Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review The School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani

18172465From Goodreads:  "In the epic sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel, The School for Good and Evil, Sophie and Agatha are home, living out their Ever After. But life isn't quite the fairy tale they expected. 

When Agatha secretly wishes she’d chosen a different happy ending, she reopens the gates to the School for Good and Evil. But the world she and Sophie once knew has changed.  Witches and princesses, warlocks and princes are no longer enemies.  New bonds are forming, old bonds are shattered.  But underneath this uneasy arrangement, a war is brewing and a dangerous enemy rises.  As Agatha and Sophie battle to restore peace, an unexpected threat could destroy everything, and everyone, they love-and this time, it comes from within. " 

I remember reading the first in the series, The School for Good and Evil and really liking the messages that it introduced about what makes someone good versus evil. I enjoyed how things were not just whether one girl was the princess and the other was a witch, but it delved into how beauty is not just how we look on the outside, but also in the life we live and actions that we take.  My review of The School For Good and Evil is here.  

So after Sophie and Agatha solved the School Master's riddle and returned back home, I was curious what possible changes Chainani could be exploring for our two heroines and their friendship.  Plus, I love a good fantasy/fairy tale that has a humorous side. 

 In A World Without Princes, Sophie seemed to still be struggling with wanting everyone to see that she had changed, wanting to be seen as good. Sophie seemed to be trying very hard to pretend, put on a brave face and act happy, which kind of makes her ending sad to me. It seemed like she was less selfish and really guided by her desire to hold onto her best friend. Agatha was also going through lots of changes during the story, she was now immersed in wanting to set things right with her prince and struggling with being honest to Sophie about having made her wish in the first place.  Agatha seemed to be the one hiding things from Sophie and they appeared to have switched places in terms of the importance that they each placed on their friendship. Sophie placed faith in the idea that it is Agatha who keeps her being good and Agatha was split between her best friend and her prince.  The different sides each character portrayed from the first to second book was intriguing and yet frustrating too. I was really sad to see them have this kind of switching of places.  I really liked Agatha at the end of the first book, she choose her friend Sophie, and now here is she was overlooking those things that were most important to her before.  I began to really emphasize with Sophie more this book and the ending just left me with more questions about where their friendship is going next. 

There was an intriguing mystery about the new Dean of the school, who seems somewhat sinister with her manipulation of the girls and setting them at odds with one another. I also liked that Tedros had more of an emphasis in the plot with revelations of his past and his conflicting feelings about Agatha. Overall, I felt that A World Without Princes was darker then the first in the series, and left me curious about where Chianani will take the story next.  I'm really hoping for a satisfying conclusion, one where both Sophie and Agatha get their happy endings.     

 Favorite line "We're following a butterfly?" 

My review copy was from the public library. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

13608989The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Expected Publication: September 9, 2014
Format: Ebook 304 pages
Source:  In exchange for an honest review, an ARC was received from the publisher for free via NetGalley

The Iron Trial begins in a cave in  La Rinconada where a set of mages were sent during the battle between The Enemy of Death and his army of Chaos.  Alastair Hunt is frantically searching the cave for his wife Sarah and their son Callum. Alastair is faced with the realization that all the mages have perished when he finds his dead wife. Suddenly, he hears the cry of a baby and finds Callum with his leg badly injured.  The last words that Alastair sees in the cave are scratched on a wall of ice, "Kill The Child." 

Jump ahead to North Carolina where Callum or "Call"  is now 12-years-old about to participate in the Iron Trial.  He will enter The Magisterium , a school that is buried underground, and  be tested to see if he possesses the qualities to be an apprentice and whether he will receive further training from one of its Master's.  Magic runs in Callum's family,  but his father wants him to fail at his trial, even warning him that he will be tempted to want to join, but all his fathers warnings are vague.  In Callum's case it doesn't matter, because his having potential makes attendance not optional.  

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare take their time crafting this world of The Magisterium.  It is more than just a school that is deep underground with dark corners that draw you in wanting to learn more. I envision it looking something like The Cave of the Winds or Lewis and Clark Caverns with stalagmites/stalactites, twisting and turning passageways and rivers. The teachers within The Magisterium are referred to as Master's and they tended to blend together for me, except for Master Rufus who we learn more about because he trains the three main characters.   I really liked that the apprentice characters were well developed, diverse and seem to have unique characteristics that makes them each stand out.  The cover highlights three of them, Callum,  Aaron and Tamara.  Callum at time had this obnoxious slightly snarky personality that spoke "almost" teenager to me.  One of the things that I wished Black and Clare had done with Callum's character was to show Callum's disability more (like when he was getting into the boat) rather that having him stating that "I can't run" or "I can't" when placed in positions where his leg will challenge him,  I think this would have added more to his character and highlighted how his impairment really effects him.  Aaron is the blonde haired, athletic who doesn't appear to have any family and Tamara appeared smart, and strong willed. My favorite character was Havoc, the wolf pup that Callum sort of adopts, his name seems to fit him very well. Warren the lizard was a strong second, who I hope we will see more of.     

I've seen on Goodreads that people are comparing The Iron Trial to Harry Potter.  If your looking for similarities, I think you could find them in The Iron Trial.  However, I personally see more differences that allow it to stand on its own.  The world as I stated before is somewhat more dark being underground and feels set in present day.   The magic doesn't resemble that of Harry Potter, if anything it had me thinking more along the lines of Avatar, yet it also has a set of its own principles, magical food and items, I love the tornado phone, wristbands and I want one of those fizzy drinks. 

I do have a few minor quibbles with The Iron Trial.  There are instances where Callum's dad is referred to as "dad" and others where he is referred to as "Allistair" this also happens with Master Rufus where all of sudden he is just called Rufus by Callum.  Each time this switch between formal and informal happened it took me out of the story.  I also felt the story slowed down when Callum's training took place, the whole training with sand made things move very slowly and was reminiscent of  scenes where Daniel is asked to wax on and wax off by Mr. Miyagi.  I liked the "bad guy" character of The Enemy of Death and his army of Chaos, although his name doesn't strike much fear, he still seems to deal some destruction.  Most of all, I enjoyed the prophecy that a fire elemental foretells and the twist at the very end is done very well.  Overall, I enjoyed the Iron Trial and felt it was a great beginning to a new series and has me looking for more.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Review Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens

From Goodreads:  "Deepdean School for Girls, 1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia's missing tie. Which they don't, really.)

But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident - but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place . . . and there's more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.

Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?"

I first heard about Murder is Bad Manners from a cover reveal and giveaway hosted by The Midnight Garden, and for which I was lucky enough to win an advanced copy. Murder is Bad Manners was first published in the UK with the title Murder Most Unladylike and the US edition is set to release April 2015. 

I was an avid Nancy Drew fan growing up, later switching to adult mysteries, but there has always been something about those amateur sleuths and murder mysteries in general that have appealed to me.   Murder is Bad Manners is centered on the characters of Daisy and Hazel.  Daisy is the self proclaimed "Sherlock" and president of Wells and Wong detective agency and this makes Hazel her "Watson" and secretary.  Murder is Bad Manners is told from Hazel's point of view, as she writes the case notes and suspect list. Having the story from Hazel's POV,  gives the reader an opportunity to learn that Hazel is from Hong Kong and she relates her early experiences at school (some hazing by the other girls), how her and Daisy became friends and how she has been trying to adapt to living in a boarding school away from home in a totally new country.  I loved Hazel's observations about life at school and found her to be very perceptive.  Daisy kind of reminds me of Nancy Drew, maybe it's because they both came from wealthy families, were described as attractive, certainly are intelligent and have lots of talent.  Yet, Daisy appeared to have many sides to her character, not only is she from a wealthy English family, she is also one of the most popular girls at school.  Yet, Hazel with her adept eye notices that the "outside of Daisy is jolly good show, but inside is not."  Early on I picked up on some of this when I felt Daisy was treating Hazel poorly by telling her "don't be stupid" and not listening to her rationale for why one of the other suspects may have been the murderer, which leads the two to have an argument.   However, Daisy doesn't come off as unlikable, just a little dismissive toward Hazel at times.  I really hope that in a future book Daisy will take on the POV for the story, I'm really curious to learn more about her and wondering how she would view Hazel and their friendship.  I did really enjoy that Daisy managed to redeem herself at the end of the book and the bonds the two girls have will strengthen even more I think over the course of the series.   Steven does a wonderful job with the setting and immersing the reader in the English boarding school experience filled with classes, teachers, various classmates and even late night snacks and hijinx.     Murder is Bad Manners has all the aspects of a wonderful murder mystery, the sifting through clues, following leads, checking on peoples alibi's and motives,  as well as the potential danger in trying to find a murderer, cause yeah they always want to be caught.   I loved the inclusion of a map and the character guide which details about who each teacher and student mentioned in the book are. Despite all that, unfortunately I wasn't able to guess the murderer.  Overall, I really loved this first installment in the Wells and Wong mystery and look forward to reading the next book in the series, in the UK the next title is Arsenic for Tea releasing February 24, 2015 (not sure what the US title will be yet but I like that title already). 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Happy Book Blog Birthday

Birthday Card Stock Photo - Image: 15018120

Well it's my second year of blogging and it's been a fun year, I even managed to remember and post something on time!  I've revisited some classics and found some new favorites, delved into some YA that I ended up really enjoying, so basically enjoyed some laughs and cries over books.  I even found my way to NetGalley, which is toppling my TBR list like crazy, but introduced me to some great books to read and review.  I want to thank all the followers who've visited my blog and commented, I really look forward to see what you all have to say, so thanks!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review of Nest by Esther Ehrlich

Nest by Esther Ehrlich
Expected Publication: September 9, 2014

by Random House Books for Young Readers and Wendy Lamb Books 
Pages: Hardcover 336 pages
Format: Ebook received from publisher

Source:  In exchange for an honest review, an ARC was received from the publisher for free via NetGalley.  

From Goodreads:   "For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But then Chirp’s mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, and everything changes.
Chirp finds comfort in watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the street. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.
Nest is Esther Ehrlich’s stunning debut novel. Her lyrical writing is honest, humorous, and deeply affecting. Chirp and Joey will steal your heart. Long after you finish Nest, the spirit of Chirp and her loving family will stay with you. "

Nest is a poignant, heart-felt historical fiction.   A story that may not be an easy read due to some tough themes and the emotions that they invoke, but has some touching moments filled with family, friendship and love which balance things out. We are first introduced to bird-watching Chirp, who is observant, cheerful, friendly and just the kind of character that wins you over right away with her backpack full of bird-watching supplies.  Ehrlich does a remarkable job of illustrating Chirp's fun personality in the way that she's dancing and singing with her mother and older sister Rachel.  The descriptions of Chirp's mom wrapping her arms around her giving off the smell of "lavender and lemons" as she calls her "Snap Pea" were wonderful to read. These early interactions between the mother and her two daughters really drew me into Chirp's family.   Their relationships come off authentic and believable. Especially the relationship between Naomi and Rachel, the things they say and do are the sort of love/hate relationship that siblings often have. Then when their mothers disease progresses, we are left with all these complex emotions.   Not just Chirp's, but all the characters in the story are impacted.  Ehrlich captures the worries and fears the family is going through and presents an honest look at how the family attempts to cope with them. There is lots of sensitivity to the age of the audience, but I think this is the kind of book a family would want to read together.  My favorite characters were Joey and Chirp, their friendship was sweet and caring.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm

19085562The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm 
Expected Publication August 26th 2014 

by Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: 208
Format: Ebook 

Source:  In exchange for an honest review, an ARC was received from the publisher for free via NetGalley.  

Ellie is trying to navigate her way through middle school and understand why her best friend has all these new friends and is now so into volleyball.   At the same time, Grandpa Melvin Herbert Sagarsky has engineered a way to "reverse senescence through cellular regeneration,"  in other words, he has figured out how to reverse aging using a jellyfish. So, when Ellie's mom brings home this thirteen old boy who talks and acts like her grandpa, Ellie has a hard time believing it could really be him. Yet, this boy appears to be the same bossy, cranky person that Ellie's grandpa always was and slowly he wins her over. But now, grandpa wants Ellie's help to break into his former lab to try and get back all of his research and the jellyfish he left behind.  

I love a story where everything comes full circle and all the pieces of the puzzle seem to seamlessly come into place.  One where Holm relates the story of how Ellie's kindergarten teacher gave out a goldfish to her students, but when the goldfish dies, her mom gives her a new one, and another, and another, until she has had thirteen goldfish in all.  Yet this little detail wraps into conveying the cycle of life.  A story where the reader is prompted to think about believing in the possible and at the same time, just because something is possible does it make it right?  I so loved the revelations that Ellie undergoes as she begins to see her grandfather as a person and not just as an older person.  I also enjoyed the distinctions in young, middle-aged and older adult that Holm conveys in the characters of Ellie, her mom and her grandfather.  I love how Grandpa Melvin teaches Ellie that scientists use their eyes and power of observation and imparts his knowledge about famous scientists like Jonas, Salk, Marie Curie, Galileo, Oppenheimer and Louis Pasteur in a way that inspires the readers interest in science.  Most of all, I love how Ellie is inspired to learn from her grandfather and how he shows her that cooking is science too giving her insights into who her grandmother was (The fuzzy slippers were my favorite part).  Overall, it is also the beautiful quotes like "scientists never give up.  They keep trying because they believe in the possible"   and my favorite quote,  "life is precious and we don't realize that at the time.  But maybe life's also precious because it doesn't last forever.  Like an amusement park ride.  The roller coaster is exciting the first time.  But would it be as fun if you did it again and again and again?"   Overall, a beautiful story that addressees coming of age, family ties and would easily appeal to readers of all ages.  The bonus addition of famous scientists woven into the story as well as the authors note relating her inspiration for the story were fascinating to read.     

All quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof.  My review copy was generously provided by Random House Children's.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle by George Hagen

Hardcover, 384 pages
 Expected publication: August 26th, 2014  by Random House Children's
 and Schwartz & Wade

From Goodreads:  "This fast-paced, exciting, and emotionally rich fantasy novel for middle graders reads like a cross between The Phantom Tollbooth and Harry Potter. 

How can 11-year-old Gabriel find his missing father, who seems to have vanished without a trace? With the help of Paladin—a young raven with whom he has a magical bond that enables them to become one creature—he flies to the foreboding land of Aviopolis, where he must face a series of difficult challenges and unanswerable riddles that could lead to his father . . . or to his death."

I love Norse Mythology and was happy to see that Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle is based on the myth of Huginn and Muninn.  Although, I wish Hagen had included some more detailed information at the end of the book in an authors note to the reader about the origins of the myth.  But, it's a small quibble and encouraged me to do some research online for myself.  I found that Huginn means "thought" and Muninn means "desire" and these two ravens were thought to be helpers to the god Odin, kinda like his eyes and ears. 

Within Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle, Huginn and Muninn are advisers to a human king during a time when both humans and dwarfs were struggling over who would live on the surface of earth and who would live underground (This becomes known as Aviopolis in the story). The myth provides the back-story to Gabriel's quest and history about why ravens and humans were friends, how valravens were created and why protecting a Torc or silver necklace that grants wishes is so important to Gabriel.  

Gabriel is primarily the main character, but he does receive help from Abby (who's kind of weird but is alright with that) and Pamela (with her overbearing mom and desire for her to play violin and not eat sweets) as well as a boy named Somes.  Somes, who at first bully's Gabriel, but who's story was the saddest part of the book but also the most uplifting in the way he eventually handles his home situation.  There are also the ravens.  Like Paladin, who is destined to be Gabriel's amicus or  "a raven's human friend...can share thoughts. They can merge as one, and fly as one (paravolating)."  but there are also ravens who are evil and Gabriel's uncle Corax who is the most evil of them all.  

And then there are the riddles, Gabriel loves riddles like...."When is a door not a door? When it's ajar.  He liked riddles that used unfamiliar words, like ajar, which means a door that is slightly open, but he also liked riddles that stretched your imagination, like this one:  You'll always see me in first place in a running race, third in a marathon, fourth in a tear, yet never in a dash!  Who am I?"   Riddles play a prominent role in the story, they are what helps distinguish the good from the evil and the answer to a riddle will help Gabriel to find the torc and save his father.  

Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle is also about being brave and selfless.  It's about Gabriel having to put faith or trust in someone else even though they may disappoint him, he also might find that they surprise him too.  Hagen includes humor in the form of a dancing desk that holds clues if you know how to ask it the right questions and I can't say enough about the riddles, they are certainly entertaining and fun to try and solve.

Overall, I really loved the premise of the story and its link to Norse mythology.  The human to raven connection was intriguing and there was just the right amount of darkness and danger during the quest to not make the story to scary.     

All quotes were taken from an uncorrected eBook proof.  In exchange for an honest review, an ARC was generously provided by Random House Children's for free via NetGalley. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bad Magic by Pseudonymous Bosch

20454095Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: September 16th, 2014 by
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
In exchange for an honest review, an ARC was
received from the publisher for free via NetGalley

Psuedonymous Bosch is the author of the Secret Series (for which I've read the first two).  The first book in the series was The Name of This Book is Secret and featured the characters of Max Ernest and Cass, who were trying to uncover a secret.  I remember liking the narrator of the story, with his cautioning the reader, asides, foreshadowing and funny way that he would have a conversation with himself.  Think Lemony Snicket. 

Opening line:  "This book begins with a bad word."  

Okay, so that line certainly had me wondering what direction this book was going to go.  Well "bad words" are so bad aren't they?  But, Clay's older brother Max Ernest has a great way of explaining it to three year old Clay after he mistakenly says a "bad word", "bad words are bad because they make people feel bad.  That's what they do... And good words make people feel good...And magic words make people feel magic." Now your probably wondering, well then what does "bad magic" mean?  I was too, but you'll have to read the book to figure that one out for yourself.  He, he, now I feel bad.  

When Clay was eleven, Max Ernest (yep, the one from The Secret series by the same author, nice tie-in by the way disappeared without an explanation. Well, unless you count the note he sent saying that they wouldn't be hearing from him for awhile and not to worry.  Clay's brother, Max Ernest means the world to him, he's the one that inspired his interest in magic and they are bonded by the magic they enjoy.   So, when Clay is given an assignment by his language arts teacher Mr. Bailey to discuss the role of magic in the play The Tempest,  his leg gets to jittering and he gets a terrible case of writers block.  Magic was his and his brothers thing after all.   Mr. Bailey  then offers Clay a journal and says as long as he writes anything it it, he can get credit in class.  Clay thinks this is the answer to his prayers, but when the very thing he writes in the book ends up as graffiti on the wall at school, with his signature tag, Clay is immediately blamed.  Despite protesting his innocence, no one wants to listen to Clay.   Clay's parents are even sending him to Earth Ranch, a camp for "struggling youth" on a island with a volcano and llamas to take care of for the summer.  But Earth Ranch, isn't quite what it seems, there are ghosts, a dangerous volcano,  and even his cabin mates have secrets of their own.  

I liked how Bad Magic draws from Shakespeare's play The Tempest.  It made me want to go back and read the play.   Bosch did a wonderful job of providing just the right amount of details to give me an idea what the play is about though.   One of the biggest changes I found about Bad Magic, was that the narrator from the Secret's series wasn't as "talkative" in Bad Magic.  I think that's mostly because Bad Magic was more of an adventure/mystery story and Bosch used techniques that lend themselves to this sort of genre instead.   That doesn't mean he was absent, but Bosch's asides in Bad Magic seemed more as an educational tool, but not in a preachy kind of way, but more of a way to explain the origins of the pop culture references  of Gilligan's Island, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, and literary references like J.R.R. Tolkien,  Sherlock Holmes, and Shakespeare that he used in the story.  Bosch does still have conversations with himself, so he kept the humorous aspects I so enjoyed reading.  Especially the one at the beginning of the story about "bad words" that he elaborates on in the Appendix as well.   Overall, I really enjoyed Bad Magic, there is ample amounts of mystery, humor, and a diverse group of camp mates that make for an entertaining and educational read.  Bad Magic had a satisfying ending but also left room for another book.  

Friday, August 1, 2014

Review of Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

10194157From Goodreads:  "The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unraveling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?" 

 I first heard of this series during the tour for the third book, Ruin and Rising over at The Midnight Garden.  It seemed to have glowing reviews, and the discussion about the food inspirations for the series really peaked my interest. The setting of Ravka, an alternate Russia, also drew me in.  I'm happy to say Bardugo does a remarkable job in her descriptions of the world, so much so that you get the feel of its Russian influences. Yet, there are still qualities that make Ravka unique and gives the country a dark undertone, especially the Shadow Fold.  I've noticed that some high fantasies seem to have similar story structures and they are apparent in Shadow and Bone, an orphan with powers yet unknown to her, an epic struggle (with The Darkling) to prevent him from controlling all of Ravka, and an epic battle to come.  But even though we know that there is an epic battle going to happen, Bardugo throws in her own twists to the story.  I especially noticed these twists with the second book, Siege and Storm.  

14061955From Goodreads:  "Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm."

Sequels sometimes can be a hit or miss, Siege and Storm was defiantly a hit for me. I adored the additions of the privateer Sturmhond and his crew. And magical flying ships, well they sounded really cool.  Alina's and Sturmhond's  bantering was some of my favorite lines Bardugo wrote, they were amusing and playful and kept the story moving along beautifully.  I also loved the growth in Alina's character during Siege and Storm, although I keep wanting to remind her "don't go to the dark-side." Overall, I've enjoyed both of these books and each one gets more magical and the tension keeps rising.  With the addition of twists and turns that keep you guessing, and unresolved budding romances, well I'm already on the list for Ruin and Rising at the library.