31 October 2011

I'm Feeling Friendly and Giving Giveaway

Like the title says, I am feeling friendly and giving so I have decided to do a giveaway. You have the opportunity to win TWO ARCs:

Perception (Clarity #2) by Kim Harrington
Wings of the Wicked (Angelfire #2) by Courtney Allison Moulton

Please read my contest policy before entering!

This giveaway is only open to the US! Sorry for this international friends. It's expensive and I don't have the extra money right now.

This is my first time using Rafflecopter, so you might not be familiar with it either. Some things to note:
  • I would prefer you not use your real name. It will be viewable by everyone. A nickname or alias is preferable.
  • On the other hand, I am the only one to see your email address. Please make sure it is correct, as this is how I will be contacting you.
The winner will be announced on this post once the contest ends.

Review: Fracture

Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine—despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she’s far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can’t control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she’s reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy’s motives aren’t quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature—or something much more frightening?

I call this year the Year of Debut Authors (granted this book comes out in 2012, but I'll include it anyway). I feel like there have been more and more new authors this year than most. I don't know why. Maybe I'm just noticing this more since starting a book review blog. Anyway, most of the debut books I've read have been, surprisingly, pretty good (maybe I've been lucky?) and Fracture by Megan Miranda is no exception. In fact, I would put Fracture above most. It does not read like a first time novel and I would never have guessed that Miranda didn't go to school for writing but for biology (you mean she didn't just get her MFA in creative writing?? Blasphemy!)

Even with the paranormal aspect, the world felt realistic. Delaney's new ability just...fit. I loved being inside Delaney's head as she struggled through her thoughts and her mixed emotions about coming back from death. This book would not have had the same effect if it had been told in the third person. I had to put Fracture down a few times and not because it was bad but because it was breaking my heart. See, I have this thing, I think it's called anxiety, where for example, I can become anxious when two people I like argue and it's not resolved right away. I felt like that while reading. That's how attached I became to Delaney and her friend Dekker and the other characters. Miranda's characters were true and the story kept me through until the end.

It's hard for me to put more thoughts into words, but I really loved this book. It was heart-breaking, tragic, and beautiful. And look at that cover! Fits the story wonderfully, so kudos to its creator and publishing team.

I look forward to what Megan Miranda writes next. And she'd better write something next!

30 October 2011

In My Mailbox (1)

Please excuse my poor graphic above. You know I made it because it looks...poor. Work in progress! 

This is my first time participating in "In My Mailbox!" "In My Mailbox" is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren to share books we got in the mail or the library or the bookstore, etc.


Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey
Tempest by Julie Cross
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Hourglass by Myra McEntire
The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell


Witchlanders by Lena Coakley


Dark Eyes by William Richter
This One Time with Julia by David Lampson
A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink
7 Clues to Winning You by Kristin Walker

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin
Try Not to Breathe by Jennifer R. Hubbard
The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Ghost Flower by Michele Jaffe

I really want to thank my rep at Penguin (and Penguin!), for sending me the ARCs! Greatly appreciated! 

What books have you gotten this week??

26 October 2011

Review: Heist Society

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

I'm a little late joining the Ally Carter party, so please forgive me as I would like to one day be inducted into the Gallagher Girl club. All I ask for is more reading time! Heist Society is the first book I have read by Carter and I found it to be a fun and enjoyable read! It's almost like the author is tapped into what teen girls want and then gives it to them. Weeeird. Most importantly, I now know how to steal priceless paintings from high security museums. I just need to put together a great team. Let's see, I've got me, my two cats (wow, I'm already a "lonely" lady with cats) and, um, maybe the next guy who picks my pocket? He has to be cute though. I don't want no ugly people working with me.

I feel like it's impossible for anyone to hate the characters in Heist Society except for the ones you're supposed to hate. Loved Kat and Hale and the whole crew. I like Kat's and Hale's "will they or won't they" romance. Though I think the question is more of a WHEN. I love it. Heist Society is a great breezy book and I love all of its wit and quirk. It's sort of like a younger version of Ocean's Eleven and I love that movie. Why isn't this book a movie? Just let me know and I will write it for you. For seriousness.

So if you're looking for a good time...it's in most libraries and has been released in paperback, no excuses. 

24 October 2011

Review: Desert Angel

One morning, fourteen-year-old Angel wakes up at her isolated trailer home deep in the California desert to find that her mother has been murdered. Angel knows the killer: her mom's boyfriend, a tweaker lowlife named Scotty, who has vanished. She also knows that Scotty, an expert tracker, will surface soon to eliminate her as a witness.

Angel has no water, no weapon, but she is good at making herself scarce. On her own, she may not make it. Then she stumbles across a shadow community of people willing to help her. These tough, secretive outsiders are exactly the kind of people Angel needed to find - forcing her to trust others for the first time, strengthening her in ways she will have to discover...because Scotty is closing in.

I feel like it's been forever since I read a book that wasn't paranormal in some way. I kept waiting for Angel to use her super strength or her ability to see the future through dreams to get her out of her situation, but to no avail. No supernatural abilities aside (thank goodness!), Desert Angel was fantastic. It starts out with bang and keeps on going until you reach the end. I feel like it slowed a little at some point between the beginning and the middle, but it was only a little. The anxiety I felt and continued to feel throughout made up for it. Once I started, I knew I had to finish it in one sitting.

Charlie Price did a fantastic job of creating a main character with very real psychological issues that would take years in a therapist's office and possibly some medication to fix. I find, in the current market, it's a rare young adult book that deals with neglect, abuse, sexual abuse, and an insane murderous mother's boyfriend in a very real way (or deals with it at all). My roommate is a social worker so I hear stories...

All of the characters in Desert Angel are very well thought out and even the background characters are given their own personalities and aren't drawn to be stereotypes. The environment was detailed, as well. I live in California but have never been anywhere near the desert. Well, I don't have to go now.

Someone who is probably a friend: "Angie, let's go to Joshua Tree!"
Me: "No thanks, I read Desert Angel and feel like I've already been there. Plus, I hate camping."

That's how the conversation would go.

I really enjoyed Price's writing style. I haven't read his other work, so I realize I have nothing to compare Desert Angel to, but I went to the library today and checked out The Interrogation of Gabriel James which won the 2011 Edgar Award. Very excited!

P.S. Because of the mature content of the book, I would recommend it for older teens and adults.

23 October 2011

Review: Sweet Venom

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster. 

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though. 

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

Sweet Venom reminds me of a first act of a screenplay (this is where my TV background comes into play). It is the first 25-30 pages that are supposed to set up the movie and take you into the second act which is where the conflict begins. In the case of Sweet Venom, the first act is one book and it's about 350 or so pages long. And you know what? It wasn't boring! Even though the story really starts at the end of the book, I was thoroughly entertained.

The triplets have very distinct personalities and I liked that if I forgot to read the name of the narrator at the beginning of each chapter, I was still able to tell who was speaking. The writing is fun. The romances are tame (and still fun!) with a lot of room for growth. I liked this too, as the couples didn't immediately "fall into bed" with each other (pardon my risqué term, I'm feeling spicy).

It was a quick and enjoyable read and I'm looking forward to the next one! Hopefully it comes out tomorrow, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

17 October 2011

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before.

If you look at the starred reviews for Anna Dressed in Blood, you'll see people are crazy about this book. I, on the other hand, am daring to go against the grain and wish to express my disappointment. This book didn't scare me at all and I'm a gal who can get scared pretty easily. Examples:
  • The film posters for The Last Exorcism that came out last year terrified me and those were just pictures.
  • You know those moments in movies when things get tense and quiet and, as an audience member, you know that something "scary" is going to happen? Something that the movie makers are hoping will make you jump? Yeah, even when I know something is going to pop out at me, I jump. Every. Time.
This book is more like a slasher movie than a paranormal one. I found myself muttering "gross" more than actually being scared. If you like splatter films, then this book may have more appeal. Even though the scare factor wasn't there for me, I think the ghost story in Anna Dressed in Blood is fabulous. I found Anna, herself, to be immensely fascinating and she quickly became my favorite character. As for the other characters, mainly the minor ones, I found them to be stereotypes. I always knew who was going to die because Kendare Blake didn't give them their own personality.

Another thing that bothered me was the romance between Cas and Anna. I didn't feel it at all. In fact, it made me feel weird and squishy inside. It's a hard thing to write - love between a living human being and a dead person. Blake didn't quite achieve it for me.

I really hated writing this opinion. I wanted to love this book, I really did. I also wasn't aware it was going to be a series until I reached the end. This would have made for a great single book, I know it would have, but with it being a series things were left out and I found it to be lacking. I finished it, so I didn't dislike it and it obviously it kept me reading, but the book didn't achieve the 4 or 5 stars I was hoping to give it. Anna Dressed in Blood is more like a 3 for me, and this gives me a sad face. 

13 October 2011

Review: The Space Between

Synopsis by Goodreads:

Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time, until her brother Obie is kidnapped - and Daphne realizes she may be partially responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying. With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie's whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world where human is the hardest thing to be.

I loved this book. The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff stands out among its genre (the supernatural one).

The Space Between is a dark and heavy novel. It stomped on my heart many times, but there is enough humor to balance it all out. It would make me laugh or smile on one page, then on another it would make my heart hurt. What makes this novel different is it shows demons in a different light. A good light. Are there evil ones? Of course. In fact, the majority of the demons in Hell are not good peeps, but Daphne and her brother Obie are different from the others; they stand out among the bad. I never would have guessed I would ever read a book where I was rooting for the demons and not the angels.

Even with its supernatural elements, The Space Between feels realistic. I love that. It deals with depression and suicide in a very real way. I felt empathy for Truman. I felt for Daphne. I felt for Obie. The book is vivid in its descriptions and the writing is heartfelt. Another thing I loved, the romance between Daphne and Truman didn't feel rushed, and the whole story takes place within 3 days! Yovanoff slowly brings Daphne and Truman together in, again, 3 days (!!) when in other books, the romances can feel rushed and fake.

I'm surprised that the publisher recommends this book for ages as young as 12. Maybe it's changed since the release of the ARC, but I feel that this book is not for young teens. It deals with mature issues and there is a bit of hotness in a shower (and I'm not talking about the temperature of the water). I just wouldn't feel comfortable recommending this novel to a 7th grader.

Lastly, you know what else is nice? Reading a complete stand-alone novel. With all the trilogies being released, there isn't a feeling I find more satisfying than not having to read another book to continue the story. No cliffhanger. Let's all breath a sigh of relief.

08 October 2011

Review: Variant

By courtesy of the back of the book:

Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be a ticket out of his dead-end life. He was wrong. Now he's trapped in a school surrounded by a razor-wire fence, where video cameras monitor his every move - and where breaking the rules equals death. When he stumbles upon the school's real secret, he realizes that escape may be impossible.

I found Variant to be a fast-paced and exciting dystopian thriller. I would have read it all in one sitting if I could have. In fact, I hated myself every time I had to put it down and I don't think my self-esteem will ever recover. But you know what? It was worth it.

I really really liked Variant (really really??) and I honestly don't know what else to say about it. Robison Wells did a great job on the action and suspense. The atmosphere inside the school had a very "Lord of the Flies" vibe to it and the whole scenario felt realistic, that is, until a certain twist around the middle of the book which I will not name here. And then there was the other twist at the end...Okay, the book was full of turning points and I loved every minute of it. There were a few times I wanted to personally kick some doors down at that school and let the kids free. "BE FREE, MY CHILDREN!" is what I would scream. And then I would hug them and make them call me Aunt Angie.

Regarding the ending, Variant's cliffhanger is either one of the worst cliffhangers ever or one of the best. I felt the exact same way about Bick's ASHES, so if you've read that then you know how I'm feeling right now.

Can't wait for the second in the series! I recommend that you let Variant replace that hole in your heart once you finish The Maze Runner trilogy.

06 October 2011

The Name of the Star Giveaway Winner

The winner of my giveaway, the one who gets a copy of Maureen Johnson's newest novel The Name of the Star is...

Emma B.!! And guess what? She has a blog! Check it out at: http://www.novelminded.blogspot.com/

Congratulations Emma! I hope you enjoy the book!

I had many entries, more than I thought I would receive for my first contest (thanks for your support everyone!), but it won't be my only giveaway. I have a special ARC of a new book that isn't set for release until March 2012, so watch out for it! I am set to give it away once I receive 100 followers on my blog. The sooner I receive the followers, the sooner you find out what it is!

Oh, and if anyone is curious, the most popular answer to "what is your favorite YA novel" was Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.

04 October 2011

Review: White Crow

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Some secrets are better left buried; some secrets are so frightening they might make angels weep and the devil crow. Thought provoking as well as intensely scary, White Crow unfolds in three voices. There's Rebecca, who has come to a small, seaside village to spend the summer, and there's Ferelith, who offers to show Rebecca the secrets of the town...but at a price. Finally, there's a priest whose descent into darkness illuminates the girls' frightening story. White Crow is as beautifully written as it is horrifically gripping. A modern gothic thriller about what awaits us after death - angels or the devil.

Hey! Hey, guys! Remember in my last review when I said I was going to find a happy book to read? Well I guess I immediately forgot and said "ooh!" when my eyes fell on White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick. Dang you White Crow and your awesome cover.

First warning, do not start this book if you do not have the time to finish it in one sitting. I have been severely punished for doing this. All day. I began White Crow last night and got about half way through before I had found a place where I could safely stop. That spot I found seemed to be the only place to stop. Unbeknownst, I went to work and began to read it on my lunch break and the book got INTENSE. I don't think I've ever had this much anxiety over a novel before. I feel really bad for the first customer I had to help after lunch...

Second warning, the book has a very slow suspenseful build-up, which I didn't mind. I liked it, actually, because it made the action towards the end that much more exciting. I also really enjoyed how Sedgwick chooses to show and not tell. We don't get Rebecca's full back story at the very beginning and we don't get Ferelith's either. Their individual histories are revealed piece by piece until you have it all at the finish.

Third warning, the book is quite graphic in its gore. It's not a gory book, per se, but there are two scenes that I remember vividly and the first occurred while I was eating lunch. With the anxiousness I was already feeling, I ended up putting my lunch away.

The books gothic atmosphere and philosophical ideas of religion, the afterlife, and science make me recommend this to older teens. I'm not saying it's too smart for the younger ones, but the pacing may be a bit too slow for them. White Crow is not a book with a clean "wrap it all up in a bow" ending. Its intention is to make you think about you've just read. Also, the book is just plain creepy.

So, with that all said, there was just something missing for me when I finished it. I know, it doesn't make sense, right? I don't know why and it's so frustrating! If you've read it, I'm curious as to your own opinions. Maybe you can figure out what it is that left it feeling incomplete for me. And no, it was not the ending.

03 October 2011

Review: Madapple

Synopsis provided by Goodreads:

The secrets of the past meet the shocks of the present. Aslaug is an unusual young woman. Her mother has brought her up in near isolation, teaching her about plants and nature and language—but not about life. Especially not how she came to have her own life, and who her father might be. When Aslaug’s mother dies unexpectedly, everything changes. For Aslaug is a suspect in her mother’s death. And the more her story unravels, the more questions unfold. About the nature of Aslaug’s birth. About what she should do next. About whether divine miracles have truly happened. And whether, when all other explanations are impossible, they might still happen this very day. Addictive, thought-provoking, and shocking, Madapple is a page-turning exploration of human nature and divine intervention-and of the darkest corners of the human soul.

This here's a thinkin' book. Seriously, I've been thinking about it since I finished it. And that wasn't a few minutes ago.

Firstly, I don't know what genre to put Madapple in. It's in its own category that I have named "disturbing-not really YA-makes you feel not warm and fuzzy inside" genre. I know one thing, this book is going to be a hard sell at my store. It deals with many, if not all, taboo issues and is not for everyone (i.e. probably a lot of people).

I don't even know if I can find the words to review it. I can tell you that Madapple is incredibly thought out, was immensely researched, and the characterizations are incredible. But, it's not a book you close after finishing and say to yourself  "I really enjoyed that!" It's more a book where, after, you can't think of anything to say, your mind becomes a bit numb, and you end up staring at the nearest wall for 10 minutes. But not in a bad way.  ;)

To sound hypocritical with what I just said, it was an amazing book. I do think it slowed down a bit in the middle. Luckily, it eventually picks up again and when it does, hang on because it gets CRAZY and in a good way, if you like feeling uncomfortable. If you are not easily offended and aren't looking for a feel-good story, then I would give this a try. It's a smart book; a thinking book.

I'm off to my bookshelf to find a happy novel now. I need some happy.

01 October 2011

Maggie Stiefvater Author Event: Los Angeles

So, in case you don't follow me on Twitter (@MeReadGood) you probably haven't heard that Maggie Stiefvater will be having an author event at the store I work for! I am very very excited that this worked out for us and, obviously, want as many people to come as possible. Please pass this along if you know of anyone who would be interested in attending! I've added the flyer which has more information. If you have any other questions, you can contact me at beneaththejacket [at] gmail [dot] com or you can call the store for details. Number is below.

Review: Legacy

Synopsis by Goodreads:

When her widowed father dumps 16-year-old Katy Jessevar in a boarding school in Whitfield, Massachusetts, she has no idea that fate has just opened the door to both her future and her past. Nearly everyone in Whitfield is a witch, as is Katy herself, although she has struggled all her life to hide her unusual talents. Stuck at a boarding school where her fellow studens seem to despise her, Katy soon discovers that Whitfield is the place where her mother commited suicide under mysterious circumstances when Katy was just a small child. With dark forces converging on Whitfield, it’s up to Katy to unravel her family’s many secrets to save the boy she loves and the town itself from destruction.

I've decided to stop summarizing the books I review. Why do it when someone else can do it for me (and better!)?

It's been forever, literally forever, since I've been able to read a book that wasn't for my English class. Now that my thesis is out of the way, I got to read something I wanted to! Yayness. My first choice? Legacy by Molly Cochran.

Once I started Legacy, I couldn't put it down. I thought it was a bit predictable at times, or at least it was for me because I'm the smartest person in the world, but I didn't care in the least. The humor is dry just the way I like it (from now on I'm calling "world peace" "world peach"), I loved the characters, and the suspense was...suspenseful! I also found it to be darker than I was expecting, which to me, I thoroughly fancy because my heart is made of darkness. Oh, and it has one of those awesome epic romances that are so epic they'll only ever exist in your mind. It was awesome. I want a Peter.

All in all, it was an enjoyable book that entertained me all the way through!

RELEASE DATE: December 20, 2011