Underworld

Underworld by Meg Cabot

I love this cover. It's gorgeous. And is it just me or is that the hottest forearm ever?Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn’t dead. Not this time.

But she’s been taken by John Hayden, lord of the Underworld, to the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

John claims it’s for her own safety, to protect her from the Furies who yearn for vengeance against him. But John may have reasons of his own for wanting to keep Pierce close…

And soon Pierce learns that while she might be safe from the wrath of the Furies in the Underworld, the people she loves back on earth are not. Can she convince John to release her in order to save the life of someone in her family? Or will the price he asks her to pay for her freedom turn out to be too high?

(from megcabot.com)

Warning: If you haven’t read Abandon, the first book in this series…what are you waiting for?  Get on it! 

The Story:

In this second book in the planned trilogy, Pierce awakens in the arms of John—Lord of the Underworld—in his bedroom that’s, well, in the Underworld.  Oh and did I mention that he’s shirtless?  BEST BEGINNING TO A BOOK EVER!

John has taken Pierce to his home, believing that she’s safer from the threat of the Furies while under his care.  While Pierce is tantalized at the idea of being with John—the man she truly loves—she’s devastated at the thought of being away from her family, especially her mom.  Despite the fact that he’s doing it to protect her, it still feels a little like Pierce is imprisoned.  And she soon realizes that while she’s safe from harm, her family is very much at risk because the Furies will do anything to get to her—even hurt her loved ones.

Pierce fears that her cousin,  Alex , is in danger and she convinces John to travel back to Isla Huesos with her; back to a town in an uproar over the recent hurricane and over the news that Pierce Oliviera has been kidnapped by a man who looks an awful lot like John (so he’s hot, right?).

John is still crazy sexy.  Pierce is drawn to him and he to her despite the roadblocks.  But John also continues to be very mysterious.  He’s keeping secrets about his dark past, secrets that Pierce is determined to find out. Secrets that Richard, the cemetery sexton believes she needs to know.  All of it begs the question, who can she trust and where is she really the safest?  Pierce doesn’t fear John anymore, but she wonders what he’s hiding. And John seems like a good guy, but underneath there is still that part of him that will do anything to keep her by his side.

My Take:

Is it not obvious already? I loved this book.  In fact, I think I loved it even more than the first (which is saying a lot because I crushed pretty hard on that one).  It’s lush and sexy and somewhat dark, all while remaining distinctively Meg Cabot.

Underworld continues to retell the myth of Persephone, yet Cabot spins it with her signature style, creating strong yet flawed heroines and extremely swoonworthy boys,  all written with humor and just the right tough of romance.  This series is edgier than Cabot’s other books, but it’s told with the fast-paced narration we’ve come to expect from her and it’s laced with funny moments.  Also, there are a few interesting mysteries unraveling this time around.  It was completely unputdownable (this IS a word).

One of the things I really appreciated about Underworld was the relationship between Pierce and John. It’s the heart of the story. John was a total enigma in the first book—sweeping in and out and rescuing Pierce, arguing with her, and always intriguing her, while somehow remaining out of reach.  In this book he really has a chance to shine.  We get to know him better (although he still maintains an air of mystery) and we see the love and attachment between him and Pierce really develop into a true, steamy, tingle in your toes romance.  Near the end I thought the pages were going to go up in flames. That’s how good it was between those two.

And romance aside, this is just a really good story that’s well-told.  Every chapter left me hungry for more, so much so that this book hasn’t even technically come out yet and I’m already falling all over myself dying for the sequel. And for more shirtlessness, let’s be honest.

Crush Intensity– 4.75/5 Read this book and love it like I did. Crush on John, continue to root for Pierce, and enjoy the eerie vibe and the mystery as it all plays out.

Memorable Quote:

“Do you really think bringing me here is going to make them just…stop?”

Because the rest of my worries were about precisely this.

“I don’t know,” he admitted. dipping his head to press his mouth to the back of my neck [INSERT TEE’S SIGH HERE]. I felt an immediate zing all along my veins, like his lips were carbonated or something. “This is the first time I’ve ever been in love with a girl who the Furies were trying to kill. But I know there’s nothing you can do to stop them. This is exactly where you belong. Where you’ve always belonged. And where I hope you’ll consider staying…this time.”

Sneaky Peek– Underworld is in stores May 8th. Until then, check out the two chapters available on Meg’s website, including the scene above!

I want to extend a huge thank you to Scholastic (and to Meg Cabot and her team) for sending me an Advance copy of Underworld. I mean, I know she didn’t send it to me personally, but hey, a fangirl can dream, right?  Thank you!

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Calling All Nerdypants

I just found out about a great opportunity for all of you aspiring authors out there.

Book Wish Foundation is hosting an essay contest where the winners will get a 50 page manuscript critique.  The contest centers around their new book What You Wish For, which has short stories from various authors, including my personal favorite, Meg Cabot.  More important, the proceeds from the sale of the book are being used to open up libraries in Darfuri refugee camps in Chad. Even if you don’t want to enter the contest, this is a fantastic cause to support.

Also, you guys, a critique from Laura Langlie (Meg Cabot’s agent!!!) is one of the prizes.  I know! Get writing, but first, check out all of the details below.

Win a literary agent or acclaimed author’s feedback on your unpublished manuscript for young adult or middle grade readers.  This rare opportunity is being offered to the six winners of an essay contest recently announced by the literacy charity Book Wish Foundation.  See http://bookwish.org/contest for full details.

You could win a manuscript critique from:

 

  • Laura Langlie, literary agent for Meg Cabot

 

  • Nancy Gallt, literary agent for Jeanne DuPrau

 

  • Brenda Bowen, literary agent and editor of Karen Hesse’s Newbery Medal winner Out of the Dust

 

  • Ann M. Martin, winner of the Newbery Honor for A Corner of the Universe

 

  • Francisco X. Stork, winner of the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award for The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

 

  • Cynthia Voigt, winner of the Newbery Medal for Dicey’s Song and the Newbery Honor for A Solitary Blue

 
All that separates you from this prize is a 500-word essay about a short story in Book Wish Foundation’s new anthology, What You Wish For.  Essays are due Feb. 1, 2012 and winners will be announced around Mar. 1, 2012.  If you win, you will have six months to submit the first 50 pages of your manuscript for critique (which means you can enter the contest even if you haven’t finished, or started, your manuscript).  You can even enter multiple times, with essays about more than one of the contest stories, for a chance to win up to six critiques.

If you dream of being a published author, this is an opportunity you should not miss.  To enter, follow the instructions at http://bookwish.org/contest.

Good luck and best wishes,

Logan Kleinwaks
President, Book Wish Foundation

What You Wish For (ISBN 9780399254543, Putnam Juvenile, Sep. 15, 2011) is a collection of short stories and poems about wishes from 18 all-star writers: Meg Cabot, Jeanne DuPrau, Cornelia Funke, Nikki Giovanni, John Green, Karen Hesse, Ann M. Martin, Alexander McCall Smith, Marilyn Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, Joyce Carol Oates, Nate Powell, Sofia Quintero, Gary Soto, R.L. Stine, Francisco X. Stork, Cynthia Voigt, Jane Yolen.  With a Foreword by Mia Farrow.  Book Wish Foundation is donating 100% of its proceeds from the book to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to fund the development of libraries in Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad.

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’d Die to Meet

by Tee

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: Top 10 Authors (Living or Dead) I’d Die to Meet.  Not as easy as it sounds, mainly because it’s hard to name only ten. So here is my list, though I’m sure I’ll kick myself later for forgetting someone vital.

1. Meg Cabot– Ok, in actuality, I’ve already met Meg Cabot Goddess of YA Literature and Creator of Michael Moscovitz Fake Man of My Dreams.  And yes, before you ask, I babbled on about Mr. Moscovitz like a total idiot, even saying he’s better than Mr. Darcy (which he IS. I mean, hello. Ever heard of a sense of humor Darcy?) and made her sign my Forever Princess book while all the other ten-year olds waited to have their Allie Finkle books signed (my little one among them).  In truth, she was very funny and gracious, she took her picture with us and gave my daughter–who dreams of being an author someday–lots of advice about writing.  Still, I’d love to be her new best friend meet her again someday. Obviously, I’m hoping some of her awesomeness will rub off on me, but I’d settle for another picture and signed book.

2. Jane Austen– I know I make fun of Mr. Darcy alot (ahem, like in the paragraph above), but I love the pants off Pride and Prejudice.  The whole story gets me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  And then, of course, there’s Emma, which is probably my favorite Austen novel because it’s so funny.  And Persuasion.  Can we talk about Captain Wentworth and his amazing, romantical letter at the end?  Swoon City!  Jane Austen found a way to be pro-female while still being humorous and romantic.  She, and let’s be honest, Mr. Darcy, are the standard by which romantic love stories/heroes are measured.

3. Harper Lee- Holy bananas, so do I need to say anything else except that she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird and, in doing so, created one of the greatest literary characters ever when she breathed life into Atticus Finch!!??!  And I’ve always loved that this beautiful book was written from the perspective of a child, rather than an adult.  It takes such a keen perception to get back to the innocence of childhood and to recall it so perfectly.

4. Charlotte Bronte- Two words: Jane Eyre.  Such a beautiful, perfect book that it has me on the edge of my seat with every reading, even though I know what happens.  Bronte wrote a great novel that was truly feminist (in a feminine way, meaning her character never had to revoke her femininity to rise above her circumstances) and showed me that even the most difficult circumstances can be overcome with grace and poise.  And she created Mr. Rochester, who I love like a crazy person (so like Bertha, only less stabby).

5. E. Lockhart– This woman exudes awesomeness. I mean, I don’t know her personally (sigh) but I love her books.  First off, she invented Frankie Landau Banks. Secondly, she wrote the Ruby Oliver series. She has a way of creating sweet, funny girls who, despite their insecurities (or perhaps because of them) are bold and lovable.  And funny. So, so funny.

6. CS Lewis– You guys, having gone to Christian school my whole life, I obviously knew about CS Lewis. As such, since everyone read The Chronicles of Narnia I, like a total idiot, refused.  It wasn’t until I was an adult and found out that the films were coming out (and seeing how awesome the first trailer looked) that I decided I’d better get on the ball and read them. And holy cow, I can’t believe I waited so long! I loved the story behind them (how he wrote them for his niece) and that they were sweet and magical enough for my young children to fall in love with, but interesting enough to keep my attention.  Beyond that, I read another of his books, Mere Christianity and was pretty much sold on him.

7. Roald Dahl- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was my favorite book growing up. I read it over and over and even now, watch the film quite often (the original one).  It wasn’t until my oldest child studied his other works in school that I realized how incredibly brilliant his books are.  Though Charlie is the pinnacle, there are so many fun, kooky stories.  His ideas were lively and unique and, even when I read them with my children, still feel as if they are magically transporting me.

8. Sarah Dessen– Girl Crush alert.  I love me some Dessen.  It’s not just that I think her blog or Twitter feeds are hilarious (though they are), or because she created Wes and Bert Baker (though they are both good reasons to throw Ms. Dessen some love).  No, it’s just because every time I read one of her novels, even if it deals with a tough subject, I want to crawl inside it. I love her words and am amazed at her talent.  Also, I heard she handed out whoopie pies at BEA and I’m very easily bought off by dessert.

9. Gayle Forman– Oh my goodness, I hope this woman writes thousands more books because I have absolutely loved her two most recent ones, If I Stay and Where She Went.  Yeah, I actually said in my review of Where She Went that I wanted to marry it.  Kind of embarrassing.  Hopefully if I ever meet her at a signing I don’t act like a complete idiot, but I’m not promising anything.

10. Judy Blume– You guys, Superfudge, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Blubber, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Are You There God?  It’s Me Margaret (the book that told be I’d get boobies if I worked at it.  It totally didn’t work, but it gave me hope)…  Judy Blume was with me during so much of my childhood.  Her stories made me laugh and smile and cringe in all the right ways and they made me feel as if someone understood me.