also a lot of things that you weren't sure what you could believe or not believe. But overall the concept of a school to train people in all those skills that are deviant by nature... kind of interesting.

Renee: I agree. I like how appropriately everything matched up at the school (Psychology was "Manipulation", etc.) and that aspect of it was interesting. There were parts where I wasn't sure if the message of the book was about being a genius, or if it was a greater comment on people with special needs, because several characters were either mentally handicapped or exhibited strange symptoms that could be special needs, so I wasn't sure if there was a deeper message I should have been looking for.

Vilate: I'm not sure about a deeper message, although, there was a clear theme to me. Plot-wise, I loved seeing how things twisted and turned in the school. I also enjoyed seeing the details come clear at the end. It didn't turn out quite the way I thought it would, and that was nice. I loved how the plot was directly related to Cadel's development and that even when he tried to do the right thing, it was clear that he wasn't a genius in everything. He needed the help of other people in the end.

Renee: I did like that aspect about intelligence not being everything, and how Thaddeus kept repeating that you cannot predict or formularize human behavior. That bit about morals and humanity was nice.

Aly: I liked the transformation process for Cadel throughout the book. In the beginning he relies on his intelligence and is completely arrogant but by the end he recognizes the mistakes he has made and is much more contrite.

Vilate: That was one aspect I really loved, Aly. Cadel's character development is key to this book. There was a lot of the technical stuff that I didn't really understand, but I felt like Cadel's character transformation was the real gist of the story. And he didn't have the greatest role models. It takes him a while, but he realizes that he doesn't feel right living his life the way Thaddeus wants him to, and he does his best to get himself out of the situation. I felt bad for him and wanted him to come out okay in the end.

Renee: That was where I found some tension in the story, because for the longest time I couldn't decide whether Thaddeus was good or bad, and when it became clear that Thaddeus was really manipulating Cadel into doing bad things... I don't know. I was really charmed by Thaddeus' character, even though he was obviously a criminal.

Aly: Well, Thaddeus had always said from the beginning not to trust anyone and I guess he always creeped me out from the start of the book. So I wasn't really surprised that he was manipulating Cadel.

Vilate: I can't say I was surprised, either. Thaddeus was definitely charming, though. I know that he was very smooth. I feel like he had to be in order to corral Cadel's intelligence. He had to coax Cadel. I like that Cadel really only ever liked the complexities of systems and once he found out about his father, he just wanted to please him. He craved the guidance and love of a parent. Thaddeus knew that and used it to his own advantage. Creepy, indeed!

Aly: Did anyone ever watch the TV show La Femme Nikita from the 90's? The Axis Institute remind me a little of the whole Section One hing. The smoothness of Operations and Madeleine and how one minute they could seem so nice and then the next minute they had no qualms about torturing someone or manipulating a situation. I just kept thinking of that show in relations to this book. LOL!

Vilate: That's so true! I hadn't thought of that before, but it's definitely similar. The author did a great job portraying all of the characters, I think.

Vilate: So, I know that Aly's got limited time... so we'll go right into whether or not you enjoyed the book.

Renee: I enjoyed it. It was very different (kind of like X-men, but less honorable) and I liked the twists in the characters -- like how you never could take anything at face value and all the characters you thought you had figured out (like Kay-lee and Thaddeus) reveal something about themselves that makes you reconsider everything. I think it could have been a novel that made you distrust other people, but the author made it more about relying on the help of others, which was very nice.

Aly: I liked it more than I thought I would. I think there were some things about it that really helped. As I said before I liked the transformation that Cadel goes through. Also, I liked what happened to Cadel as a result of people like Kay-lee/Sonja and Gazo. I think from those situations/relationships some of his "humanity" comes through. I wondered if he hadn't had those kinds of things if he wouldn't have changed as much. So aside from length, this one was much more enjoyable than our last read. :)

Vilate: I enjoyed the story, myself. Definitely better than the last one... It was slow going, but it kept me interested. I wanted to see what happened to Cadel in the end, so I was invested in him as a character. I even found myself wanting some kind of redemption for Thaddeus and the rest of the Axis crew. But I liked it all well enough that I've even contemplated getting the sequel and reading it.

Renee: I did also want to see some sort of redemption for Thaddeus, because I really liked him as a character (although I am still the black sheep who enjoyed our last book). I didn't realize this was a series...

Vilate: I'm not sure it's a "series" but I know there's a sequel.

Vilate: In terms of recommendations - would you hand this book over to anyone? Boys? I thought it would be a good one for boys, although the pace is a little slow, I think, for them.

Aly: Hmmm... I think if I knew boys who would stick with it then I could recommend it to them and maybe some girls. I think this might be a hard sell with some teens. It would definitely be to a specific type of reader. I would like to try some of Jinks other books so I can see what she is like.

Renee: Yeah... I don't think its YA, but I don't know if many middle grade readers would have the patience to stick through it, because it isn't as immediately grabbing as other long books, like Harry Potter or Eragon, so it wouldn't be for reluctant readers definitely.

Vilate: I'd say that any recommendation on my part would come with the reservation that it's not as fast a read as, say, James Patterson. It could work for more mature young readers. I probably would've been able to read it as a child, since I spent a lot of time in the adult racks, myself. And I felt like the life lessons that Cadel learned are very similar to those that young readers might be in the process of learning. So I'd say it's YA, but recommend it sparingly.

Thanks for joining us on another TVT! Until next time, laugh like an evil genius and go read a diabolical book!

~ Vilate

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fantasy Friday: The Splendor Falls

The Splendor Falls, by Rosemary Clement Moore

Publisher: Delacourte Press
Pages: 513
Reading Level: 14 and up
Enjoyment Level: High

I wasn’t looking for this particular book when I was book shopping, but I read the cover and it piqued my interest enough to buy it. I read it right away and finished it the same day I got it.

Can love last beyond the grave?

Sylvie Davis is a ballerina who can’t dance. A broken leg ended her career, but Sylvie’s pain runs deeper. What broke her heart was her father’s death, and what’s breaking her spirit is her mother’s remarriage—a union that’s only driven an even deeper wedge into their already tenuous relationship. 

Uprooting her from her Manhattan apartment and shipping her to Alabama is her mother’s solution for Sylvie’s unhappiness. Her father’s cousin is restoring a family home in a town rich with her family’s history. And that’s where things start to get shady.

As it turns out, her family has a lot more history than Sylvie ever knew. More unnerving, though, are the two guys that she can’t stop thinking about. Shawn Maddox, the resident golden boy, seems to be perfect in every way. But Rhys—a handsome, mysterious foreign guest of her cousin’s—has a hold on her that she doesn’t quite understand. 

Then she starts seeing things. Sylvie’s lost nearly everything—is she starting to lose her mind as well?

I liked that the main characters were flawed. They weren’t in any way perfect, but they overcame what had happened before and they became better. Sylvie lost her dreams and future as a ballerina and she took her despair with her to Alabama. She was real and I appreciate that. The author let her be upset and she let her grow enough to realize that she could have more than one dream. I hate when people gloss over pain, but this author let Sylvie figure it out. I loved the love story in the book; Rhys was a well-rounded character that I fell in love with, too.

The only part that I was a little confused about was that she could see ghosts. I didn’t really feel that that was explained well enough. Other than that I loved this book.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves magic, mystery and love!

: Thyra :

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Teen Fiction Tuesday: The Vinyl Princess

The Vinyl Princess, by Yvonne Prinz

Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 313
Reading Level: 14 and Up
Enjoyment Level: High

I swear, every book I’ve read recently has been first person present tense. I think I might find it annoying very soon, so I guess it’s a good thing I got to The Vinyl Princess before I reached my threshold. Otherwise, I might’ve missed out on a good book.

Summer has Allie working full-time at her favorite record store – a perfect job for her since she’s a vinyl junkie. Though her life is usually uneventful, this summer is different. Allie’s life seems to start changing as soon as she starts her own blog, and her own fanzine. Soon, her summer holds romance, danger, and the excitement that can come when you least expect it.

For anyone who feels the pull of vinyl, this book will reiterate your desire to expand your collection. I spent some time browsing’s selection of vinyl in between chapters. It’s very clear that the author either really knows what she’s talking about, or that she did her research well. Music lovers should enjoy this one quite a bit.

But it’s not just for vinyl junkies. The story is about a girl who encounters a life-changing summer, and the main character made me care about her. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I’d like the story. After the first couple of chapters, it was apparent that it wouldn’t be some adventure with action all the time. I normally don’t like stories that are plot-light and character-heavy, but Allie is such a great character that I was drawn to her life. I finished the book in a couple of days.

I will say that some of the plot that was there drifted a bit instead of being there with a purpose. I would’ve liked more focus on the blog and the fanzine Allie created, and how it helped change her. At the end she says that her blog has created a new “family” of friends, but I didn’t see as much evidence of that throughout the book as I wanted.

The Vinyl Princess kept me interested with great characters and wonderful mentions of music (that made me realize how little I actually know about music!). This is a cool summer read, for sure. As you’re picking out books to read by the pool, consider The Vinyl Princess. It’s very worth it!

Until next time, go read something good!

~ Vilate

Sunday, April 18, 2010

One Beetle Too Many

Author: Kathryn Lasky
Illustrator: Matthew Trueman
Publisher: Candlewick Press (2009)
Pages: 48
Ages: 9 to 12 years old

In 2009, there seemed to be a resurgence of Charles Darwin related books. With CHARLES AND EMMA: THE DARWINS' LEAP OF FAITH by Deborah Heiligman and THE EVOLOUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE by Jacqueline Kelly both topping various lists and award nominations, I wasn't surprised to see a picture book about the life of Charles Darwin. ONE TOO MANY BEETLES written by Kathryn Lasky is a biography of Charles Darwin in a picture book format. However, this isn't a small child's picture book nor is it a dry boring biography written for adults. Instead it really is meant more for children second grade and up. The 48 pages of the book is comprised of small chapters that re-tell Darwin's life from the time he was a young child to the time that he published THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES. Lasky focuses her story more on Darwin's natural curiosity that was nurtured by his family as a child, and continued through his whole life. The majority of the book is centered on Darwin's voyage through South America and all of the wonderful discoveries that he made during that period of time. The author also focuses on the scientist's family life including his marriage to Emma Wedgwood and their 10 children. All of which will be more entertaining to children than the controversy surround Darwin's book and theories. I found the book to be an informative and fun read.

Trueman's illustrations are truly the highlight of this book. I wish I was better able to technically describe how beautiful each illustration is, but suffice to say that the mixed media (collage, watercolor, pencil, acrylic ink, etc.)works to feature prominently Darmwin's discoveries. Characters and creatures are drawn with over-sized features and wonderful detail. If just for the illustrations, this is one book that should find it's way into a teacher's collection of books.

In celebration of spring, go for a hike, explore some natural life and read a book.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fantasy Fridays: Immortal, by Gillian Shields

Immortal, by Gillian Shields

Published by: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 368
Reading Level: 14 and Up
Enjoyment Level: Medium

My thanks goes out to my BFF, Stephanie, for giving this book to me for Christmas this past year. The cover intrigued me enough that I put it on my Amazon wishlist, and I finally got around to reading it (I feel like I say that about a lot of books!).

I’m cheating this time and taking the book blurb straight from

Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies, housed in a Gothic mansion on the bleak northern moors, is elite, expensive, and unwelcoming. When Evie Johnson is torn away from her home by the sea to become the newest scholarship student, she is more isolated than she could have dreamed. Strict teachers, snobbish students, and the oppressive atmosphere of Wyldcliffe leave Evie drowning in loneliness.

Evie's only lifeline is Sebastian, a rebellious, mocking, dangerously attractive young man she meets by chance. As Evie's feelings for Sebastian grow with each secret meeting, she starts to fear that he is hiding something about his past. And she is haunted by glimpses of a strange, ghostly girl—a girl who is so eerily like Evie, she could be a sister. Evie is slowly drawn into a tangled web of past and present that she cannot control. And as the extraordinary, elemental forces of Wyldcliffe rise up like the mighty sea, Evie is faced with an astounding truth about Sebastian, and her own incredible fate.

While I did get wrapped up in the story, parts of it were a little frustrating, and the ending wasn’t as satisfying as I would’ve liked. Overall, though, I did enjoy getting to know the characters.

Evie is one thing this author did really well. She felt like a real person with real feelings. Sometimes she felt kind of bi-polar with the way her emotions switched around so fast, but I have a sister who’s like that, so I didn’t feel like the emotion-switching was a flaw in the writing. I will say, though, that it did bother me at the end when she was suddenly claiming to be a certain way and it seemed thrown in there to justify her pushing the people around her away.

However, with that aspect feeling rushed and cobbled together, I must say that there were several other points in the book where actions and plot points gave me the same impression. Immortal could easily have taken another chapter or two to develop the plot and support the ending, which was rushed and a little choppy.

I’m going to assume there will be a sequel to Immortal – I hope there will be, to at least clear up the abrubt ending. But a sequel would be nice, regardless, since I’d like to know what happens next in Evie’s life. I can feel confident in recommending this book with the hope of a sequel.

Until next time, go read something good!

~ Vilate

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Review of Houston's Teen Book Con

For anyone who missed it, I blogged about Teen Book Con last week, and I attended the first annual event this past Saturday. In amongst all the other stuff I've got going on with the magazine, I had to give myself time to review the event, since it's the first book convention I've been to (though, hopefully, not the last).

I found the event to be well-organized for a firstie - some cons start off a little rocky, but the folks at Teen Book Con did a great job. There were a lot more people there than I thought there'd be, too, which made me happy. The panels, lunch, and signing lines were handled very well and I got through all of the ones I needed to (including Jon Skovron and Paula Morris). The bookstore (Blue Willow rocks!!) was kind of difficult to navigate if there were a lot of people browsing at the same time, but it wasn't awful, and they brought plenty of books.

I'll admit my ignorance about Sharon Draper and her novels. I'd never heard of her, but she is a dynamic speaker. She knows her audience and was a great pick for keynote speaker. The kids really enjoyed having her there. It was great to see them get excited about an author like that.

The two panels I attended were fun, although the first one had a few too many authors on it. I feel like panels are best when there are no more than four speakers. Otherwise, it all gets muddled and it takes a long time for the microphone to be passed between them. I enjoyed hearing the authors speak, though.

One thing I learned from the con? I need a t-shirt advertising YA Lit Review! I was so happy to meet several people at the event, two of whom have their own blog and podcast: Girls in the Stacks. They were so nice. And the t-shirt thing... I noticed them because they have their own shirts, lol. So, I broke down and had my own printed up!

On my event evaluation form, I did say that a longer, more varied con would've been fun (or would be great next year). It was fun to meet new people and chat about books, and I wish there'd been more of a venue for that sort of thing. I'm looking forward to the con next year to see where they go from here!

~ Vilate

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams

Author: Rhonda Hayter

Publisher: Dial (April 2010)
Pages: 242
Ages: 9 to 12 years old
Source: ARC won in a contest

As part of the 2010 Debut Authors challenge being hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren, I made a list of new releases that I was interested in reading. A few weeks ago, debut author Joelle Anthony had a contest on her blog to win a copy of the ARC of The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams by Rhonda Hayter. Since it was one of the books on my list, I entered the contest and as luck would have it I won. It also turns out that author lives not far from me and I was able to attend the launch party/book signing for The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams. Here is a picture of Rhonda signing her book. I am not so sure who was more excited Rhonda or her husband (standing proudly behind her).

The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams tells the story of Abbie Adams who comes from a long line of witches. Though being a witch has some advantages, there are many challenges such as not letting people find out about her powers or keeping her six year old brother from biting the teacher when he morphs into a werewolf when he became angry. When Abbie's father brings home a small black kitten, she notices something strange. The cat is actually Thomas Edison as a boy who was turned into enchanted by another witch. As Abbie and her family attempt to undo the spell and return Tom back to his time period before the time continuum is permanently altered, Abbie still has to deal with her classroom teacher, homework, and learning her lines for the school play.

Hayter has created very likable characters in Abbie and her family. Readers will relate to Abbie's every day struggles with being nervous about her performance in the school play, being sent to the office for getting into trouble in class, or forgetting to study for her spelling test. The history about Thomas Edison is neatly woven into the story and Abbie's and Tom's friendship is wonderfully portrayed. Children will also enjoy all of the magic that is used by all of Abbie's family and friends as they attempt to discover who turned Tom into a cat and right the wrong.

Rhonda Hayter's debut novel is an enjoyable read that will entertain even reluctant readers.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spotlight: Teen Book Con

Teen Book Con in Houston, TX

Location: Alief Taylor High School, Houston, TX
Time: 10:30am through 4:00pm


Keynote Speaker - Sharon Draper
* Cynthia Leitich Smith (Tantalize and Eternal)
* Beth Fantaskey (Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side and Jekel Loves Hyde)
* Marjetta Geerling (Fancy White Trash)
* Jon Skovron (Struts and Frets)
* Judson Roberts (The Strongbow Saga)
* Jimmy Gownley (Amelia Rules)
* George O'Connor (Olympians Rule)
* Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise, Echo, Runaways)
* Gayle Forman (If I Stay, Sisters in Sanity and You Can't Get There from Here)
* The Fillbach brothers (Maxwell Strangewell, Road Kill, Clone Wars)
* Elizabeth Eulberg (The Lonely Hearts Club)
* Paula Morris (Ruined)

I will be full of squee this coming weekend. Not because I’ve read all the authors in the list above, but because I’ll be at an actual book convention! One of these days, I’ll be ready to host something like this, myself, but for now I’m content to enjoy a convention organised by someone who isn’t trying to build a literary empire.

It’s been a long, hard road getting to a point where I feel like YA Lit Review is making at least a small mark. I’ve had a lot of help along the way, and I’m happy to make sure any of my readers in Houston know about Blue Willow Bookshop. I’ve done a couple of interviews there already, and it’s the place I’ve met several authors. My contact there, Cathy, has been wonderful! Blue Willow is the official book seller for Teen Book Con this year. Please visit their website, and stop by if you’re in Houston. It’s a great indie bookstore, and they carry many books that the bigger stores never do!

As for the Con, itself, Sharon Draper is the keynote speaker. There will also be author panels to attend, books to buy and get signed, and live music at lunch. The Con is FREE to everyone, which is very cool. It's not often that you get such a great group of authors together where you don't have to pay to get in!

So, if you're in the Houston area, or if you can get to the Houston area, please make some time on your Saturday to visit the Teen Book Con. If you are going to be there, let me know! I'd love to meet and visit with any of my wonderful readers/followers/listeners! (and, for those of you attending, there will be a special rate on the literary magazine!!)

I definitely hope to see you there!

~ Vilate

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fantasy Friday: Eternal

Eternal, by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Published by: Candlewick Press
Pages: 320
Reading Level: 14 and Up
Enjoyment Level: High

There isn’t much history to me getting this book. I should say that I haven’t read Tantalize yet, and I really only picked the two up because the author was at the SCBWI conference in February. Good reason to buy books, right? But since when do I need a reason to buy books?

Eternal follows Zachary, a guardian angel, and Miranda, the soul he was supposed to guard. Zachary fails in his job and Miranda becomes an evil bloodsucker, aka, an eternal. She becomes royalty as the “daughter” of the current Dracula. When Miranda looks for a personal assistant, Zachary takes the position and tries to complete his original job of protecting her soul.

So… the story wasn’t quite what I expected. It didn’t take me long to finish it because I was invested in the characters, but I can’t help feeling like I wanted it to go in a different direction. It ended the way it was set up to end, so I feel like the author did her job, but the darker side of me wishes it could’ve been different for Zachary and Miranda.

This is another one with great characters. Zachary is likeable and Miranda is inherently tragic. The dialogue is snappy, and the supporting cast adds to the mix, too. The treatment of religion and spirituality was handled well, considering this is a story about an angel and a vampire. The world (the same as in Tantalize) is an interesting blend of fantasy and reality.

There is an instance with Miranda’s character development near the end of the book that I felt went unsupported, or at least underdeveloped, and it made the climax feel rushed. The twist with Dracula was fun, and I was appropriately chagrined that I hadn’t seen it coming.

I’ll recommend this one with the tiny reservation that you should know what you’re getting into before you read it. The story starts out with Zachary watching over Miranda to make sure her soul is “saved” and it ends with him making good on his job. I’ll let you come to your own conclusion about what that means, lol. If you don’t want to read a story about star-crossed lovers, don’t pick this one up. But if you don’t mind and want to get swept up in some good characters and good story-telling, by all means – this should be in your to-be-read pile.

Until next time, go read something good!

~ Vilate


I have one copy of Eternal, signed by Cynthia Leitich Smith and read to give away! If you'd like to win this copy here's what you need to do:

Tweet this blog - put the link to the post and mention @yalitreview to get credit.

And comment to this post with your name, age, email address and Twitter handle (so we can give you credit for your Tweets!).

That's it! The winner will be chosen at random out of all the entries. The deadline for entries is next Friday (April 9th). Good luck!