Title: Wizard Heir
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Pages: 458
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Published: June 10, 2008
Ranking: 3/5

Sixteen-year-old Seph McCauley has spent the past three years getting kicked out of one exclusive private school after another. And it's not his attitude that's the problem: it's the trail of magical accidents - lately, disasters - that follow in his wake. Seph is a wizard, orphaned and untrained, and his powers are escalating out of control.

After causing a tragic fire at an after-hours party, Seph is sent to the Havens, a secluded boys' school on the coast of Maine. Gregory Leicester, the headmaster, promises to train Seph in magic and initiate him into his mysterious order of wizards. But Seph's enthusiasm dampens when he learns that training comes at a steep cost, and that Leicester plans to use his students' powers to serve his own mysterious agenda.

     Hello readers! A month or two back I had reviewed the first book of The Heir Chronicles titled Warrior Heir, and had mentioned that I had read the second book of the series first. I had also put this book's antagonist on my list of favorite villains. So why hadn't I done a review of this book first instead of the other? I don't know why, so I'm doing it right now!
      The first book, as the title suggests, featured a warrior as the main character, so it stands to reason that this book has a wizard at the heart of it (the third book, though titled The Dragon Heir, doesn't have a dragon protagonist- to my knowledge). To be quite blunt, reading about a wizard is much more interesting than a warrior, though Seph does very little wizarding at the beginning, which puts him at a disadvantage compared to 90% of the people working against him, which negates most of the possible awesomeness of the situation. Our antagonist Leicester however has no such problems, and uses his skills to mess with Seph's head, and initially seems unstoppable at the school which he controls. This makes him a really good villain... until Seph manages to leave, at which point he is a background force for most of the rest of the book. It's a bit disappointing when you have to take such a great villain out of the equation, but oh well. Most of the cast is taken from The Warrior Heir, which means that it's not entirely independent as it seems in the beginning. The settings are also mostly taken from the first book, so less variety there too. I think the biggest plus this has compared to the first book is the sort-of love interest introduced. She is both an interesting character and a new twist on the other magical people we've seen before, making her a refreshing part of the story.
        I have to say that first book didn't win this time around, with the biggest improvement coming from something that the first in the series didn't do too well. At the very least, it kept my attention and eventually led me to the series and to the author! See you all on Friday!
Hi readers! I know Thursdays are generally review days but we'll be switching it up a bit this week. Look for my review tomorrow of one of the most devastatingly beautiful books I have ever read. Now though... 

Dedicated purveyors of this site might have picked up on my love of all things John Green. And lets face it, he's essentially become one of the celebrities of the YA world. So it's no surprise that his new movie is getting a lot of (well-deserved, in my opinion) hype. Paper Towns might not be out until July, but an excellent trailer is here already. 

So... Without further ado...

What do you guys think? Does Margo seem to perfect (especially as the book is an outright, outspoken advocate of seeing girls as anything but real)? Who's sat there and tried to pinpoint each scene in the book? 

Who's ready for this movie!!


Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman
Release Date: April 28, 2015

Lara just got told off on Facebook.
She thought that Christian liked her, that he was finally going to ask her to his school's homecoming dance. It's been a long time since Lara's felt this bad, this depressed. She's worked really hard since starting high school to be happy and make new friends.
Bree used to be BBFs with overweight, depressed Lara in middle school, but constantly listening to Lara's problems got to be too much. Bree's secretly glad that Christian's pointed out Lara's flaws to the world. Lara's not nearly as great as everyone thinks.
After weeks of talking online, Lara thought she knew Christian, so what's with this sudden change? And where does he get off saying horrible things on her wall? Even worse - are they true?
But no one realized just how far Christian's harsh comments would push Lara. Not even Bree.
As online life collides with real life, the truth starts to come together and the backlash is even more devastating than than anyone could have imagined.

Solitare by Alice Oseman
Release Date: March 31, 2015

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year—before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of exams and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people—I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that's all over now.
Now there's Solitaire. And Michael Holden. I don't know what Solitaire is trying to do, and I don't care about Michael Holden. I really don't.

I Am Her Revenge by Meredith Moore
Release Date: April 7, 2015

She can be anyone you want her to be. 
Vivian was raised with one purpose in life: to exact revenge on behalf of her mother. Manipulative and cruel, Mother has deprived Vivian not only of a childhood, but of an original identity. With an endless arsenal of enticing personalities at her disposal, Vivian is a veritable weapon of deception.
And she can destroy anyone. 
When it’s time to strike, she enrolls in a boarding school on the English moors, where she will zero in on her target: sweet and innocent Ben, the son of the man who broke Mother’s heart twenty years ago. 
Anyone…except for the woman who created her.
With every secret she uncovers, Vivian comes one step closer to learning who she really is. But the more she learns about herself, the more dangerous this cat and mouse game becomes. Because Mother will stop at nothing to make sure the truth dies with her.
Title: The Accidental Empress
Author: Allison Pataki
Pages: 512
Publisher: Howard Books
Published: February 17, 2015
Ranking: 5/5

The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe’s most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry.

Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead. 

Thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world.

With Pataki’s rich period detail and cast of complex, bewitching characters, The Accidental Empress offers a captivating glimpse into one of history’s most intriguing royal families, shedding new light on the glittering Hapsburg Empire and its most mesmerizing, most beloved “Fairy Queen.”

        Hello readers! This week's book is… wow. I rarely, if ever, read historical fiction, especially something based on a huge historical figure- you always know how it's going to end, and at least with someone less recorded than an empress you have a bit of leeway. But that's not really a problem when the history provides its own personal (accurate) drama, in the form of a girl who wins the heart of an empire, and that's just what this book gives us.
        Like I just said, the greatest part of this novel is the fact that all of it is very historically accurate while still remaining an interesting read, due to history in this case being such a kerfluffle of royal proportions. Sisi is thrown into the royal court of Vienna entirely by accident due to catching the emperor's interest, and 90% of the problems come from the conflict between her presence and the emperor's controlling mother. This mother, Sophie, is a complete jerk-face the whole book, and it's such a satisfying dispute between the two because Sophie has the lion's share of the power and is willing to be downright cruel in her upholding of regulation, while Sisi has to tolerate Sophie's antics the whole time. Emperor Franz isn't in an easy situation either, as he deals with the aftereffects of the 1848 revolutions and Hungary's wish for independence, while international enemies crop up on all sides. This is all set in the backdrop of the Hapsburg Empire, from rural Bavaria to populous Austrian cities to the Hungarian capital of Budapest, which offers detailed settings and culture fitting of the times. The royal court itself is incredibly colorful, offering all of the styles, customs, and gossip one would expect from such a place. And to reiterate one last time, it's all accurate. The author can list all of the moments of artistic license right at the back of the book without taking up too much space, while everything else is taken right from the history textbooks and personal documents, which is amazing to think about. The one issue of the novel? It is rather long, and in covering about fifteen years skips forward during unimportant sections. Just make sure to read the dates at the beginnings of the chapters and you'll be fine.
         It's a few (huge) chapters taken from the history books, and that's alright with me. And of course, if you're up for a sequel, you could always start some research of your own! See you all on Friday!
       Hello readers! I'm still having issues with the embedding of the trailers in these articles, but here's the link to today's trailer all the same. Although I am interested in today's book, it came much less from the trailer than I would like. Even more surprisingly, this trailer was made by Penguin Teen, and being a large book group you would think they could make a great trailer- and they have! But watching the trailer, do you really understand that this is the story?

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

         The trailer is an intense preparation sequence for three or so people- Laia, Elias, and another girl… and that's it, except for narration of typical "How much are you willing to risk for vague freedom and the love of someone you met only during this book". Nothing exceptional, it simply seemed that Penguin Teen used their resources to just use actors and cameras instead of images. Plus, it doesn't even give you an idea of what it's about, except some sort of Hunger Games style book. But even that shouldn't stop it from being good, since the Mosquitoland trailer I checked out on this site before seemed completely unrelated to the story, and it was good while being made by the same people. Guess they decided to get a new marketing team. Either way, I'll still be checking this book out on its release date of April 28, even if the trailer itself hadn't convinced me. See you all on Monday!

                                  Title: Grift                                    Author:  Jason Mosberg
  Pages: 234
 Publisher: Three Story 
               Published: March 4, 2015                  Ranking: 5/5    

Why would a 17-year-old girl pretend to be a prostitute? 

Piper is a con artist whose canvas is the city of Las Vegas. She rolls with a crew of young grifters including a card-counting genius, a tourist-hustling pool shark, and a pocket-picking magician. Together, this crew of teenage outlaws live with their mentor Max in the penthouse of a hotel casino. They work hard and play harder. But unlike the others, Piper must balance her hyper-real Vegas fantasy with the reality of raising her 14-year-old half-sister Sophie. Disaster strikes when the Las Vegas mafia kidnaps Sophie and demands a multimillion-dollar ransom. With only five days to piece together the money, the crew races the clock to save her. 

It’s rare that you find a book that can totally transport you into another world. I’m not talking merely well written here, I’m speaking of the times when you truly believe you’ve been picked up and transported somewhere else in the world; an all-consuming, all immersive read you simply can’t put down. Think Harry Potter and Hogwarts or Gone Girl and Carthage, MO and now, Grift and Las Vegas 

Grift is one of those obsessive reads, not just because the plot centers on the glittering, thrilling city of Las Vegas and showcases a band of cons, thieves, and swindlers, but also because you fall absolutely in love with those cons, thieves, and swindlers. While Piper is ostensibly the hero and the plot does center around her, Mosberg does an excellent job of showcasing the minor charcters, of detailing their backstories and making sure they are well fleshed out. You have a card-counter, a billard prodigy, and even an expert pick-pocket. The plot does an excellent job of making sure every character is used; no one here seems useless or annoying no matter how few time they may be seen. No matter what these characters have done; you want them to succeed.

The only thing I could possibly complain about here is that some of the plot twists appeared a little obvious. I figured out one of the major ‘reveals’ about half way through the story and just nodded when the curtain was pulled aside. This didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would; however, as the very nature of the plot; a race against time with only sheer cleverness, and Mosberg's talent for wringing suspenseful situations for every shred of anticipation meant I was still racing as quickly as I could through the book.

Ultimately, the book is a delight to read. The plot will draw you in while the characters will make you truly care. And with a sweet romance, harrowing plan, spunky heroine, and of course, high-stakes gambling, this book is just like the city in which it is set. A little bit of something for everyone. 

-- Sarah 
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