Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Good Week in Books (37)

So, I’m making this post super early because I don’t think I’ll be getting more books this week, and I’m trying to make some posts in advance because six of my all time favorite people in the world are coming to me for New Years, and I won’t have a lot of blog time this weekend. I got a new book to review for RT magazine online. And I went to my favorite Chicago bookstore again and made a little purchase for myself. I also lucked out on an amazing free ARC there!
For Review (on Kindle):

From Ashes by Molly McAdams

From my favorite bookstore:

Vicious Deep
by Zoraida Cordova (so many good reviews for this one!)
Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout (thought it was about time I gave this author a try!)
The Rising by Kelley Armstrong !!!! (ARC 4/9/13)
How was your week in books?

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Needs to End with Some Giveaways!

So, I’m not going to have much time in the next week for blogging. All my best friends from college are coming to visit, and this is going to be one amazing New Year’s Eve! However, 2012 has been one, crazy, amazing year for this blog and I have so much to be happy about. To celebrate this wonderful year, I am hosting two giveaways! One to celebrate the end of the year, and another to celebrate my 600+ followers!
The first giveaway is for my US followers only because I will be shipping the books myself.  And I seriously need more shelf space, so I’m getting rid of books I have multiple copies of, books that weren’t my favorite and I couldn’t finish, and books that I don’t think I’ll be able to get to any time soon.
My second giveaway is open to everyone (US and International), and it’s to also celebrate my having 600 followers! I’ll be giving away two books from my favorite books of 2012!
If you’re from the US, you can enter both. My normal rules apply: you have 48 hours to respond to my email, once the giveaway is over, with your book choices and your shipping address, or I will have to randomly select a different winner.
Thanks for stopping by, thanks for reading Nori’s Closet, and happy new year!
Giveaway 1 (US only):
First winner can pick up to four books from this list. And second place winner can pick up to four books from whatever is left. Whatever isn’t picked will end up being donated to one of my libraries.

White Crow
by Marcus Sedgwick (paperback)
Safekeeping by Karen Hesse (hardcover)
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stepanie Perkins (hardcover)
Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier (hardcover)
From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas (hardcover)
Whispers at Moonrise by C.C. Hunter (paperback)
Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton (ARC)
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (hard cover)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway 2 (US and International as long as the Book Depository ships to you):
One winner will have their choice of two books from my favorite books of 2012 (link to post).

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Every Day by David Levithan
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

So, I recently re-read this one for my book club. Though, because I read so many books each year, and I read this one a few years ago (maybe 400 books ago), it felt kind of like I was reading it again for the first time. I kind of wish I read it again before reading Bitterblue (review), which I read/reviewed this year, but I apparently cannot plan everything out as perfectly as I should.
My good friend, Maheen, who’s in my book club, actually recommended it to me right when it came out. Not only did she recommend it to me, but she kind of made me purchase it (when she was working at Borders). From years of experience, I know that when Maheen tells me I need to purchase a book that I absolutely must do so (and vice versa, she takes my recommendations seriously too)!
I remember falling in love with this book and its amazing world building, and it’s very unique main characters. I especially remember falling in love with Po, the love interest. I had a slightly different experience reading it this time, but it was still a very good experience.
Katsa lives in a world where people who have two different eye colors, is not that uncommon. And more importantly, people with two different eye colors are known as the graced. Someone who is graced, is known for having a remarkable ability that normal (same eye-colored) people don’t have. People can be graced with clairvoyance or mindreading or even in simpler things like cooking or dancing. It is learned early on for Katsa, as a child, that she is graced in killing. She accidentally kills a relative who seemed ready to hurt her.
And in Katsa’s world, the graced are at the mercy of the kings. There are several different realms/kingdoms with various different kings. All graced are sent to the king of the land, and the king can either decide to keep the child and train them in their gifts at the castle, or to let them go. The less useful graces are usually let go, but once a graced child returns to their home, no one wants anything to do with them. People avoid the graced like they would avoid people with disease. So you can imagine, how people would avoid Katsa.
Yet, Katsa makes a few friends within the castle (including the prince) who stand behind her like the best of friends should. Katsa does not like having a useful grace for her king. He sends her on missions around his kingdom, mostly to murder his enemies, collect taxes, torture townspeople, and any other number of odd yet terrible things. And while she trains at the castle, she never seems within complete control of her abilities because she is always afraid of loosing her temper and accidentally killing the wrong person.
She hates killing and hurting people. And to sort of counteract her day job, she does side missions with her own appointed secret council that actually works to help save the people of her kingdom. It is on once such mission (where she’s to rescue a certain royal’s grandfather) that she first meets Po, a young man graced with what appears to be fighting.
Po proves to be Katsa’s match when it comes to physical combat, and it’s not too long before he joins her both in training and in her council. He requests their help in determining the reasons behind his grandfather’s kidnapping.
With Po’s help, Katsa manages to defy her king, fight for herself, save lots of people from a terrible fate, and learn as much as possible how and what her grace actually is. There’s rebellion, battles, recue missions, kidnappings, chase scenes, romance, evil dictators, magical powers, and some downright amazing characters. Seriously, Katsa is awesome (so fierce and brave –a true epic hero!) There’s a little bit of romance and a ton of action (just how I like it). Also, there’s some hinting of a homosexual relationship within the royalty, and I don’t remember that the first time, and I loved that it is here.
Katsa’s world pulls you in and doesn’t want to let you go until you’ve sat and read this cover to cover. Though, I didn’t quite enjoy this as much as I did the first time. One of the things talked about in my book club was the believability of Po. The first time I read this, I loved Po. But as discussed at the meeting, Po is a little too perfect. He is everything Katsa needs and more, and he puts up with all of her scary moments like a pro. He didn’t really have any noticeable flaws, like Katsa had with her anger and her control, and the further I got in this book, the more I noticed how un-flawed he was. Because of this, I didn’t quite love his as much I remembered.
Other than that though I don’t think there was anything wrong with this book. I’d love to learn about more of the graces and more of the normal people who are graced, but I get that this wasn’t too relevant; it was just so interesting that I could have read so much more about it! I’m glad my book club picked this one and that I had another chance to read it. Of course now I want to re-read all of them, and I absolutely don’t have the time for that. I give this a 9/10. It really is some great, butt-kicking, YA fantasy!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (26)

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 Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance (6/11/13):

Description on Goodreads:
Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy.

Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.

So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death.

But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?

With a playful nod to Jane Austen, Spies and Prejudice will captivate readers as love and espionage collide.
I love Jane Austen! And I love spy novels. What a great combination! It’s not my favorite cover. Why is “Spies” written so large? Though, it does have this sort of old, detective, noir vibe going for it. It looks like an old detective noir movie mixed with the models of the Pretty Little Liars series, and I’m all for that combo! The story sounds adorable. I need more YA detective main characters in my life; I just do. And I loved the last YA Austen retelling I read so much that it made my top ten books of 2012! I have high hopes for this one. What are you waiting on this week?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Good Week in Books (36)

What a great week! I received two books for review. I purchased one book (that just came out Tuesday). And, I was gifted three ARC’s from the wonderful Alex, who sometimes likes to trade. Alex, really, you are amazing!
Scent of Magic
by Maria V. Snyder (Purchased. Weird story: this one was shelved with adult romance novels in Barnes and Noble when I know I picked up the first book in the series from the YA section).
Greta and the Goblin King by Chloe Jacobs (ARC, Thank you, Alex!)
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson (ARC, 2/26/13 Thank you, Alex!!!)
Rebel Spirits by Lois Ruby (ARC, 6/1/13 Thank you, Alex!)
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (Thank you, Harper Collins! So happy to have a finished copy!)
Deadly Little Lessons by Laurie Faria Stolarz (Thank you, Harper Collins! I need to get started on this series for real! I love this author’s other books!)
How was your week in books?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

I seriously don’t know how anyone can see this cover and then not purchase this book. I love everything about it. And the more I think about it now, the more I think the girl on the cover isn’t Tiger Lily, but instead the wonderful narrator of the book.
The book is actually told from Tink’s point of view. I had no idea that this was the way it was setup, until I dived in. At first, this worried me because I know that Tink sort of loved Peter Pan, and I didn’t want the whole thing to be some kind of jealousy story. Eventually, though, I came to love Tink. I’m not sure who I loved more: Tiger Lily and all her fierceness and bravery or Tink and her big heart that just wants someone to pay attention to her.
The whole book is about growing up. In Neverland, people stop growing. They reach a certain point in their lives when they just stop. They can die, and tend to die in harsh circumstances (like by pirate, or mermaid, or crocodile), but they stop aging. And I never really thought about how hard it must be for someone who stands out as different to live in a land where everyone is always the same.
Tiger Lily is always picked on and slightly ostracized for her differences. She likes to do “boy things” like go hunting and spend hours in the forest. Most of her village blames this on her adoptive father, the shaman of the tribe. He’s different too. He likes to dress and act like a woman (something I was so not expecting!). After a while, Tiger Lily’s behavior puts her in enough of the radar of the rest of the village that her father agrees that it is time she marries.
An Englander washes up on the shore, and none of the tribe is willing to aid him because they are afraid of catching what they call the aging disease. Tiger Lily isn’t afraid of catching the disease though. And she spends her days escaping an evil future mother in law and an abusive future husband by going to help the Englishman return to health. Tiger Lily’s father agreed to her match before he even knew Tiger Lily. He found her in a flower, and the only way his tribe allowed him to bring her up as his own was by promising a match for her with another important tribesman.
Soon, Tiger Lily, upon leaving her tribe more and more to escape, comes across Peter and the lost boys. She and Peter immediately connect on a friendship level. Both seem always needing to prove themselves. Both seem fearless. And both seem to never want to grow up. Of course, Tiger Lily’s engagement complicates things when their friendship slowly evolves into first love. And things only become more complicated with the arrival of Wendy, and more Englishmen, and God (taught by the Englishmen).
This book has so much tough stuff in it! There is abuse, rape, suicide, prejudice, and bullying. There is also murder, pirate fights, fires, fairies, mermaids, celebrations, waterfalls, and kidnappings. The pirates actually have reasons for being who they are. Hook is a drunk, who keeps getting more drunk and more angry because he spent so many years and resources to find Neverland, the place where you don’t age, only to discover that it doesn’t work on him; he still ages. And Smee is actually a serial killer. He early on sets his sites on Tiger Lily and all of the scenes that involve him are beyond terrifying!
No one can hear fairies; they don’t talk. So Tink is forced to just watch everything and not actually be able to have an effect on anything at all. She’s lucky if someone she watches ever even notices her existence. Though, both Tiger Lily and Peter, at different points in the story, not only recognize Tink, but speak to her and acknowledge her as no one else has. The only two people to make Tink think she’s not too small are Tiger Lily and Peter. Fairies can also read people’s minds and its how they communicate amongst each other.
There are themes of religion, time, age, colonization, romance, and adventure! None of the children fly in this rendition of Peter Pan. Wendy’s brothers play no role in the story. In a lot of ways this version is much sadder and a lot more intense than the original. The main characters all seem a little bit older than the children pictured in the Disney version. And all of the characters have this J.M. Barrie type wisdom to them. I cried, I laughed, and I hoped in this book for an ending that I knew most likely would not happen.
And what really made this whole thing so wonderful was the writing! The characters, while different from their originals, had so much of their true voices (even Wendy) that I sometimes found myself forgetting that this was a retelling. Anderson managed to weave all the elements of Neverland (the good and the bad) together in such a dark, powerful, and unique way. I am so glad to have gotten to know Tink and Tiger Lily better! This gets a 10/10 from me.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Best Books of 2012

For a while, I was planning on doing a top 20 list for this year’s best books.  I really wanted to keep up with my tradition from last year though and just list 10. I really had to sit down with a giant list of fantastic books, and seriously think about the best books of 2012. There were so many! And, I read so many more books this year than last year. I’ve read 112 books so far this year! This will be my 192nd blog post so far this year!  And frankly, this has just been one fantastic year for YA!
Next year is already looking fantastic as well. There will be at least four YA books turned into movies in 2013…And I am already anxiously waiting on so many releases. But, back to today and the rest of 2012, I decided to do a top ten list again (but with three honorable mentions).
My rules:
1) Each book listed has come out this past year.
2) It is YA (duh).
3) I also have read the book in 2012 (not later or earlier). And it doesn’t matter if other books in the series have come out earlier.

1) Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (Review/Rating: 10/10)

I’m going to be honest. My top three books were the hardest. I kept rearranging the top three, but overall this one won the top spot for its pure brilliance in all things. To quote myself, “Brennan has this magical ability to sound like Charlotte Bronte, Libba Bray, Louise Rennison, and Maureen Johnson all at the same time. Seriously, her writing is just so amazing. To able to sound like a Gothic writing genius and somehow also be hilariously British, and have wonderful and believable teen drama too is just pure amazing. It was like a YA feast for the senses. I laughed, I cried, I gasped out loud at the end, and I am nothing but super impressed.”
2) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Review/Rating: 10/10)

There is just nothing bad to say about this book. It was beautiful, sad, and powerful. It has produced some seriously wonderful conversation for me. And frankly, I feel like a better person having read this. If you have not read this book, you need to go get it right now.
3) Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Review/Rating: 10/10)

I remember finishing this book (early because I had a galley), and searching Twitter, GoodReads, and the digital universe at large, wishing for someone to talk to about it. That’s how good it is. I may or may not have gotten some friends to read it earlier than intended just so I’d have someone to gush over it with. It was YA fantasy at its finest, and I really recommend this one to everyone (all the time).
4) The Diviners by Libba Bray (Review/Rating: 10/10)

Libba Bray is my favorite author (and I got to meet her this year!!). Her writing abilities pretty much put all other YA authors to shame. And this book proves it. If there was a best YA writing award, I would give it to her. She just weaves all these different characters, storylines, and terrifying moments together in this book in a way that has you thinking and reliving each detail for months to come.
5) Every Day by David Levithan (Review/ Rating: 10/10)

This would win the most unique YA book award. I have never read anything like this book before (YA or adult). It’s the kind of book I wish I could memorize and then quote for people at parties, sounding way more wise and profound then I could ever hope to be on my own. This is one, wise, profound, beautiful book. It was my first book that I’ve read by this author, alone. I have always enjoyed the books he co-writes with others, but since this one, I have been slowly buying everything he writes. I want all of his words!
6) The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (Review/ Rating: 10/10)

This book just blew me away in its terrifying story. Between the super abilities, the children death camps, the complete destruction of the world’s morality, and some of the best YA escape scenes ever, this book just had everything. It was suspenseful and dark till the very last page and it is what I hope all dystopias to be like.
7) Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (Review/ Rating: 10/10)

Oliver is one of those writers that just gives me goose bumps. I’m not sure if I have ever been quite as impressed with any other YA sequel before. Normally, sequels tend to feel like filler until the finale. This sequel was better than the first book, and just jam-packed with plot twists, character development, and dystopian awesomeness. The third book in this series might well be my most anticipated book of 2013.
8) Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Review/ Rating: 9/10)

This was definitely my favorite romance of the year. This book dealt with some tough stuff like mental illness and foster care. The two main characters had so much romantic tension, I’m not sure if I was more looking forward to them coming together or to the main character figuring out what happened/damaged her. This was an amazing love story of the best kind (the kind of survival).
9) For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (Review/ Rating: 10/10)

So many things could have gone wrong with a YA sci-fi dystopian retelling of a Jane Austen novel. I kind of kept waiting to not like it, and before I knew it, I read the whole thing. Seriously, Peterfreund pulls this off like no one else could. Her ability to match Jane Austen’s words, humor, and language and apply it all to such a unique setting, makes Peterfrreund a genius. What a treat for Austen fans!
10) Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Review/ Rating: 9/10)

I guess I’m a fan of combining genres this year because this was one spectacular mashup of Cinderella and cyborgs! I still can’t get over the fact that the girl left her whole foot behind instead of the glass slipper. I loved all of the world building in this unique fairy tale. I loved the politics and I just super loved the main character and her ability to overcome so many injustices.
Honorable Mention 1: The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (Review/ Rating: 10/10)

I got to meet this author this year as well, and I don’t think I’ve ever made more of an embarrassing impression meeting an author before. I’ve been reading her books for a long time, and I sort of just stood there staring at Richelle for a bit before realizing I should probably have her sign my books before her anxious fans (behind me) decided to trip me or something. But seriously, I have been above and beyond impressed with this spinoff series she’s doing of the Vampire Academy books because normally spin-offs are never that great. And the romance in this one was just magic!
Honorable Mention 2: Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock (Review/ Rating: 10/10)

I ended up loving this book way more than I thought I would. The love triangle, the characters, the political organizations, and the inhumanity of this supernatural book were just so spot-on!  I remember finishing the book and feeling sad that it was over.
Honorable Mention 3: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Review/ Rating: 10/10)

The writing and the characters really just blew me away in this one! Also, since reading this book, I have attempted to speak Latin to trees to no avail…Granted, I don’t know any Latin so this was difficult. Also, I wish the boys in this book were my friends!
And that is all! There were a lot of other awesome books I thought about putting in this list, but I’m feeling rather accomplished at the moment, so I think it is what it is. What made your top ten list?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Endlessly by Kiersten White

So, this one (book 3) is definitely my favorite cover in the series, but my least favorite book. I want my own purple, flowing dress, please! I didn’t dislike the book; I just don’t think it was quite up to par with the first two.
Poor Evie just can never truly be left alone. It seems as though every living creature needs something from her. The supernatual creatures (which now include a dragon) that live near her and go to her boyfriend’s dad’s diner want Evie to create a portal for them to go home. Evie’s new teen friends (of the human variety) want her attention all the time, especially in regards to helping plan a dance. The dark fairy queen, and the dark fairies want to take Evie to their realm, to prevent Evie from opening up any portals. Soon, the other fairy queen and Evie’s ex fairy boyfriend enter the scene to explain how they want Evie to go along with the supernatural creatures at the diner, and make the portal.
It turns out that many, many, many years ago, the two queens opened up the portals, and forced all the supernatural creatures to come to this world, with no choice. Now, the Seelie (“good”) fairy queen wants to take everyone back, and the only way to do this is with Evie’s abilities. Meanwhile, the dark queen is kidnapping humans to either dance themselves to death in the fairy realms, do hard labor, or to give birth to more empty ones (like Evie). Also, IPCA, the organization Evie used to work for, is under new management. The new management is backing the dark fairy and is imprisoning Evie’s past boss/mother figure and hopes to get their hands on Evie too.
Evie has a lot on her plate in this one. Between rescuing her “mom” from trial, to forgiving Jack for abandoning her in the last book, to resucing her boyfriend from the dark queen, to sort of learning to trust her ex fairy boyfriend, to saving all the humans who have been kidnapped (including one of her new teen friends), to fixing things with her once evil twin sister (who she sees in her dreams), to escaping IPCA again, there just always seems to be something in the way of Evie sitting down, relaxing and enjoying herself with her shape-shifting boyfriend.
There’s a lot of action in the one! Evie has to make a lot of plans as she goes along with one bad thing after another getting in her way. There’s plenty of fairy manipulation, sabotage of IPCA, and supernatural creatures! I was never bored with this book. And overall, I really did enjoy the final ending for the series as a whole.
There were three things I was not a fan of: 1) the romance, 2) the overall rushing feeling I had, and 3) how easy certain things were (though this could be related to number 2).  I loved the romance in book 1, and how Evie sort of learned what it felt like to really fall for someone (it was gradual and realistic as it could be with her crush kind of being a prisoner). Book 2 wasn’t quite as exciting as the first one because a major theme was Evie trying to live a normal life, and well “normal” isn’t as interesting as working for a organization that bags and tags werewolves and the like. But, the romance again was pretty believable for me –it had all the makings of a great, first love. This book seemed to fastforward decade or so in the romance.
She and her boyfriend were just talking about love all the time. They were constantly needing to be together. While I get that things are different for them, I don’t really feel like they were adequately at the stage of their relationship where it was okay to sacrifice themselves for the other. Also, I feel like the final decision made at the end was a little bogus. I don’t think Lend knew Evie well enough to make the decision he did for her.
I felt like a lot of things were rushed. So much happens in this one. I feel like what happens with IPCA alone could be one book, and what happens with the dark fairies could be another. It kind of felt like the author had made the decision really early on that there could absolutely be no more books in this series and it doesn’t matter how long this third book will be or how rushed certain scenes will seem.
A lot of resolutions to problems happened too quickly. In the space of a few sentences, Evie decided what to do with the woken up Vivian (aka: evil twin).  Also, Evie just happened to remember fairies disliking the taste of bread right at the perfect moment. Or another character just happened to rescue another one when it was really convenient for Evie.While part of Evie’s charm is her ability to think on her feet and do things (like randomly stab a certain bad character in the neck, unexpectedly), sometimes the book just felt overall way too convenient. I think a large part of this is because of all of the things thrown in here. Perhaps, if it were two books, there’d be less rushing through interesting scenes, and more time to allow Evie to come to solutions to things a little bit more slowly.
I still loved Evie! I love how girly she is. I love how stubborn and loyal she is too. She’s selfish sometimes and not afraid to say no to people, which can be annoying, but also makes her seem more realistic. I loved the idea for everything that happened with the portals and all the creatures returning home. I just wish there was more room to go into things better. My favorite book in the series was definitely the first book. I still give this one a 8/10 because it still was so much fun to read. It’s easy, fast, fluffy, and often times hilarious. It just wasn’t as good as the books before it.
I have to include my favorite sentence:
“We linked hands –my ex-boyfriend, my boyfriend, and my former friend-then-enemy-then-friend and I– and walked through a door to see if maybe empty carbs were good for something after all." (291)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (25)

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 Shades of Earth by Beth Revis (1/15/13):

Description on GoodReads:
Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all?
Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.

I’ve somehow managed to not read the whole description until just now…And it sounds so awesome! I’ve also read a couple reviews for this one already (it’s only a matter of weeks before it’s out!), and so far, it’s unanimous that this one rocks! It’s supposed to be full of twists and turns, and frankly, I cannot wait for this! I remember having to twist a few arms to get certain friends of mine to read this one because of its obvious sci-fi elements, but pretty much everyone I know who has read this series (even the reluctant), are anxiously anticipating book 3. Revis shocked me with how good her first book was. And she continued to impress me with book 2. I’m hoping for a similar reaction to the final installment…I wish the cover wasn’t so ugly and that it continued to match the first two books, but oh well –can’t win them all. I’d much rather the story be good!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

So, this is another one of those books that had such a gorgeous cover that I pretty much knew I was going to buy it before even really knowing what the story was. Then of course I realized that it was a fairy tale retelling, and well, it had me at hello.
The story is mostly about Sunday and Rumbold, though it weaves together many different stories and different fairytales. Sunday grew up in a house that sort of resembles a shoe (though I kept picturing the Weasley house, the burrow). And along with her sisters who also were named for days of the week, she grows up with a mother who says few words, a father who never stops telling stories, and a two brothers (one actually adopted, whose part fey).
There is literal magic on every page. Fairy godmothers seem common. No one is surprised to run across enchanted animals that used to be princes. There’s stories about leprochauns, giants, pirate queens, fairy queens, and frog princes. Rumbold is the frog prince. He’s a frog when Sunday first meets him and first tells all her stories. Unfortunately for Sunday, she leaves before she sees the power her kiss has on him. And when Rumbold comes to as the prince he’s learned is associated with Sunday’s brother’s death, he doesn’t quite know how to tell her it is him.
There’s family feuds on all kinds of magical levels in this book. And just as I was afraid of another destined Romeo and Juliet type story, the book took on so many other strange turns, that I really had nothing to worry about. In other words, Sunday’s family’s animosity aimed toward Rumbold’s royal family was the least of the problems. Throw in evil kings, three giant balls with lots of fancy dresses, a little bit of cannibalism, lots of evil magic, a magical bean stock, attacks, fights, and plenty of magical objects and references to a plethora of tales, and this book was never dull.
I liked that there were mixed elements of both the Disney type fairy tales and the gross, more authentic tales. I also, surprisingly, ended up loving all the characters. I thought I was going to hate all the family members and confuse them as I tend to do in YA books with just too many characters to really develop all of them. I really think Kontis did a good job of introducing them all individually; it certainly helped that they were all so uniquely different. I also loved how powerful stories and words were in this book!
There were two things that kind of bothered me though. One being that sometimes there was just too much going on. The book did not need every fairy tale ever in it. It was a little too overloaded. And while I’m grateful that I got to know Sunday’s family in a way I wasn’t expecting to, I never really got to delve too deeply into the millions of stories that I wish were more detailed and spread out. I loved all the individual stories, but I just needed more. Or if more wasn’t given, I might have been satisfied with a little humor/satire, but it wasn’t that kind of jumble of fairy tales.
My other problem was the scene skipping. A lot of story happens between chapter jumps and I hate when authors do this. I wanted to see Sunday’s aunt explain all the magical powers in the family. I wanted to see Rumbold’s memories (what was his connection to the pirate queen?!). I wanted to see more of the gross/dramatic conflict at the castle with the giant and not just skip to the bean stalk…I literally stopped my reading and was confused as to how the characters were suddenly in a different place. I went back, thinking I skipped a page, but I didn’t. It just felt like the author kept skipping pages. And it was so frustrating to have my reading interrupted for something I think is a mistake on my part, only to realize it’s just a weird writing style.
Besides the scene skipping and the overload of fairy tales, I still did really enjoy this one. I loved the magic, the characters, and the love story. I’ll give it a 7/10.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Good Week in Books (35)

My round 2 box of books came in from the discount book website that is my new best friend! Round 2 involves six books in total (3 of which are books I’ve already read but would like to own to complete my series. And the other three just look kind of awesome.

Angel by L.A. Weatherly (aka: Angel Burn in US…I somehow got a British version)
All the Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin (been wanting this for forever!)
Withering Tights by Louise Rennison (Need to own all of her books!)
Rampant by Diana Peterfreund (really want to re-read this right now)
Nightspell by Leah Cypess (prettiest cover!)
Warped by Maruissa Guibord (been wanting this for forever too!)
How was your week in books?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Wow. I think I might be slightly obsessed with this book. I certainly can’t stop thinking about it. Seriously, I was thinking about it when I was working. I was thinking about it when I was volunteering, when I was driving, when I was eating dinner, and when I was sleeping. I am still thinking about it after I have finished it. And aren’t those the best books? The ones that stick with you and pull at you even when you think you are done?
I have an ARC courtesy of the wonderful, Eti, at In the Key of Books! Thankfully though it comes out in four days, so no one has much of a wait for it! And seriously, you should be waiting for it; it is that good!
I think what first drew me into the book was the pure terror. Reading it felt a bit like reading a Holocaust book, so it is not, I guess, for people who can’t deal with tough stuff. It starts with Ruby, the main character collapsing in a garden, unable to take the pain of a loud, torturous noise designed to make certain children reel over in pain. For certain children, the pain brings on lots of blood and unconsciousness, but for other children the pain is slightly less. But all children can suffer the noise, whereas adults don’t.
In Ruby’s world, most of the child population has actually already died to disease. And the rest of the child population has developed strange, supernatural abilities. Being only ten, and a rather sheltered ten, when disaster strikes, Ruby is completely unprepared for the aftermath of such a problem. Not that anyone can ever truly be prepared for being shipped to a concentrate camp.
All of the newly powered up children are bussed up to “rehabilitation camps.” There, they are sleep-deprived, starved, and worked under the constant scrutiny of PSF’s (kind of government assigned soldiers). They are not allowed to speak, to use their abilities, or do anything out of line. Doing so results in harsh punishments, where in the loud torture noises are the least of their worries. I can’t adequately describe the horror that is the camp Ruby is staying in. And on top of Ruby having some major falling out with her parents before she went to camp, she also has to hide who she is from everyone.
So the noise I keep talking about actually isn’t that important, but it helps me describe things, so I’m going with it. The noise was meant specifically for children with the strongest supernatural abilities, for children like Ruby. Kids are classified as they come in, by color. And it is clear from some simple observation skills that Ruby does not want herself classified with the reds, oranges, or yellows.  Because of her abilities, she is able to convince the person assigning her to her cabin that she is a green. And because no one is allowed to ever use their powers, Ruby lives six years at this camp, no one the wiser.
She’s actually an orange, the most dangerous type of kid. Oranges have the ability to read people’s minds and force people to follow their will, via mind control. It’s the reason Ruby is always afraid of accidentally touching anyone because she knows the hard way that a touch can lead to terrible things. She purposely doesn’t try to make any friends, and has already lost her best friend due to a mistake on her part.
On the day Ruby faints in the garden, she is “rescued.” It seems as though the camp is testing all the children to make sure there are no more reds, oranges, and yellows, who by this point have all disappeared. At first they were experimented on, but all the kids at camp seem in agreement that there are no more reds, oranges, and yellows. Ruby is given a note and some pills and ends up escaping with her doctor who wakes her up after her collapse. Her doctor actually works for an anti-government organization that wants to end rehabilitation camps. Unfortunately though, Ruby discovers (by accidentally reading the doctor’s boyfriends’ mind) that the organization is also interested in using children as weapons and they don’t mind murdering people or children who get in their way.
She then escapes the antigovernment group and accidentally stumbles upon a group of kids who are in the middle of an epic escape of their own. Liam, Chubs, and Zu quickly (though a little reluctantly) take Ruby under their wing. And Ruby thinks it wise that they continue to think she is a green. As the story progresses, it also becomes clearer and clearer how messed up the world is, outside of the awful camps. It also becomes harder and harder to love little Zu, a little girl whose voice seems to have been taken from her, and not hug or touch her. And well, Liam keeps proving to be the guy of Ruby’s dreams. And she has to constantly remind herself not to reach out for him. She even wishes to hug the criticizing Chubs at times, but always backs off.
And together, the four of them outrun PSF’s, kidnappers, anti-government agencies, gangs of other escaped children, and try to survive long enough to find East River. East River is supposed to be a safe haven for kids, a place for kids to reconnect with loved ones if they want to. However, nothing is as it seems. And while Ruby is getting closer and closer to her amazing new friends (who keep saving each others’ lives), she has to work harder and harder to keep her ability in check because she does not want a repeat of what happened with her parents. There’s also the issue of deciding where she stands when all sides pretty much either want to shut her down or use her.
This book is full of torture, abused children, heartache, and suffering. It will pull at your heart-strings, learning each of these four kids’ stories. And most of all Ruby’s story might even put you to tears. There’s also amazing chase scenes, stolen cars, telekinetic battles, mind control show downs, a smidgen of romance, and lots and lots of politics. This book was kind of like a mixture of Unwind by Neal Shusterman and Divergent by Veronica Roth. And can there be a better mixture?
I was on the edge of my seat for the whole thing! There’s a scene where Ruby realizes the extent of her abilities and is able to turn a bad guy away just by telling them to go away, and this one scene was just so powerful! The extent to which all of the children in this world have suffered is astronomical. Seeing a little bit of happiness at East River was kind of like getting to the colored part of the movie, The Wizard of Oz. Happiness does exist?
I love, love, loved Liam, Zu, and Chubs. They were a team that only formed because of severe circumstances, but resulted in pure camaraderie magic. All of the scenes of them on the road, running for their lives, and trying to track down this one kid’s father were just pure magic to read. And then there’s Ruby, a girl who has lost everything, who has worked for years trying to blend in and not say a word, coming out of her protective bubble. When she decides to learn how to control her abilities, I literally fist-bumped the air…It’s also filled with amazing Watership Down references and great, witty dialog.
This is seriously one of the best dystopias I have read in a long time (since maybe Divergent). It moved me in so many ways. It had me crying one moment and laughing the next. The decisions Ruby has to continue to make to survive are so terrible and heart wrenching. I am dying for book two to come out. This definitely gets a 10/10 from me.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Secret Letters by Leah Scheier

I think this was one of the really great used bookstore finds I had! I love finding good books at used bookstores, especially books I’ve read a lot of good reviews for. Also, it’s a coming of age story with Sherlock Holmes connections and a girl main character way ahead of her time! What’s not to like?
Since her parent’s death, Dora has been in on a deep family secret: her real father is not the man who raised her, but instead the famous detective: Sherlock Holmes. Growing up in the country, Dora learns everything a woman should, while simultaneously reading Sherlock Holmes’ stories and practicing her detective skills of course. When an opportunity arrives for Dora to go to London with her cousin (for the season), she jumps at the opportunity. And when Dora learns of her cousin’s problems with blackmail, she of course suggests consulting Sherlock Holmes, himself.
The only problem though is that when they get to London, and Dora runs to Sherlock Holmes’ home, she finds out that he has died too, something about falling into a waterfall. Before breaking the bad news to her cousin (who knows nothing of Dora’s true heritage) though, she bumps into a different young detective’s assistant, Mr. Peter Cartwright, who offers his services instead.
While Peter is helping with the case of Dora’s cousin’s blackmail, he also gets put on the case of a missing heiress. And when it becomes clear that the two cases are connected (or at least taking place on the same estate), Dora lies, acts, and risks everything to be part of the investigation, to put her coveted detectiving skills to good use. She ends up pretending to be a scullery maid on the estate with the missing heiress and the blackmailer. With staged flirtations, secret messages, snooping around rooms, and befriending the house staff, Dora is able to find clues that Mr. Cartwright can’t. The two work together, each equally bringing in what they can.
There’s guns, dancing, romance, bar scenes, lying, subterfuge, and lots of Sherlock Holmes-type deductions. There are conversations that Dora has with Mr. Cartwright that sound like they were taken directly from Mr. Holmes’ lips. And the relationship between Mr. Cartwright and Dora is filled with tension, rivalry, a little bit of animosity, and just the perfect amount of romantic possibility.
There are a lot of moments where people just have to get used to the fact that Dora doesn’t care too much for her reputation. She does what she has to do to solve a case, including getting injured. I didn’t think much of her injury because Dora kept choosing not to as well, but I was forgetting how little people back then could do for injuries, and I’m glad the author made the whole scenario more believable in regards to it getting infected.
The book is worth reading just to read the conversations between Mr. Cartwright and Dora. Dora is full of insight, intelligence, and bravery. It’s hard not love her. And the more you learn about Mr. Cartwright, it’s impossible not to love him as well. They both have had tough pasts and things they cannot forget, however much they wish to. I liked how the two cases combined. I found the missing girl story just as riveting as the blackmailing story. And I loved how there were secret letters throughout all of the stories, making the title justly put!
My problem with the book though lies in its believability. For starters, Dora, while pretending to be a scullery maid, was able to leave her jobs many times. She snuck out, investigated, left the estate on several occasions, and outwardly flirted with a couple of men. She did this all without being punished. Granted most of my knowledge of giant estates and the staff that worked them is coming from the show, Downton Abbey…but there is no possible way this could have happened. Even a smart, deductive, reasonable girl like Dora could not have possibly accomplished what she did while also doing all of her house responsibilities.
Clearly the author did her research when it comes to manners, etiquette, maid responsibilities, etc; however, it was very sugarcoated. All the times Dora was caught not being where she was supposed to be would have most definitely resulted in much harsher circumstances for her. There was a hierarchy in the house for sure and I love all the things Scheier commented in regards to house politics, but the lack of harshness and punishment made it too unbelievable for me. Also, it would be impossible for a maid to do everything she was paid to do and solve two investigations –there just isn’t enough time in the day.
I also didn’t really believe how easily Dora’s cousin took to the lie Dora fed her about why she had to leave. I feel like Dora’s cousin, while in the dark about certain issues, is close enough to Dora to know that she was lying. She could also easily tell what her cousin wished she was doing, and I don’t think her cousin was dumb enough to act the way she did.
Regardless though of some of its believability, this book was nothing but charming. The writing was excellent, the mysteries were intriguing, and the characters were great! I give it a 8/10. And I will be hoping for a sequel because there was a little foreshadow of a possible sequel to come. I of course need to read more about Mr. Cartwright!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

End of the World Giveaway Hop

Thank you, I am a Reader, not a Writer and My Life with Books for hosting such an awesome giveaway! To see all the other blogs participating and to have more chances to win free books, keep scrolling down to the bottom of this post to see the list of other blogs or just click on this lovely image above.
There were a lot of fun ways to go with this contest. I could giveaway books worth preserving at the end of the world or I could giveaway books about the end of the world. Personally, deciding what to hold on to would be such a hard thing for me…And I absolutely love books that deal with the end of the world. So I’m offering up 2 books to one winner that involve the world ending in some way, physically or metaphorically (like zombies, disease, souls dying, harsh circumstances/little water, etc.).
This giveaway is open to my international followers as well as my US followers (as long as The Book Depository or Barnes and Noble can ship to your address). The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their shipping address and book choices, or I will have to randomly pick a different winner.
What’s up for grabs:

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Masque of the Red Death by Emily Griffin
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Defiance by C.J. Redwine
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Partials by Dan Wells
Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Thanks for stopping by, and good luck! 
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