Thursday, December 31, 2009

When We Were Saints by Han Nolan

Title: When We Were Saints
Author: Han Nolan
Publisher: Harcourt
Hardcover, 291 pages
Date Published: 2003

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
Han Nolan spins a tale of religious fervor and adolescent searching in When We Were Saints, a compelling novel that allows readers to draw their own conclusions. The story centers on Archie Caswell, a 14-year-old southern boy whose best friend has recently moved away and whose grandfather has just died. Archie is awash in guilt over the circumstances of his granddaddy's passing, but he's equally troubled by the old man's deathbed prophecy.
Enter Clare Simmons, a mysterious girl who fully believes she and Archie are modern-day saints. Abandoned by his former confidant and desperate for answers, Archie gets swept up in Clare's appealing certainty--eventually following her all the way to New York City on a risky pilgrimage to see a crying statue of the Virgin Mary.
Nolan writes convincingly about personal struggles with faith--Archie is at times a blissful believer, at others plagued with doubt. In either state, Nolan helps us understand exactly why the young man feels the way he does. In the end, we join Archie in wondering if Clare is mentally ill, or if she does in fact have a direct line to a higher power. A captivating read, especially for teens trying to find their own way in the domain of religion and spirituality. (Ages 13 and older) --Brangien Davis
When We Were Saints is the story of Archibald Lee Caswell, your everyday, average 14 year old boy, who goes on a pilgrimage to become a saint. Archie’s life drastically changes the day his grandfather Silas, an old prophet, dies and tells Archie he is a saint. The day of the funeral, a young girl comes up to Archie and hands him a card that basically says the same thing. Clare Simpson, the girl from the funeral is a very religious 15 year old who convinces Archie that he truly is saintly and that the two of them are soul mates. From there, Archie goes on a journey to find God and become the saint he believes he is destined to be.

This book was a rollercoaster of a ride for me. There isn’t a lot of action or crazy things happening, but it truly made me think. Archie’s journey to sainthood is moving and made me think about religion in an entirely different way. That being said, this book is filled with the Catholic religion. I think that alone may make a lot of readers pass on this. I’m not particularly religious, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Nolan has created an unforgettable character in Archie. He is your average boy, but unique in the so many ways. His devotion to Clare is startling at times, but almost understandable. Clare herself is a startling character. Her complete, unwavering devotion to God is incredible and terrifying. Archie wants what she has and almost loses himself to find it. Their pilgrimage moved me to tears.

I couldn’t even put the book down towards the end because I was so connected to Archie and I needed to know what was going to happen to him. It’s impossible not to care for him. Archie is so young and naïve and he has so much love pouring out of him that I instantly felt connected with him. I never really felt that way with Clare, but I don’t think the reader is supposed to. Clare is the catalyst for the pilgrimage and Archie’s reason for wanting to be closer to God, but she does so much more than that for him. Their journey isn’t just about finding God, it is about finding the goodness in humankind and becoming saintly in ways that aren’t even related to religion.

When We Were Saints
isn’t a love story and it isn’t necessarily a story about finding God either. It is a story about a boy finding himself. Archie goes on a pilgrimage to be closer to God, but he actually discovers the person he is and the person he wants to be. It is a moving, emotional journey that will stay with me for a long time.

Opening line: Archibald Lee Caswell had named the still he and his best friend, Armory Mitchell, had built in the basement of his grandparents’ home The Last Hurrah, in honor of Armory, who was moving with his family to Washington, D.C.

Favorite line: Maybe that’s all it really takes to be a saint – those simple acts of kindness.

New Year's Read-a-thon hosted by Bookworming in the 21st Century

Bookworming in the 21st Century is hosting a New Year's Read-a-thon which
Starts: 5 pm Today!!
Ends: 10 pm on Sunday, January 3rd

Check out Bookworming in the 21st Century and sign up on Mr. Linky

She's also going to have one random participant win a book or two from her pile of giveaway books.

My goal is to read at least 15 hours. That's not too much considering it goes until Sunday.

As of right now, I want to read 11 Gossip Girl books and then take it from there. If I'm no too into them, I may just do the first 4.

Top 9 of 2009 - Holiday Break Reading Challenge #14

Holiday Break Reading Challenge

Karin at the Holiday Break Reading Challenge thought it would be fun for everyone to list their top 9 books of 2009, so for Activity #14 and in celebration of the approaching new year, I've compiled my 9 favorite books that I read in 2009. They weren't necessarily released in 2009, but I read them this year.

Clicking the titles will take you to my review

1. The Hunger Games & Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
I'm counting them as one because I can!
I adored both of these books. I can't wait for the last one

There are far too many amazing things I could say about this book

Absolutely incredible. Such a moving journey

Exciting! Pure genius

The story of an innocent boy that will break your heart

Sexy and addictive

A frightening mystery wrapped in a thought-provoking story

8. Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz 
Made the hair on the back of my neck stand up

Beautiful language in a beautiful time period

Honorary mentions that were so close to making the list: 
Deadly Little Secret & Deadly Little Lies by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Frozen Fire by Tim Bowler

Title: Frozen Fire
Author: Tim Bowler
Publisher: Philomel
Hardcover, 328 pages
Date Published: June 19, 2008 (US pub. date)

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
A paranormal thriller from Carnegie Medal–winner Tim Bowler!
It starts with a phone call. “I’m dying,” a voice tells Dusty. Who is he and how has he gotten her cell number? Dusty wants no part of this strange boy . . . until he begins saying things that only someone who knows her intimately could say—things that lead her to think he knows the whereabouts of her brother, who disappeared over a year ago. Suddenly drawn in, Dusty very much wants to save this boy. Trouble is, she cannot find him. Part human, part spirit, he won’t let himself be found. He is too dangerous, he says. There are mobs of people who agree and who want to see this boy dead . . . and who will hurt anyone who stands in their way.
A gripping, hair-raising mystery about a boy not of this world, and a girl determined to protect him.

Frozen Fire is a very difficult book for me to sum up. There were so many different aspects of it and the overall message of the book was so different from what I had expected. The story opens with a mysterious phone call in the middle of the night. Dusty is home alone when a strange boy phones her and tells her he is dying. Some of the things he says invoke memories of Dusty’s missing brother Josh and she sets out to find him. Instead, Dusty comes face to face with a menacing man, his two sons, and their pit bulls. From there Dusty’s entire world is turned around and the boy is at the center of it.

I can’t really say too much about the plot without giving away any major details, but I will say that it was extremely well written and wrought with mystery and suspense. There are more than a few chilling scenes that may cause goosebumps and raise the hair on the back of your neck. The first few chapters are menacing in the best way possible and I was instantly hooked.

Dusty seeks the mysterious boy out because she yearns to find her brother, and in doing so, she is sucked into the mystery that is the boy. No one knows his name or where he comes from, but everywhere he goes, bad things seem to occur. There are people all over the country who wish to seek the boy out and persecute him for various crimes they cannot prove he was a part of. He appears to be some sort of paranormal being that is able to know intimate details of everyone’s lives, including Dusty’s. This boy doesn’t look normal either. The best way to describe him is almost as an ethereal being. He is pale. So pale that he is as white as the snow. His hair is the same color and his eyes are a striking pale color that people are unable to forget. He is capable of great harm, but Dusty remains unafraid.

Dusty is by far one of the strongest female characters I have ever seen. She is described as a Tomboy and she is more than willing to get into a fight, but it isn’t just her physicality that makes her strong. Emotionally, Dusty is a very strong character. She lost her brother and soon after her mother leaves. Her father is a self-described pansy, yet Dusty remains strong. She forges through life and attempts to maintain who she is. The appearance of the mysterious boy shakes up her world and Dusty is forced to summon all the strength she can muster.

Frozen Fire isn’t necessarily the paranormal thriller that it is described as, but it is an engaging, mysterious, and interesting story. There are some very slow moments that drag out descriptions of snow and the landscape, but Bowler is able to create such vivid imagery that I almost didn’t notice. There were many times when I felt like I was buried in the snow with Dusty. The visuals in the book are absolutely phenomenal and I could easily picture it throughout the book. The mystery surrounding Josh and the boy were compelling, but they were dragged on for too long. The book isn’t long, but I wanted to know what was going on. There was so much build-up throughout the novel, but the payoff didn’t come until very late on and it didn't fully answer all the questions that were presented. The ending also had me a little confused. The unanswered questions detracted from the impact potential that the ending could have had. Still, Frozen Fire was a thought-provoking read that examines so much more than just the mystery of Dusty's missing brother and a strange boy.

Opening line: “I’m dying,” said the voice. ~pg.1

Favorite line: There could be no innocence in a world without justice. ~pg. 305


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - Frozen Fire (12/29/09)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

The Rules:
•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) or so “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

I honestly cannot believe I haven't finished Frozen Fire by Tim Bowler yet, but I think I'll finish it tonight. 
"The big mystery we must all solve alone. 'Why alone?' she murmured. 'Why must it be alone?'" ~pg. 234

A paranormal thriller from Carnegie Medal–winner Tim Bowler!
It starts with a phone call. “I’m dying,” a voice tells Dusty. Who is he and how has he gotten her cell number? Dusty wants no part of this strange boy . . . until he begins saying things that only someone who knows her intimately could say—things that lead her to think he knows the whereabouts of her brother, who disappeared over a year ago. Suddenly drawn in, Dusty very much wants to save this boy. Trouble is, she cannot find him. Part human, part spirit, he won’t let himself be found. He is too dangerous, he says. There are mobs of people who agree and who want to see this boy dead . . . and who will hurt anyone who stands in their way.
A gripping, hair-raising mystery about a boy not of this world, and a girl determined to protect him.

Holiday Break Reading Challenge - Activity #12

Holiday Break Reading Challenge

Activity #12 is pretty straightforward. Here's what Karin has to say about it:
Think back on all the books you've read dealing with animals.  What are your favorites.  You can choose one or more than one.  It doesn't matter to me.  BUT, please make these REAL animals.  No werewolves or other fantastical creatures.

Somehow I read very few books with animals in them when I was younger. That, or I just can't really remember them at all. It took me a while looking books up to find some that I actually read.

I've never actually read this, but I adore the movies. There's a lot of mythical animals/creatures, but there are also some actual animals like Artex the horse.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge

J.Kaye's Book Blog is hosting a YA reading challenge for 2010. I'm going to sign up at the Stepping It Up level and read 50 YA books.
Here are the rules:
1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.

--Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post. To learn how to sign up without having a blog, click here.

2. There are four levels:

--The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.

--Just My Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 25 Young Adult novels.

--Stepping It Up YA Reading Challenge – Read 50 Young Adult novels.

--Super Size Me YA Reading Challenge – Read 75 Young Adult novels.

3. Audio, eBooks, re-reads all count.

4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

5. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.

Make sure you visit J.Kaye's Book Blog to sign up
MY LIST: Will be updated with books and links to reviews as I post them
1. Gossip Girl (#1) by Cecily von Ziegesar - REVIEW
2. Gossip Girl: You Know You Love Me (#2) by Cecily von Ziegesar - REVIEW
3. Gossip Girl: All I Want is Everything (#3) by Cecily von Ziegesar - REVIEW
4. Gossip Girl: Because I'm Worth It (#4) by Cecily von Ziegesar - REVIEW
5. Need by Carrie Jones - REVIEW
6. Captivate by Carrie Jones - REVIEW
7. The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard - REVIEW
8. The Mark by Jen Nadol - REVIEW
9. Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott - REVIEW
10. A House Afire by Emma Kinna - REVIEW

11. Marly's Ghost by David Levithan - REVIEW
12. The Line by Teri Hall - REVIEW
13. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain - REVIEW
14. Restoring Harmony by Joëlle Anthony - REVIEW
15. Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott - REVIEW
16. The Devouring by Simon Holt - REVIEW
17. The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien-Jones - REVIEW
18. Soulstice by Simon Holt - REVIEW
19. Zombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby - REVIEW
20. Wings by Aprilynne Pike - REVIEW
21. City of Bones (Mortal Instruments, #1) by Cassandra Clare - REVIEW
22. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce - REVIEW
23. City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments, #2) by Cassandra Clare - REVIEW
24. Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey - REVIEW

25. City of Glass (Mortal Instruments, #3) by Cassandra Clare - REVIEW
26. Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure by Allan Richard Shickman - REVIEW
27. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer - REVIEW
28. Zan-Gah: The Beautiful Country by Allan Richard Shickman - REVIEW

29. The Chronicles of Narnia, #1: The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis - REVIEW  
30. Arson by Estevan Vega - REVIEW
31. The Chronicles of Narnia, #2: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - REVIEW  
32. Prophecy of Days, #1: The Daykeeper's Grimoire by Christy Raedeke - REVIEW
33. The Chronicles of Narnia, #3: The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis - REVIEW

34. The Returners by Gemma Malley - REVIEW
35. The Chronicles of Narnaia, #4: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis - REVIEW
36. The Chronicles of Narnia, #5: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis - REVIEW
37. Kiss of Life (Generation Dead, #2) by Daniel Waters - REVIEW
38. Passing Strange (Generation Dead, #3) by Daniel Waters - REVIEW
39. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson - REVIEW
40. 13 to Life by Shannon Delany - REVIEW
41. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare - REVIEW 
42. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore - REVIEW
43. Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins - REVIEW
44. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - REVIEW 
45. Forget You by Jennifer Echols - REVIEW
46. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan - REVIEW
47. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White - REVIEW 
48. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting - REVIEW 
49. Looking for Alaska by John Green - REVIEW 
50. Minder by Kate Kaynak - REVIEW 
51. Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick - REVIEW 
52. Fat Vampire by Adam Rex - REVIEW 
53. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson - REVIEW 
54. Grace by Elizabeth Scott - REVIEW 
55. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott - REVIEW 
56. You by Charles Benoit - REVIEW  
57. Crave by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz - REVIEW 
58. Fearscape (The Devouring, #3) by Simon Holt - REVIEW
59. Losing Faith by Denise Jaden - REVIEW 
60. Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann - REVIEW
61. Freefall by Mindi Scott - REVIEW
62. The Scorch Trials (The Maze Runner, #2) by James Dashner - REVIEW
63. Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales - REVIEW 
64. Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles, #2) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl - REVIEW
65. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff - REVIEW
66. Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto by Eric Luper - REVIEW
67. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer - REVIEW
68. Heart With Joy by Steve Cushman - REVIEW
69. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney - REVIEW 
70. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger - REVIEW
71. Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala - REVIEW
72. Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols - REVIEW
73. How To Steal a Car by Pete Hautman - REVIEW
74. Before I Die by Jenny Downham - REVIEW
75. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan - REVIEW
76. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler - REVIEW 
77. Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher - REVIEW
78. Human Blend by Lori Pescatore - REVIEW
79. Entice (Need, #3) by Carrie Jones - REVIEW
80. Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers - REVIEW

3 4 5 Reading Challenge

Updated to add choice for 4 books
Another challenge for me!! I love books in a series, so this is perfect for me.

Here's what Chick Loves Lit has to say about it:
Rules of this challenge:

1. It will run from August 1, 2009 to August 1, 2010
2. You may sign up at any point in this time period
3. To complete the challenge, you must read THREE books from one series, FOUR books from another series, and FIVE books from another series
(For example: Song of Fire and Ice trilogy by George RR Martin, the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, and five of the Chronicles of Narnia books)
4. You do not have to choose your books ahead of time (but are more than welcome to)
5. You do not have to 'complete' a series (i.e. you don't have to read a trilogy for your three book requirement - just 3 books from the same series)
6. Only books that you read between August 1, 2009 and August 1, 2010 count
7. The books you read may count for other challenges

To sign up, visit Chick Loves Lit's 345 Reading Challenge post

My list is as follows:
The Mortal Instruments Series (Books 1-3) by Cassandra Clare
-City of Bones - REVIEW
-City of Ashes - REVIEW
-City of Glass - REVIEW

Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar
-Gossip Girl - REVIEW
-You Know You Love Me - REVIEW
-All I Want is Everything - REVIEW
-Because I'm Worth It - REVIEW

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (Books 1-5, but I'll most likely finish the series)
-The Magician's Nephew - REVIEW
-The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - REVIEW
-The Horse and His Boy - REVIEW
-Prince Caspian - REVIEW
-Voyage of the Dawn Treader - REVIEW

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

In celebration of The Lateiner Gang Book Review Spot's HUGE contest to win a Nook, in conjunction with Hush, Hush author Becca Fitzpatrick, I'm reposting my (slightly edited) first ever blog review of Hush, Hush. Keep in mind that I read this back towards the end of August.

Title: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Hardcover, 400 pages
Date Published: October 13, 2009

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. 

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. 

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Hush, Hush begins with Nora meeting Patch and being forced to work on an assignment together. The new lab partners have a great deal of tension between them and it all soon escalates to Nora becoming unwillingly attracted to Patch. As strange things happen to and around Nora, she begins to question whether or not she can trust Patch. When new student Elliot starts school with Nora, he just adds another piece to the puzzle. Nora attempts to figure out who Patch is, who Elliot really is, and who is the cause of all the strange things that are happening to her. The story progresses with Nora discovering the truth about Patch (he’s a fallen angel) and he lost his wings a long, long time ago. There’s a mixture of death, destruction, crazy ex’s, possible stalkers, and some kisses here and there. The mystery of the story is wrapped up pretty well towards the end, but there are enough loose strings for the follow-up.

Hush, Hush has a lot of great things going for it. I felt like all of the characters were very strong in their own ways. From Nora, to Patch, to Vee, and even Elliot; they all were developed well enough to suit their roles within the story. Nora has a lot of depth to her and isn't presented as a completely lovestruck high school girl. Patch comes in as the bad-boy shrouded in mystery and Nora is inexplicably drawn to him. Nora’s best friend Vee can be viewed as rowdy and comedic or as someone the readers will hate. I found her funny and refreshing, but I could see other people being annoyed with her. The thing that I liked the most about the story is that Nora is a strong character that doesn’t come off as being whiny or a constant damsel in distress, though she is in distress often. So many stories have such complex bad-boys and love interests and the heroines of the novel become bland in their shadow, but that doesn’t happen to Nora at all. Nora remains smart and strong-willed throughout the novel and the focus of the story doesn’t only revolve around a love story. That being said, Patch is just as complex as Nora with some added mystery to him. His mysteriousness works well though because it leaves Nora (and the reader) confused about him for a while. The mystery and sexiness that emanates from Patch makes it easy to see why Nora is so drawn to him.
The story is definitely unique and interesting. It is set in high school and it there is the whole high school love thing going on, but Becca Fitzpatrick did a fantastic job making it sexy and fun. The historical backstory is awesome, but I wish there was more to it. The incorporation of actual Biblical (angel) aspects into the novel also gave it a little something extra. The book was very easy to get into and I read it through in a day. I think I would have picked up on a lot more if I read it slower, but it was hard to put down. It has something for everyone in it as well. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here.

Crescendo, the follow-up to Hush, Hush is due out next fall.

*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it

Nook Giveaway at The Lateiner Gang Book Review Spot

The Lateiner's are at it again with a monumental contest. TLGBRS is coordinating with Becca Fitzpatrick, author of the hugely successful Hush, Hush, to bring one lucky winner a brand new Barnes & Noble Nook.

You only need to be a follower to enter and there's a ton of ways to get extra entries, including referring other people. So, if after reading this you decide to enter, make sure you tell them that Nikki (A Haunt of Ancient Peace) sent you.

There's also this cool contest button that you can grab and get an extra 10 entries just for doing so.

Contest ends February 5, 2010, so go check it out :D

Good luck!!

Christmasy In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is a list of any of the books you may have received in the past week from bookstores, libraries, authors/publishers, trades, etc.

So I didn't get many books for Christmas, but I splurged and bought a bunch for myself.

Christmas present:
The Mortal Instruments boxed set by Cassandra Clare

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott
Bleed by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz (HC)
Specials by Scott Westerfeld
The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld
Sweep: Night's Child (#15) by Cate Tiernan
Sweep: #5-8, 10 (I previously read about half the series, but I can't find the books, so I'm restarting my collection. These were the only books the store had)

And now for some Christmas cats:

Bella in a box

Sleeping Santa Jack

Holiday Break Reading Challenge - Activity #10

Holiday Break Reading Challenge

For Activity #10, I'll be posting some blogs that I visit often and really enjoy. They all have a great and different look to them and have some great content.

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