Trailer Tuesday: Dororthy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Everyone knows the story of the Wizard of Oz. Danielle Paige’s novel offers a new twist on the classic tale. The graphics in this trailer are really cool, and I really think help to capture the darker, a bit more twisted atmosphere of the book. The voiceover does a great job of summing up the book. I liked Dorothy Must Die and I think this trailer is a good representation of the what the book is about.

Fateful by Claudia Gray


Claudia Gray
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Series or Standalone:  Standalone
ISBN: 9780062006202
Format: ARC
Pages: 328
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Walk into a bookstore and you will see a large portion of the young adult section devoted to paranormal romance. Having a werewolf or a vampire in your book makes it part of the popular trend in young adult literature. Frankly, I have become quite sick of the number of novels revolving around supernatural creatures; every other book seems to deal with some paranormal creature and the books are starting to feel like washed-up versions of the same story.
In a crowd of paranormal romances, Fateful by Claudia Gray stands out from the crowd. Fateful is an atypical werewolf story; instead of having to deal with school or feuds with vampires like in most young adult werewolf novels, the characters in Fateful have to deal with the sinking of the Titanic. That’s right; Fateful is the story of werewolves…on the Titanic. Gray mixes paranormal romance with historical fiction to create a refreshing werewolf tale.
Gray is familiar with the genre of young adult paranormal fiction. Gray has written the Evernight series, a series that centers on the star-crossed love of a vampire and vampire hunter at a high school boarding school, and has a firm grasp on writing paranormal romance for teens. I really enjoy the difference in Fateful from her previous novels; Fateful is fresh and exciting, while at times the Evernightseries was slow and even a little dull. I actually never finished reading the Evernight series because I lost interest; the series started to feel like every star-crossed paranormal romance. In Fateful, Gray tries something different from her previous series that kept me captivated: blending historical and paranormal elements to create a new subgenre of paranormal romance. Very few young adult novels are historical novels, and even fewer historical novels have paranormal elements. Fateful blends the two genres together and plays off certain elements from both paranormal and historical fiction, twisting the reader’s expectations from both genres.
The setting is of the best things about this book. The setting of Fatefulinstantly separates the book from other paranormal novels. Everyone knows the story of the Titanic, the unsinkable ship that — spoiler alert — hits an iceberg and sinks on its maiden voyage. As an avid fan of anything Titanic related, I was curious to see how werewolves would be incorporated into this famous story. Before reading the book, I wondered if setting the book on the Titanic was more gimmicky than essential to the story; the pitch for a book with were werewolves on the Titanic will definitely make people pause. However, if Fateful were set anywhere else, the book would lose most of its appeal and just would be another werewolf story. Having the story take place on the Titanic adds a whole other level to the book; the setting heightens the tragedy and the obstacles the characters have to face. The readers know what is going to happen to the ship, but the characters do not. Not only does Tess, the main character, have to try to survive the dangers of being attacked by werewolves, she must survive a disaster. As the reader, knowing the story of the Titanic made every action in the plot feel more urgent because we know there are only a couple of days left until the ship sinks, but the characters do not. The happy moments become so much more tragic with the knowledge that the happiness cannot last. Tess and Alec can try to overcome the obstacle of Alec being a werewolf, but the readers do not know if they can survive an event that resulted in the death of over a thousand people. I was both excited for the sinking of the ship, but dreading it at the same time. I wanted to see how Gray incorporated the sinking into the story, but knew that the sinking could only result in tragedy for the characters.
Gray establishes the world Tess lives in beautifully through the writing. The writing, thankfully, is more formal than the writing of a contemporary novel, reflective of the time-period, which helps to establish the setting. Compared to her writing in Evernight, which at times felt clunky and awkward, Gray’s writing in Fatefulis fluid and vivid. Gray’s descriptions of the Titanic capture the grandeur and beauty of the ship, making the reader feel like they are with Tess on this famous ship. The story is told from the first person perspective of Tess; a servant to a wealthy British family who is journeying to America on the great ship Titanic. Tess has been raised to feel inferior to her employers and accept whatever they have to say. Gray demonstrates knowledge of the workings and treatments of servants during the time-period through Tess’s commentaries and descriptions of her life. The contrast between Tess’s life and that of Irene Lisle, the daughter of the family Tess works for, is firmly established. Irene has to be paraded around like a prize in first class, while in third class, Tess works and has little free time. Social status proves to be an obstacle for most of the characters in Fateful; not only is class an obstacle in the main storyline involving Tess and Alec, but it provides interesting conflicts for the secondary storylines. I was fascinated by the class differences and thought it added an interesting element to the story.
I was swept away by the plot of this book. Even though the majority of the events take places over six days, the plot did not feel rushed. When dealing with such a short time span, other young adult novels’ plots seem to be rushed and characters tend to be left underdeveloped, but Gray had no issues with the short time span. Instead, Gray immediately dives into the story, wasting no time introducing us to main players of the novel in the first chapter. From there, the plot slowly builds and gains momentum until the very end of the novel. The reader follows Tess’s life and unravels the secrets surrounding her as she does. Gray has a perfect balance between the romance and the action; there is not too much of either. The twists and turns in the plot were perfectly executed, leaving me surprised and not confused with each twist. Fatefulis an emotional rollercoaster as well: sometimes, I would be ecstatic, other times I would be on the brink of tears and at the end I was a bundle of emotions. The plot is addicting, so much so that I was wishing that the Titanic did not have to sink so I could keep reading. Sadly, no matter how much I wished Gray could alter the course of history, the ship did have to sink, but the story did not end there. I was grateful that Gray continued Tess’s story after the Titanic sunk to wrap up loose story lines caused by the sinking that interrupted the main plot. The ending is thoroughly satisfying and wraps up all the lose ends perfectly; I could not have wished for a better ending.   
Tess is a strong heroine, particularly in a time when women were viewed as weak things that needed protection. Constantly, Tess is being thrown in danger and having her life threatened, but she does not waiver from trying to protect those she loves and cares about. Tess is no weak damsel in distress stress that is all too common in young adult novels; Tess can take care of herself. I admired Tess’s strength and motivation. With a lot more courage then most, Tess is determined to leave her employment and try to start a new life when the Titanic ports even if she has no way to support herself. As a 17-year-old girl in 1912, that takes guts. Many obstacles threaten Tess’s goal, but still she holds onto to dream of starting fresh in America.
Tess’s compassion and kindness is admirable. Tess is willing to risk her life to protect those she holds dear to her heart. This brings us to Alec. Alec is the son of an American millionaire steel tycoon who is troubled by his past and the fact that he is a werewolf. While reading, I could not help but think Tess and Alec’s relationship was comparable to Rose and Jack’s relationship from James Cameron’s Titanic, well, except for the fact that in Fateful the classes of the characters were reversed and one of them is a werewolf, but otherwise, Tess and Alec’s relationship is on par with Rose and Jack’s. Tess and Alec’s relationship is intense yet sweet, exactly what I hoped it would be. Unlike so many paranormal romances, Tess and Alec’s romance does not revolve around the fact that Alec is a werewolf; instead, their relationship has substance and is not defined by Alec being a werewolf. If anything, Alec being a werewolf is one of the least important aspects of their relationship. Their relationship did not suffer from “instant-love” either; there was no “BAM! They’re in love.” Even though they have only known each other a short time, Gray took time to establish their relationship so that over the course of a few days Alec and Tess’s genuinely come to care for each other.
One of the best characters in Fateful has to be Mikhail. Gray creates a purely evil villain. He just exudes evil and is meant to be hated. Mikhail, the main antagonist in the book, is part of a secret society of werewolves after Alec and something in the possession of Tess’s employers. Mikhail does not care if he hurts anyone to get what he wants; in fact, he is willing to try to kill Tess for satisfaction it would bring him. Killing and violence is pure fun for Mikhail. He brings on the shudders for creepiness and evilness. Mikhail would always be popping up at times when you would least expect it and causing trouble. He is pure evil and is constantly scheming; he should be the archetype of villains for all other books of this genre.
Fatefulcombines a familiar genre with a familiar event to make a refreshing new story. At no point did Fateful feel like a wash-up or recycled version of some other werewolf story. I am head over heels in love with this story. I am not the biggest fan of werewolves, yet I still love Fateful. Fateful is unlike any other young adult paranormal romance I have read. Personally, I would love if more authors took a page out of Gray’s book and would set their books in the past to give a story more life. In addition, not every book needs to be a series and Fateful is a prime example of a paranormal novel that functions best as a standalone, a rarity in young adult paranormal fiction. As paranormal romance, Fateful brings new life to a genre that has become bland and has the ability to stand apart from its peers.

Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope

The Last Little Blue Envelope
Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Pages: 304
Source: NetGalley
Ratings: 4 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny’s backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.
Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he’s found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.
Ever since I read 13 Little Blue Envelopes way back in 2006, I have been anxiously awaiting a sequel to find out what has happened to the last envelope from Ginny’s aunt Peg. When I got the sequel, I was ecstatic with joy and so excited. Maureen Johnson did not fail to deliver in this long await sequel.
I loved that in this sequel, Ginny goes back to London and we meet back up with characters she met along her travels in the first book. Along with familiar faces, such as Keith, Maureen Johnson introduces new people into Ginny’s life that will help accompany her on this last adventure set out by her aunt. One of the new characters is Oliver, the mysterious boy who ends up with Ginny’s stolen backpack and the last envelope. While at first I did not really Oliver, partly because Ginny also did not like him, I ended up LOVING him and really sympathizing for him. His intentions in the beginning, using Ginny, made me really doubt him, but as the story progressed, more about Oliver was revealed and I ended up loving him. Keith on the other hand, I was saddened to see what happened to this character I loved from the first book. I ended up really not liking him in this book, but it was completely justified. Keith has changed since the time Ginny saw him, and I wouldn’t say the change was for the better. Even though I ended up thinking Keith was a jerk towards the end of the book, I was still really glad Ginny met back up with him to continue her adventure for the last time.
The Last Little Blue Envelope was just as funny and heart-wrenching as it predecessor. Maureen Johnson’s signature style of humor was present throughout. She constantly had me giggling between the actions Ginny and her friends go and through their dialogue. If there is one thing Maureen Johnson knows how to do, it is to make people laugh. The humor is just effortless. While this book had me in stitches at times, I also found myself crying towards the end. Ginny’s emotion was captured perfectly, I was experiencing the same feelings as Ginny the whole time. One of the most captivating scenes in this entire book for me was when Ginny completes the final step of what her Aunt Peg set out for her to do in the last little blue envelope. It was a really emotional scene that had me teary eyed.
Ginny’s adventures with the envelopes are over at the end of this book, and the series is over, but I felt that this book wrapped up the series perfectly. Their was complete closure. I was glad to see Ginny’s adventure end the way it was, and I was so glad about the realization Ginny had at the ending of this book. Maureen Johnson nice wraps up everything in this long awaited sequel. I’m so glad she wrote it and was able to finish up Ginny’s story, bringing it nicely to a close.
If you are one of the people who read 13 Little Blue Envelopes when you were younger, you will not be disappointed in this sequel. It is everything you would want in its sequel and is definitely worth the wait.
If you haven’t had a chance to read 13 Little Blue Envelopes for two weeks only, April 12- 25, Maureen Johnson and HarperCollins are giving away free digital editions of the book in preparation for the sequel. To learn more about this and were to get your free copy read Maureen’s blog entry about it here

Review: Firelight

Sophie Jordan
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 7, 2010
Pages: 336
Ratings: 2 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki—the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda’s rebelliousness leads her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can’t resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she’s risking not only her life but the draki’s most closely guarded secret.
Firelightwas an intriguing concept that was not executed in the best way. I really wanted to love this book because the idea of this race of people descended from dragons called draki was something that struck me as very fresh and interesting. However, I was deeply disappointed in Firelight.
For me, Firelight was Twilight. Seriously. I am not a huge fan of Twilight and I  dislike when things are compared to Twilight but the whole time I was reading about Jacinda and Will, I couldn’t stop drawing the comparison. The relationship between Will and Jacinda was very reminiscent of Bella and Edward. At one point, Jacinda even says that Will is an “addictive drug”, something to keep her draki alive while it is slowly dying from the harsh, desert environment. Sounds eerily familiar to Bella being Edward’s brand of heroin. At times, Jacinda and Will’s relationship seemed a bit rushed and all over the place. The focus of all the characters was mainly on Jacinda and Will and I felt like all the secondary characters got pushed into the background and were only brought back up again when need and were never fully developed. Along with that, I felt Will and Jacinda were very one-dimensional and I could not see past Jacinda’s narration. Everything revolved around her and her problems and at points I just want her to stop complaining so the story could continue. I was glad to see that towards the end of the book, though, that Jacinda started to change and see past herself and accept other people’s emotion, she started to become a stronger character I could respect a bit more.
While I really enjoyed the idea of Firelight, the writing was constantly distracting me. I felt like the entire book was composed of very short, fragmented sentences that distracted me from enjoying the book. I was engaged by the draki way of life and wanted to know more about the hunters and draki, but the writing kept getting in the way. I frequently had to read this book in short bursts because the writing would annoy me and take away from my enjoyment of the story.
The ending of the book was a bit anticlimactic. I felt like for the first novel in a series, Firelight did not leave a strong enough impact. I was left with more questions at the end of the book than I would have liked and I really wished that more descriptions about draki and draki life were provided in the first book. A first book in a series needs to wow me to make me interested in continue reading the series. Unfortunately, that was not the case with Firelight. I might check out the sequel to see what happens next and to see if more is explained but I won’t count on it.

Review: Paranormalcy


Kiersten White
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Pages: 352 Pages
Ratings: 5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie’s always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours, but still. Normal.
Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie’s dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.
This book was bleeping fantastic (sorry I couldn’t resist). Kiersten White has written a clever, witty, humorous, awesome book.
Paranormalcywas a breath of fresh air for me. I am currently very tired of werewolves and vampire stories, but this book is about other aspects of the paranormal genre. The story line was completely unique. I loved the idea of a secret organization like IPCA, working to collect all the “paranormals” from our world. I was immediately hooked from the first chapter and didn’t want to put the book down.
Evie is truly the star of this book and who makes this book awesome. I love Evie’s voice. She was smart, sassy, stubborn, and I-could-kick-your-butt kind of girl. She constantly had me in giggles more times then I could count. While Evie is not a normal girl, having grown up working for the IPCA collecting paranormals for as long as she can tell and having the ability to see through paranormal’s glamour, she seems like a typical teen. Evie was just a fun character to read and truly made the story for me.
Paranormalcy was definitely not what I was expecting, but in a good way. The plot was truly amazing. I had no idea where Evie would take us next or what was going to happen. When I thought I had the plot figured out, something else unexpected would happen. The characters were all great. I loved all of them, from Evie, to Lend, to Reth and Lish. And the romance? Perfect. I loved Lend. He as a particularly interesting paranormal who could change what he looks like whenever he likes. Lend and Evie had create chemistry and I could not wait for them to get together.
The ending of Paranormalcy left me frantically hitting the forward page button on my nook looking for more. I didn’t want it to end!! I cannot wait for the next book in the series so I can learn more about Evie and what she really is. Kiersten White is an author to look out for and I highly recommend Paranormalcy to anyone who wants a sassy, intriguing, fast-paced read.