The Book of Tomorrow

I will admit I read some reviews of this book before I started reading it, big mistake! For the first few chapters I couldn’t get the negative reviews out of my head and, even worse, I was starting to agree with them. I was being over critical of everything in order to make this book live up to its bad reviews. I was over 100 pages into the book before I allowed myself to like it, and over 150 pages into the book before I allowed myself to LOVE it. But love it I did.

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern StarStarStarStarStar

To me this book was half Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, and half The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (two of my favorite books). It has all the charm and heart wrenching family drama of CeeCee Honeycutt combined with all the mysteries and secrets of The Distant Hours… not to mention a crumbly old castle filled with secrets of its own.

Tamara’s father has just committed suicide and the bank has taken their house… their great big house with the swimming pool, tennis court, and private beach. She and her mother (who has become basically catatonic) are forced to move to Kilsaney, or hickville, as Tamara puts it, with her aunt and uncle. The only upside to this is that they live in the gatehouse on the grounds of the old Kilsaney castle. The castle itself is more of a ruin; it’s been through several fires, the roof is missing in most places, and many of the walls have come tumbling down. But Tamara instantly loves it, she understands what it’s like to be broken.

The other upside is Marcus and the traveling library. Tamara likes Marcus. She clambers aboard his book van and checks out a locked book with no author and no title. When she finally gets it open she discovers the pages are blank. Sister Ignatius, an elderly nun who lives in a small covenant near the castle, who practices beekeeping and tends to the secret garden, suggests  she use it as a diary.  Tamara finally cracks it open a few days later, intent on spilling her emotions to the old book, and is surprised to see an entry, written in her own handwriting, on a page that had definitely been blank. Even more strange is that the entry is dated as the next day, tomorrow, and accurately describes all the events of today.

From there it’s a whirlwind of secrets and suspicions, revelations of past and present, and I couldn’t have put the book down if I wanted to. Seriously, it was 4AM, but I had to finish. Tamara takes it upon herself to save her mom from grief, all the while trying to save herself from guilt. She knows her aunt it hiding something (okay, like 10 things) and will stop at nothing to find out what it is. The secret takes her from the crumbling castle to the mysterious bungalow across the street filled with glass wind chimes and occupied by a stranger. The truth will shake her world more than she ever could have imagined but also gives her a second chance.


First of all, I can understand how some people might not love this book. Tamara is… unpleasant. She’s a spoiled rotten, ungrateful, pompous teenage girl. She’s quick with the attitude and never apologizes for anything. When she feels hurt she makes sure everyone around her feels hurt too. She’s a little bit promiscuous and tends to participate in underage drinking a bit too often. She isn’t exactly lady-like, she cusses, she’s inappropriate and unappreciative. She rarely thinks of anyone but herself. Her one redeeming quality is that she knows all this about herself… and sometimes she feels bad about it.

When it comes right down to it I can relate to Tamara, I know what it’s like to be in high school and to be judged by your friends. I know what it’s like to be an angry teenager with no control over their life. For that reason I didn’t dislike Tamara as much as I understood her, and I was proud when her character learned to see the world differently. She doesn’t always make the right decisions, or follow any line of logic for that matter, she’s impulsive and allows her emotions to dictate her choices, and that’s what makes her believable.

A great book from start to finish, filled with great characters. A coming of age tale mixed with family horrors, buried secrets, a crumbly old castle, and a magic book. Highly recommend!

Mystic City

First of all, I have been SLACKING on my blogging. I’ve read Life of Pi by Yann Martel, in preparation for the movie, which I give 4 stars – the first 100 pages were a little rough to get through and I found myself thinking “Isn’t there supposed to be some sort of shipwreck at some point?” And then it happens. And suddenly you’re thrust into the middle of the ocean with a boy and a tiger in a lifeboat. And from that point forward I couldn’t have put the book down if I wanted to. Highly recommend!

I’ve also read Juliet by Anne Fortier. Also 4 stars. The only reason this book didn’t get 5 stars is because I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to like it before I read it. The ending seemed a little convenient and honestly the main character was a little hard to love. But the story was interesting enough and had everything I normally look for in a historical(ish) novel – flashbacks between past and present, an ancient yet lingering curse, deep dark secrets hidden within deep dark tunnels… it was all very Indiana Jones. I would definitely recommend it, but I wouldn’t put it on a pedestal.

LUCKILY I’ve read some really good books recently because Mystic City was a bit of a flop. Here’s why.

Mystic City by Theo Lawrence StarStarStar

The premise of this book is actually very interesting; it’s set in the not-so-distant future where global warming has increased to the point that all of Manhattan is under water and it’s residents have taken to the skies. Literally. The elites live in the Aerials, tall skyscrapers that tower above the city, and they never leave. The poor and impoverished live in the Depths where they’ve constructed rickety walkways above the ever rising water. For the most part these are normal people and, despite their futuristic setting, their technology hasn’t really increased too much (granted they get everywhere and pay for everything with a swipe of their finger but, big whoop, my dad has a finger swipe on his laptop). However, there are Mystics in the city – people with magical powers who are forced to live in the Depths, in what used to be Central Park. The “mayor” has demanded that all Mystics register with the city and be drained of their powers twice a year… enter Aria.

Aria is the main character, she is a member of the richest family in Manhattan. Aria is also naïve and a liiiiittle bit slow (in my opinion). Aria is told that she overdosed on Stic, a drug made from drained Mystic energy. She is told that her overdose caused her to lose part of her memory. She is told that she is in love with Thomas (a member of the opposing political family) and that they will be married right after the big election in which Thomas’s brother will become mayor and the two families will unite to rule with an iron fist. And, against her better judgment, she believes them (even though the truth is right in front of her). Enter Hunter.

Hunter is a rebel Mystic; he has never registered with the city, he has never been drained, he still has magic powers… which he uses to save Aria’s life several times as well as appear mysteriously on her balcony. Something about Hunter seems so incredibly familiar to Aria… but she just can’t place it. While everything about Thomas feels so wrong, everything about Hunter feels so damn right. She spends basically the ENTIRE book trying to figure out this mind-bending mystery. *rolls eyes*

Throughout the entire book I found myself getting increasingly more angry at all the characters for being so dang stupid. Hunter uses his magic powers to get out of a jam ONE TIME. Which would be great if he wasn’t getting himself into a jam in every other chapter. “Come on!” I would think. “Use your powers! You could escape so easily!” But no. In the meantime, while Aria is trying to figure out where her memories went, she is ignoring the obvious solution. In fact she waits until all hell breaks loose (which is partly, if not MOSTLY, her fault) to finally do the right thing. The thing she should have been doing all along.

However, I realize that easiest solution does not make for a good story. Despite my frustration and resentment towards the characters, there were some interesting and thrilling plot twists. As with every other teen book Mystic City promises to become a series. Perhaps, now that Aria has her head back on her shoulders, the second book will be more action packed and less… irritating. Go ahead and read it, even if only to prepare for what I hope will be a better sequel.

On the Island

I wasn’t sure what to think about this book, but I was determined to read it before it turned into some sort of 50 Shades of Grey disaster. The story sounded interesting – woman and boy stranded on a desert island, fighting the elements as well as their growing attraction –  and, as a diehard Lost fan, I’m weirdly drawn to Lord of the Flies type stories. But it was classified in the “romance” section of the bookstore which usually means sex, sex, cheesy plot line, and more sex. Given the subject matter (a 30-something woman and her teenage protégé) I was a little worried it was going to be smutty or… uncomfortable. It wasn’t. It was an emotional battle between two unlikely lovers who ultimately give each other the will to survive. I cried once… just a little.

On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves StarStarStarStarStar

Anna has accepted a job tutoring TJ at his family’s summer rental in the Maldives. She is doing this because her boyfriend of 8 years has yet to propose to her, she’s 30 years old and she desperately wants a baby, and she even more desperately needs to get away from it all.

TJ has just been told that his cancer is gone, for now. All he wants to do is spend the summer hanging out with his friends and doing things normal 17 year olds would do, but his parents are dragging him to the Maldives for rest and relaxation… and studying. Not his first choice.

Anna and TJ are on their way to meet TJ’s parents when their pilot suffers a heart attack and their plane crashes in the middle of the ocean. Eventually TJ and an unconscious Anna find themselves washed up on the beach of a small island occupied by coconut trees and a handful of chickens. Together they must survive every obstacle that nature throws at them; thirst, starvation, sickness, sharks, storms, and tidal waves… to name a few. Together they must overcome the emotional trauma of being stranded without hope of rescue, wondering if their families have moved on, wondering if they would ever see another human face. Together they must come to terms with their desire, as unconventional as it is, because it may be the only thing that saves them.

This book was tastefully done, to say the least. TJ, though 17, has the maturity of a much older guy. His bout with cancer coupled with the plane crash has forced him to grow up fast. On the island he has to take care of not only himself, but Anna too. He never once breaks down or throws a fit, he is strong for Anna. Mutually, Anna respects TJ and never once treats him differently because of his age. For years they grow and survive together on the island, they take care of each other through sickness and health, they develop a routine, and they make the island their home. As the book progressed it was only natural for these two characters to fall in love. A love that would seem entirely unnatural in any other setting or by any other means. Kudos to the author for creating such likeable characters and allowing them to fall in love so gracefully. All the pieces had to be in place for this story to work as well as it does.

Spoiler Alert: This island is only half the battle. Anna and TJ are rescued from the island and overjoyed to continue their life together back in civilization, but society doesn’t understand their love and neither is sure it can survive.

The author has created two incredibly real characters, who, though placed in an extreme situation, face very real problems… on and off the island. Their story is raw and emotional and moving and I would recommend it to anyone.

Magic Study

It’s hard for me to review sequels without giving away the entire plot-line, but I loved Poison Studyso much and I had such high expectations for this book that I feel I owe it to myself and my followers (all 14 of you) to explain  why it only gets 3 stars. I’ll try my best to avoid spoilers.

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder StarStarStar

Magic Study picks up exactly where Poison Studyleft off. Yelena and her band of magicians, having saved the day in Ixia, are now headed into Sitia where Yelena will reunite with her family before continuing on to the Academy where the head magicians will train her in the art of magic (I like to think it’s a Hogwarts sister-school). Unfortunately there are still a few people that want Yelena dead (her brother, an angry Ixian rebel, the First Magician, and an evil, power-stealing rogue magician… to name a few). Luckily, Yelena has become an unstoppable ass-kicking machine who is perfectly capable of taking care of herself and everyone around her. Not bad for teenage girl who is often described as short and scrawny.

Everything that I loved about Yelena in Poison Study – her selflessness, her eagerness to learn and train, her ability to fend for herself – is amplified in Magic Study… but not in a good way. Frankly, I’m not sure how this girl is still functioning. She gets beaten within inches of her life multiple times, she is constantly fighting life-threatening exhaustion, she’s tortured and kidnapped and chained up every time she leaves her room… and she flat out refuses help from anyone. I’m not sure there’s a single page in the entire book that describes Yelena as feeling good and not within the short reach of death. She’s a headstrong teenage girl who could probably use a good time-out and some strict parental guidance.

Of course she manages to get herself out of every situation she finds herself in and saves the day several times over without any help from anyone… and I’m just not buying it. At one point she finds herself manacled and chained to the ceiling in a barn somewhere while her captor ponders over which torture device to use first. She manages to call for help telepathically (a new trick she’s picked up along the way) but when the rescue party arrives she tells them she’s got everything under control and they wait for her in a nearby field. Here she is, hanging from the ceiling, bleeding, trapped, about to be tortured,  and they’re not going to do anything about that? Yeah, right. But then she does escape and they clap her on the back and give her a high-five and do some chest bumps, and she spouts off some sarcastic remarks, and her arrogance is so annoying that I almost wish she did get tortured a little bit before she Houdini’d herself out of there.

She blatantly defies her teachers, her parents, her boyfriend and her friends to throw herself into life-threatening situations where she will most likely get killed and therefore supply the rogue magician with the final power source he needs to take over Sitia… but she does it anyway. And she doesn’t even leave a note.

Yelena is no longer a realistic person or a likeable character… I probably wouldn’t want to be her friend, but the plot was well written and put-together. All the things I liked about Poison Study – the adventure, the mystery, the revelations, the unexpected friendships – are present in Magic Study as well. I enjoy this series and I will without a doubt read the final installment, but I almost wish Poison Study was written as a standalone book.


I’ll be honest, I did not like this book. When I decided to start doing book reviews I told myself I would never post a BAD review. However, a few days have passed since I closed the cover on this book and I’ve managed to get over my initial disdain… at least I’m over it enough to post an honest review…

Hourglass by Myra McEntire StarStar

Before we get into this, and before anyone gets offended by that rating, I should mention that I am way too old for this book. By way too old I mean I’m 23 and this is a book meant for teens. I’ll even admit that I probably would have loved this book in high school (just like I loved Twilight in high school) when I was still boy crazy, naïve, and in the process of coming into my own. However, as a 23 year old, the “romance” was silly (and at times totally inappropriate for a teen plot) and the main character was an insecure shell of a girl with total self esteem issues who made rash decisions based on what would most likely impress her new band of boyfriends.

Let’s start with her: Emerson starts out as a pretty cool girl, she’s witty, pretty, she’s into baseball and martial arts, and she see’s dead people. Her parents died when she was young which sent her spiraling into major depression that eventually ended up getting her committed and sent to special boarding schools (not to mention her little ghost problem). Not surprisingly Emerson has horribly low self esteem, almost no friends, and *gasp* has never been kissed. She constantly refers to herself as crazy and considers herself to be a total outcast from society. Her older brother Thomas and his wife have taken her in and raised her through her teenage years. Thomas has always been understanding of Emerson’s strange visions but he’s constantly hiring shrinks and psychics to “fix” her. Meet Michael; Emerson’s newest mentor.

Michael is sexy. We know this because Emerson makes mention of it on every single page. His lips, his muscles, his smell, his eyes, his hair, his totally awesome car. The second she meets him she becomes a total doormat. When she’s around him she can think of nothing but him (and not in the cute “you’re all that’s on my mind” way, in the creepy, obsessive “can’t think for herself” way). She is constantly tuning out to think about how hot he is and how much she wants to touch his lips… and other various parts of his body. In fact, when they do touch, there’s such a magnetic, chemical reaction that they actually create electricity and blow out the nearest light bulb. Oh, and Michael sees dead people too. So they have that in common. However, he makes it clear from the beginning that their relationship is purely professional (but continues to constantly seduce her), successfully breaking Emerson’s fragile little heart.

From there it’s about 200 pages of Bella Emerson acting like a jealous, immature, insecure shell of herself – and Edward Michael acting like a macho, secretive, jealous prick. He refuses to tell her the whole story which forces her to follow him everywhere and eavesdrop on all his private conversations. She acts out when she discovers his possibly ex-girlfriend and he throws a fit every time he discovers her spending time with his best friend Kaleb (who is also conveniently drop dead gorgeous and happens to fall in love with Emerson after about one minute of knowing her… life must be so rough). Emerson then makes totally rash and life threatening decisions to save the day and show everyone how totally cool she is. However, even in the heat of battle she doesn’t forget to mention Michael’s luscious lips or Kaleb’s deep blue eyes… as if we could forget. She is constantly reminding the reader how short she is and introduces every other female character as stunningly beautiful with 10-mile-long legs. She basically makes it clear that she is not worthy of Michael’s love or capable of competing for it. Yeah, that’s the message we should be sending teenage girls. Fortunately for her the boys of Hourglass are interested only in Emerson… despite her short stature and surly attitude (not to mention her desire to punch and hit everyone within a 10-foot radius). Honestly, I’m not sure why either party is interested in the other.

“Romance” plot and self esteem issues aside, McEntire had a really cool and original idea. Michael is not some sort of immortal vampire or angel or whatever else teenage girls are into these days, he’s just a guy who happens to see across time, just like Emerson. Together they can change history – literally. The ending worked like a puzzle, they had to find all the pieces and correctly put them together before they (or the reader) could see the big picture. I would have truly enjoyed this book if the story wasn’t so saturated with teenage melodrama.

Under the Never Sky

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a sucker for a colorful cover and swirly font. That being said I usually pick up a lot of teen titles… and I’m usually disappointed, or mad. Often just plain annoyed. I read them because I know they’ll be fast and easy (not a good excuse for someone who studied classic literature in college) and because their covers are so dang pretty. You can’t walk down the teen aisle of a bookstore without being bombarded with vampires, fairies, and princesses. However, once you crack them open you’re bombarded with teen angst, unrequited high school love, and undead boyfriends. I recently read Abandon by Meg Cabot and I think I rolled my eyes the entire time. Anyway.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi StarStarStarStarStar

Yes, I gave this book 5 stars. Yes, it’s a teen book. No, there were no princesses or fairies or undead boyfriends. One of the best dystopian novels I’ve read so far. The only thing that makes this a “teen book” is the fact that the main characters are in their teens.

The story is told from the perspective of Aria, a dweller, and Perry, a savage. Aria was born (and by born I mean genetically engineered) and raised in a dome, an enclosed civilization designed to protect it’s inhabitants from the Aether – a vicious Aurora Borealis (from what I could gather). Everything in real life is grey, dull, and man-made. The people in the domes entertain themselves by spending all their time in the realms – basically the internet (ha!). In the realms they can be and do anything they want. They enter the realms using their iPhones (okay, not really. But it’s a sort of iPhone device that literally sits over their eye and allows them to communicate, play games… whatever). Aria happens to capture a bit of incriminating video on her smarteye and is expelled from the pod, left for dead in the desert – if the cannibals don’t get her, the electrical storms caused by the Aether will. Luckily she meets Perry, an outsider who needs her to get to his nephew who was taken hostage by the dwellers. The outsiders live in tribes compromised of wooden huts and ruled by a blood lord. Many of them have developed superhuman senses (Perry’s happens to be night vision and an extreme sense of smell).

At first Aria and Perry hate each other, she thinks of him as a inhuman savage (probably due to his wolfey tendencies) and he thinks of her as an emotionless, irrational, inhuman robot. But this is a teen book we’re talking about, of course they’re going to fall for each other. You knew that. I knew that.

I can’t explain why I liked this book so much, I liked the main characters – they didn’t make me roll my eyes once. I liked that the story was just as character driven as it was plot driven, most teen novelists don’t bother to develop their characters or give them any emotional depth or allow them to grow, Rossi does. The plot was complex and compelling, it didn’t focus on Aria and Perry’s romantic relationship. There were several points in the book when I thought to myself “Where can they possibly go from here? How can they possibly get out of this one?” But they do. And I loved the ending. I had to reread the last few sentences a few times before I was willing to shut the book on them. I want to read the sequel (and I probably will) but I don’t want to ruin the magic of that last page.