Uta Hagen--

"We must overcome the notion that we must be regular...it robs you of the chance to be extraordinary and leads you to the mediocre."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

I was so lucky to get an ARC of "Sweetly" by Jackson Pearce. I have always loved Jackson Pearce, even before her first book, "As You Wish", was released. I read AYW in one day and read "Sisters Red" rather quickly, so I had high expectations for this book. I was not disappointed. "Sweetly" was one of the best books I have read. I like that there are similarities between SR and S, beyond the fact that they are fairy-tale spin offs. There is one sibling that is able to move on from tradgedy and live their own life, the other sibling is unable to do so and has to continue to do something. Personally, I would pick "Sweetly" over SR. It may just be because "Sweetly" had more romance in it, but I loved this story. I couldn't put it down. I found myself saying "I'll just read this next chapter, it's only x many pages, then I'll go do whatever" - and the next thing I knew, I had read four or more chapters.

What I liked most about this book, I think, was that Gretchen, while dedicated to fighting the "witch" and protecting the people she loves, she was also still able to have a life of her own. In SR, Scarlet was completely focused on fighting the Fenris, so much so that she never allowed herself to fall in love or have a hobby. But Gretchen still lets herself do that stuff. Throughout this novel we see Gretchen go from being a scared little girl to a strong woman that can defend herself and do what needs to be done.

However, I think this novel also illustrates another type of growth - a growth in the author. This novel really showed me a growth in Jackson Pearce's voice as an author. I think that Pearce has improved her writing skills since her first novel was released, and I wasn't sure if she could get any better. I'm not just saying this because she's one of my favorite authors or because I've met her. This novel made me so proud of her because of the sheer beauty of this novel. If this novel doesn't go to the New York Time's Best Seller List, I don't know what is wrong with America.

Job well done, Jackson Pearce. I am eager to see you go even farther in your career. "Sweetly" is definitely one of my favorite books and I am pretty sure I will be re-reading it sooner or later (and I NEVER re-read books)!

Golden Healer, Dark Enchantress by Christine E. Schulze

I would first off like to say that I am very greatful to the author for sending me this book. The subject of vampires automatically drew me, as well as the line on the back of the book: "Are you afraid?".

I was intrigued by the story itself, but at times I felt like the main character was a bit too perfect. She was a perfect student, a perfect Christian, a perfect everything (and someone who blushed - a lot). I was a bit iffy about the whole idea of Christian vampires, not many books incorperate religion anymore - definitely not many stories about vampires and other mythical creatures, including faries, elves, and the like. So that to me, as a Christian, was interesting, but also a little bit odd just because I usually don't read Christian books for the sake of that I don't share 100% of the Christian beliefs. However, I think the storyline itself was pretty good - the pacing near the end was a bit fast, but not too fast. It was a bit predictable at the end as to what was going to happen and who was going to be who, but I think the author definitely has potential to go on and further her career and better herself as a writer.

All in all, I give this book 3/5 stars. I couldn't completely relate to the characters, but I still thought the story was entertaining.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

I should first off say that this review will contain no spoilers as this book is not being released until November 2011 - although it is a crime to make someone wait that long to read this wonderful piece of pure art. I should also say that I am very much in love with the writing of Miss Hieber, and as such I may appear a little biased. But I assure you, this review is meant wholeheartedly and with the mind that I have never before met and/or heard of Leanna Renee Hieber. To give a false review is to lie to the author - and it's ten times worse than to say "oh, your child is so cute!" when in fact, it is not. With that said...

I started this book a couple of weeks ago with the hopes of finishing it before I was to be thrown back into the havic that is high school. This, however, did not happen and therefore has taken me longer to complete. I have spent a lot of my study hall time reading this book, wishing that first period would last all day so that I could just sit and read. But I should start at the beginning.

The novel appealed to me from the first time I heard the premise of the story. The phrase that Hieber uses with signing this novel is "Find your voice", and the deadication is to those who have ever struggled to do so and to be heard, this too intrigued me further as this is a obstacle that I often struggle with - although not physically. The narrator of this "diary" is Natalie Stewart, a 17 year old mute, home from having completed school. Her father, being a single parent, has no idea what to do with his "unfortunate" daughter (this being 19th century New York). Mr. Stewart, being an employee of the Museum of Art comes across the story of a painting coming to town - with quite a contriversial reputation. The portrait of young Lord Denbury is said to be haunted, that as you stand before his likeliness you can feel a sort of presence - as if his very soul lingers with the painting. Lord Denbury, after losing his parents, was presumed dead by suicide shortly after the painting had been comissioned. Natalie is taken with the story of the painting, having always been interested in the supernatural, having been aware of a sort of whisper since she was young. She tells her father that she would like to be employed at the museum as well - mainly so that she can be around the painting. Her father, seeing this as a suitable plan, agrees. They come in contact with the owner of the painting - Mrs. Evelyn Northe.

Natalie is even more taken with the painting than she had thought, the very sight of Lord Denbury giving her chills, and not just from the cool air that surrounds the painting. Although, one day she sees a figure that looks like Lord Denbury, save for the eyes.

As the story progresses, Natalie and Mrs. Northe realize that there is something, indeed, magical and mysterious about this portrait. Together, they set out to solve this mystery. The painting changes, as if Lord Denbury is summoning Natalie into his world. With a step, her life changes. Both good and terrible things are instore for Miss Stewart, but perhaps, she has found a reason to speak. And maybe, just maybe, she has at last found her voice.

P.S. If anybody may come across such a man as Lord Denbury...DIBS!

P.S.S. I honestly, 100% loved this book. PLEASE read it when it comes out this November!! (My name's in the back :) )