09 November 2012

Review: Through To You

Through To You by Emily Hainsworth
Publication date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

THROUGH TO YOU is a fascinating concept and I am all for a different kind of story and setting, especially in a YA novel. But (There's a but?), the main character kind of ruined it for me.

I didn't like Camden. I'm fine with teen angst, I understand his reasons for emoting, but not when it takes up the entire book and he doesn't change. Also, he doesn't seem like the brightest crayon in the box. Half the time, I wanted to smack him upside his head. It took him forever to figure out things that were happening. A book is not fun for me if I've figured something out chapters before a character and then have to read along as he comes to the incorrect conclusions, even when it was just explained to him. Yes, denial plays a big part in this, but I felt like it was there as a plot device that eventually became annoying. I just couldn't connect with him.

I also couldn't feel the connection that Camden had to Viv. About nine-five percent of the time, when Camden remembered Viv, it was about her body or a moment where they made-out, or a place or thing that reminded him when they made-out. It felt more like obsession and lust than actual romance. At one point, I thought maaaaybe that was the author's intention, but I still don't know. And even if that was the author's intention, why would I want to root for the protagonist, or feel pity for him, if it's not about love? Isn't that the point? It doesn't make sense, which is why I felt, and still feel, really stupid; like I translated his feelings incorrectly. I usually consider myself extremely empathetic (I cried during the movie Elf!!), but I just didn't connect. Who knows, maybe I was right the whole time. I don't know.

In spite of the disconnect I felt with Camden and his relationships, the book still had me reading until I got to the end. I may have guessed a lot of the twists, but I couldn't really predict some of the choices that would be made. Also, I really was fascinated by the idea of parallel worlds and enjoyed the author's interpretation of them (I'm kind of a quantum physics geek.).

On a side note: Cam's best friend, Mike. What a freaking amazing friend.

05 November 2012

Review: Draw the Dark

Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick
Publication date: October 1, 2010
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books

There are things in Winter, Wisconsin, folks just don't talk about. The murder way back in '45 is one. The near-suicide of a first-grade teacher is another. And then there is 17-year old Christian Cage. Christian's parents disappeared when he was a little boy, and ever since he's drawn and painted obsessively, trying desperately to remember his mother. The problem is Christian doesn't just draw his own memories. He can draw the thoughts of those around him. Confronted with fears and nightmares they'd rather avoid, people have a bad habit of dying. So it's no surprise that Christian isn't exactly popular. What no one expects is for Christian to meet Winter's last surviving Jew and uncover one more thing best forgotten the day the Nazi's came to town. Based on a little-known fact of the United States' involvement in World War II, Draw the Dark is a dark fantasy about reclaiming the forgotten past and the redeeming power of love.

I love the ASHES trilogy, so I was expecting to love DRAW THE DARK, but I ended up being a little disappointed (Not too much, though.).

This is a “Bick” book, so don't expect rainbows and pony rides. Like ASHES, DRAW THE DARK takes place in a pretty dark environment: a murder mystery, deaths, blood, Nazis, intense bullying that borderlines on evil. Okay, it's not borderline. It's evil. Christian has the power to draw people's nightmares for crying out loud. I, for one, always enjoy a setting of a small town where everyone knows everyone's business and townspeople keep secrets secretive. Christian, the outcast of the town, due to a suicide he was blamed for as a child (and some other accidents), finds himself in the middle of an old murder case. It has apparently been solved and no one wants to talk about it. Through Christian's “special skill” he discovers clues piece by piece that tell him the murder is anything but a closed case. Now here is the only big issue I had with the book: when an information “bomb” would be dropped, I already knew what the information was before the characters discovered it. I'm not saying these discoveries were predictable in the sense of “Pssh, I figured that out pages ago.” The problem was that I was surprised, most of the time, that the big reveal was an actual big reveal. It was more like, when there was a reveal, I thought to myself, “Oh. I thought we already knew that.” It left me scratching my head because I knew those moments were supposed to make me gasp or raise my eyebrows in surprise, but I assumed the reader would already know this info from signs or previous conversations between characters. I wish I could give examples, but I like to keep my reviews spoiler free and that's the best way to enjoy this book. I just hope what I explained makes sense...

Other than that, I enjoyed the story and the characters. Christian is a good example of how to write teen angst and not over do it. He is also a very complex principal which adds something extra to the story. The secondary characters weren't so bad themselves; I found each of them just as interesting. Along with the main mystery, I liked the added mystery involving the sideways place and sometimes found myself wanting to learn more about it at the times when, well, we weren't.

It's a quick read with plenty of surprising moments (yes, I could be surprised!). If you're looking for a good, dark and grisly mystery, check this one out!

12 October 2012

Review: Stormdancer

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Publication date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her. But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

I finished Stormdancer a little more than a week ago. I guess I could have written a review for another book before now, but I didn't want to lose my focus on this one. I'm making all of this sound very serious with a dash of mystery. My apologies. There is something I had an issue with and I've been trying to figure out a respectful way to explain it. Basically, here's what my thoughts and feelings come down to:

I thought the book was just okay.

One of the things I enjoyed, is Jay Kristoff's steampunk Asian world; a world of war, politics, pollution, and advanced machinery. I enjoyed a lot of the characters, but mainly Buruu--oh my goodness Buruu, he steals the show, in my opinion. And while I like Yukiko well enough by herself, it's the relationship between her and Buruu that make the book for me; I found the progression of their relationship to be well done. Also, I loved the history and folklore that Kristoff created for Shima

I've always been drawn to Japanese history and culture (It's second to my Anglophilia.); I've always found it fascinating. Now, I realize that this is a fantasy book, and for that, I believe liberties can be taken. But I do not believe liberties can be taken when they can be considered disrespectful to a culture. The world of Stormdancer is a mishmash of Asian culture. From some other reviews, people have had issue with this, but I'm okay with it. If that makes me an ignorant white westerner, then so be it. Out of this cultural mishmash, I think it is clear that Kristoff mainly chose to use Japanese influences, i.e., the language, the country of Shima, the clothing, weapons, etc. Herein lies the problem for me. If an author is going to draw upon a culture that is not their own, I would assume that they would use the language and terms from said culture or country correctly. Kristoff does not (I could go into details, but that would make this review very long and there are other reviewers, and angry ones at that!, that have explained how.). In fact, I lost respect for him as an author when I found out he got all of his information from anime/manga and Wikipedia. That, to me, is what I find the most disrespectful and rather lazy. Wikipedia is not the be-all and end-all of information. I use it too, but not for, what should be, in-depth research.

Stormdancer is also extremely verbose and overly so. I get wanting to set up environment and surroundings, but Kristoff goes so far as to repeat things he's already described in the scene. The information is just phrased differently each time. I actually found myself skimming passages and this is something I rarely do. Other than that: I found the characters interesting, the invented machinery creative and fascinating, BURRU!, but ultimately it's not a book that's going to stay with me. It could be a book that could stay with you, though! From all the reviews out there, I'm apparently in a minority, but I'm used to being there so...

19 September 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine which asks what book we're most looking forward to.

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
Publication date: April 2013
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world). Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot's dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth. As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds -- through an accidental gap that hasn't appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called "color storms;" a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the "Butterfly Child," whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses...

I love her Ashbury High books, so I'm really looking forward to this one!

What are you waiting for?

17 September 2012

Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island

Publication date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
This book was provided to me by Knopf/Random House for review.
On remote Rollrock Island, men go to sea to make their livings—and to catch their wives. The witch Misskaella knows the way of drawing a girl from the heart of a seal, of luring the beauty out of the beast. And for a price a man may buy himself a lovely sea-wife. He may have and hold and keep her. And he will tell himself that he is her master. But from his first look into those wide, questioning, liquid eyes, he will be just as transformed as she. He will be equally ensnared. And the witch will have her true payment.

This. Book. Is. Gorgeous. Seriously, guys. I don't want to insult other YA books because it's not my intention, but The Brides of Rollrock Island is purely literary and extremely thematic. It can be a difficult read; I admit to struggling at times with the language and prose and having to reread passages again just to make sure I understood it. This isn't a book one speeds through because you'll want to take your time and experience everything.

Lanagan takes folklore of the selkies and writes a new legend with this book. I have never read anything like it. The story is told through the voices of a chosen few who live on Rollrock Island. Each and every one of the characters is so distinct and they all have faults; you'll find no Mary Sue inside. I love that sometimes while reading, I'd feel sympathetic for a character and then on the next page I'd do a one-eighty and think "nevermind, you're a jerk and I hate you and I don't feel sorry for you and you make horrible choices and did I mention you're a jerk?" And then later I'd do another one-eighty and think "I am so sorry I called you a jerk and I guess I can forgive you for what you did as long as you don't do it again and I hope you learned your lesson." There are some non-sympathetic characters in this, yo.

The difficulty of the language and the themes of the story could be a hindrance and go over some heads. I say could be, because it really all depends on the reader.

And a warning for those who care, there are quite a few sexual situations, but it's not the gratuitous kind and I, personally, feel it fits with the storytelling.

06 September 2012

Review: Brightly Woven

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
Publication date: March 23, 2010
Publisher: Egmont
The day the rains came was like any other, blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness....Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country - and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets - about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North's sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself? Through a journey that spans a country, magic and hard-won romance are woven together with precision and brilliant design by a first-time novelist.

How cute is Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken? MEGA-cute. And so much fun! I picked it up after reading an ARC of The Darkest Minds, also by Bracken. I loved The Darkest Minds (review to come closer to release date) and had to pick up her previous work. I'm so glad I did!

I found the author's writing to be quite...convincing. Does that make sense? Hmm, let me explain: Bracken succeeded at poking my heart, making me grow feelings for the main characters, and having me become obsessed with Sydelle's and North's romantic developments. Sometimes it felt like I was reading a gossip magazine following Sydelle and North. Those two have so many ups and downs, yo. I NEEDED to know what was going to happen with them and when. Good job, Bracken. You got me invested (obsessed).

This is a romance. Or at least that's how it came across to me. Brightly Woven may be a fantasy book, but I wouldn't recommend it to all fantasy fans. If you love your fantasy with world building, this is not the book for you. I will admit, I found the lack of location description to be disappointing and I felt the book location hopped a lot. Sometimes I felt like I missed precious time between North and Sydelle while they were travelling:

North: "We need to get to "Blah blah" in two weeks. We're losing precious time!"
Sydelle: "Yay, we're here!"

Please excuse my poor, horribly made-up example. My point: what happened during those two weeks? I kind of want to know! I guess what I'm trying to say is that I feel like the transitions could have been a bit smoother. But other than that, I really enjoyed the book. This is a fantastic recommend for fans of Shannon Hale. I also loved that the book is pretty clean and is a great option for those 10-11 year olds who want to read YA, but aren't quite ready yet. 

30 August 2012

I'm coming back!

The blog title says it all! I shall be returning on Thursday, September 6th so watch out! It's going to be some more of the amazing-ness I had before I took a break. I believe I have figured out the balance of blogging and keeping a personal life. I will no longer be putting pressure on myself to post as many reviews a week as I was before and will stop trying to keep up with how often other blogs post. My blog is my blog and I should run it the way I feel comfortable. I love blogging and want to continue doing so. So I am! Oh, how I have missed it!

14 May 2012

Taking Some Vacation Time

Dear readers,

As you may have noticed, this blog has been lacking in posts recently. This is due to two reasons:

1. Burnout. Recently, reviewing and posting have begun to feel like homework. Blogging has lost the fun it used to have for me so I'll be taking a step back from my blog and giving myself a rest. I think this is what's best for me and my readers.

2. I am currently helping a friend who is in charge of many book clubs and this has taken up more of my time. That sounds like a complaint, but it's not. It's fun. And I like being helpful. Anyway, this has led to a drop in the number of YA titles I'm currently able to read.

What does all of this mean? I'm taking a vacation. I'm not stopping, I'm just taking a break. Do I know when I'll be back? No. But I'll still be visiting blogs, interacting on Twitter, and posting here when I feel inspired. So I'll still be around!! I'm not disappearing for forevers! I appreciate your patience and hope I don't lose the support of the followers, readers, and friends that I have made since I began blogging.

I LOVE YOU! <--creepy on purpose


04 May 2012

Review: ReVamped

ReVamped by Ada Adams
Publication date: February 20, 2012
Publisher: Copy provided by the author
Nineteen-year-old vampire Dawn has led a sheltered life within the confines of her father’s presidential headquarters. Upon being sent on a mission to revamp four goofy misfits into guardians of a peaceful little town of Angel Creek, Dawn believes that all her dreams have finally come true. What starts off as a simple task, turns into something unexpected, changing Dawn’s life forever and leading the action-loving, thrill-seeking vampire teen on a path of mystery, danger and intrigue. When a human girl is kidnapped by a group of rogue vamps, Dawn discovers that there is more going on in Angel Creek than meets the eye. And it all connects to Ethan, the cute newcomer who seems too perfect to be true, Sebastian, the mysterious vampire with a turbulent past, and even Dawn herself. Dawn must not only succeed in revamping the troubled recruits, but must also prevent the vampire race from being overtaken by a malevolent villain who has a strange and obsessive fascination with her. As threat escalates, romance blooms, and ghosts from her past begin to surface, Dawn is sure of only one thing: her life will never be the same.

Tired of emo vampires? Ada Adams takes the vampire genre and turns it on its head. ReVamped is funny, lighter in style, and I found myself laughing out loud at moments. Is Ada the first to change it up? No. I can think of other vampire titles that take on the lighter side, but it's a nice addition to the minority.

For a self-published book, it's one of the best ones that I have read. It was the synopsis that originally drew me to ReVamped. I'll also admit that the cover did too. Gorgeous! I didn't know what to expect and, honestly, was a little worried but it all turned out wonderfully! I really like the world that Ada built: humans know that vampires exist and love them. It also has its own mythology which I enjoyed. The story, itself, I found to be a bit predictable but I couldn't guess the how or why, so I was pleasantly surprised by the twists.

The characters in ReVamped came across as a bit stereotypical to me, minus Hunter who is not a vampire I've read about before. Even for the small part he plays, I found him fascinating. The book has quite a few characters, so putting a lot of back story for EVERYONE into one book would make it pretty long and boring, right? Good thing there's going to be a second one! I want to learn more about these people. Particularly, Sophie. I like her. And of course, it wouldn't be a YA supernatural novel or vampire book without some swoon-worthy gentlemen. Legal-age gentlemen, might I add, that I don't feel so guilty swooning over! Yay!

Read ReVamped for the well-written action scenes, the snarky and kind-hearted kick-butt heroine, the boys (Team Sebastian), the funny, and definitely if you're looking for something different in your vampires.

29 April 2012

Llama Llama Hates the Drama

I'm not going to throw in my "two cents" about the drama that has been going on in the book blogging community this week. Others have said all there is to say. What I will say, is that I don't want to belong to a community where I have to choose sides. If I choose to do In My Mailbox, I "support" The Story Siren and people who don't "support" The Story Siren will assume I support plagiarism. If I don't choose to do IMM...well, you get what I'm trying to say.

I started my blog because I wanted to share my opinions on books. I read because it's fun. I post reviews and interact with readers and other bloggers because it's fun. Well, this week, it has turned into something not so fun anymore. For the first time, I've been embarrassed to belong to a community I love to be a part of. I don't want to feel like I have to choose a side in this "war." I just want to blog, dammit, without worrying about who I'll offend.

I'm actually thinking about stopping. I'm thinking about stopping. That kind of freaks me out! I get and understand where the anger is coming from. I'm upset, too. What I don't get, is where the hate and personal attacks belong in all of this. I don't stand for that and refuse to participate in a community that seems to be overrun with it, as shown this week.  I'm almost 28 and I don't want to deal with stuff like this. Bloggers who I used to respect have shown their claws and now I'm frightened of them. I'm a Hufflepuff, guys. ;P Yet there are other bloggers who have treated this whole situation with the maturity it should have been handled with in the first place. I thank and respect these people.

I've had a really difficult week just in my own life, so thinking about quitting is probably overreacting right now. In fact, I know it is. I'm just disappointed that the situation couldn't have been handled better and was reduced to personal attacks and name-calling (I'm referring to both sides, by the way). What happens to those who just want to stay in the middle?

I'm going to go and listen to lots of MIKA to build my spirits. Specifically, We Are Golden and Grace Kelly because they make me want to dance like THIS! Except where the music artist and viewer apparently have an acid trip halfway through...that's just scary. Oh, I may also dance to this one, too.

You caught me. This post was just an excuse to introduce you to MIKA.

P.S. I have closed comments out of fear and due to lack of energy to debate anything.

22 April 2012

In My Mailbox (20)

"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. that week!

Nothing came in the mail specifically for me this week, but what I have to show are books I checked out from work! I'm very excited to read these!

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole
Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis
Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London
Ten by Gretchen McNeil

What did you get this week?

20 April 2012

Review: Ultraviolet

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson
Publication date: September 1, 2011
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

This is not her story.

Unless you count the part where I killed her.

Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison's condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can't explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori -- the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that's impossible. Right?

What a different and enjoyable read this was! I don't think I've ever experienced anything like it. I'd tell you more, but then I'd be spoiling it for you. This is one of those books that one must go into knowing nothing more than the publisher generated plot description.

First, I was like "Oh, mental institution book! I like!" Then I was like "Heeellooo, doctor." Then I reached little more than the halfway point and was like "HUBBA WHAAA?" <---my reaction through the rest of the book. Ultraviolet isn't what you think it is.

It is obvious that R.J. Anderson did her research on synesthesia and psychiatric institutions. Serious research. I found Alison and the other patients at the hospital to be incredibly three-dimensional and the environment was well used. Anderson blends Alison's condition perfectly with the story. If taken out of it, the book would be something completely different. I just found the whole book to be something fascinating and intense and I couldn't put it down. Stupid work prevented me from reading it in one sitting.

I apologize for the not-so-detailed review, but I think most people, whether they liked Ultraviolet or not, would recommend that it be read without knowing much about it (again, correct me if I'm wrong). I loved it and I can't wait for the sequel! Check this one out if you feel like you've been reading the same YA over and over again.

17 April 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Tips For New Book Bloggers

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish Every week focuses on a different topic and you make a top ten list from it! This week: My Top Ten Tips For New Book Bloggers

I've been blogging for about 7 months now (this still makes me new, right?), but I've definitely learned some things even if I sometimes forget them, myself. I could only come up with seven, but these seven I chose are what keep me going everyday.

1. Don't freak out about numbers. I still do this at times, but then remember that I'm blogging because I enjoy it. If other people enjoy what I write then that's great! Sure, it's nice to have tons of followers, but I think it's also nice to have people who truly appreciate what I do. Besides, those bloggers who have a lot of followers and hits...most of them have been around a while. I think any of them can tell you that building a following takes time.

2. Don't compare yourself to other bloggers. Just don't. For reasons, see numbers one and three.

3. Be who you are. Your blog is yours, so make it yours. If you end up trying to be like your favorite blog, it may not work out in your favor. I love visiting blogs and being able to get a peak inside the personality of that blogger.

4. Comment. If you want to gain followers and readers, I recommend commenting on other blogs and talking to others. Be sure to make your comments thoughtful and not just "hey, great post! Follow me!" If you feel you have nothing to say on a most recent post, go find one where you can add an opinion. I love it when I still get comments on something I wrote months ago. Also, posting a genuine comment makes people more likely to check out your own blog. Or so I think. How else will others know you're there?

5. Talk to other bloggers. This can be done through email (no spam!) or Facebook or Twitter or even in their comments sections. I can't recommend Twitter enough. I think that's really where I've built my audience and pulled in readers. Plus, it's fun. :)

6. Ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask other bloggers questions. I still do this and have yet to have anyone treat me with condescension or not be helpful. Don't be scared! We're all in this to help and support each other. I know I'm not scary, are you?

7. Don't put pressure on yourself to post everyday. I say this and yet I still do it. You'll burn yourself out and blogging will no longer be fun. You started doing it because you like it. There was a point a while back where I'd been forcing myself to read so much I couldn't read anything for two weeks. Take your time. No one should expect a book review every single day. I try to post 2-3 book reviews a week, but have been lacking on this recently because of...wait for it...burnout.

What tips do you have?

16 April 2012

Review: Torn

Torn (Trylle #2) by Amanda Hocking
Publication date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
When Wendy Everly first discovers the truth about herself—that she’s a changeling switched at birth—she knows her life will never be the same. Now she’s about to learn that there’s more to the story… She shares a closer connection to her Vittra rivals than she ever imagined—and they’ll stop at nothing to lure her to their side. With the threat of war looming, her only hope of saving the Trylle is to master her magical powers—and marry an equally powerful royal. But that means walking away from Finn, her handsome bodyguard who’s strictly off limits…and Loki, a Vittra prince with whom she shares a growing attraction. Torn between her heart and her people, between love and duty, Wendy must decide her fate. If she makes the wrong choice, she could lose everything, and everybody, she’s ever wanted…in both worlds.

If you read my earlier review of Switched you'll remember I wasn't that big of a fan, but was interested enough to read the second. After some urging from a few of my fellow bloggers, I decided to pick up Torn sooner than I was planning. Well, I'm happy to say I am quite pleased with how Torn turned out!

Wendy definitely grows into herself in this book. She is stronger and fights for what she thinks is right. Second, the writing is much better. I found there to be less faults in editing than I found in the first one. The story is exciting, the politics are intriguing, the characters are better developed, and their relationships are more complicated. Plus, we get a few new additions. One being named Loki. *heavenly sigh* *daydreams* Loki...

*clears throat* 

I can't say much because of spoilers, but as in Switched, I think the author has a bad habit of taking the easy way out of most situations. Anyway, there was a character-trait-surprise I wasn't expecting that is more delved into in the third book, Ascend, which I just finished. I have an issue with it, but that will be for my review of the last book.

This was a quick and much more enjoyable read than I was expecting!

Giveaway: Hidden by Sophie Jordan

Hidden by Sophie Jordan
Publication date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: HarperTEEN
Jacinda was supposed to bond with Cassian, the "prince" of their pride. But she resisted long before she fell in love with Will—a human and, worse, a hunter. When she ran away with Will, it ended in disaster, with Cassian's sister, Miram, captured. Weighed down by guilt, Jacinda knows she must rescue her to set things right. Yet to do so she will have to venture deep into the heart of enemy territory. The only way Jacinda can reach Miram is by posing as a prisoner herself, though once she assumes that disguise, things quickly spiral out of her control. As she learns more about her captors, she realizes that even if Will and Cassian can carry out their part of the plan, there's no guarantee they'll all make it out alive. But what Jacinda never could have foreseen is that escaping would be only the beginning....

PRIZE: an ARC of Hidden by Sophie Jordan

Please read my contest policy before entering!
This giveaway is US/Canada only.

Taste Book Trailer and Excerpt Reveal

Hey guys! I'm so excited to have the opportunity to reveal the book trailer and give you an excerpt from Taste by Kate Evangelista. I haven't read the book yet, but after reading the excerpt I am very excited to get my hands on it! I do love me some paranormal romance. And look at the pretty cover! LOOK AT IT!

Taste by Kate Evangelista
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press
Publication date: May 1, 2012
At Barinkoff Academy, there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans. When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.

About the author:
When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn't going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master's courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she has four completed Young Adult novels.
Author Website: www.kateevangelista.com
Twitter: @KateEvangelista
Follow Kate on Facebook
Find Taste on Goodreads
Crescent Moon Press page for Taste

15 April 2012

In My Mailbox (19)

"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. that week! 

I had originally recorded this IMM but realized I didn't (nor my roommate) have time to edit it, so you get pictures. The same idea comes across, though, right? ;)

Asher at Pararnormal Indulgence did a temporary trade with me for Ascend!! I really enjoyed Torn (expect a review soon) and needed this book before my store's Macmillan rep could get it to me. I'm an impatient lady. THANK YOU ASHER! All caps means I mean it.
Ascend by Amanda Hocking

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (our ARCs were being cleaned out and I got to keep this one. Love this book!)
Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin (already read this one and really liked it!)

So on Thursday I went to the Spring Into the Future event where I got to hear Veronica Rossi, Cynthia Hand, Marie Lu, Anna Carey, and Tahereh Mafi speak. It. Was. Awesome. I obviously got some books signed and Tahereh and Veronica were handing out signed bookmarks as well! I haven't read Unearthly or Shatter Me yet (I'm shamed), but am looking forward to them.
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (signed)
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (signed)
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (signed)
And a signed poster!

What did you get this week?

12 April 2012

Review: This Is Not a Test

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Publication date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

I made a personal decision not to review books at least a month before their release date, but I finished This Is Not a Test about a week ago and it still has me thinking about it. I love this book with all of my heart. MY WHOLE HEART. I initially wanted to read it because, well, zombies and I was curious as to how exciting a book could be that takes place inside one location (stage plays, yes, books, maybe). Well, it is exciting and I was never bored. Courtney Summers doesn't hold back or sugar-coat things. This book is intense. This book is raw. Sloane is one of the most complicated characters I have come across in a while and her struggles touched my insides (in a good way, not a dirty way). All of the characters are distinct from one another and I am impressed at how I could hate one of them one minute and agree with him or her the next. To me, this proves excellent writing and Summers has talent. Mucho. Talento. Can't wait to get my hands on her other books!

This Is Not a Test is not a book about zombies. In fact, I've read some reviews where people have found the zombies to be unnecessary. I would have to politely disagree and here's why: I can't imagine any other reason for Sloane to be stuck inside the school with some fellow students. Maybe a terrorist attack? But that one would make it a different story. To me, the book is about Sloane struggling to survive in a life she has already given up on before the book even starts. She's in a situation where all she has to do is go outside and she'll die. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Dead. Done. I think zombies are perfect and add a certain something different to the book. Plus, they're probably a metaphor for something I haven't quite figured out yet...or something.

I can't wait until I can get my hands on a finished copy and rub it all over my face. Because that's what I do with books I love.

Content warning: graphic sexual situations and language.

11 April 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine which asks what book we're most looking forward to.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
Publication date: December 11, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Sixteen-year-old Cleo has grown up in luxury, the royal heiress to a prosperous kingdom. But beneath her nation's seemingly peaceful surface lies dangerous unrest. Whispers of war are growing ever louder--intensified by a murderous incident for which Cleo's betrothed, Aron, is accused. Amidst the ongoing intrigue, Cleo has a more desperate mission. She defies her father's orders and sets off on a secret and perilous journey into a neighboring country, seeking a magic long thought to be mythical. If it's real, it could be the cure that heals her ailing sister. If it's only legend, Cleo will be stranded in a kingdom that has just declared war on her own.

YES! Please. I can never get enough fantasy. And look at that cover!

What are you waiting for?

08 April 2012

In My Mailbox (18)

"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. that week!

I decided this week it might be fun to make a video for my IMM. Not sure if I'll do this again. I'm kind of regretting it as I'm not good at watching myself on camera (says the girl who went to school for acting), but my roommate did a really good job of editing so here it is. Yes, my roommate helped me film it and edited it for me. She went above and beyond what I expected and has now given me high standards to keep to (if I do this again). Silly, McKenzie. That means thank you! Anyway, she even added a "blooper reel" to the end of it, so you can stay and watch me not be able to do it in one take. I'm so jealous of people who can do that!

Thanks Giselle @ Xpresso Reads and J.L. Bryan!

Sweet Shadows by Tera Lynn Childs
Feedback (Variant #2) by Robison Wells
The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver
Hidden (Firelight #3) by Sophie Jordan (for giveaway)
The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson (for giveaway)
A Fractured Light (A Beautiful Dark #2) by Jocelyn Davies (for giveaway)

What did you get this week?

07 April 2012

Giveaway: Once by Anna Carey

Once (Eve #2) by Anna Carey
Publication date: July 3, 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins
Sixteen years have passed since a deadly virus wiped out most of the Earth’s population. After learning of the terrifying part she and her classmates were fated to play in the rebuilding of New America, eighteen-year-old Eve fled to the wilds and Califia, a haven for women determined to live outside the oppressive rule of the king of New America. However, her freedom came at a price: she was forced to leave Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. Eve quickly learns that Califia may not be as safe as it seems and soon finds herself in the City of Sand and the palace of the king. There she uncovers the real reason he was so intent on her capture, and the unbelievable role he intends her to fill. When she is finally reunited with Caleb, they will enact a plan as daring as it is dangerous. But will Eve once again risk everything—her freedom, her life—for love?

PRIZE: an ARC of Once by Anna Carey

Please read my contest policy before entering!
This giveaway is US/Canada only.

04 April 2012

Review: Cross My Heart

Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould
Publication date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Press

When 16-year-old Laura della Scala learns that her older sister, Beatrice, has drowned, she is given no time to grieve. Instead, Laura's father removes her from the convent where he forcibly sent her years earlier and orders her to marry Beatrice's fiancé, a repulsive old merchant named Vincenzo. Panicked, Laura betrays a powerful man to earn her way into the Segreta, a shadowy society of women who deal in only one currency—secrets. The Segreta seems like the answer to Laura's prayers. The day after she joins their ranks, Vincenzo is publicly humiliated and conveniently exiled. Soon, however, Laura begins to suspect that her sister's death was not a tragic accident but a cold-blooded murder—one that might involve the Segreta and the women she has come to trust.

I love history, so it should be assumed that I enjoy a good historical fiction novel. When I received Cross My Heart, I was so excited. It takes place during the Italian Renaissance and it revolves around a mystery! My mind went right to The Ruby in the Smoke which is one of my favorite historical mysteries. I didn't enjoy this one as much as The Ruby in the Smoke, but Cross My Heart definitely has its positives.

It should be said that Sasha Gould's writing is gorgeous. From the first sentence, I was immediately drawn into the world of Laura, a convent raised girl who is immediately thrust into Venice society by her money and status hungry father. I found it interesting to read about a naive young girl discovering her place in a, previously unknown, society while at the same time trying to solve the mysterious death of her sister. It's this that leads her to the Segreta, a group of women who collect secrets. I found the idea of the Segreta fascinating and wish we got to spend more time within their ranks, but without the mystery surrounding them, Cross My Heart wouldn't be much of a mystery. A few red-herrings were thrown in there and it wasn't until near the finish that I predicted the ending. Good on Sasha Gould!

As interesting as I found Laura's situation she sometimes came across as a little bland for me. It was the characters around her that kept me interested. I also wasn't convinced about the romance that grows between Laura and the painter. If I remember correctly, they only interact in the book three times before they confess their love. Cross My Heart isn't about the romance, but if placed in the book, I still expect to feel it and have it make sense to me. It's just another part of the novel (like the ending) that felt rushed.

All in all, I liked the story and the idea of it, but I feel like the execution could have been a bit more drawn out and detailed.

03 April 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books To Read In A Day

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish Every week focuses on a different topic and you make a top ten list from it! This week: My Top Ten Books To Read In A Day

I think I'm a pretty fast reader, so my judgment may be off with some of these titles. I tried to pick some of my favorite shorter books with less than three hundred pages or a little more (minus Harry Potter, ha!).

I bought this book (it was actually the one w/ books 1 and 2 in it) and finished both on a flight to London with time to spare. Amazing and addicting series. In fact, I bought and read the rest of the series while I was there...

2. Deadly Little Secret (Touch #1) by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Quick enjoyable read. I like the series, though I think it's been running a bit too long.

First, this is the original cover (which I own). Second, it is now released with the first three books in one. This is also the second in the series, but it's my favorite and you don't have to read the first one to get it. LOVE.

4. Harry Potter (any of them!) by J.K. Rowling
If you get into this series, you really get into it. I think most Harry Potter fans will say they finished any number of them in a day.

5. Obsidian (Lux #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
I read this one in an evening. You won't be able to put it down. You'll have to know what happens between Katy and Daemon!

6. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding
Again, I read this in an evening. It is different from a lot of things I've read and I found it fascinating and well-written.

7. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Loved it. I had to know what happened and couldn't put it down until I found out.

8. Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde
This is still one of my favorite vampire stories. Not your usual formula and it's pre-Twilight. A quick and suspenseful read!

9. Human.4 by Mike A. Lancaster
If you're ever looking for a quick sci-fi read, pick this one up. I don't think it's the best in the genre, but it's worth a read.

10. Lost & Found by Shaun Tan
You may have not heard of Shaun Tan before. It's probably because he writes mature picture books. This is one of those "mature picture books." It's got three previously out-of-print stories in it and they are wonderful. I just had to pimp Shaun Tan. Also check out Tales From Outer Suburbia.

What books would you read in a day?

01 April 2012

In My Mailbox (17)

"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. that week!

This mailbox consists of two weeks worth of books, so it's a little bit bigger than usual.

Yes, one of them is Insurgent. I thought about not putting it up here because I know how many people want it and I don't want it to seem like I'm bragging. But, the point of IMM is to show readers what we got and I will be reviewing it (haven't read it yet), so it wouldn't be much of a secret anyway.

P.S. I took it from work before anyone else saw it...

Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth (this did not come in one of those fancy boxes...boo)
Slide by Jill Hathaway

My store will be hosting Penguin's YA or Bust tour and since I'm planning it, they kindly sent the authors' newest books! SO EXCITED for this event!! If you're in the Los Angeles area stop by Children's Book World April 23rd at 6:30pm! The moderator of the panel will be Marie Lu! So lucky I got her!! Thank you, Penguin publicist. /shameless promotion
The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman

They sent us a box with the Kid's Indie Next List and SURPRISE there were books! We already had a galley of the The Peculiars so I took it for mine and...there was a copy of The Immortal Rules!! I'm the only one in the store who would have any interest in reading it, so I stoled it. It is mine. 
The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

I want to thank the Macmillan store rep for putting up with all of my book requests and getting them out to me quicker than I expect them.
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (e-book) (I've already read this and loved it)
Auracle by Gina Rosati (e-book)
Torn by Amanda Hocking (e-book)
My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody (e-book)

What did you get this week?

28 March 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine which asks what book we're most looking forward to.

Velveteen by Daniel Marks
Publication date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Random House

Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that's not the problem.

The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it's not a fiery inferno, it's certainly no heaven. It's gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn't leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what's really on her mind.


Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she's figured out just how to do it. She'll haunt him for the rest of his days. It'll be brutal . . . and awesome. But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen's obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she's willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker. Velveteen can't help herself when it comes to breaking rules . . . or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.

I have Asher at Paranormal Indulgence to thank for this one. It. Sounds. Amazing. I love revenge stories. This is probably because I choose to turn the other cheek in my own life, so I love to live through other people who choose to do the opposite. BONESAW!! I love it. Please let this be good. Please let this be good.

What are you waiting for?