Category: YA-Challenge-09

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Lock and Key
By Sarah Dessen
Published in 2008
Paperback, 432 pages 
4.5 on 5!!

Ruby can take care of herself.

She’s used to counting on no one and answering to nobody. But all of that changes when her mother vanishes and Ruby is sent to live with her older sister, Cora. Now Ruby’s got her own room in a fabulous new house, she’s going to private school, and — for the first time — feeling as if she has a future. Plus, there’s an adorable and sweet boy next door, Nate. Everything should be perfect. So why is Ruby so wary? And why is Nate keeping her at a distance? Ruby soon comes to realize that sometimes, in order to save yourself, you’ve got to reach out to someone else.

Hmm.. I liked Sarah Dessen’s Just Listen and when Shona offered me her copy of Lock and Key, I would be dumb t say no, right?! Exactly! So I got the book, and started it with in no time. I have noticed that you know you will finish a book in record time, when you start reading it and keep on going back to it, even when you have more pressing matters on hand. This book held my interest from start till end. I cannot say it was dry at any time! The story of Ruby and her family is Real and painful. Somehow, I never felt any pity for her and I was so happy seeing her taking those baby steps, making the mistakes, but still making that progress, taking that outstretched hand and taking those steps towards knowing what family is really about.
Abandaoned by her mother few months before her 18th birthday, Ruby is sure she can take care of herself and live alone unnoticed till she turns 18. But after sometime, her nosy landlords find her and then she is sent to live with her sister, Cora whom she has not seen in 10 long years! This story is about Ruby, it is about family, it is about 2 sisters and it is about how sometimes you need to just talk and trust in your family and sometimes you have to give something to recieve something too.
I absolutely loved this one. It has no great surprises, it is just a fantastic story with just too many beautful quotes! I so wish, that I had marked all of them as I read but I didn’t mark them **sigh**

What is family? They were the people who claimed you. In good, in bad, in parts or in whole, they were the ones who showed up, who stayed in there, regardless. It wasn’t just about blood relations or shared chromosomes, but something wider, bigger —we had many families over time. Our family of origin, the family we created, as well as the groups you moved through while all of this was happening: friends, lovers, sometimes even strangers. None of them were perfect, and we couldn’t expect them to be. You couldn’t make any one person your world. The trick was to take what each could give you and build a world from it.
– pg. 330

It is fast paced, it is deeply moving and an emotional read. It has some great, “real” characters and I am sure you will love them as well.
I really do hope, you give this one a try. Highly Reccomended!
Also check out – 
CymLowell

All through this month, enter for a chance to win a Kindle by simply linking your review on Book Review Wednesdays on Cym Lowell’s Blog!

True Believer By Nicholas Sparks

True Believer
By Nicholas Sparks
Published by May 31st 2005 by Time Warner Book Group
Paperback, 434 pages
3.5 on 5!
From GoodReads.com,

As a science journalist with a regular column in Scientific American, Jeremy Marsh specializes in debunking the supernatural. A born skeptic, he travels to the small town of Boone Creek, North Carolina, determined to find the real cause behind the ghostly apparitions that appear in the towns cemetery. What he doesn’t plan on, however, is falling hopelessly in love with Lexie Darnell, granddaughter of the town psychic. Now, if the young lovers are to have any kind of future at all, Jeremy must make a difficult choice: return to the life he knows, or do something hes never done before, take a giant leap of faith.

Well, the story stem is very much what is described in the blurb above. I remember when I was reading this book, I was basically skeptical. I am not sure, what made me buy this one, but it has been there in my pile for a while. Well it is a cozy, easy read. Lot of romance, lot of skepticism and then lot of light moments in which I just smiled. I actually liked the conversations a lot.
Well, I don’t see this one as remarkable but yet I liked it. If you are in for a light, romantic day; you might want to give this a try.
Between, if you have read more from Sparks, I would like to take suggestions before tottering off to buy another one.
CymLowell

Soul Catcher by Leigh Bridger

Soul Catcher (The Outsider Series #1)
by Leigh Bridger
Published October 1st 2009 by BelleBooks, Inc.
Paperback, 320 pages
4 of 5!
Description
From the Gothic eccentricity of Asheville, North Carolina to the terrifying recesses of the Appalachian wilderness, from modern demonology to ancient Cherokee mythology, SOUL CATCHER follows the tormented journey of folk artist Livia Belane, who has been stalked through many lives by a sadistic and vengeful demon.

Livia and her loved ones, including her frontier-era soul mate and husband, Ian, a Soul Hunter, have never beaten the demon before. Now, in this life, he s found them again.

Wow… that was some read! I am not really sure, how to really kick-start this review…but I really think it was the kind of roller-coaster ride, I love once in a while!
Soul Catcher is the story of Livia, who is a soul catcher and Ian who is her soul-mate and a soul-hunter. In every life they find each other and are destined to fight the deamons. But one particular daemon tracks them down in every life and is bent on taking violent revenge everytime. For some reasons Livia doesn’t want Ian to find her, but he finally gets to her and is not going to let go easily this time. Livia has to fight the ugly daemons but a more difficult war is inside her, she has to fist accept who she is and she has to save the world of beautiful souls by sending these daemons and there folks to place they deserve.
I loved all the characters. I loved Ian, who was the complete opposite of the introvert Livia. I loved the way author portrays him. I must admit the book started on a violent note and is grim for sometime, but then there are some very nice tender moments. I love all the boons, angels and the pogs. I love the Talking Rock… ok I love almost everything except for… the language, the F word is there in every other of Livia’s dialogues, but I was not bothered by it like many other books. This one, actually showed the frustration that the modern Livia faced and her sarcasm towards her situation . But it gets OK towards the end. Then there are some really violent se*ual torture scenes. Oh my! I was so ANGRY when those happened and sad. That’s the feeling, I think the author wanted to instill in the reader. Then there are some s*x scenes too, tender and most importantly they are not badly done. It is a requirement, the story needs it and it is done nicely. If you have issues with any of the above things that I mention, then I guess you would not want to read it… but despite of everything, I enjoyed it immensely.
It was a page-turner and it has some kick-ass action. I really liked the concept of souls passing on… I actually kind of feel like believing in it too… it is so much less painful.
oh Yes, I didn’t like the cover, this was nothing that I imagined Livia to look like. 🙂
I recieved this book through BBAW, where I requested the eBook! Thank you BBAW and thank you Bell Bridge Books for sending me the eBook to review.
Another note –
Coming in 2010
Soul Hunter Book 2,
The Outsider Series
Livia finds herself struggling to adjust to another new incarnation of Ian, this one doomed to be executed for heinous crimes. At the same time, she and Ian must battle the rising threat of a powerful new demon and the arrival of a Soul Hunter who has competed with Ian for Livia’s love over many centuries.
No points for guessing, that I will be grabbing that one as soon as I can find it! 😉

Also reviewed by:

Wendy’s Minding Spot

MariReads
Books Books and more Books
Novel Addiction
Maymay’s Memos
Falling Off The Shelf

Gautami from everything distills into reading 

Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

Cleopatra’s Daughter
By Michelle Moran
Published on Sept 15th, 2009
Hardcover, 431 Pages

From GoodReads.com,

The death of Cleopatra was only the beginning…

Follows the incredible life of Cleopatra’s surviving children with Marc Antony — twins, named Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene, and a younger son named Ptolemy. All three were taken to Rome and paraded through the streets, then sent off to be raised by Octavia (the wife whom Marc Antony left for Cleopatra). Raised in one of the most fascinating courts of all time, Cleopatra’s children would have met Ovid, Seneca, Vitruvius (who inspired the Vitruvian man), Agrippa (who built the Pantheon), Herod, his sister Salome, the poets Virgil, Horace, Maecenas and so many others!

I am so glad that I got to read this one! Michelle Moran’s 3rd book is as lovely as her 1st one! In this we are first taken to ancient Egypt where Cleopatra and her 3 children and waiitng anxiously for news about her husband, Marc Anthony who is at war with Cesar. As the news comes of his defeat, both Anthony and Cleopatra take their lives leaving their 2 twins Kleopatra Selene and Alexander and their youngest brother Ptolemy to battle it alone. They are taken back to Rome, and only the twins make it till the end to see Rome!
With virtually all of there family gone, they are the only one left to take forward the names of there ancestors.
This book is narrated by Kleopatra Selene and you definitely feel for her. At 12, losing everyone in her family, living in constant fear of her brother’s and her life and dreaming of returning to Alexandria some day is what Selen’s life in Rome is all about. But born to one of the most educated women, Selene showcases her intelligence and knowledge whenever a chance is there. The twins live with Octavia, Caesar’s sister and Marc Anthony’s wife before Cleopatra! She also takes up Architecture in a way to prove useful to Octavian and do something she is passionate about!
In midst of all this there is a love story that’s woven and it’s as if I knew all along who Selene really loved, it is wonderful to see a happy ending through a tearful and fearful time! The one thing that the book showcases is the stark contrast in the way Egyptian Ptolemy ruled and how Rome’s Caesar ruled. There was also lot of difference in the way people lived, ate and great difference in the culture! It was interesting to see a circus, races, betting in Rome so many years back! There is a lot of detail about the architecture in those times which is interesting and also interesting is the fact that ancient Roman’s were Antique Collectors, now who knew that?

I loved this one and would highly recommend it to all Historical Fiction lovers! Also this most definitely will appeal to YA readers as well!

There is an awesome interview based on this book with the author Michelle Moran on Medieval Bookworm’s blog that I found very interesting… if you are interested you can click here for the same!

Want to read more reviews – 
Book Addiction
Historical Tapestry
Medieval Bookworm
S. Krishna’s Books
Reading Rumpus
fashion_piranha
Diary of an Eccentric
Scaling Mount TBR

Gautami

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
By J.K. Rowling
Published July 21st, 2007
607 Pages
4 on 5!!

From GoodReads.com,

Readers beware. The brilliant, breathtaking conclusion to J.K. Rowling’s spellbinding series is not for the faint of heart–such revelations, battles, and betrayals await in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that no fan will make it to the end unscathed. Luckily, Rowling has prepped loyal readers for the end of her series by doling out increasingly dark and dangerous tales of magic and mystery, shot through with lessons about honor and contempt, love and loss, and right and wrong. Fear not, you will find no spoilers in our review–to tell the plot would ruin the journey, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is an odyssey the likes of which Rowling’s fans have not yet seen, and are not likely to forget. But we would be remiss if we did not offer one small suggestion before you embark on your final adventure with Harry–bring plenty of tissues.

The heart of Book 7 is a hero’s mission–not just in Harry’s quest for the Horcruxes, but in his journey from boy to man–and Harry faces more danger than that found in all six books combined, from the direct threat of the Death Eaters and you-know-who, to the subtle perils of losing faith in himself. Attentive readers would do well to remember Dumbledore’s warning about making the choice between “what is right and what is easy,” and know that Rowling applies the same difficult principle to the conclusion of her series. While fans will find the answers to hotly speculated questions about Dumbledore, Snape, and you-know-who, it is a testament to Rowling’s skill as a storyteller that even the most astute and careful reader will be taken by surprise.

A spectacular finish to a phenomenal series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a bittersweet read for fans. The journey is hard, filled with events both tragic and triumphant, the battlefield littered with the bodies of the dearest and despised, but the final chapter is as brilliant and blinding as a phoenix’s flame, and fans and skeptics alike will emerge from the confines of the story with full but heavy hearts, giddy and grateful for the experience. –Daphne Durham
2 weeks back Hubby and me went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince movie, and I liked it. Of course over a period of an year, I had forgotten most of it, and it was a refresher when I sat wide-eyed through out the movie. Hubby has not seen or read any other Harry Potter movies/books. So he was not interested, but for my sake came with me to the theater. Ain’t that sweet of him?! Well I tried to explain a little, but I couldn’t even get the order of the books correctly… **sigh**. Back home, next day we ended up seeing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which he liked much better. He is not generaly interested, but he might end up watching the other parts as well, for my sakes! Well we need to see the final installment together!! 🙂
So that’s how I embarked my journey into the last installment, and well I loved it. I couldn’t put it down. It was stuck in my hands, till I finished it. I knew how it will end, BUT that’s not the best part is it? It is the journey.
** spoilers up ahead **
There was just one thing I disliked and after talking to my sister [ who also had read this one and from whom I got this book] I know she didn’t like the part where Harry starts disliking Dumbledore. He actually **almost** believes what Reeta Skeeter writes. But then I think it had to be like that.
But other than that everything was just perfect!
I finally don’t really know how I feel about Snape. He definitely was never the bad guy. Maybe I feel a little pity for him. Especially just before he died, he asked Harry to look in his eyes. I didn’t understand that at once, but when I saw his thoughts, I felt so sad for the poor boy Snape.
Question ~~ I didn’t understand the crying baby which was lying in the station, where Harry meets Dumbledore, do you know of any significance at all?
** spoilers end **

The last chapter was cute, and every little question/ doubt I ever had [ not many though!] were answered/ explained!

This marks the end of the Harry Potter series and I feel so sad that there is no more left. I am sure Rowling is working on something else, any ideas what she working on next?
Have you read this one? What are you thoughts?

Dull Boy by Sarah Cross

Dull Boy
By Sarah Cross
Published May 14th 2009
308 pages
5 on5!

From GoodReads.com,

What do you do if you can deadlift a car, and you spend your nights flying to get away from it all? If you’re fifteen-year-old Avery Pirzwick, you keep that information to yourself. When you’re a former jock turned freak, you can’t afford to let the secret slip.

But then Avery makes some friends who are as extraordinary as he is. He realizes they’re more than just freaks—together, maybe they have a chance to be heroes. First, though, they have to decide whether to trust the mysterious Cherchette, a powerful would be mentor whose remarkable generosity may come at a terrible price.

I won this one from TravelingToTeens.com. I read it in flat 2 days 🙂 It was amazing.
Avery is the Dull boy who knows that he is different. Well he is very strong, so strong that he lifted the car off a small boy whose mother accidentally backed up on him. And well he can fly. He had a lot of friends, with whom he can’t hang out anymore, as he is afraid of his own strength and roams in dark alleyways, so that he can help others in distress, so that he can put his super-hero skills to use!

Love the way the author has described Avery. This book is basically narrated by Avery, which is also great, I love the simple, humor-full depiction of the hardships of being different.
And of course there are others who have different powers. I felt the most for Nicholas [ read the book to know his powers :)]. When Avery finds others, they start training to be a gang [ like X-Men??], which is just nice. Darla [ the super brain] is the one who arranges these sessions. I love Catherine too!

And then there is Cherchette, who has her own set of poweres and who wants to help the one’s who are blessed with these powers. She wantes to train them, to control and use there on powers. Is she good or evil? Read the book to find out!

There is another awesome review by Alea from Pop Culture Junkie! Go read it! She also features an interview with the author Sarah Cross!
I just have a few questions for the author Sarah Cross ~~

  • Have you started on the 2nd installment of this book, which definitely has to be a series!?
  • When is coming out, I need to grab a copy ASAP 🙂

Does that make you want to read the book? It must, it is a definite must-read!

PS – I didn’t like the book-cover though!

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Twilight
by Stephenie Meyer

Paperback, 464 pages

November 6th 2008 (first published 2005) by ATOM

From Amazon.com product description,

The book that started the phenomenon is now available in a deluxe collector’s edition! Featuring a ribbon bookmark, cloth cover, ragged edges, new chapter opener designs, and a beautiful protective slipcase, this edition is perfect for fans and collectors alike.

Bella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Bella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella, the person Edward holds most dear.

Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.

No one really needs an intro to what this story is all about! Really my 5 on 5 rating is all that you need to know! Another devoted admirer of Meyer has joined the bandwagon 🙂 and well, she is hunting for the next installments already. Well seriously I really heard about Twilight, when the movie was about to be released! All of the blog-world world went berserk raving about it! I really wanted to read this one, but suddenly I was scared of not liking it, and I kept on putting it off 🙂
And finally, finally I read it :)! In 2-3 days FLAT! Really! I am a very slow reader! And this was amazing! The only other book series I have devoured like this is the Potter series – but I am yet to read the last installment of that 😀 – that’s a whole different story … I will tell you later 🙂

So back to topic, I just LOVED it, period 🙂

Guys! I really like Bella Swan, Edward … damn everything ;)! I so want to read more about Vampires! 🙂

I found this funny link @BookGirl’s NightStand .. it is for all those who like me are Twilight Fans … go read it! Seriously it is funny!

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Just Listen
By Sarah Dessen

Paperback, 400 page
Published on July 5th 2007

Amazon.com Book Description,

Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything”—at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf ’s Department Store.This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling.With Owen’s help,maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

In this multi-layered, impossible-to-put-down book, Sarah Dessen tells the story of a year in the life of a family coming to terms with the imperfections beneath its perfect facade.

Annabel Green was one of those girls who had everything, model looks, great family, cool friends; but then all that is just from the outside, just as the glass house she lives in, from outside it is just perfect but really no one bothers to know the inside. Annabel’s likes to keep to herself her views, her thoughts so as to not hurt anyone with the bitter truth. Everything really starts changing fer her, when her grandmother dies suddenly and her mother starts going downhill. She really can’t bear the sadness and puts up with the modeling, which is her mothers favorite hobby. She has 2 elder sisters, who would not to talk to each other and one of them has an eating disorder, which her family ignores, until it is too late.
Well, Annabel has a good friends following, until one night everything changes. She feels it safer to hide from them, than confront them. She, now is only friends with Owen who is a loner by choice! Owen is the only bright spot of her school life and her whole day in it’s entirety.
When it comes to music or Annabel’s inner monologue, Owen’s advice remains the same:

don’t judge…just listen.

Actually a super fast and cosy read!
Grab it now :)!

When I was a Soldier by Valeri Zennati

When I was a Soldier
By Valerie Zenatti
235 Pages
Published in 2005

When I was a Soldier is the story of a teenage girl named Valerie who has this perfect life of a teenager with 2 best friends whom she hangs out with all the time. After her bac exam, Valerie like everyone just turning 18, gets ready to start the 2 years of compulsory military service. This memoir is an account of her experience in the military service.
It is nothing like you could imagine happening in your own country. In Israel, boy or girl turning 18 after there high school exams have to spend there 2 years in military service. Valerie’s voices the teenage views of many down there, and takes us through an ocean of different issues she and her like face during this period.
It gives you a peep into the Palestinian and Israeli conflicts that are still on and how the teenagers look at it. At the effect the wars have had on people! It is small book which necessarily does not give you a deep insight into the issues, but one girl’s perspective of the country which was not hers, but where she belongs now.

My first OT-09 book! 4 stars 🙂