Sunday, July 24, 2011

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Each night at precisely 4:33 am, while sixteen-year-old London Lane is asleep, her memory of that day is erased. In the morning, all she can "remember" are events from her future. London is used to relying on reminder notes and a trusted friend to get through the day, but things get complicated when a new boy at school enters the picture. Luke Henry is not someone you'd easily forget, yet try as she might, London can't find him in her memories of things to come.

When London starts experiencing disturbing flashbacks, or flash-forwards, as the case may be, she realizes it's time to learn about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.


Haunting, compelling, and a bit bizarre, Cat Patrick's first novel put me very much in mind of the Wake trilogy. London is used to dealing with her strange quirk, and apparently seeing the future is enough to explain to her each day why she remembers nothing of her past. Every night she makes notes about the day and reminders for the next day, because her "memories" are all of things that haven't happened yet.

So what does it mean that she doesn't "remember" Luke from the future, even though her notes say they've met?

The timeline aspect of this novel is a mind-trip. Please see the previous paragraph - there's no easy way to explain chain-of-events when the reader knows only what has happened, and London knows only what will happen (plus whatever reminders she's left herself), and neither knows exactly what is happening! Okay, that last part isn't strictly true, but watching London unravel the mystery of her "memories" and the condition that caused them definitely takes an open mind.

And for that, I really enjoyed reading it. I began by saying it reminds me of Wake, just because of the surreality of knowing what shouldn't be known. Forgotten has that same disconnected feeling, and I couldn't put it down because I was so caught up in that world.

My only reservation has to do with London's character, and only because I can't quite imagine what knowing the future is like: London takes on faith of her notes that Luke matters to her. She can't "remember" him existing tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Which means every day she basically meets him anew...she doesn't even know what he looks like before she's seen him or a picture of him! (Fifty First Dates, anyone?) Anyway, it was just a small questioning for me, and it's really only there because of the amazing premise of the novel. So not that big a deal.

The Final Word: Prepare for a crazy ride and don't plan on putting it down.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Series that Rock!

You know the books that just stick with you? It may be a series, or the author herself, but they just lodge in your brain and refuse to disappear. (And for me, it means they *appear* on my bookshelves, complete with post-it notes...) Well, I've got a bunch of those in my head right now, so I thought I'd share a few:

Tamora Pierce's Tortall books
It can be tricky to get into this fantasy universe, because there are, oh, five series and they work in chronological order. But my goodness, are they worth it. Each features a kick-ass heroine who lives in a knights-and-castles-and-magic realm. And reading them out of order won't leave you in a muddled pit of confusion, but it'll spoil the fun of seeing who ends up with who, and in what profession.... etc. If you are a purist, read them in this order:
  1. Song of the Lioness (4 books)
  2. The Immortals (4 books)
  3. Protector of the Small (4 books)
  4. The Trickster books (2)
  5. Beka Cooper (2+ books)
Meg Cabot's The Mediator
I read these books while I was in Buffy withdrawal, and they were wonderful in filling the gaps. Suze sees ghosts, and since they won't leave her alone until she helps with "unfinished business," of course she's going to get into trouble. So when she moves to California and discovers a hot, Spanish ghost haunting her room, of course I had to keep reading. It helps that her "mediation" skills err on the side of violence, and she has snappy come-backs to rival Buffy herself.

I've tried reading other books by Meg Cabot, but I like this series far more than her realistic fiction. And at 200-ish pages a book, it's easy to whip through the whole series. If you're interested, start with book 1: Shadowland.

Patrica Briggs' Mercy Thompson & Alpha and Omega series
What's the plural of "series," anyways? Patricia Briggs has created a fantastic werewolf culture that can't be confined to a single storyline. First, there's Mercy. She's a coyote among werewolves, but she'll do as she pleases - including tick her favorite wolves off - rather than submit to dominance games. All that independence gets her into trouble, though, with the wolves and the vampires and the fae. There are six books and counting; start with Moon Called.

Running parallel to Mercy's story is Anna's. She is Omega, a rare werewolf who provides peace and calm in the normally rigid pack. But she doesn't know this until Charles, son of the leader of the werewolves, rescues her from an abusive Alpha. Anna is completely different from Mercy. She is meek where Mercy is strong, quiet where Mercy is vocal... and yet, I think I may like her story even more. The two books so far have focused on her relationship with Charles; although there is some action, much more of Anna's struggles are internal. The two series reference each other, but run independently. Alpha and Omega starts with a short story by the same name, but you can also begin with the novel Cry Wolf.

That should be enough to start with, right? If you've read them, if you want to read them, of if you have a recommendation, leave a comment. My favorite part about being obsessive about a book is knowing that I'm not the only one.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris, and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together, they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes-fascinating, sometimes-exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret: one she’s kept hidden from everyone, because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly-perfect society, she also learns that her secret might be what helps her save those she loves . . . or it might be what destroys her.


Beatrice - Tris - has never fit in among the Abnegations. She certainly isn't as selfless as her brother. But to leave, to choose another faction.... it would mean leaving her family forever. So the decision to do so is an early clue that Tris is willing to take the harder path. And so she does. Her strength is amazing, especially given the brutal initation of her new faction.

I absolutely loved this book. The world has become a "perfect" place, in which five groups try to live the way they think is the best for world peace...but of course there are flaws, and the fact that you can only be one virtue is the least of them. Roth's future is well-developed, and her settings are vivid. In short, the writing is amazing.

And don't forget about the love interest. I'll keep it short, but since the summary doesn't tell you....there is a swoon-worthy love interest who steals the scene <3.

The Final Word: If this review doesn't sound like a rave, call it a rave now. This book is AMAZING and GRIPPING and INTENSE. If you could only read one debut this year, this may just be the one.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roeker

Since when do the dead send emails?

Kate Lowry's best friend Grace died a year ago. So when she gets an email from her, Kate's more than a little confused.

Subject: (no subject)
I'm here... sort of.
Find Cameron. He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell. They'll hurt you.

Now Kate has no choice but to prove once and for all that Grace's death was more than just a tragic accident. She teams up with a couple of knights-in-(not-so)-shining armor-the dangerously hot bad boy, Liam, and her lovestruck neighbor, Seth. But at their elite private school, there are secrets so big people will do anything to protect them-even if it means getting rid of anyone trying to solve a murder...


I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa and Laura Roeker, the sisters who wrote the Liar Society, at the release party and got a signed copy (in pink sharpie, no less!). I can totally understand how these ladies created the quirky, inquisitive Kate. When I asked them what it was like to co-write a book, they asked me how anyone could write a book alone!

The Liar Society switches between flashbacks just before Grace's death, and Kate currently trying to solve Grace's mystery and actually find Grace, who seems to be not-so dead. It took me a while to get through, maybe because Grace tends to monologue, but seeing it to the end of the mystery is certainly worthwhile. And the novel was actually much heavier than I expected (the cover reminds me of the Gallagher Girls), what with Kate dealing with her grief over Grace.

The final word: An enjoyable book, but not a rabid must-read

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

Clumsy and quiet, Nalia may not be the ideal princess, but she has spent all her sixteen years preparing for her role as future ruler of Thorvaldor. But her world is turned upside down when the king and queen reveal a bloody prophecy made at her birth, and the effects of that prophecy: she is not the true princess. She is a stand-in for the real Nalia, put in place to protect the heir to the throne.

With the time of danger passed, the true princess will return to court, and Nalia - now known to be Sinda, a commoner with no means of her own - is sent away without a second thought. But Sinda cannot adapt to life with her frosty aunt, especially given she has no knowledge of cooking or keeping a trade, and when she discovers uncontrollable magic inside her, she returns to the capital city. There, she reunites with an old friend and discovers that there is more to the princess switch than she could have dreamed possible.


How many twists can you put into a single story? When I first picked this book up, I thought I had it figured out: a girl finding out her life isn't as privileged as she thought and trying to live with her new circumstances, perhaps picking up love on the way.

Technically that is so, but O'Neal deserves much more credit than that. Just when I got comfortable with a turn the story had taken, Sinda learned some new revelation that completely revised the rhythm of the plot. And every one of those steps was important, too - we couldn't have skipped any of them.

And poor Sinda! When she was sent away from the palace, from her life, I thought she took it pretty passively. I know I would have demanded some answers. But as soon as a character pointed this very fact out to her, she made an effort to take charge of her life. I loved it. She grows so much throughout the novel, and her relationships with the other characters, especially her friend Kiernan and the real Nalia, made her real to me.

O'Neal has written a stunning first novel and I can't wait to see what else she comes up with.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs

Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kai, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her—and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance.

Tempest Rising is a whirlwind of magic and love and growing up. Tracy Deebs completely skips the "Guess what, you're magic!" phase of this genre; Tempest has known all her life that she's part mermaid, which allows the opening plot to be about her dread of turning seventeen, when the ocean will finally call her home.

Her story was simply sucked me in. The pull between Tempest's human boyfriend and the mysterious Kai, the betrayal of her mermaid mother's disappearance... I just couldn't put it down. And while parts of of the novel remind me of the Little Mermaid, surprise twists and reveals kept me reading right to the end.

The final word: A whirlwind read that deserves several days of undivided attention.