Thursday, July 31, 2014

Series Giveaway (Everneath series by Brodi Ashton)

First, I have to say it: Happy Birthday, Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling! I’m actually throwing a Harry Potter Birthday Party today at my library, and I’m so excited.
In other news, I seriously need more shelf space (again). And I have a whole series to giveaway. One lucky winner will receive from me:

by Brodi Ashton
Everbound by Brodi Ashton
Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
This giveaway is just open to US Followers only. I’m shipping the books myself.  General rules apply. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their shipping address or I’ll have to randomly select a different winner.
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (102)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black (9/9/14):

Description on Goodreads:
From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.

From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will -- is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It's a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.
Why I’m Waiting:
Two authors I love are writing a middle-grade fantasy series together about magic…I’m so in. I like that Cassandra Clare has fun with other writers (like with the Bane Chronicles). I’m interested in seeing how this combination of writing styles turns out with a book series (as compared to short stories), though I’m fairly certain it will be epic. Keep it coming, awesome YA writers. Keep it coming.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Inertia by Rebecca Schwartz

Summary (from Goodreads):
Rachel Simons just wants to graduate college and move on to an exciting biology career doing something very geeky. The only thing standing between her and her future is a required course: physics.

Weird happenings are going on in the physics department. Rachel’s physics professor Peter Parker, aptly nicknamed Spider-Man, has a strange document up on his computer when Rachel visits during his office hours.

Is Peter Parker really a superhero, and is there an arch enemy who’s trying to kill him - and maybe Rachel as well? Justin Borgstrom, Peter Parker’s assistant, has unwittingly dragged Rachel into the center of the conflict, and Rachel’s not sure she’ll live through the end of the semester, fend off Justin’s romantic advances, or ever pass physics.
The author, a friend of mine from college, sent me a copy and asked me to review her book on the blog. I am so excited to review this one. I saw or at least listened to a very early draft of this in college, and not only does this bring back the memories for me, but it also reinstates my need for more college series in general. I also wanted to buy a copy of the book, so when I saw it released in paperback, I bought a copy as well.
I love the main character. She’s so sure of herself and so intelligent. It’s nice having a main character interested in science. The girl knows her birds and her biology. Also, it’s nice to have a main character who embraces her geeky side. She’s a comic book reader. She also just picks up on things super quickly, and manages to use logic and deductive reasoning to get herself out of tough binds. On top of that, she doesn’t fall for guys who use women and won’t even consider crushing on guys who don’t consider females equal to themselves.
There’s an interesting cast of probable superheroes. And I’m not sure if I liked the actual story or the story Rachel makes up in her head more. Both were awesome. I liked how involved the teachers were. The small campus setting was entirely believable for me. Everyone knew each other and everyone seemed to always see everyone in the dining hall. I also connected to the snowstorm and the rural Vermont setting. But, that’s no surprise considering the author and I went to the same college (in upstate New York).
I didn’t always understand the relationship with the roommate. Sometimes I loved their witty back and forth banter. It was like watching a great episode of Gilmore Girls where the mother and daughter would quickly respond to each other in a way that just showed both how smart they were, and how close to each other they were. However, there were other times where I found myself skimming their lengthy dialog to get back to the mystery. I guess sometimes the dialog just felt too long. But, more than that I wanted to know the roommate better. How did this relationship happen? How come the girl (that some refer to as the ice princess) is so close to Melissa?
I loved the mystery. I had to know everything just as badly as Rachel did.  I liked that school was important and never seemed to be just the background of the story; it was actually part of the story. Though, I wonder if the campus will look into more security in future installments of this series.
Also, I’m glad that Rachel never made it easy for Justin. I loved all scenes with the two of them. Rachel was always honest about how she felt and Justin never seemed too taken aback by her honesty.
All in all this was a definite one-sitting read. I literally read it from beginning to end in one sitting. It was fun and addicting. I can’t wait to see what happens next now that a certain professor appears to have left the campus. What seriously makes this book great, apart from a setting any college student (past or present) can relate to, is the snarky, intelligent main character. I give it a 9/10.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

Summary (from Goodreads):
Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330. Nearly seven hundred years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty and Nicholas Flamel lives. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects - the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. And that's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it. Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.
I was kind of hoping to like this book a little more than I did. I heard the author speak a while back, and he was fantastic. The premise of the book was awesome. And the amount of research, history, and mythology that leaked from the pages was rather amazing. I just wasn’t necessarily feeling the action scenes or the two main characters that well.
I wanted to like Sophie and Josh. I really did. Normally, I love twin main characters. I think my problem with them was that they were supposed to be teens. And while they were old enough to do things like drive (with an adult in the car) or work summer jobs at a cafĂ© and bookstore, so much of their personalities screamed 9 or 10 year-old to me. Their arguments, their jealousy, and their problem-solving all felt rather juvenile. And there were moments too when it wasn’t even that they sounded juvenile so much, as the author was really, really trying to sound youthful, and not quite pulling it off.
The adult characters were my favorites. How can you not like Nicholas Flamel? And of course his awesome, kick-butt wife who was throwing punches while imprisoned was pretty epic too. I even was fascinated by the bad guy (in a kind of Magneto way). There were some fantastical centuries old mythological creatures that were super interesting too. It’s the two sort of normal characters that were the ones lacking for me; the author seemed to be struggling with how to write teenagers and I almost wish they were children or adults instead.
The plot was also not as cool as I was expecting it to be. I liked the idea of ancient elders finding excuses to battle it out. I also found the prophecy with the twins to be kind of cool too. But, all the battles with birds and cats just seemed kind of comical to me. I feel like the writer wanted these scenes to be super suspenseful, but they came off rather silly. A lot of action felt like cartoon action and it was hard for me to take it seriously. Scary dinosaur creatures end up being friendly and communicative. There’s a super strong power that turns the mythical cat warriors into real cats…I just kind of kept smiling at that stuff, and not in a good way.
That being said, Michael Scott was able to draw in all kinds of mythology from all over the world, unique pieces of history, and plenty of good ideas that I know will need to be addressed later in the series. I was impressed by how much he was able to put into one book. And I was impressed by how well all the different pieces fit together. I do wish I cared more for the main characters. (Maybe I’d like Sophie and Josh more if they were either children or adults). I also wish some of the action scenes came off more seriously and suspenseful, as compared to comical. I give this one a 7/10.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

Summary (from Goodreads):

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age—a story of renewal and revelation.

So, I guess I’ve been on a bit of a graphic novel kick. If you’re someone who really appreciates the art of graphic novels, you’d love this one. It’s just beautiful. The artwork is just so honest and clear. People aren’t made to be perfect and crushes don’t look like prince charming; the whole thing just feels so authentic and most of that is because of the art.
The story was interesting too. There was this overlapping theme of babies. One main character is coming of age as young adult who was adopted. And it’s clear this adoption is fresh on her mind when comments are made about babies being given up for adoption. And the other main character has a depressed mother who miscarried her last chance at another child. The two girls (summer besties) are watching the slightly older teens in town go through a soap opera of sorts when the girlfriend of the boy Rose likes finds out he is a dad.
This book deals with some dark stuff. There’s teen pregnancy, depression, family arguments, first crushes, adoption, and more. There’s also some spot-on coming of age moments when kids go from cartoons to horror movies, from enjoying family outings, to being embarrassed at family outings, etc. The writers really understand that sort of in-between age where we don’t know if we’re kids or teens. And what better setting for such a story than a summer beach town?
The topics kind of reminded me of the old school Sarah Dessen books (though maybe with younger characters). And this brought back great summer reading memories. And I also connected with the setting because I live in a town like this beach town.  I of course hated Rose’s crush and wanted to tell the girls to have more fun being kids while they can. (I guess that makes me a true adult now…) The side characters were great too. I loved Windy’s grandmother and Rose’s aunt and how they both inadvertently affect these girls.
I do wish that maybe a little more happened in the story, plot-wise. It was definitely more of an emotional/character driven book than an action-packed story. And that’s okay. I did wish for just a tiny bit more though. However, I loved the art, the characters, the subjects, and the style. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (101)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (3/10/15):

Summary (from Goodreads):
The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?
Why I’m Waiting:
This cover is so, so pretty. Also, how awesome does this sequel sound? I do have to admit though that I kind of forgot about Seraphina. It came out a couple years ago, and this sequel will be published at least 3 years after the first. That’s a long time. And I think I’ll have to go and skim/re-read a little because it’s kind of too long ago and I don’t remember it that well. On the other hand, I remember being blown away by it and loving it, so there’s that. So if it’s anywhere close to as good as book 1, I know I’ll love it.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Evertrue by Brodi Ashton

Summary (from Goodreads):
Now that Nikki has rescued Jack, all she wants is to be with him and graduate high school. But Cole tricked Nikki into feeding off him, and she’s begun the process of turning into an Everliving herself... which means she must feed on a Forfeit soon — or die.

Terrified for her survival, Nikki and Jack begin a desperate attempt to reverse the process using any means possible. Even Cole, who they expected to fight them at every turn, has become an unlikely ally — but how long can it last? Nikki needs to feed on Cole to survive, Cole needs Nikki to gain the throne in the Everneath, Jack needs Nikki because she is everything to him — and together, they must travel back to the Underworld to undo Nikki’s fate and make her mortal once more. But Cole isn’t the only one with plans for Nikki: the Queen has not forgotten Nikki’s treachery, and she wants her destroyed for good. Will Nikki be forced to spend eternity in the Underworld, or does she have what it takes to bring down the Everneath once and for all?

In this stunning conclusion to the Everneath trilogy, Brodi Ashton evokes the resiliency of the human spirit and the indomitable power of true love.
So, this is a little harsh, but I kind of wish Ashton created a stand-alone with the first one. I loved book 1. I was blown away by the world-building, the incredibly unique take on a well known myth, and the depth of the characters. Book 2 was a little bit of a let-down. It seemed to be way more focused on the romance, then on the unique plot. And I think my major disappointment in it, thinking back now, is that Nikki finally got a chance to be the hero and do the rescuing of her soul mate –but she was kind of weak, and not hero enough for me.
Then this book happens, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to read it. But, book 2 had a great ending. An ending that seriously led me to believe that Nikki was actually ready to be more than her normal, rather subservient self. She was finally ready to take on the Everneath and all it entailed. However, yet another plot device comes to play that makes Nikki weak again…
Now, she’s becoming an Everliving, and is dependent on Cole (again) for survival. She literally needs to kiss Cole (the wrong end of the love triangle) every day to survive. And Jack (the right end of the love triangle) has to put up with it because he wants her alive long enough to defeat the Everneath. All these scenes made me physically roll my eyes.
I only now just realized what my biggest problem with the book is; I never ended up caring much for Nikki. There was nothing interesting about her since book 1. I had empathy for her in book 1 because of all the pain, death, and betrayal she went though. But without all the things to feel bad for her for, she’s not that interesting. She doesn’t seem to have any interests or hobbies and she doesn’t seem to care for much of anything but her boyfriend.
The other thing this book didn’t have going for it, were the a-typical plot devices. Cole lost his memories. Jack and Cole had a lot of testosterone flare ups. There were wanted posters of Cole and his band. Nikki and Jack (like in the other books) could always find Cole by easily going online and finding where his band was playing. There’s the convenient scholarly character who has bonus information about things he doesn’t even literally believe in. Also, if you’ve read the book, did anyone else not get the whole King-Sized bed incident???
On the other hand, I didn’t straight-out hate the book. I did finally get to see more details and more history of the Everneath. I found the Shade network to be fascinating. I found the queen to be super interesting. I even liked getting to know one of Cole’s closest friends.
I wish this last installment could have made Nikki stronger (and not as dependent on guys). I also wish that I liked Nikki more and that she had more to her than the boys in her life. I wish there was less love triangle romance and more story. And I wish the story wasn’t quite so familiar. I do give this author mad props for an excellent first book and some seriously amazing world-building. This last book and series just weren’t for me. I give it a 5/10.