Friday, August 31, 2012

Shift by Raine Thomas (Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway!)

Today, I’m so excited to be participating in the Shift blog tour, hosted by YA Bound. You can see the other blogs participating, by clicking here. And to read my review of the first book in the Firstborn trilogy by Raine Thomas, click here.

I am so happy to have decided to be a part of this blog tour! It’s my first time participating in a tour, and I really lucked out to have chosen such a fantast series to read. I don’t know how I am going to be able to wait for the last book in the trilogy!
This one centers more around the character, Sophia, and less on Tate. At first, I was so disappointed because I love Tate so much, and Sophia’s personality is so different. Where Tate is so brave and instinctual, Sophia is way more logical and filled with so much more self-doubt. But, Thomas continues to talk about various characters throughout the book again, and Tate definitely still plays a significant role in everything that comes to pass. Plus, now I have a deeper love for Sophia, who was never my favorite character before.
Any way, Tate, Sophia, and Ariana are all back at home recovering from their adventures and torments in book 1. Though it is clear that the other pieces of the scroll are still on everyone’s minds. And because Thomas is so awesome at getting into the minds of other characters, it is known from the beginning that the torturing, evil Mercesti from book 1 are also still doing all that is possible to get their hands on the scroll too. And to do that, they will need the help of Ariana, who can find anything and the help of Tate, who can tell when anyone is lying (and can help others see past detections hiding things like valuable scrolls).
After being amongst friends for some time, Tate’s family is capable of convincing Ariana to help them find the missing scroll pieces before someone else does. Unfortunately, the freshly bonded group of friends aren’t out long before everything goes wrong. One of the elders seems to have betrayed them. Tate and Ariana are kidnapped, and Sophia is missing. Sophia tries to go after Ariana and Tate, but doesn’t make it. Thankfully, she is rescued by a group of Mercesti (that seem a lot like Zachariah) and saved from further harm from the Mercesti who want Tate and Ariana.
Sophia makes some amazing allies. Tate and Ariana are captured by the wrong Estilorians. And the rest of their friends decide to split among themselves. Some go to rescue the girls and some head toward where they think part of the scroll is. This book, like the first one, is loaded with action, kidnapping, violence, flying, sizzling romance, and incredible power!
It was easier to read this one because I’m so much more used to the language, terms, and customs of the Estilorians. I still recommend reading the first book in the series, and maybe even the books in the series before first, otherwise it will be hard to understand a lot. Also like the first one, I found the beginning a little slow. Like I said, it took me a while to get used to Sophia’s personality over Tate’s. However, once the action picks up (and boy, does it pick up), it was impossible to put this book down! Plus, there was just enough sizzle between Tate and Zachariah still to keep me pleased!
Sophia and Quincy’s romance was a lot more tame, but still so much fun to read! And I found myself wanting the two of them together so badly! I loved watching Sophia become so much stronger in this book! Instead of running away from her problems, she embraced them headfirst, with crazy awesome sounding armor to match! 
I loved the new characters. And again, I found myself lost (in a good way) in this amazing world Thomas has created. The details about everything from babies to magic powers, to marriage markings, to training were just so fascinating! I loved the politics too, and getting to meet more characters who refused to fit along the black and white terms pre-set for them. There’s a lot of grey areas in this book, and divides between what is right for you personally versus what is right for everyone. There was also a twist I was not expecting! And this twist made everything even more interesting!
It is a little intense at times because some wonderful characters are tortured, and all of the best characters get tested to beyond their limits. But of course all the magical fun of shifting into animals, reading loved ones’ minds, following paths to magical scrolls, and flying add to the overall un-put-downable-ness of the book. I give this one a 9/10. I have no idea how I’m going to wait for book 3. There is an insane cliffhanger at the end.

Raine Thomas:

From Good Reads:

"Raine Thomas is the author of the exciting and original series of YA fantasy/romance novels about the Estilorian plane. Her passion for writing prompted her to earn her bachelor’s degree in English with a focus in Creative Writing from Georgia State University, then her master’s degree in Humanities from Central Michigan University. She is also a proud member of Romance Writers of America.

Residing in Orlando, Florida, Raine is a hopeless romantic with a background in the fields of mental health and wedding planning…two areas that intersect far more than one would think. Her years working with children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral challenges inspired her to create young protagonists who overcome their own conflicts. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Connect with the author, Raine Thomas:
Good Reads
Amazon for Shift
Barnes and Noble for Shift

Raine Thomas is also hosting a giveaway! Up for grabs is one signed copy of Defy, one signed copy of Shift, and a necklace (inspired by the main character of Shift). Enter here or on any of the blogs participating in the tour (link at the top of the post).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (10)

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 Impostor by Jill Hathaway (3/26/13):

Description on Good Reads:

“What if a killer took control of you?

Vee Bell’s gift (or curse) of “sliding”—slipping into the mind of another person and experiencing life, briefly, through his or her eyes—has been somewhat under control since she unwillingly witnessed the horrific deaths of her classmates six months ago.

But just as things are getting back to normal, Vee has a very bizarre experience: she loses consciousness and finds herself in a deserted area, at the edge of a cliff, with the broken body of the boy who took advantage of her on the rocks below.

As Vee finds herself in stranger and stranger situations with no memory of getting there, she begins to suspect that someone she knows has the ability to slide—and that this “slider” is using Vee to exact revenge on his or her enemies.”

I just loved Slide by Jill Hathaway! I was so excited to learn she was writing a sequel! She weaves together contemporary teen drama, supernatural elements, and some serious tough stuff in such a fantastic way! The description sounds so intriguing! It looks like her sliding has gotten worse. And I really need to know about the boy on the top of the cliff, and what he did! I’m not an enormous fan of the cover, but I think it goes well with the first book’s cover. I’m just so ready for this book to be out already!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Defy by Raine Thomas

I am a part of the Shift Blog Tour (my post goes up Friday!), and Defy is book 1 in the Firstborn series by Raine Thomas. My post Friday, for Shift will be all about the new book 2. I thought it would be important to read the first book in the series before doing a blog stop for book 2…And I’m so glad I did.
What really makes Defy stand out is the intricately thought out world it takes place in. The characters all live on the Estilorian plane, a world filled with Estilorians (creatures that mostly look human except for markings that most of them have and none of them look older than forty and could pretty much live forever). They also can all fly and most seem to have other special abilities (such as the ability to turn into a panther or to make water out of nothing). And they are all divided up into classes that define what they look like (eye color!) and what they do (protect, travel to the human plane, lead, create, etc.)
This book mostly centers around Kynzesti, the newest class of Estilorians. They are half Estilorian and half human and not a lot of knowledge exists about what they are all capable of. And because their parents don’t really know what they are capable of either, the Kynzesti survive in an enclosed protected area with no contact with the outside world until they come of age at 18 and develop their wings. Tate, the main character, is tired of living in a protected world and when her cousin, Sophia, gets to leave to practice flying, Tate follows closely behind.
Unfortunately, Tate does not know a lot of things. For starters, her overprotective parents have been dreaming about her death that’s to take place that day. Also, after she escapes, her close-knit extended family is visited by elders who explain that there have been some brutal attacks and murders of young Estilorian women. It really isn’t Tate’s day because while spying on her cousin, she’s attacked by a Kragen (a dragon-like creature) and taken far away.
After some time passes, Tate’s family assumes her dead because they know how serious a Kragen attack can be and they have searched for her to no avail. Fortunately for Tate, her twin brother, Tiege, refuses to give up on her when he still feels mentally connected to her. He, along with Sophia, and some other family and friends then go off to find her, using the twins’ connection to help them. Tate is brought to a cave by the Kragen, and luckily something goes right for her when she is healed by Zachariah, friend of the Kragen. Zachariah has been living alone for decades, away from other Estilorians because of something that happened to him and refuses to stay in any one location for too long a period of time because he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s alive.
He leaves with the Kragen, but when Tate wakes up in the cave after being healed, she and Zachariah develop a sort of telepathic bond even though technically they have never met. Tate survives the wild by using everything she has learned from her protective home. She is trained in fighting, in fishing, in strategizing, and in surviving. She uses what she knows and heads out hopefully in the direction of her family home. But when Tate’s story combines with the stories of the young women who are brutally attacked, and a group of Mercesti (the evil Estilorians) who are after an ancient, powerful scroll, and the whole world seems to be in danger, Zachariah goes against his instincts and does everything in his power to help protect Tate.
There’s murder, torture, adventure, survival skills, fighting, some sizzling romance, magical abilities, flying, growing up, and just so much fun in this book! Everything is so well thought out. I found the Estilorians fascinating! I loved the point of view shifts! At first I hated the point of view shifts because I would get so wrapped up in Zachariah’s story, I’d be pissed to leap right into Tiege’s story. But eventually, I grew to learn that each character’s stories were equally amazing, especially Tate’s. I could easily have read an entire novel in any of their points of view.
I loved how confident and strong Tate was! And I love how well matched she and Zachariah are (though he is so much older than she is…) I loved the other characters. I loved reading about the flying and the powerful scroll. There was some definite military type strategy happening here. And pretty much all out war was happening by the end! There was never a dull moment, and I read the whole thing in a day.
The only thing that got to me was all the new terms and long names I had to learn so quickly. I didn’t know that this book was an extension of a whole other series written by Raine Thomas. And you don’t need to read that other series to enjoy this book; I’m proof of that. I just have a feeling this book would be a lot easier to read right away if you had read the other series. There is a glossary in the beginning, which helped a little bit. It’s just that a glossary in an eBook is relatively irrelevant if you have a lousy memory. It took me some time to build up a general understanding of all these new terms, classes, and traditions.
But once, I got into the story a little bit more, it really didn’t matter to me. Like I said, I totally enjoyed and loved this book despite not having read the other ones. I’m already reading and loving the sequel! Look out for my blog tour post! And I have a feeling, I will be reading her earlier series soon too. I give this one a 9/10, and I highly recommend it to fantasy fans who love a good, strong female protagonist.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Supernaturally by Kiersten White

I seriously need to catch up on my reviews. I read this one 3 books ago! And I read it super fast because as I’m coming to realize, Kiersten White is a comic YA genius. Evie is just so sarcastic. She’s sarcastic in a way that makes fun of other people and herself, and I love a character that can both laugh at herself and kick some serious evil, supernatural butt. Really, Evie is just so much fun to read about; she’s so much like Buffy, and I’m glad!
I actually have an ARC of this book even though it came out a year ago. I got this book before I read the first one. The ARC was available at a library conference and I knew that I would have to one day read book 1. And I must say, I’m a smart lady! I have some serious reading deadlines to work with, but will get to book 3 shortly. I don’t know how much longer I can be me and not read book 3 though.
This book had a little less action than book 1. So, long story short, there was no evil twin talking Evie into stealing souls, and no mass supernatural serial killings. However, book 2 is anything but boring. Evie finally gets what she wants: a relatively normal/high school attending life. Lend (her shifter boyfriend) is in college, while Evie finishes up high school. She has a locker, a best friend that’s human, another best friend/roommate that’s a vampire, a job working in a diner, and a super hot boyfriend to make out with on weekends. It’s everything she always wanted, except it’s not quite enough.
Luckily for Evie, her old friend/mother figure, Raquel, comes back into her life and offers her another part-time job helping humankind and working with a new and improved IPCA that apparently doesn’t think all supernaturals are pure evil any more, except fairies, which now aren’t that involved with IPCA at all. Evie takes the job, lying to Lend about it because he really doesn’t want her involved with IPCA. She partners with Jack, a teen boy brought up by fairies and who has the ability to create his own fairy doors and paths, allowing Evie to go on missions without her creepy fairy ex-boyfriend.
Evie keeps finding herself in seriously doomed, supernatural situations. She also keeps lying to Lend about what’s she doing. She starts acting more like her fun-loving self a bit with Jack, taking adventures in the land of the fey. But of course all of her trust issues seriously blow up in her face. Serious answers are had, vampires captured, and just when I thought I could not be surprised in any YA paranormal ever again, there was actually a twist in this book that I did not see coming! I knew all the supernatural creatures coming for Evie and sparking a need in her to use her creepy soul-stealing powers was no coincidence, but I had no idea what was actually happening!
It’s clear what type of person Evie is by the end. It’s so hard for her to keep her powers in check, but she desperately does and she makes a decision regarding fairies that I found rather noble. There’s romance, normal high school dramas, supernatural part time jobs that make the part time jobs I had as a teenager seem utterly boring, a lot of information about fairies, and so many fun, awesome characters!
The one thing I didn’t like was the need Evie had to lie to her boyfriend. I don’t understand how she could have gone through all that she did in book 1, and still feel like she couldn’t trust him. And I seriously don’t know (if I were Lend) if I’d be able to forgive her.
I have an inkling of an idea for what book 3 will be like and I hope I’m right because I think it will be awesome! I can’t wait to read more. I love Evie, I love the sarcasm, I love the other characters, and I love all the different paranormal elements of the book. Hopefully, book 3 will have more trust and a little bit more action/butt-kicking. This one gets a 9/10.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Good Week in Books (19)

I had a very light book week. I think I consider a week with any new books good though. I just purchased two new ones (I’ve been needing!). Technically, I got some super sweet member coupons in the mail for Barnes and Noble, and I was only able to hold on to those coupons for a matter of a day or so…Even though I know there’s books I want that come out this Tuesday. I also purchased my DVD copy of the Hunger Games! I can’t wait to re-watch it, and then watch all the bonus features!

Endlessly by Kiersten White (I have fallen in love with her books! And I have a review coming for Supernaturally really soon).

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan (I just love it when YA authors collaborate!)
The Hunger Games (3 Disc Deluxe Edition from Target) DVD

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Starling by Lesley Livingston

I have the ARC of this one, though it comes out in a few days (8/28/12).  I’m not the biggest Lesley Livingston fan. I read some of her other series (about fairies), and I wasn’t super impressed with it. There was something missing. This book grabbed my attention a long time ago though because it’s about a girl who fences competitively (!) and well, Norse mythology plays a major role. And like her other series, the setting is current day New York City. It seemed to me that urban fantasy + Norse mythology + sword fights = recipe for fun.
It wasn’t as fun as I wanted it to be. I didn’t hate it; I had fun reading it. It was still, well, missing something. I’ll get to that in a bit though. It all starts when a giant tree crashes into the fancy gym at Gosforth Academy. Mason, along with her evil brother (that no one else sees as pure awful), her crush (Cal), the school’s mean girl, and their fencing coach all get trapped inside the gym after fencing practice. The storm apparently messes with the building’s electricity and lock system. But when the tree comes down on them, so does Fennrys Wolf (a gorgeous and naked guy with no memories of anything except his name), and a pack of Draugr (supernatural monsters out for blood).
Fennrys seems built to destroy the monsters and does so, getting the kids and fencing instructor underground in the building’s basement, after of course some sword play for Mason and a major injury for her Cal. Fennrys comes down after he fights some more and helps heal Cal with some Shaman-y sounding words that he can’t explain why he knows. He also can’t explain to the fencing coach how he got be as good at fencing as he just was. And when the teens start talking too much, Fennrys gets them all to go to sleep so he can leave.
Mason’s dad freaks out that his daughter was in so much danger and takes her and her brother home (from their boarding school) for the weekend to recuperate. But as soon as Mason is back at school, Fennrys finds her and they become quick sword practicing friends and work together to try to get Fennrys’ memories back. Meanwhile, Mason’s evil brother is plotting how to help fulfill the end of the world Norse prophecy that was meant for his father. Apparently, his father failed the prophecy when his wife gave birth to Mason, a girl. She was supposed to have 3 sons, but only had two and then died giving birth to her daughter. However, the brother figures out a way around this, a way not so good for Mason.
Between the fencing competitions, the jogs down memory lane in NYC with Fennrys, and the random fights with various supernatural creatures that keep popping up in very public places, Mason never suspects she has anything to do with a prophecy for the end of the world. There’s a scary train scene, kidnappings, claustrophobia, romance, and a lot of mythological creatures.
I loved how the author combined elements with the NYC from her other YA series. I loved all the elements that made up the book. I loved the idea of the book and the plot of the book. What I wasn’t really buying were the characters. Why did Mason love fencing? Why was her brother such a jerk? I mean he practically killed her when she was a toddler. He locked her in a shed during a game of hide and seek and then forgot she was there when he went away for the weekend. She was trapped in a shed for 3 days and no one knew about it. This then results in her claustrophobia and a terrible relationship with her brother. But, the brother never shows any remorse. Mason assumes he always felt guilty even though he never acted that way…
Also, the characters would go through these giant, colossal changes and then there’d be no explanation for why the changes happened. For instance, her dad goes from being the most overprotective father on the planet to agreeing to his daughter’s demise. And the mean girl at school goes from insulting Mason all the time to becoming best friends with her (with no explanation for why). And Cal, the guy Mason was first crushing on goes from a flirtatious sweetheart to one of the biggest jerks in the book (for no explained reason).
Also, I was finally able to pinpoint what bothered me about Livingston’s other series and I think it is her voice. She creates these amazing sounding characters (like Mason who has a fear of closed spaces, yet loves to fence and Fennrys Wolf, a strong warrior meant to help bring about the end of the world, yet can’t remember anything), but then she gives them all the same voice. There were moments when Fennrys, a creature of legend, would use modern day girly expressions. And sometimes the evil brother would say things in the exact same way Mason and the mean girl and even the father did. And it just didn’t make sense for them all to sound so similar.
I did read this pretty quickly. I loved the world Livingston writes in. And I loved the story. I just think her characters needed some work to be more believable. I also think her characters needed to be more consistent for me to develop any more empathy or understanding for them. I give this one a 7/10.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (9)

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 Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (2/5/13):

Description on Good Reads:
“Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.”

I adored Cinder by Marissa Meyer. When I first read the titles of Meyer’s other future books I was a little afraid that would mean new fairy tale characters and no more Cinder, but I am so happy to read this description and learn that on top of some new, awesome characters, Cinder will still be playing a role (and Prince Kai!). I love fairy tale retellings. I have never quite read anything like Meyer’s book, a fairy tale that takes place in dystopia type future. There are elements of sci-fi, romance, dystopia, and fairy tale. I loved it. Also, how gorgeous is this new cover? It doesn’t quite stand out as much as the robotic leg of the first one, but it still catches your eye in a good way. I’m so ready for this to come out already!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nevermore by James Patterson

I preordered this one! It’s book 8, the final book in the Maximum Ride series. It’s been a really long time since a book in this series has come out, or at least a really long time for James Patterson…I give the guy some credit though because he’s working on about a million books at once. But still…I started this series as a teenager, and I even remember picking up book 1 for the first time.
I had actually been to my bookstore several times, picked up the first book, read the side flap, and put it back on the shelf at least four times before I finally decided to purchase it. The cover obviously kept appealing to me, but the summary sounded so cheesy. Right at the top of the inside flap, it says, “Do not put this book down. I’m dead serious –your life could depend on it.” And while I could see this statement maybe appealing to a much younger crowd, I thought it was trying way too hard. (And as an arrogant teen, I would giggle, and just say, “No thanks.”) Yet, I still bought it or maybe talked my dad into buying for me, and I’m glad I did because the story, while yes, maybe a little bit cheesy at times, has remained one of the most action-packed, engaging stories I’ve ever read. And I kept with this series for the past seven years because of this awesome story.
As all last books in series go, it was a little bit hard and sad to read. It’s not ever easy for me to say goodbye to characters. And I’m sorry if this is kind of turning into a review of the series as a whole as compared to just the last book, but I haven’t reviewed any of the other books on this blog yet and I feel like I can really judge a final book best by comparing it with all the books before it.
It takes place at the end of the world. Angel, the youngest child in Max’s (short for Maximum) gang has been captured again. Max (female!) and her flock/family are all kids who have been experimented on, tortured, poked, and trained in a science facility for most of their young lives. They also all have wings, and they can all fly. A big theme throughout the series is normalcy and how much these kids wish for normal childhoods. They’re always on the run, always fighting, and always trying to help save the world. There’s epic sky battles, kidnappings, children dying, mad scientists, human (or human hybrid) rights, family mysteries, special powers (on top of flying!), and an ever present upcoming apocalypse.
This final book begins with apocalypse, and you know I loved every second of that! There’s politics, crazy weather going out of crazy proportions, an island of genetically different children, seriously awesome love triangle scenes, lots of fighting, clones, torture, and so many questions answered! Patterson was not afraid to pretty much end the world, and I was really impressed by this.
The book was missing a lot of the action and suspense that the others in this series brought to the table. This one was more about ending things and about deciding things, and about characters becoming who they’re meant to be. I do still have some questions about the end of it all, and I kind of wish more was explained better at the very end. Also, a whole gang of characters (Fang’s gang to be exact) kind of got abandoned and then never mentioned again. Why couldn’t they have been on the island?
Also, I was never really sure why so many people just accepted that they weren’t meant to survive. And this was way before the serious weather damage. Why were they so willing to die for a select few to live? Some of that just didn’t make sense to me. Though, I did pick up on a lot of political parody with all the 1 percent lives stuff, and that was awesome.
I also kind of think Max took Fang back in way too quickly. I was definitely team Fang, but I felt like that reunion was a little rushed. And Max doesn’t normally forgive and forget that quickly. But, that’s okay. I still get why that needed to happen, so I’ll take it.
I did want a little more action. But overall, I really enjoyed this one. I liked seeing all the missions the kids went on throughout the series come together. All that global warming stuff (that I felt was kind of preached at me in the one book I didn’t like that much) made a lot more sense now. Max never ceased to amaze me. She is one strong bird kid! Really, I would not mind having her as a leader. I give this a 9/10. (But if I were rating the whole series, it would definitely be a 10/10 from me). I’m just so sad that it’s all over.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Good Week in Books (18)

I definitely had a good week in books this week! I’ve sort of slowly been regaining my sanity after Leaky Con last week. It’s taken a week to calm down, seriously. And I’m enjoying my last days of summer before my school library starts up again. And enjoying summer for me always means reading a lot of books! I got two new ones in the mail for review. I purchased two books (in paperback!). And I received a nice, little haul of books from Net Galley!
For Review (Thank you Disney Hyperion!):
False Memory
by Dan Krokos (I’ve read, reviewed, and loved this one already and I’m so happy to have a finished copy!)
The DemiGod Diaries by Rick Riordan


Anna Dressed in Blood
by Kendare Blake (I have read so many fantastic reviews for this one!)
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (I have read really good reviews for this one and it just sounds so interesting!)

From Net Galley (Thank you Harlequin, Disney Hyperion, and Cedar Fort!):

by Melissa Darnell (9/25/12)
The Archived by Victoria Schwab (1/22/13)
Shadowlands by Kate Brian (1/8/13)
Refuge by Carole Rummage (11/13/12)
How was your week in books?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

I love Jane Austen and I love Diana Peterfreund. As soon as I heard about this book (a dystopia/sci-fi version of Persuasion), I added it to my TBR piles. Besides Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel. I love the letters in the novel. I love the side characters and I love how intelligent and wonderful the main character is.
In a world of Austen re-do’s, I know what I can expect. On a rare occasion will something like the movie, Clueless, or the book Bridget Jones’ Diary come to be and shock me back into my Austen obsessions. But, never do these movies or modernizations really quite compare. And then I read some mixed reviews for this book, which caused a level of skepticism on my part. However, Peterfreund’s book does compare to Austen.
I seriously read this in one go. I was so lost in the language, the prolonged romance, the letters, and responsibilities of Elliot, the main character that there were moments where I had to actually remind myself that I was not reading Jane Austen.
The book takes place in the future. And actually, in Elliot’s future there is little to no technology. Because of the mistakes of the people in the past and their experiments with technology, science, and genetics, a large portion of the world’s population is born with severe mental delays. These people are called the Reduced. Its taken several generations, but now in Elliot’s time people are now finally being born with no mental delays or learning disabilities and these people are called Posts.
But despite the fact that people seem to be doing better, technology is still very frowned down upon. The nobility and the ones with power in Elliot’s world are the religious, are the ones in history who kept claiming that people are not God, and that people have no right to change what God has already made. They are against bettering eyesight, they are against machines that cut down on labor, they are against developing advanced medicine, they are against using electricity, or doing anything fast. I kind of pictured a lot of extremely wealthy Amish survivors.
And with the increase in Posts came an increase in a lot of other things. More and more Posts and Reduced start leaving their serving jobs for hopes of a better future. And more and more evidence is showing a slow growth in science again. Elliot is of the upper class, and her childhood sweetheart, Kai, is a Post. The book takes place four years after Kai leaves his position and leaves Elliot to go find freedom. She was supposed to marry him and go with him but at the last minute decided she couldn’t.
Unlike in the original where the main character is persuaded by a well-meaning friend not to follow the one she loves, here, Elliot is persuaded by responsibility to all the Reduced and Posts left on her estate, trapped into miserable lives because of her father. Her father is pretty much evil. After years, though, Kai comes back to the estate, with a new name: Captain Malakai Wentforth and new friends. He’s with a fleet who rent Elliot’s family’s land to build a ship.
It’s clear that Kai has gone through some changes, one of which is to be eternally grumpy and jerk-faced to Elliot.  Seriously, there were moment I literally wished I could jump into the pages and punch him in the face. And the story goes along so well with Persuasion. There’s the same scary moment by the cliffs. There’s the same young neighbor that everyone believes Kai to now be in love with. There’s  the ridiculous family that almost seems impossible to have to link Elliot to.  And there is so much tension between Kai and Elliot. Now of course there’s also star-gazing, ship-building, horse-racing, and out-door concerts.
Also like with Austen, are the letters! Before each new chapter are letters written back and forth between Kai and Elliot from when they first learned how to write up until the day Kai left. While the book stays on track, the letters are mixed around in years and relevance to what’s happening in the story. A lot is explained about the world, about politics, and about Elliot’s awful family in these letters. And it was so nice to get descriptions of things from this style of writing. It was very unique for YA. And of course my favorite letter is the one written by the guy at the end, and Peterfreund has her own beautiful version of it.
I loved the style! I loved the letters. I loved Elliot and all she endured to protect her people. I love that she felt the need to include her Reduced friend at the end. I loved all of Elliot’s mini rebellions with musical instruments and secret letter placements. I loved that she used science to figure out how to save her land and farm. She developed a kind of wheat that would grow better and provide her people with enough food for the upcoming winter. Too bad her father cut it all down to build a stupid racetrack.
I loved the horses. I loved the sad stories of all the Posts you meet who come stay on her lands. I loved her grandfather and how he sort of represented Elliot’s confusion about what was right and wrong. Yes, technology made the Reduced what they were, but what if technology could save lives too, save her grandfather? I loved everything about ship-building and discovering new places. The recurring theme of stars was beautifully executed. The politics and all of the religion versus science debates seemed so probable and so understandable.
The bad characters in this book were so awful and the things that happened to some of the Posts were terrible enough to make me gasp out loud and cry. I felt so bad for Elliot at certain points that I even found myself crying for her. The side characters were wonderful too, and I really found myself cheering for all her friends.
I did find the book a little confusing at first because nothing was described normally. It was mostly described over time in letters and I can see how this would frustrate people. I can also see how people who have never read Persuasion or Austen at all might not like it. It’s all the similarities in style, voice, and wit that truly made this book stand out as something uniquely special. And part of reading Jane Austen is knowing Jane Austen’s formula. Not knowing the formula going into this definitely could mess with what should be your ultimate love for the book as a whole. It gets a 10/10 from me. Really, I was just so impressed here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Kill Order by James Dashner

So, I love James Dashner! I love being able to recommend a for sure read-alike for the Hunger Games to a boy. The Maze Runner never disappoints anybody. It wheels you in from the first page. And Dashner’s whole series had a way of sucking you in until it was finished. As soon as this appeared on Net Galley, I snagged it. Thank you Delacorte Books for Young Readers.
I was a little disappointed in this prequel. When you have read the whole series and you think prequel, you automatically think, “We finally get to see what Thomas refuses to remember!” You are wrong. The book has nothing really much to do with Thomas; it pre-dates Thomas. And I guess I would have figured that out if I actually had read anything about it before diving in. But, where’s the fun in that…?
The book is about a whole new set of characters. The only bits that mention characters from the loved prior series are the very beginning and the very end. And while I loved the new characters and I loved the whole end of the world story that led to the characters in the series I love, I just kept hoping for more connections. I wanted to know what Thomas refuses to remember! And now I’m fairly certain I will never get to know.
Yes, it does still wheel you in till you get to the point where other people in the real world need to communicate with you, and you just keep saying, “in a moment.” Really. It begins in a village of survivors. Sun flares, tsunamis, and other more natural worldly disasters have already taken place, and after the few survivors finally have wound down a little bit and gotten used to a more rustic (no electricity or email) lifestyle, out comes the virus.
It’s terrifying to witness the virus filled darts raining down on the survivors, especially when the survivors are all under the impression that the giant ships coming up to them are there to bring good things. Mark, the main character who was a lot like Thomas (I kind of kept thinking he would end up being Thomas’ dad, but was wrong), was actually one of the few people who really didn’t think good things were possible and was quick to help protect his village.
Mark, along with Trina, Alec, and Lana had all escaped the natural disasters that happened to New York City together. Mark and Trina, best friends, were riding the subway on her birthday. When the train stopped (which never happens in the future), the whole train of people evacuates. Mark and Trina wait a little longer to see if it will turn on, but it doesn’t. When they do finally exit through the underground tunnels, they witness firsthand how the sun can burn people to death. They thankfully soon meet up with Alec and Lana underground. They both have military training and help Mark and Trina get out of the tunnels before they flood from an increase of water.
Between the people burning to death from the sun and then the subway tunnels overflowing with water (because the heat from outside messes with water levels), to the gangs of violence amongst the terrified survivors, it seems like a miracle that Marks’ group makes it to the top of a sky scraper before all of NYC is lost to water. There’s ship stealing, food foraging, stealing, fighting, and surviving that leads up to the group’s making their way to a village.
And after a little bit of peace comes the arrows. The adventures really begin when Alec and Mark track down the ship that shot the arrows, ambush it, kill the people working it, and discover the boxes of arrows that alerts them to the virus. There’s a lot of rescuing, fighting, killing, ship driving, and surviving. There’s a small sprinkle of romance (as much as there really can be). And through it all the characters experience the full extent and terror that is the longevity of the virus.
We get to watch the first people shot die right off the bat. Then we watch those that help the ones originally shot get sick. Then we watch more and more people get sick and go crazy. And soon there’s crazy fire-starting cults of crazies who blame demons for all that is wrong. There’s a little girl (around four or five), who gets left behind in a village of dying people because she is thought to be demonic. She was one of the first ones shot with a dart, but has yet to show any signs of illness (mental or physical). Poor, little Deedee is abandoned, beat up, starving, and so hopeless when Mark’s crew finds her and rescues her.
Having read the series, I know the crazy people become more and more zombie-like the longer the virus is around. And I knew it was going to happen, yet it was still so upsetting and terrifying when the infected became the way they did. Mark and his crew realize that the good people who were meant to unify people after the sun flares are actually the ones that shot the darts, in effort to lessen the population and prevent an end of all resources. It gets to a point where it becomes more and more about rescuing Deedee, the one person who seems to be immune, and less about Mark, Trina, Alec, and Lana surviving.
There was not a whole lot of new things in this book. I knew this is what happened because of the rest of the series. But, Dashner still managed to keep me on my toes. I read it practically in one sitting. The suspense and action he writes really compares with no one else in its awesomeness. I really wanted the prequel to be about Thomas’s past, and never really got over that. However, for a story that was completely not what I hoped for, it really kept me interested. I love a good “world coming to an end” book, and frankly this book was that.
I’m not 100% sure why there was a tiny bit at the end, well after Mark’s story finishes, that involves Thomas. At first I was pissed that it was there because it was like a little bit of what I wanted sticking its tongue out at me, saying, “Just kidding…” But, the more I think about it now, the more I like it. I like how things flow together. I really did have a blast reading this book. I give it a 9/10 and definitely still recommend it to fans of this series.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (8)

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 Catherine by April Lindner (1/2/13):

Description on Good Reads:
“A forbidden romance. A modern mystery. Wuthering Heights as you've never seen it before.

Catherine is tired of struggling musicians befriending her just so they can get a gig at her Dad's famous Manhattan club, The Underground. Then she meets mysterious Hence, an unbelievably passionate and talented musician on the brink of success. As their relationship grows, both are swept away in a fiery romance. But when their love is tested by a cruel whim of fate, will pride keep them apart?
Chelsea has always believed that her mom died of a sudden illness, until she finds a letter her dad has kept from her for years -- a letter from her mom, Catherine, who didn't die: She
disappeared. Driven by unanswered questions, Chelsea sets out to look for her -- starting with the return address on the letter: The Underground.

Told in two voices, twenty years apart,
Catherine interweaves a timeless forbidden romance with a compelling modern mystery.”

So, I just loved Jane by April Lindner. I thought it was a fantastic modern day version of Jane Eyre. And now the author has moved on to a different Bronte! And I am so excited for this. I like the idea of the two different time periods! I like that rock is incorporated into this one like it was in her other novel as well. The connections this one has to its classic counterpart seem a little more vague, and I’m excited to see how all the everything will play out! I don’t think the cover is as pretty as the last one, but I do feel like it kind of goes well with the last one. I can’t wait to read this! Bring on the Brontes!

Monday, August 13, 2012

False Memory by Dan Krokos (and ARC giveaway)

So, I just got a finished copy of this in the mail for review…and I just finished reading the ARC this morning. I think I also have a digital copy…And I’m actually pretty psyched to have so many copies because it was such a fantastic suspense story! However, if you keep scrolling down, you can enter to win my slightly used ARC copy. (Slightly used means, I took it with me to Leaky Con to have a book to read while standing in line, and it’s been loved a little).
I’ve been excited for this one since I first saw it on Net Galley (thank you Disney Hyperion!). The brief synopsis about memory loss, secret abilities, and genetically altered teenagers made me go, “want!” Plus I kind of love the boy acceptable cover and the scientific looking diamond of symbols on it. I’m not sure what that has to do with the story. If you figured it out, let me know? But, all the same, I love the cover.
Much like another YA book I adore (The Maze Runner…I’m in the middle of the prequel as I speak), the main character of this one wakes up with no memories of herself except for her first name: Miranda. While venturing into a mall to get the essentials, she decides that asking a security guard for help would be the best thing she could do. Unfortunately for her, the security guard doesn’t believe that she has no memories and in an attempt to get her to go away, angers Miranda enough to subconsciously let loose her secret ability. She has the ability to make everyone around her completely terrified. She breathes a certain way, and people are running out of the mall, screaming for their lives. Some people even die in terror, falling off of high surfaces
But, lucky for Miranda, Peter is there for her. He calls her a rose and tells her he knows about what she can do and where she came from. She goes with him to their old home. When there, Miranda learns that her boyfriend altered her medicine intake, which prevents people like her from loosing their memories. Her boyfriend is still missing with their other friend, Olive. And after all of Miranda’s abilities and training and life is explained to her more thoroughly, she leaves on a mission with Peter to go find the other two members of their “family.”
There’s so much romantic tension between Peter and Miranda even though Miranda supposedly has a boyfriend. When the other teens are found, it’s Miranda’s first reaction to hurt her boyfriend, Noah, as much as she can. And while she begins to get certain memories back, some romantic in nature, she can’t help but feel completely betrayed and pissed at Noah for deciding for her to take away her memories. Granted, he did everything to protect her, but still. The Love triangle is awesome! Oh, and Olive is in love with Noah; she followed him because she loves him despite the fact that he’s been dating Miranda for a long time.
And why did Noah and Olive run away and take Miranda’s memories away without telling Peter (their trained teen leader)? Noah overheard their father/boss having a video conference with his boss about selling the kids as weapons, and using them to take down an entire major US city. He tried to tell Peter about it, but he didn’t listen. And Noah wanted to go find the rogue he heard rumors about and see if he could help them get rid of the project that involved freaking out an entire city.
The kids decide to go back home for answers before doing anything else too drastic, but unfortunately the people who want to use them as weapons got to their home first. It’s pretty much burnt to a crisp and their “dad” is found dying in the forest.
There’s a lot of fighting, fires, bombs, guns, memory shots, escape scenes, spying, and action in this one! There’s also terrifying secret powers, clones, tattoos used to control kids, missions to destroy entire cities, death, explosions, and love squares (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). And every time Miranda thinks she has something figured out, she’s wrong. I feel like this would make an awesome movie!
I loved Miranda! I loved that she didn’t forgive her boyfriend for being stupid! I loved how brave she was, and how willing she was to fight for her friends that she doesn’t even really remember. I loved the rogue character. I loved the clones and how they had to fight each other. The mission they went on, pretending to have lost their memories, was so awesome, I was literally biting my nails, waiting to see what would happen.
The romance bits could use a little work. The same make-out scene was described for each of Miranda’s love interests; I really don’t think both boys would kiss her in exactly the same places in exactly the same way. However, I loved all the romantic tension and how believable that triangle was.
I also loved the suspense! Yes, I pretty much guessed most of what happened ahead of time. However, the author did use a lot of foreshadow, and I have a trained eye. But even so, I was on the edge of my seat hoping for these kids to kick some serious butt. I read this super fast and it is so hard to put down! I give it a 9/10, and I highly recommend this one to fans of The Maze Runner and Maximum Ride.

This contest is only open to US followers because I am shipping this one myself. (I do promise to open an international giveaway soon though.) And you have 48 hours to respond to my email with your shipping address or I will choose a different winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Good Week in Books (17) and Leaky Con 2012!

I had a totally awesome week in books. The week started with a little trip to one of my favorite used bookstores where I picked up two fantastic books I’ve been meaning to read for forever! I also received my two preorders (along with another book I’ve been meaning to buy) in the mail! I traded two books last week with a friend (another blogger) and got my two new ones in. And then I went to Leaky Con!!!!!
I don’t know if my love of Harry Potter has come across too often in this blog, but just know that I would not love YA like I do if not for this series, and my inner nerd is about to shine through!
If you don’t know what Leaky Con is, it’s a super fantastic, gigantic Harry Potter conference with people attending from all over the world. Along with the books I brought to get signed (which were a lot…see below), I bought some more to also get signed. I bought one that was already signed too. I also have an Order of the Phoenix movie poster signed by some of the HP actors! I have A Very Potter Musical poster signed by almost all of Team Starkid. If you don’t know who they are, go watch A Very Potter musical on YouTube, and then you will understand.
At the conference, I met some amazing Harry Potter fans! I ran into a blogger or two. I met a lot of actors (including Luna) and authors. I went to YA book panels, a YA author game show, a lot of signings, and a YA party where butterbeer and pumpkin juice were served and mingling with authors encouraged. I waited in a lot of lines. I discussed everything from the Harry Potter books, to the Vlog brothers, to The Hunger Games, to Pride and Prejudice, and Sherlock Holmes and Downton Abbey while there. I also danced my butt off at the ball last night! I saw a live show of Potter puppet pals and went a little crazy while shopping at the Harry Potter vendors. And last not but least, I was in the audience for the first and only live showing of A Very Potter Musical 3D: A Very Potter Senior Year (and yes, Darren Criss was there as Harry!).
These are some pictures of me and my friend Emma enjoying all the conference has to offer:

I have a lot of pictures to share! First, I’m going to share what I got before/outside of Leaky Con. These are the books I got in the mail along with the one autographed book I purchased at the conference:
I have a lot of pictures to share! First, I’m going to mostly share what I got before/outside of Leaky Con. These are the books I got in the mail along with the one autographed book I purchased at the conference.
Tiger Lily
by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Nevermore by James Patterson
Hide and Seek  by Sara Shepard
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer (autographed!)

These are the two books I traded for (Thanks, Christina at A Reader of Fictions) and the two used book finds:
by Jennifer Bosworth
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares 
These are all the books I brought along with me to get signed. I carried my giant Harry Potter tote filled with books for a long time in that line…but I am so glad I got to meet all these authors and get all these beauties signed:

The Magicians
by Lev Grossman (I still need to read this one and the sequel, which I own…but I can’t wait to do so because it’s supposed to be like the adult version of Harry Potter)
The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman (also still need to read real bad!)
Zombies VS. Unicorns by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (signed by Holly Black)
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (I already had Levithan’s signature, and now I have John Green’s in there too! Really, it’s one of my all-time favorite books)
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Signed by Margaret Stohl)
And these are the books I purchased at the conference to have signed:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (I own slightly deteriorating ARC and wanted the real deal for her autograph!)
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (I now own all of his novels!)
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (Second I got to meet her!)
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (I haven’t read these in forever and I’m so glad to be able to meet author I’d been reading for so long!)

My Posters:

My swag:

How cute are the earrings? Also, I actually bought two shirts. The blue one you see says StarKid. And I bought a red one that says “My Muggle Friends Just Don’t Understand.” I bought the pink StarKid sunglasses, and I got the blue and red 3-D glasses at the show. They were actually taped to the bottom of my chair. I also got a really cool conference messenger bag filled with conference swag, and some buttons I purchased are on the bag. In the bag was a fancy hard covered year book type book of all the stuff that was happening and when. I have some autographs of Wrock bands and Puppet Pal creators in there...
Here are some more photos from the conference:
The panel: GIRL BOOKS AND BOY BOOKS –moderated by Maureen Johnson. Panelists: Megan Whalen Turner, Robin Wasserman, Stephanie Perkins, Lev Grossman, and John Green

John Green signing my books!

Holly Black, me, and Megan Whalen Turner!

Laini Taylor, me, and Stephanie Perkins!

Daniel Ehrenhaft, Robin Wasserman, me and Margaret Stohl!

There were a lot of things and shows I was not allowed to take pictures of, otherwise I’d post a lot more photos. I have some ball pictures, but they are all kind of dark (go iPhone?). The ball was packed and so much fun because authors, actors, panelists, and fans were all dancing together. It was awesome to see Team Starkid take the stage at the ball and just dance. I do have a little recording of the YA game show hosted by Maureen Johnson, but I’m having difficulties trying to get on here. I might post it a little bit later. It kind of involves John Green getting super competitive and admitting to writing fan fiction under a different name.
And most of all it was just the best feeling in the world to be surrounded by people who all loved the same things I did. I made friends with people from Portland, CA, Australia, Florida, and Atlanta. And yes, it was exhausting. I feel like I need another day to recover from the no sleep and crazy dancing, but still. Even waiting in line was kind of fun because I just got to talk about Potter with people who love it as much as me, that and sing Starkid songs really loudly.