Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mini Reviews: Burning, Silent Harmony, A Corner of White, The Raven Boys

by Elana K. Arnold
Published:  June 11, 2013
Publisher:  Delacorte BFYR
Source:  Publisher/NetGalley
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Ben: Having just graduated from high school, Ben is set to leave Gypsum, Nevada. It's good timing since the gypsum mine that is the lifeblood of the area is closing, shutting the whole town down with it. Ben is lucky: he's headed to San Diego, where he's got a track scholarship at the University of California. But his best friends, Pete and Hog Boy, don't have college to look forward to, so to make them happy, Ben goes with them to check out the hot chick parked on the side of Highway 447.  

Lala: She and her Gypsy family earn money by telling fortunes. Some customers choose Tarot cards; others have their palms read. The thousands of people attending the nearby Burning Man festival spend lots of cash--especially as Lala gives uncanny readings. But lately Lala's been questioning whether there might be more to life than her upcoming arranged marriage. And the day she reads Ben's cards is the day that everything changes for her. . . and for him.

My Thoughts:  Overall, I did enjoy Burning.  Ben and Lala are two teens who are on completely different paths, when those paths just happen to collide.  Ben is on his way to college, and Lala and her family are gypies - fortune tellers, tarot cards, and the like.  Both love their families, yet have questions of they need to find out on their own.  They are drawn to each other, but in Lala's culture, a relationship with Ben is something that is frowned up, especially considering the fact that her marriage has already been arranged.  Nevertheless they decide to explore their feelings for one another and end up discovering a lot about themselves along the way.   

It was very fascinating learning about the Gypsy world, which is something that  I didn't know very much about.  It was also interesting to learn about the Burning Man Festival that they attended.  The story is told in alternating POV's, from both Ben and Lala.  The secondary characters were interesting also.  Ben and Lala definitely have chemistry, but they each have their own goals and desires also.  The story is very well written.  The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the ending.  I am a huge HEA fan, and this ended on a sad note, though not devastatingly so, but still too sad for me, though in the long run, could probably be considered best for the characters.  I am sure that it is something that some readers will appreciate, while others may not.  Overall, Burning is a good story for YA contemporary romance fans.  
Silent Harmony
by Michele Scott
Published:  May 28, 2013
Publisher:  Skyscape
Source:  Publisher/NetGalley
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Small town seventeen-year-old Vivienne Taylor is a talented equestrian with Olympic dreams and a little something extra going on ? she is also an ?equine empath, ? someone who has the ability to read horses? minds and moods. When she receives a full scholarship to attend Fairmont Riding Academy, a prep school with a famous riding program, she struggles with homesickness, hazing by the school's snooty drama queen, intense competition in the sport of three-day-eventing, and the not-altogether-unwelcome interest of a hot guy. On top of all of that the horse given to Vivienne via the scholarship is an animal that she cannot ?read? or understand. When Vivienne learns that her new horse Harmony belonged to the school's vet, who recently died in a freak accident, she senses that the horse's aloof behavior may be the result of her witnessing this accident. But as a connection begins to unfold between Vivienne and Harmony, Vivienne begins to believe that the vet's death was no accident at all ? but rather murder ? and she resolves, at considerable peril, to track down the killer. Michele Scott lives in California with her family. With her days spent in the barn or at the keyboard, Ms. Scott has forged a flourishing career as mystery writer and is also deeply involved in the world of horses and equestrian riding.

My Thoughts:  Vivienne Taylor is 17 years old and is the equivalent of a teenage Horse Whisperer/Dr. Doolittle/Psychic to the Equine - she has a special connection with them and they have one with her.  Her mom is also a vet.  Vivienne wins a scholarship to prestigious Fairmont Riding Academy.  She is really sad to leave her mom and little brother, but she has dreams of going to the Olympics some day.  When she arrives, she finds that the schools vet has been murdered.  She also winds up becoming becomes the target of the snooty spoiled rich girls.  She does manage to make some friends, Riley and Tristan, who have secrets of their own, and her new horse, Harmony, is the only one she can't read.  When Vivienne learns that Harmony belonged to the murdered vet, it adds even more mystery to drama that is now Vivienne's life.  

I found Silent Harmony to be an enjoyable read for the most part, geared definitely more toward teenage readers.  There is some language and sexual references, which I didn't have a problem with at all, but parents may want to consider if their young teen is going to be reading it.  There is quite a bit of drama and conflict that goes on, but when you have teenagers, I think that is pretty much expected.  The only thing that threw me off a little was that the story though mainly from Vivienne's POV, which is in the first person, but did have chapters that were from Riley and Tristan's POV, which were third person, and it was kind of confusing. On a positive note there is romance, mystery, suspense, and drama, which young readers are sure to enjoy and is something that again, would appeal mainly to the 14/15 to 18 age group, in my opinion.  

A Corner of White (The Colors of Madelie #1)
by Jaclyn Moriarty
Published:  April 1, 2013
Publisher:  Arthur A. Levine Books
Source:  Publisher/NetGalley
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The first in a rousing, funny, genre-busting trilogy from bestseller Jaclyn Moriarty!

This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).

Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot's dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.

As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds -- through an accidental gap that hasn't appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called "color storms;" a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the "Butterfly Child," whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses...

My Thoughts:  A Corner of  White is a fantasy that has a contemporary feel to it also and focuses on the the crossover between two worlds," the Kingdom of Cello and the World." Madeline lives in Cambridge England and Elliot lives in Cello.  The colors represent dangerous creatures in the Kingdom of Cello.  Elliot and Madeline exchange letters through the "crack" between their worlds, and gradually form a friendship, trying to help each other solve their problems.  There are peculiar characters and the plot is rather eccentric, having a fairy tale feel to it, but then it kind of hopped here and there like a rabbit, but never really seemed to have a clear path, making it rather difficult to stay focused.  It was rather slow-paced, yet did have its intriguing moments also.  Though I wasn't crazy about it, I do think it is something that fantasy lovers, specifically fans of Alice in Wonderland type stories, might enjoy.   

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
by Maggie Stiefvater
Published:   September 18, 2012
Publisher:  Scholastic Press
Source:  Publisher/NetGalley
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“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

My Thoughts: It's St. Mark's Eve, and Blue Sargent stand with her mom, who is clairvoyant, as those who are soon to be dead walk by.  This year it is different because Blue actually sees a spirit, something she has never done before, and his name is Gansey.  Gansey is a Raven boy, one of the students that attends the prestigious private school known as Aglionby.  The Raven boys, as they are called, have a reputation for being troublemakers.  Gansey, along with three other Raven boys, Adam Ronan, and Noah, are key players in this story, each having their own unique personality .  It was interesting to see the relationships between the characters develop.  The author has done an excellent job of developing each of the characters. Though a little slow paced, the story is mysterious and has twists and turns that keep things interesting   The characters themselves are intriguing  and mysterious, as is the plot.  The romance aspect is rather light, especially considering the fact that Blue knows her true love will die, which kind of limits that.  On the other hand, I did enjoy the mystery, the mythology, and the magical quality of the story itself.   This was one of those books I liked, but didn't fall in love with, but I am glad i read it.  It will be interesting to read the next book and see where the author takes the story next.


  1. Wow, you got a lot of reading done! Than you for sharing your thoughts, Ellen!

    1. Actually, I read The Raven Boys quite a while back and just haven't ever written a review. The others were over the month of September for the Netgalley challenge - I can honestly say that I have been up reading every night except for just a few until 2 a.m. for the last couple of months trying to get caught up. I am a night owl though, so it isn't bad - just when I have to get up and go to work the next day - LOL

  2. I loved the Raven Boys, I can not wait for the third book to be out!!
    Great reviews Ellen!

  3. I had issues with Burning.. the characters, plot, and I sort of given up on it by the time the ending came but yea, it was still horrible. As for The Raven Boys, it does have a slow pace but I love the character development.

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  4. Great mini reviews Ellen! I really hope to read The Raven Boys soon but what a bummer that Blue knows her true love will die.


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