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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nightsweats in Bigelow Hollow by M.J. Claire

Hi there! ~waves~ Happy Wednesday to you all (or whatever day you happen to have read this post)!  November is more than half way through it's usual progression and boy, is it just me or has it really FLOWN by?  I mean Thanksgiving (here in the states) is just around the corner....Christmas not long after that.....and then it will be 2010!  Crazy, just crazy.  It seems to me it has been running a bit faster now since the retail stores put their next holiday merchandise out like 3 months in advance.  Seriously, I was shopping for a Halloween costume with an aisle of Christmas lawn decorations right behind.  I know the ecomony is bad and stores are trying to have things out sooner to get more face time, but really....that was rushing it a bit for me.  It almost has the opposite affect on me since I get easily bored looking at the same thing trip after trip and therefore would (and will to some extent) skip those aisles as time passes and the holiday's actually arrive.  (Boy, that was kind of ranty....hmmm, must check my holiday spirit meters....nope, in working order, oh well, perhaps that was the result of air trapped in the lines or something...) Moving on...

Today's post is a fun one to day the least, although it might run a bit on the long side (sorry, but consider this your fair warning).  It came to me through a connection made on Twitter (gotta love that little blue bird) with a smaller sized (hey, good things come in small packages) publishing company and a new release they were looking to have reviewed.  Now let me make myself clear, this review (all aspects) are in no way tainted (for better or worse) by this request, and the Review Policy I have listed in the sidebar links says as much, so they knew my feelings on the matter ahead of time.  (It's really the only fair way to create the post so that you, the readers, get my true thoughts on the title at hand.) (Wow, I am really ranty today.....)  The book of choice for today is....

Nightsweats in Bigelow Hollow
M.J. Claire

Kelly Black was your typical teenager.  Good grades, fairly decent life....up until her parents divorce that is.  Now she is caught in the middle of her own "epic battle" and the money she needs for college tuition is the prize being dangling in her face.  You would expect someone under this kind of stress to be a little on edge, but does that explain the very odd and yet oh-so-real dreams she's having?  You know the kind....the ones where you could have sworn they were real, except when you wake up, you are in one piece in the safety of your own room.  Kelly is not quite as lucky.  You see, after one particularly vivid dream which leaves her with three scratches on her hand even when you has awakened, she's a little concerned.  Concerned enough to notice, but too tired to care much about it right yet.  (been there, done that)  Off to bed she goes and when the bright rays of the morning sun dawning on a new day reach her eyes, she finds herself....well, definitely not in her bed.  She doesn't really know where exactly...I mean it looks like her local park, Bigelow Hollow, the one she dreamt about just last night, but different.  Almost wilder somehow....

Well, this quick assessment is soon confirmed when she meets the black cat that bestowed the parting gift on her during their last meeting.  It turns out this this same said cat can talk and is in no way an actual cat.  His name is Fargan and he is an Animelf.  (TINY SPOILER) An Animelf is part of an ancient elfin race that possess the ability to transform into any animal past, present, or future as they like. (OKAY, SPOILER OVER) He has brought the Princess back to their realm in order for her to help them in their quest to find Prince Callum and stop Morgrath from taking over their lands.  Whoa, whoa, whoa....back up a bit....Princess?  (Yep) Kelly Black as it turns out is the Princess to their realm.  Her mother was Queen before her and was banished (well, more like tricked or held captive) in the human realm thanks to an evil turn by Morgrath.  The fate of their world depends upon her....will Kelly be able to muster up the courage, strength, and let's face it, belief to save them all?

That's about as far as I can take you in the actual storyline because I really don't want to ruin it for future readers of the book....and if you've read my blog before, you know how wordy I get when I really like something.  Let's start "my" portion of this review by addressing the cover.  The title was a little odd when I heard it (definitely fits the books though), so the cover had to work a little harder to catch my eye.  At first glance, I wasn't so sure.  It seemed more like a mix of non-connecting pictures that didn't make any particular sense to me (at the time...again, after reading the book, it makes sense).  So what drew me in?  Well, prior to reading the synopsis, there was one thing that worked for me....the little Yorkie dog that the girl is holding on to.  Yep, that was it.  That little face peekingout amongst all the other images, made me wonder, why he was there to begin with?  Although his role is small (not due to his size, just more of his importance) in the book, he does hold his own in his appearance, which leaves me to believe that was perhaps the reason his character graces the cover.  Speaking of characters...

The cast of characters in this book are definitely reminiscent of the classic Lord of the Rings epic.  Travellers from different realms on a quest to destroy the evil trying to capture their lands and people before it destroys them.  (Sound a little familiar?) There's a wizard or magical being of sorts, strange animals that work both for and against them, even Grulag's which in description reminded me alot of the trolls and ogre-ish creatures from it's predecessor.  That's not to say it's a carbon copy of this tale....quite the opposite, actually.  Whereas LOTR was written many many moons ago in a literary language more befitting adults or seasoned readers of the fantasy/classic genre, this title is decidedly Young Adult.  The crusader is also a young girl as opposed to a male there is even a stamp of animal activism seen within the story.  (TINY SPOILER) Her father ends up being involved in animal testing.  There are several scenes where she has to confront the reality of this and what to do to aid in stopping it. (SPOILER OVER AGAIN...please return to your regularly scheduled reading...)

All in all, I enjoyed the ride.  It wasn't exactly what I thought it would be when I first picked it up, but in actuality, I think I liked it more so because of this fact.  Kelly meets life, love, and death (not necessarily in that order!) and comes out better for it on the other side.  (Yes, that was purposely have to read it to know what I mean!)  Recommended for readers of Young Adult fiction and everyone from lovers to dabblers in the fantasy genre.

Special thanks to Elizabeth at March Books for the ARC for review purposes!  (THANKS!)  A little information about the publisher as listed in the galley copy itself....they are a GREEN publisher!  No, this doesn't mean that they don't value a good old-fashioned paper book (hello...that's what the galley was!), it means that they employ the benefits of the print-on-demand type services being offered at many locations.  When the book is requested, the book is printed, thus allowing only those trees that need to be used, to actually be used.  As stated in the beginning of this post, my connection to them was first made on Twitter, so feel free of course to check them out there for this and other great titles.

Young Adult fiction tends to run the gambit of subjects.  Life, love, dead, immortals, and on and on it goes.  In light of this book, here is my question for you.....Do you have a favorite subject matter when reading?  I mean do you find yourself reaching time and again for books about the same thing just with a new twist?  If so, do share!  If not, what makes you "shake things up"?

Until next time....happy reading!


Dreamybee said...

Okay, I'll keep this short, I promise! I enjoyed your review, and your comment creator question. I'm not sure I have a favorite subject matter. I'm always intrigued by WWII material, but my reading ranges far and wide outside of that.

GMR said...

Dreamybee: LOL. Never worry about the length...comments are welcome! =0)
Thank you for the kind words! Oooh....history is generally not my forte, however I dabble now and again. Thanks for sharing!

Aarti said...

I pretty much always grab ANY book relating to Georgian or Regency England that is non-fiction. I just like having them. I don't always read them, but that period is my weakness :-)

GMR said...

Aarti: Ahhh...another historical read fan. Yes, books set in that particular time period due tend to be popular....I wonder what the draw is overall....??

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