Tag Archives: Meg Cabot

New Releases: May 8th

I hope you enjoyed my first “New Releases” post! This week there are two releases that I have been eagerly awaiting that I am going to discuss.

Underworld (Abandon Trilogy #2) by Meg Cabot

The Lowdown: This book is the second in the Abandon YA Trilogy by author Meg Cabot

From Goodreads.com

Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn’t dead.

Not this time.

But she is being held against her will in the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

Her captor, John Hayden, claims it’s for her own safety. Because not all the departed are dear. Some are so unhappy with where they ended up after leaving the Underworld, they’ve come back as Furies, intent on vengeance…on the one who sent them there and on the one whom he loves.

But while Pierce might be safe from the Furies in the Underworld, far worse dangers could be lurking for her there…and they might have more to do with its ruler than with his enemies.

And unless Pierce is careful, this time there’ll be no escape.

Why you should check it out: When I reviewed the first book in this trilogy–Abandon–I did not love it. I mentioned that I often found the book confusing due to its extensive use of of flashbacks to inform the reader of the main character’s back-story. A reread of the novel helped to clear up this confusion and left me with a more positive review of the book. As I am now familiar with the protagonist’s history, I doubt there will be much need for the author to travel back and forth in the narrative. This leaves me optimistic about the second book. I was also encouraged after reading the first two chapters on Cabot’s blog. (Note this link will contain spoilers for Abandon; the first book in the trilogy.) More importantly the author has released many of my favorite books and very rarely lets me down. I am choosing to be cautiously hopeful about this release and can’t wait to check it out.

City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5) by Cassandra Clare

The Lowdown: “COLS”–as it is often referred to by author Cassandra Clare–is the fifth book in the Mortal Instruments series. This is the second to last book in this YA hexalogy.

From Goodreads.com

The demon Lilith has been destroyed and Jace has been freed from her captivity. But when the Shadowhunters arrive to rescue him, they find only blood and broken glass. Not only is the boy Clary loves missing–but so is the boy she hates, Sebastian, the son of her father Valentine: a son determined to succeed where their father failed, and bring the Shadowhunters to their knees.

No magic the Clave can summon can locate either boy, but Jace cannot stay away—not from Clary. When they meet again Clary discovers the horror Lilith’s dying magic has wrought—Jace is no longer the boy she loved. He and Sebastian are now bound to each other, and Jace has become what he most feared: a true servant of Valentine’s evil. The Clave is determined to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. Will the Shadowhunters hesitate to kill one of their own?

Only a small band of Clary and Jace’s friends and family believe that Jace can still be saved — and that the fate of the Shadowhunters’ future may hinge on that salvation. They must defy the Clave and strike out on their own. Alec, Magnus, Simon and Isabelle must work together to save Jace: bargaining with the sinister Faerie Queen, contemplating deals with demons, and turning at last to the Iron Sisters, the reclusive and merciless weapons makers for the Shadowhunters, who tell them that no weapon on this earth can sever the bond between Sebastian and Jace. Their only chance of cutting Jace free is to challenge Heaven and Hell — a risk that could claim any, or all, of their lives.

And they must do it without Clary. For Clary has gone into the heart of darkness, to play a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing the game is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she even still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love?

Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.

Why you should check it out: If you have already read the first four books in this series, you are probably eager to get your hands on this one. The last installment ended on a HUGE cliffhanger, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next! If you have yet to read the series, I encourage you to check it out. The fast pacing makes for an addicting book that grabs your attention and won’t let you go. The alternate reality that Clare creates is so complex and interesting that you will tear through the pages to know what happens next.

Looking for an excerpt from this release? Check out this link here. Interested in checking out something from the first book? You can find a selection from the book here.

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Abandon by Meg Cabot

I mentioned Meg Cabot’s latest release Abandon in my “Most Anticipated Books of 2011” post. In that post I discussed how I felt a bit apprehensive about this release. Here are my thoughts on the story.

From Goodreads.com

Book cover of Abandon by Meg CabotNew from #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, a dark, fantastical story about this world . . . and the underworld.

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can’t help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she’s never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she’s moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can’t. Because even here, he finds her. That’s how desperately he wants her back. She knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven, yet she can’t stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

This book confused the crap out of me. The way in which Cabot wrote this book had me often wondering what was going on. I had to read it twice in order to follow the plot–this has never happened before! There were two reasons for this befuddlement: 1) There have been three times in Pierce’s life when this “mysterious figure” has made an appearance. The author doesn’t explain all three of them until the second half of the book. 2) The encounters are only vaguely referenced before they are detailed. This made me confused about which encounter Pierce was talking about at times.

The perplexed feeling was made worse by the author’s mixing of flashbacks into the story. The fact she frequently went from present to past with little warning left me lost. I often found myself several paragraphs into a memory before realizing I had gone into the past. I would then have to reread the last page or so to catch back up.

I did feel that the plot was a bit “Twilight-esque”. [Spoiler Alert] The novel centers around a dead young man in love with a young woman who can not get keep out of trouble. [/Spoiler Alert] I could not help notice the similarities between the main characters of this book and of Stephanie Meyer’s novels. That being said, Cabot tells a story around these characters that is entertaining, and I found her use of the underworld to be original. In the end found myself enjoying the story–once I understood it–despite being reminded of Meyer’s characters.

Review: After finishing my first read of this novel, I felt disoriented, thus making me feel disappointed with the book. It’s unfortunate as there was much to like about this story. After my second reread I found the plot was quite entertaining. Cabot created great suspense leaving me wondering what will happen in the next book in the series Underworld. I wished that I could have enjoyed these things the first time.

Most Anticipated Books of 2011

I have set my reading goals for 2011; now it’s time to start choosing the books! Below are seven books that I eagerly anticipate reading this year as I aim to complete my goal.

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia AhernFirst up for release is The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern. The January 25th release date is right around the corner. Ahern’s novels are a refreshing change from the ordinary, due to the setting of the books. Her plots seem to take place in a world very similar to our own, with an extra magical layer to them. This fantasy world has worked in all of her books except her last. I hope her newest release is more successful at maintaining the balance between reality and extraordinary.

Delirium by Lauren OliverI named Lauren Oliver’s debut release Before I Fall my favorite read of 2010. I was excited when Oliver announced her next book, Delirium. This book is the first in a trilogy scheduled to be released over the next three years. I usually wait until all of the books have been released to start a series. I plan on breaking this trend with Delirium. The first reason is the book’s description. It reminds me of one of my favorite books, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. The second reason is that my love for Before I Fall has me very eager to has me very eager to read more from Oliver.(Bad Pun Alert!) I am delirious to get my hands on a copy of this book!

Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love by matt logelinOver two years ago I started reading a blog by new dad Matt Logelin. The blog was very different than those by other new fathers. Matt lost his wife less than forty-eight hours after welcoming his daughter into the world. The words on his blog were honest and emotional. I was quickly enthralled by his story. Even though the man was a stranger, I found myself rooting for him as tried to move past the tragedy in his life. He is now telling his story in Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love. The memoir will be released April 14th. I plan to have a box of tissues available for this read; it’s going to be a real tearjerker.

Abandon by Meg CabotMeg Cabot has two books being released in 2011. The first up is Abandon, due out April 26th. This book is the first in a new series she is writing. Her second story–Overbite–is the follow up to her 2010 release Insatiable. I am a bit apprehensive about both stories. Insatiable started strong, but I felt that it got a bit “out there” at the end. I’m hoping this is not the case in Overbite. The description of Abandon gives me the same concern. This is upsetting because I have loved her earlier works. I hope to be able to enjoy her Supernatural releases as well.

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson Abandon is not the only story I’m excited about being released on the 26th of April. That is also the publication date of the long-awaited sequel to 13 Little Blue Envelopes. I have been eager to get my hands on The Last Little Blue Envelope since Maureen Johnson announced it over a year ago. The original is one of my favorite works by Johnson; I hope the same is true for its sequel. Johnson is also releasing The Name of the Star in September of this year. This book is the first in her “Shades of London” series. I loved her submission in Zombies vs. Unicorns because it was a bit darker than her usual work. I am hoping that this latest series is more of that darker tone. If so I feel it will be one of her more enjoyable novels.

There are two other notable releases I want to mention. On June 21st Ally Carter will release the second book in her Heist Society series. I can’t wait to find out what hi-jinks Kat and crew encounter in Uncommon Criminals. Jen Lancaster is releasing her first work of fiction on May 3rd of this year. I have found her previous memoirs to be hysterical and can’t wait to see what If You Were Here is about.

2010 Year in Review

I completed Ready or Not by Meg Cabot on December 28, 2010. This marked the 78th book I read that year, and I met my goal of reading 78 books! In celebration I will be highlighting some of my favorite–and one least favorite–of 2010.

Favorite Pregnancy Read

Nominees: Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother-to-be by Rebecca Eckler and Baby Bargains, 8th Edition: Secrets to Saving 20% to 50% on Baby Furniture, Gear, Clothes, Toys, Maternity Wear and Much, Much More! by Denise Fields, Alan Fields
Winner: Baby Bargains, 8th Edition by Denise Fields, Alan Fields
Book Cover for Baby Bargains, 8th Edition by Denise Fields & Alan FieldsI judged this category based on which book I felt prepared me the best for my impending motherhood. These two books are very different from each other, which made it difficult to choose a favorite. Knocked Up was an entertaining and realistic tale about the journey of pregnancy; it is a great memoir. Baby Bargains wins the category, however. This book helped me prepare for the new baby the most. As a first time mom, I know nothing about the products available for a newborn. This book was invaluable in helping figure out which items I needed and which I didn’t. I loved how this information was all in one place for easy reference. This is such a great book that I recommend it for all new parents.

Favorite Series

Nominees: Airhead Series by Meg Cabot, Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter, The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins, and Mediator Series by Meg Cabot
Winner: Mediator Series by Meg Cabot
Cover of Shadowland (Mediator #1) by Meg CabotI didn’t realize how many great book series I read this year until I tried to pick a winner. All four series were full of five-star books. In order to pick my favorite, it came down to one fact: which series was the most consistent throughout. Two of these series–Airhead and Hunger Games–started off strong but the series’ finales left me disappointed. To some extent this also happened with the latest Gallagher Girls book. This was not the case in the Mediator books. Each book had a consistency that I enjoyed. I picked up the first and finished the last within forty-eight hours. The entire time I was interested and engaged in the plot. I enjoyed how Cabot was able to tell Suze’s story over six books while keeping the plot connected and entertaining. Note: While the Mediator series wins this category, all four series are “Must Reads” in my book.

Favorite Goodreads “First-Read”

Nominees: Second Time Around by Beth Kendrick, The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me by Bruce Feiler, Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling by Beth Raymer
Winner: Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling by Beth Raymer
Lay The Favorite book cover What I like most about Goodreads giveaways is that they give me a chance to read a book I wouldn’t normally pick up. This is true of all ten books I have won. I appreciated all but one of them, with Lay the Favorite being the one I enjoyed the most. The fact that I had nothing in common with the main character, yet still was still entertained by her story, made the book more interesting for me. The book was a real page-turner that had me interested throughout. I never would have purchased this book, but am really glad that Goodreads gave me the opportunity to read it.

Worst Book of 2010

Nominees: Rich Again by Anna Maxted, The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell, The Gift by Cecelia Ahern
Winner: Rich Again by Anna Maxted
Book Cover of Rich Again by Anna Maxted I previously mentioned that I picked up this book solely based on its cover. The bright colors and shopping bags made me believe the story was a typical Chick Lit plot with a bit more conflict. Instead I found a book with a confusing setup, unlikeable characters, and morbid plot. There was not one enjoyable aspect in this story. I have never before been unable to finish a book and was only able to complete this one because I heavily skimmed it. Such a bad book all around.

Favorite Memior

Nominees: Sliding Into Home by Kendra Wilkinson, My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict’s Attempt to Discover If Not Being A Dumb Ass Is the New Black; Or, A Culture-Up Manifesto by Jen Lancaster, Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday?: A Mother’s Guide to Sanity in Stilettos by Laura Bennett
Winner: Sliding Into Home by Kendra Wilkinson
Book Cover of Sliding Into Home by Kendra WilkinsonSo, I have a confession to make. I have a small obsession with all things related to the original Girls Next Door; Holly Madison, Kendra Wilkinson, and Bridget Marquardt. I was very excited when I heard that Wilkinson was going to be releasing a memoir. I figured this book would give me a little extra insight into what went on behind the scenes of the TV show. I was also interested in learning a bit more about what Wilkinson’s life was life before her time at the mansion and what brought her there. Apparently I wasn’t the only one interested, as it was impossible for me to get my hands on a copy of the book until a week after it had been released! Once I was able to start reading, I found myself enjoying the pace and flow of the story. Her truthful tale was the perfect mix of history and humor that defines her. This book may not be on the same level as some of the other five-star books I read this year, but it served as a needed escape. It was the perfect way to get some “guilty pleasure” time in and getaway from the insanity that can be real life.

Favorite Chick Lit Novel

Nominees: Second Time Around by Beth Kendrick, The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes, Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
Winner: Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
The cover of Emily Giffin's now book "Heart of the Matter"Most of the Chick Lit stories I read in previous years were fun and flighty. They involved a single girl shopping her way around town while looking for the right guy. This year I discovered that authors were moving away from this type of story in favor of serious tales. Emilly Giffin was able to successfully tell the tale of the challenges of marriage after writing great “boy meets girl” stories. There was very little about this book that didn’t work. I highly recommend it to all of my Chick Lit blog readers.

Favorite YA Novel

Nominees: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green, David Levithan, Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, The Hunger Games & Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Winner: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Book Cover of Before I Fall by Lauren OliverIt was a great year for me in terms of YA books. A quick look at a summary of YA books I read least year shows that a high percentage of the them rated four or five stars. It was hard to narrow this list down to the nominees. It was even harder to pick a winner! After much deliberation I picked Before I Fall. I started reading the book with no expectations. Lauren Oliver was a new author who was not from the usual circle of authors I read. I finished the book with a changed attitude. The way in which Oliver discussed the life and death of the main character was inspiring. I find myself often recommending this book to friends and strangers. Such an amazing book.

So, those are some of my favorite books of 2010. What were some of your favorite reads?

Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier

I loved Geektastic; a YA anthology containing stories from some of my favorite authors. I was excited to check out Zombies vs. Unicorns as it contained short stories by many of the same authors. I hoped that I would enjoy this book as much as Geektastic.

From goodreads.com

Zombies vs. Unicorns book coverIt’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths—for good and evil—of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

I have found reading anthologies to bring mixed results. I generally like the stories by authors I know and struggle through the rest. Sometimes I’ll luck out and find a marvelous story by an author I’d not previously read. This often leads to the discovery of some great new books. When this does not happen, I just end up feeling like I bought a book to only enjoy 25% of it.

Short stories–unlike their longer counterparts–are often unable to focus on anything other than the main plot. Anthologies usually focus on one main plot. If it is a theme I am only slightly interested in, it can lead to the book feeling unnecessarily long. When this happens I find myself having to take a break in between stories in order to finish the book. This is another negative I sometimes find when reading anthologies.

This book suffers a bit from both of these negatives. The main issue I had was that I will never be “Team Zombie.” I realized right after I ordered this book that I dislike most things zombie. Why then did I decide to read a book where I hated the topic of 50% of the book? I hoped that some of my favorite YA authors would be able to change my mind. Some authors were able to write stories about zombies that I enjoyed. For the most part, though, I struggled to get through these pages. Eventually I also started to tire of the “Team Unicorn” stories. The theme of this book was not enough to hold my interest. I found myself taking long breaks between the stories. It took me so long to finish this book that my husband actually made a comment about it.

That being said, there were a few great stories in this book. I found the short story by Maureen Johnson to be fantastic. I thought it might even be her best work that I have read to date. I think the darker topic really allowed her to branch out in terms of story-telling. The result was something much more interesting than her usual “girl meets boy” story. I also enjoyed the tales by two of my favorite authors; Meg Cabot and Scott Westerfeld. A story by an author I had not previously read–Libba Bray–inspired me to add some of her books to my “to-read” shelf.

Review: I hesitate to give this book a rating. I did not find much of the book enjoyable due to the fact it was about a topic I don’t really like. This is not the book’s fault. It clearly states it is about zombies, and yet I still decided to read it. I do feel many of my fellow YA fans would read this book and rate it much higher than I have as they would like the topic subject matter. I do recommend this book as there are some great submissions from some of my favorite YA authors. I would suggest this book as a “borrow” instead of a buy.

The “Harry Potter” Effect

I started reading the Harry Potter books in June of 2002. I tore through the four books that had been released at the time in about a week. After finishing, I was left needing more. I had so many questions that I needed answered! Just what was that “gleam of triumph” in Dumbledore’s eye all about? What was going to happen to the wizarding world now that Lord Voldemort had returned? I would have to wait five long years for all of my questions to be answered.

There was both some good and bad that came out of my wait for the release of all seven books. The need for information on the next release was intense. My desire to have my questions answered left me scouring the internet. While this fell into the “bad” category, it resulted in many things in the “good” category. The longing for info on the next book lead me to a great HP news site, The Leaky Cauldron. My need for answers to my questions helped me find some great discussions on the The Leaky Lounge. The friends I met through these sites, and great discussions I had, helped make the wait worth it.

Since finishing the Harry Potter books, I have discovered many great series. In some cases–like with the Uglies Series–all of the books had already been released. This meant I could read all the books at once and not have to wait long for the answers to my many questions. However this need to get answers quickly meant that I missed out on the opportunity to discuss the book and theorize about what came next. Perhaps had I found Uglies earlier, I would have discovered some great Scott Westerfeld fans with whom to share my love of the series.

Other times my first encounter with a series is purely accidental. Only after having finished a book had I realized it was the first in a yet-to-be completed series. This happened with Heist Society by Ally Carter. I now find myself often checking the author’s Twitter page for any updates on the Heist Society 2 manuscript. (Good news: It’s in progress! Bad News: Still only in first draft form.)

The last “series situation” I’ve stumbled upon is hearing about a book that is part of a yet-to-be completed series. I then have to make a decision: Do I start reading the series immediately and then wait with all my questions? Do I wait for all of the books to be released and then read them all? Sometimes I will ignore the dreaded wait and start reading the series right away. This was the case with Insatiable by Meg Cabot. I read the book knowing that only the first book of the series had been released. I was comfortable making this decision because I felt that the plot wasn’t as intricate as some others, and I wouldn’t find myself kept awake at night due to unanswerable questions. For the most case, this is true. While I would enjoy some word on that status of its sequel, I’m not searching the internet for any word about it.

As often as I’ve decided to start reading an unfinished series, I’ve also found myself making the consciousness decision to not read a series until just before the release of the final book. Such is the case with Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I made the decision to wait based on two things. The first of which was the wait. By the time I had heard about this series, the first book had been out for a while and the second was almost released. I knew that it wouldn’t be a long wait until the third and final book was out. The second reason was the suspense factor of the book. Everyone I know who read Hunger Games had many questions after finishing. These questions were not of the “Gee I wonder what happens” variety, but instead “I need to know what happens now!” It seemed these feelings only intensified after the release of Catching Fire. The extreme suspense, and relatively short wait time influenced my decision to wait until all the books had been released to start reading.

Now, was this the right decision to make? I’m sure that I’ve missed out on some great discussion by not reading the books as they were released. It seems that there has been no lack of theorizing about what will happen in the finale of the series. In many cases while my friends have been discussing the books, I’ve had to cover my ears and walk away. If I know a friend is reading the books, I read their status updates with my eyes half open in an attempt to avoid spoilers. While I can’t ever say if I made the right decision, I know that as I start reading the series ASAP in preparation for the August 24th release date of Mockingjay, it will be nice to know I’ll soon find out an answer to all my questions!

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

As the summer has now started, three of the five books on my Books of Summer post have been released. First up for review is Insatiable.

From Goodreads.com

Insatiable Book CoverSick of vampires? So is Meena Harper.But her boss is making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn’t believe in them.

Not that Meena isn’t familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena Harper knows how you’re going to die (not that you’re going to believe her; no one ever does).

But not even Meena’s precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets—then makes the mistake of falling in love with—Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side . . . a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire-hunters, would prefer to see him dead for.

The problem is, he already is dead. Maybe that’s why he’s the first guy Meena’s ever met that she could see herself having a future with. See, while Meena’s always been able to see everyone else’s future, she’s never been able look into her own.

And while Lucien seems like everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, he might turn out to be more like a nightmare.

Now might be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future . . .

If she even has one.

It took me no time at all to reach 48 books read this year. Getting to 49 has proved to be tricky. Despite the fact I have a great pile of new books sitting next to my bed, none of them have really grabbed my attention. Once I purchased Insatiable the opposite was true. I could not wait for some free time to start reading! I picked up the book and was immediately hooked. I devoured the book in a day.

As a person who is over the whole “Vampire” craze, I was interested to read Meg Cabot’s take on the subject. In the first half of the book she seemed to discuss many of the issues that I have with the vampire novels. I was excited by this because I thought it meant she would avoid these pitfalls. However as the book progressed, the opposite occurred. Does the main character find out that her boyfriend is a vampire yet still need to be with him? Yes! Is the main character just an “ordinary everyday woman” yet the two main men fall in love with her? Yup! Do these two men have a need to kill each other? Of course! These are just a few of the things Cabot had spent the first 100 pages complaining about, and here she was committing the same sins.

Despite the fact that the author hit so many of these plot pitfalls that I despise, I still ended up enjoying the book; perhaps it was due to the great overall plot. Cabot’s great storytelling ability may have won me over. The interesting characters may have been the factor that added to my enjoyment. Of course it was probably all of these great things combined that led to a tale I found interesting and engaging, despite the few issues I had with the story.

Review: While I was hesitant to read another vampire drama, my love for Meg Cabot’s work made me pick up this book. Once I started the novel I could not put it down. Although I did roll my eyes at some of the plot points, I found the completed product to be a great read.