Friday, January 28, 2011

Fantasy Friday: The Lost Saint

The Lost Saint, by Bree Despain

Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 461
Reading Level: 12 and up
Enjoyment Level: Very High

The non-stop sequel to The Dark Divine delivers an even hotter romance and more thrilling action than Bree Despain's first novel. Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi. She gave her soul to the wolf to save him and lost her beloved mother. When Grace receives a haunting phone call from Jude, she knows what she must do. She must become a Hound of Heaven. Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot - a newcomer to town who promises her that he can help her be a hero. But as the two grow closer, the wolf grows in Grace, and her relationship with Daniel begins to crumble. Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace becomes prideful in her new abilities - not realizing that an old enemy has returned and deadly trap is about to be sprung.

I started reading this book with a nervous twitch in my stomach. I knew something bad or difficult was going to happen and I didn't know if I could handle it. I had fallen in love with these people through the first book, but with my nervous twitch in place I started reading. Since this is the second book, I knew the main characters really well. Grace is a good, strong female lead even while making mistakes; maybe even because of her mistakes. Her feelings and frustrations were readily accessible and believable. I was right there with her even through the times I wanted to choke her and scream at her when she made bad decisions! Luckily, the screaming was only in my head.

Daniel was just as compelling and frustrating. You know what he feels for Grace and all that he would do for her. Knowing all that, I was screaming at him a lot, too. He was also really believable and solid.

Both of them had to deal with the decisions made at the end of the first book, and I think that they did it very realistically. Ms. Despain made it easy to be there with Grace as she dealt with her depressive mother and absent father. Although some of her choices were not the best, I believe she was doing her best.

The other characters, new and old, did nothing but help the story along at a frustrating (in a good way), but workable pace. I never thought to myself "oh my gosh this makes no sense", or "could we move along here?”

The wayward brother Jude - the main driving force for Grace is an enigma. Is he more wolf? more human? Ms. Despain does a really good job of keeping you guessing the whole time. There was no point in the book where I thought I had it figured out before Grace did.

New and old characters work together to bring frustration, chaos, hope, love, and a completely crazy ending to the readers!

Thank you Ms. Despain. I was there, nervous, the entire time. If you loved the first book I have a feeling you will agree with me. I loved this one and can't wait for the next one.


We have two ARC copies of The Lost Saint to giveaway, and each one has a little bottle of blue nail polish specially designed for The Lost Saint.

To enter:

1) be a blog follower
2) leave a comment on this blog entry
3) tweet, FB, or blog about this contest (include links in your blog comment)

The deadline to enter is February 11, 2011. Winners will be chosen and announced the following Wednesday. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Teen Fiction Tuesday: The False Princess

The False Princess, by Eilis O'Neal

Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 336
Reading Level: 12 and up
Enjoyment Level: Very high

It’s books like The False Princess that help me remember how much I love a straight fantasy story. I’ve seen so many urban and realistic fantasy recently that sometimes I forget that high, epic, and classic fantasy were all favorites of mine in junior high and high school.

From GoodReads:

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.

I loved the characters in this. Sinda is likeable, and I found it very easy to empathize with her. She made sense to me, and her reactions to her situation felt natural and very understandable. I felt awful when she was ejected from the life she’d always known, and I cheered when she finally realized what she was meant to do.

The other characters were fun, and they complemented her well. I love Keirnan! What a great, heroic, sweet, but still somewhat frustrating guy. He made it easy to like him and made it easy to root for him with Sinda.

I found the plot a lot less predictable than I thought, which is always a good thing. I thought I had it pretty much figured out until the author threw in the kicker… I won’t tell you what it is, since this is recently published – just don’t get too caught up in thinking you know what’s going on.

This is a great book to read when you need something light, but it’s also deep enough to give you something to sink your reading teeth into. I love the fantasy elements, as well as the mystery and the adventure. And the romance doesn’t hurt, either.

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate

Monday, January 10, 2011

MiddleGrade Monday: Tortilla Sun

Tortilla Sun, by Jennifer Cervantes

Publisher: Chronicle Books
Pages: 218
Reading Level: MiddleGrade
Enjoyment Level: Medium

MiddleGrade isn’t usually my thing, but Jennifer was nice enough to chat with my on the podcast for an episode of Writer’s Desk (check it our HERE). I like to make sure that I get reviews for authors who appear on the show…

From GoodReads:

A tender, magical story about 12 year old Izzy Roybal who is sent to spend the summer in her nana’s New Mexico village where she is soon caught up in the foreign world of her own culture, from patron saints and soulful food to the curious and magical blessings Nana gives her tortillas. In Nana’s village she meets Mateo, the adventurous, treasure seeking thirteen year old boy who lives on the other side of the bolted door in Izzy’s bedroom and six year old Maggie who is raising her cat, Frida, as a dog and sees marshmallow ghosts float out windows. When the wind begins to whisper to Izzy, she is soon led on an adventure to learn about her father’s mysterious death, who she really is, and to connect the hidden pieces of her past.

Although I liked the story, and I loved the setting details, the pacing is a little slow for me. I found myself putting the book down very easily, which isn’t just because I don’t usually do middlegrade books – there are quite a few MGs that I enjoy. I just found that Tortilla Sun wasn’t what I expected in the pacing department.

The characters are very well-done, though. I found Izzy’s journey to be natural and without contrivances to weigh her down. The mystery surrounding Izzy’s father and her mother’s past were both great incentives for her to search out answers.

I can say that the best part of the book was how well the culture was woven in to the storyline. The New Mexico setting and the town Izzy visits are vivid and bright. Definitely not over-the-top with ethnic and cultural references. It just blended so well with Izzy’s journey. And it made me hungry for homemade tortillas.

This is a good one for classrooms and school libraries. I can see a bright future for the author and I am very interested to see what she comes out with next.

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate