29 February 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (9)

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

Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Publication date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives – an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school's most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury. But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine. Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off the from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn't scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

I need this book. Right? Yes. The cover reveal, which happened this week (I believe?), matches the synopsis of the book to perfection. It makes me want it even more. With the tension and fear that McNeil was able to put into Possess, I have complete faith this one will have much more of the same. I can't wait until September!

What are you waiting for??

27 February 2012

Review: When the Sea is Rising Red

When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen
Publication date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

After seventeen-year-old Felicita’s dearest friend, Ilven, kills herself to escape an arranged marriage, Felicita chooses freedom over privilege. She fakes her own death and leaves her sheltered life as one of Pelimburg’s magical elite behind. Living in the slums, scrubbing dishes for a living, she falls for charismatic Dash while also becoming fascinated with vampire Jannik. Then something shocking washes up on the beach: Ilven's death has called out of the sea a dangerous, wild magic. Felicita must decide whether her loyalties lie with the family she abandoned . . . or with those who would twist this dark power to destroy Pelimburg's caste system, and the whole city along with it.
I was looking forward to this book like whoa, so when I got it, I put what I was going to read next aside and picked up When the Sea is Rising Red. And...I was a little disappointed.

Hellisen's writing is great. She is very descriptive and I enjoyed the world that she built, along with the mythology that comes with it. I love the fact that each of the noble families have different magical talents. I also think the idea of having to use a powder called "scriv" to use the magic is brilliant. It's all very thought-out, but here's also where it fell apart for me: the environment/world of the book comes across as a bit of a hodgepodge of myths. Example, the book has things like unicorns and vampires and sea witches. Hellisen pulls some from here and some from there and some more from over there, then puts it all in a pot. But instead of it mixing together to make something complete, it feels more like pieces of different stories. Yes, there's a fascinating reason within the story that explains the unicorns, but a unicorn is still a unicorn. I wanted her magical world to work for me, but sometimes it didn't. It all came across as too complicated. I feel dumb, but for the majority of the last half of the book, I was confused. Then the climax happens and I have almost no idea what's going on. It all happens too fast and it's like the author is trying to explain everything that she's been building up to in the last third of the book. I wish it could have been longer.

Characters: Felicita has her moments, but none of the characters, expect Jannik, held much interest for me. I really like Jannik and found him to be the most intriguing character in the story.

All in all, it was an okay read. My main complaint is the fact that I felt stupid for not knowing what was happening there at the end, but I mostly figured it out and all is well. If you're looking for something different, then check this one out! This is a book with a lot to digest, so don't read it too quickly. Just take your time and is should be okay.

26 February 2012

In My Mailbox (14)

"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!

Attended the wonderful SCIBA (Southern California Independent Booksellers Association) dinner this week! Met many wonderful authors and came away with some books!

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (signed)
Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karos (signed)
 Dead to You by Lisa McMann (signed)
Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke (signed)
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (signed)
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielson
Extra Yarn by Jon Klassen (signed)

From Random House:
I'll be attending an author dinner in March for Lissa Price, so they sent me a copy of her book. I'm really looking forward to starting it!
Starters by Lissa Price

Thank you Random House and thank you Mike at Macmillan for inviting me to the SCIBA dinner!

What did you get this week??

Author Interview, Review, and Giveaway: Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters

Meredith Zeitlin's debut novel FRESHMAN YEAR & OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS comes out on March 1st! Check out my interview with Meredith below and my review afterwards (of the book, not the interview. If you want a review of that, well, it went quite smashing!).

Meredith Zeitlin is a writer and voiceover artist who lives in Brooklyn with two adorable feline roommates. She also writes a column for Ladygunn Magazine, changes her hair color every few months, and has many fancy pairs of spectacles.

If you want to know more about Meredith's voiceover work, check out www.mzspeaks.com.

What is your favorite 9th grade memory? 
Getting cast as Young Iphigenia in the fall play, "Iphigenia at Aulis." I'd started at a new school that year - a very competitive all girls' school - and wasn't sure exactly where I'd fit in, especially that early in the school year when I was still making friends. Seeing my name on the bulletin board, and being congratulated by my classmates, felt incredible.

What is your least favorite?
That would be later the same day, when I made the very large mistake of walking up to a junior (who had also been cast in the show) and living out the Julie Nelson cafeteria scene that is now in my book. She tortured me for the next two years. I kept my big mouth shut after that. Well, I tried to, anyway...

23 February 2012

Future Release: Wonder Show

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby
Publication date: March 20, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends and neighbors, allow me to change your lives! Step inside Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show! You’ve read about them in magazines, these so-called human curiosities, this tribe of misfits—now come and see for yourselves. We’ve got a gent as tall as a tree, a lady with a beard, and don’t miss your chance to see the Wild Albinos of Bora Bora! Ask Madame Doula to peer into your future (only two dollars more if you want to know how you’re going to die).

And between these covers behold the greatest act of our display—Portia Remini, the strangest of the menagerie because she’s a ‘normal’ among the freaks, searching for a new beginning on the bally, far away from McGreavey’s Home for Wayward Girls, where Mister watches and waits. He said he would always find Portia, said she could never leave . . .

Oh, it’s not for the faint of heart folks. If you’re prone to nightmares or you’ve got a weak ticker, you’d best move on. Within these pages lies a tale of abandonment, loss, misfortune for the rich and glory for the poor (and a little murder doesn’t hurt). It’s a story for the ages, but be warned: once you enter the Wonder Show you will never be the same.

First, I love the cover by Evan B. Harris. It's beautiful and I think it definitely draws the eye. I also want a print of it to hang on my wall. Someone make this happen. Please.

Second, I enjoyed the book! From the first page, I was transported to the Depression era. I was drawn in by Barnaby's wonderful writing style, the story, and the colorful cast of characters. Portia has a fire and passion that I liked. No one, not even the creepy Mister is going to stand in her way! The narration style is different than any other book I've read recently (or that I can remember right now). It goes back and forth between third-person omniscient and first-person. The first-person is normally a page or two where the reader gets an inside glimpse of Portia and the other circus characters. I would expect something like this to throw me out of the story, but I really enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts. I also don't think it happens enough to be a hindrance to the storytelling. I think of it as an enhancement. Especially since the reader learns more about the histories of the characters at these points.

If I have a big complaint, it would be that the end felt a bit rushed to me. The entire book I was waiting for an amazing climax and I feel almost like nothing happened. I was left with a "wait, that's it?" It's a very easily solved ending. Too easy, in my opinion.

Wonder Show reminds me a bit of Moon Over Manifest (a book I love!). Yes, they are both set during the Great Depression, but they also involve two strong female characters who will stop at nothing to find their fathers. I think Wonder Show will find its place in the MG/younger YA audience. Though, it would suit a more mature middle grade reader as it is a dark book that deals with some issues like abandonment and suicide.

22 February 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (8)

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

The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee
Publication date: July 17, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Sixteen-year-old Rinn Jacobs has secrets: One, she’s bipolar. Two, she killed her grandmother.

After a suicide attempt, and now her parents' separation, Rinn and her mom move from California to the rural Ohio town where her mother grew up. Back on her medications (again!) and hoping to stay well, Rinn settles into her new home and school. She refuses to be daunted by the fact that the previous owner hanged herself in Rinn's bedroom, or that her classmates believe the school pool is haunted by Annaliese, a girl who drowned there. But when a reckless séance goes awry, and terrible things start happening to her new friends—yet not to her—Rinn is determined to find out why she can’t be "touched" by Annaliese...or if Annaliese even exists.

With the help of Nate Brenner, the hunky “farmer boy” she’s rapidly falling for, Rinn devises a dangerous plan to uncover the truth. Soon reality and fantasy meld into one, till Rinn finds it nearly impossible to tell the difference. When a malevolent force threatens the lives of everyone she cares about--not to mention her own--she can't help wondering: who should she really be afraid of? Annaliese? Or herself?

This book sounds amazing to me. And it's got ghosts, guys! Ghosts! I love ghosts! And a "hunky farmer boy!" Anyone read Texas Gothic? *ahem* That's a hunky farmer boy. Anyways...Am I the only one noticing a higher number than usual of book releases that have main characters with a mental illness (or possibly has one)? Not complaining. Just making an observation.

What are you waiting for??

21 February 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Save If My Apartment Was Attacked By Zombies (or something else)

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: Top Ten Books You'd Save If  Disaster Struck

I could only come up with seven. Anymore and I would have been reaching. Apparently I'm more into saving my baby blanket and my 72 hour kit.

1. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones: One of my favorite books!

2. The Harry Potter series: Yes, the whole thing. I'm counting it as one book and you can't do anything about it!

 3. The Secret History by Donna Tartt: Because, gosh darnit, I need a good adult book every once and a while and this one is my favorite.

4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: When zombies take over, I'll need to remember when the world was full of romance and smiles and France.

(I'm using the UK cover because I like it better)
5. Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine: Maybe not all of this series, but if I had to choose, it would probably be book six. Fans will know why. ;)

6. Chime by Franny Billingsley: I love this book. I really do. My love for it is the reason it got nominated for the National Book Award. I'm just kidding. That's not why. But you believed me, right? 

7. The Bible: I got all religious on ya'll. This could have been a real list or a fake list. Putting a religious book on here makes it a real list.

What books would you save??

19 February 2012

I Love February Giveaway

My February has been going pretty well! Or at least better than my crappy last month, so I want to celebrate by giving you a thing! And that thing is...

PRIZE: a box of random ARCs
*the box will include future releases and some past ones, roughly 12 books*

Please read my contest policy before entering!
This giveaway is open to the US only. Sorry!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In My Mailbox (13)

"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!

Twas a good book week. And onward:

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
Pure by Julianna Baggott
The Boy Recession by Flynn Meaney
The Watcher in the Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray
The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze
172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Kindle)
Anew: The Archers of Avalon by Chelsea Fine (Kindle)

What did you get this week??

18 February 2012

Review: Born Wicked

Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #1) by Jessica Spotswood
Publication date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Putnam

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship--or an early grave.

Everyone seems to love Born Wicked. This will, unfortunately, be another book I will go against the grain on. I feel like the narrator, Cate, only talked about two things: what everyone is wearing and she hates being a witch.

What Everyone Is Wearing:
Every time someone enters a room, Cate describes in great detail what he/she/everyone is wearing. I began to dread the party scenes. I understand it's a historical novel and period clothing is a part of the atmosphere the author wants to create. I get that and I usually love that, but I feel like Spotswood went overboard. I get that Cate and her sisters' new clothing was important to them. It's a big deal. But the author would also go into great detail about the clothes of other people Cate was with or saw. This was perplexing to me because from what I got from the book, Cate doesn't care for clothing so why would she talk about it in great detail? There's a difference between an important piece of clothing that means something to the character and just a piece of clothing.

She Hates Being a Witch:
Cate hates being a witch and she talks about how much she hates it all the time. Normally I can stand a negative nelly. Example, I adore Briony in Chime and, holy crap, does that girl hate herself. I wish I pinpoint the difference in the two characters, but Cate began to get on my nerves a bit. Maybe because she doesn't have the self-deprecating humor that Briony has?

Spotswood does a great job of world building and giving Born Wicked a "classic" feel. Her writing style fits the time period perfectly. I didn't realize the book was going to be mainly centered around the romance. Don't get me wrong, I love romance in my books. Romance is da bomb, but I think the reason I wasn't pulled into this one is because I didn't feel a connection between Cate and her two love interests. It felt kind of bland to me. I also found myself wanting more story progression in Born Wicked. I feel like the majority of the book is Cate talking about clothes and attending parties and just talking. All of the action finally comes into play in the last few pages and it is awesome. I thought the book was finally getting interesting at the end and then it ended. Sad face. Luckily, there's a next one.

I recommend this book to fans of romance and historical fiction. Just because I felt this way, doesn't mean you will. I seem to be in the minority anyway. ;)

Oh Born Wicked, how I wanted to love you. I like you, but I guess we should just shake hands, say we had a good time, I'll tell you I'll call you, and then part ways.

15 February 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (7)

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

Publication date: May 28, 2012
Publisher: Point
Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back. Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn’t dead. But she is being held against her will in the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey. Her captor, John Hayden, claims it’s for her own safety. Because not all the departed are dear. Some are so unhappy with where they ended up after leaving the Underworld, they’ve come back as Furies, intent on vengeance…on the one who sent them there and on the one whom he loves. But while Pierce might be safe from the Furies in the Underworld, far worse dangers could be lurking for her there…and they might have more to do with its ruler than with his enemies. And unless Pierce is careful, this time there’ll be no escape.

I'm going to come out and admit that I was disappointed by the first book in the Abandon trilogy. I won't go into detail because this isn't a review, BUT I thought it was a great set-up for the second book and am looking forward to Underworld immensely! I think of book one as a really long (kind of boring) prologue that introduces all of the fun stuff that will happen in the rest of the books. Can't wait for this one!

What book are you waiting for??

14 February 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Broke Your Heart a Little

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: Top Ten Books That Broke Your Heart a Little

I'm sure there are more than what I've listed (I could only come up with six right now). These are books that broke my heart, but I decided to keep this list strictly to "sadness caused by relationships" in honor of Valentine's Day.

Till Death Do Us Part by Lurlene McDaniel: Am I the only one who read Lurlene growing up? All of her books broke my heart, but this one and its companion stayed with me. Don't Die My Love was really good too...this whole list could be Lurlene McDaniel...

The Fury (The Vampire Dairies #3) by L.J. Smith: Smith took a big chance with the ending of this book. She's lucky it worked out.

My Soul to Keep (Soul Screamers #3) by Rachel Vincent: I never take books back after reading them, but I guiltily admit to removing this from my shelf and doing just that because I was not happy with the ending. I'm okay with the series now (more than happy actually!!).

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson: Uh, duh.

Hard Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires #4) by Chloe Neill: I. WAS. HEARTBROKEN. The end.

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy: This book broke my heart, not a little, but A LOT. Does it still qualify? ;)

12 February 2012

In My Mailbox (12)

"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!

My book week started on Monday when I received an ARC of Pushing the Limits in the mail from Hayley at Booking it With Hayley G!! Thank you Hayley! You can't see the title because the reflection is horrific, but I swear that's what the book is.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Then on Thursday evening, I attended a Penguin author dinner with other local booksellers for JESS ROTHENBERG! OMG, I was so excited. It was a wonderful evening with the wonderful Jess who has the fantastic book The Catastrophic History of You and Me coming out February 21st. I got my copy that I received a couple of weeks ago signed and picked up a signed copy to giveaway in the next week. Watch out for it!

And then I purchased Delirium because it came out in paper and also bought Looking for Alaska as my next John Green read. Our store still has signed copies of John's books so it's also signed. Yay!

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Thank you Penguin for the wonderful dinner and book and thanks again to Hayley!

What did you get this week??

Review: Try Not to Breathe

Try Not to Breathe by Jennifer R. Hubbard
Publication date: January 19, 2012
Publisher: Viking

Sixteen-year-old Ryan is fresh out of a mental hospital and trying to figure out how to reboot his life after a suicide attempt. He spends most of his time alone at the local waterfall, partly to avoid his overprotective mother, but mostly because standing under the hammering water is the only thing that makes him feel alive - it's a way to test himself. Then Nicki charges into his world, brimming with life and energy, shattering the pane of glass that Ryan has built up around him. Nicki asks questions about Ryan's depression that no one has ever been brave enough - or cared enough - to ask. She's demanding and impossible to ignore. Ryan and Nicki quickly begin to confide in one another, sharing secrets they never thought they'd tell anyone. Those confessions have consequences neither of them expected, but trusting Nicki just might be the catalyst Ryan desperately needs to start living again.

Try Not to Breathe is a breath of fresh air (pun intended?). It gave me a nice break from all of the supernatural and dystopian YA books out in the world. Surprisingly, with the main subject of depression and suicide, it's not depressing so chances are you won't be balling your eyes out by the end. Yay, you can read it in public! I instantly connected with the main character Ryan. All of the characters are well-fleshed out and Ryan and Nicki are perfect foils of each other. The book is a slow build, but it never left me bored. Hubbard has a fantastic and very mature "show, don't tell" writing style. I enjoyed her writing up until the end. And by the way, there is a shocking "reveal" that I was not expecting.

Try Not to Breathe is a real book dealing with a real issue that most people don't talk about, so I enjoyed following Ryan's story. It's not a book that changed my life or taught me anything new, but I was so disappointed when I had to leave Ryan behind at the end of the book!

P.S. I've been trying to write this book review for four days. It's a book that resonated with me on a personal level so it was difficult writing the review without sharing too much personal information that I didn't feel comfortable with sharing. Hence, the feeling of disconnect and suckiness in the review. ;) I did like the book, though. I liked it a lot and just wanted to share it.

07 February 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books You'd Hand To Someone Who Says They Don't Like To Read

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: Top Ten Books You'd Hand To Someone Who Says They Don't Like To Read

06 February 2012

Review: The Dead of Winter

The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley
Publication date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury

After Michael's parents die, he is invited to stay with his guardian in a remote old country house. He begins to suspect something is not quite right on the day he arrives, when he spots a mysterious woman out in the frozen mists. But little can prepare him for the solitude of the house itself. His guardian is rarely seen, and there's a malevolent force lurking in an old hallway mirror. As the chilling suspense builds, Michael realizes that the house and its grounds harbor more secrets - both dead and alive.

The Dead of Winter is horrorlicious. It's a scary book that actually scared me. Priestley does a great job of giving his novel a classic Gothic feel. A few times I had to remind myself that this book wasn't written in the 19th century. The prose is classic and well-written. I loved it.

The horror:

The Dead of Winter is full of frightening scenes and these moments wouldn't have worked without Priestley's truly creepy descriptions. The book played out as a movie in my head and left me terrified. I can't say much without spoiling it, but one of the scenes involving the priest's hole scared the crap out of me. I was like, "OPEN THE DOOR OPEN THE DOOR OPEN THE DOOR!"

The negative:

The mystery solved is a bit...lackluster. Don't get me wrong, the climax is exciting but the sort of "whodunit" left me wanting more. It's also too short. Much too short. It doesn't read like a full length novel, but more as a novella. I finished the book in about an hour. I would normally have no problem with this but I wouldn't recommend spending $16.99 for it. It's more of a paperback purchase or a library borrow. Though, you can currently purchase The Dead of Winter for the Kindle for $4.66!