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 fiancĂ©, 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?