Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Good Week in Books (48)

What a crazy week! I have officially moved to MA. This is my first post from my new home! I start my new, wonderful library job on Tuesday. And I have to share what it looks like across the street from where I am now living!

Okay, on to the books. I was actually gifted two wonderful books right before I left and I never got the chance to talk about them. Thanks to the wonderful Eti, who went to a library conference right before I left IL, I have a new signed copy of Unwholly by Neal Shusterman. It’s even addressed to me! Eti, you are the best! Also, she gave me the awesome sounding book, Shards and Ashes edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong. I just purchased two pretties yesterday! And I received two awesome new titles on Net Galley!

Shards and Ashes
edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong (gifted)
Unwholly by Neal Shusterman (gifted)
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (purchased)
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (purchased)

The autograph!

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins (NG)
Dare You To by Katie McGarry (NG)
How was your week in books?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

I feel like it was “meant to be” for me to read this book at this moment in time. I have a way sometimes of finding the perfect novel to read before I embark on some major life change. I read Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares right before I went away to college. The girls in the book were spending one last summer together before they all kind of headed their separate ways. And I always felt so grateful to have read that at that exact same time in my life.
I feel kind of the same way with this one. Not that I’m in high school or going on a class trip to London any time soon. I actually did that in college, but not the point…This is my last post I’m making from my Chicago home. I’m about to make a big move east for a new job! And I guess there aren’t really too many literal connections between my life and the life of this main character. I just feel like her trip to London was an awakening. And I’m hoping for a similar experience with my trip.
Julia is on a class trip London. She unfortunately had to leave her best friend behind and spend her time in the city she has most wanted to go to with all the popular kids in her school that she absolutely can’t stand. But that’s no big deal. Julia can get through anything as long as she follows her rules. Her slight OCD tendencies have landed her a fantastic GPA and that’s more important than high school drama.
Julia kind of wants to go to England because of her parents. Their time there has amounted to some great stories. And Julia seriously misses her dad who passed away several years ago. And because of her love of reading and her ultimate ideal couple being her parents, Julia is a believer in MTB (meant to be). She thinks her parents were meant to meet when they did. And her long-lasting childhood crush who moved back to her hometown will one day come to realize that she and him were MTB as well.
The students are all given cell phones to only use for emergencies when they get to London. All the phones are identical and have the same amount of minutes on them. Of course the instructor isn’t exactly specific as to what constitutes emergencies. And Julia, while never breaking any rules ever, deems her besties’ texts about her MTB as being necessary.
Julia gets buddied off with her least favorite person, Jason. Jason is the kind of guy who hits on everyone, gets invited to a random parties thrown be strangers, gives little kids he doesn’t know pieces of gum, and really is not that avid a believer in rule following. And for no apparent reason to Julia, the two actually seem to quickly bond and become friends. Jason gets Julia out of her guidebooks and into actual life experiences. He drags her to parties, gets her to flirt with boys, and generally just lets her know that is okay to stray from the rules sometimes, to have fun. And Julia, in return keeps up with him. She doesn’t let him get away with things that everyone else in the world does. And she helps him when he needs her.
They kind of start by making this deal. Jason will help Julia flirt and meet up with a guy who has been texting her ever since that first night’s party if she agrees to write all his reflection papers. The deal is made. And the two go to the Globe Theater, to skateboard parks, to pubs, to music stores, and even to the London Eye together. Everything is leading up to 3 guys seeming to have feelings for Julia. And she has a lot to decide about MTB, about love, and about growing up (and possibly out of her shell).
I overwhelmingly relate to Julia, who lives more in her books than she does in reality. She’s so sarcastic, intelligent, and curious, and caring. She’s not the typical YA main character. She definitely has her flaws. She is so angry so much of the time. She misses her dad. And her way with dealing with her anger is by being active. She swims away her feelings or runs away her stress. She’s constantly falling down and embarrassing herself. And she’s always aware of what she looks like. I love that she loves to eat too! She doesn’t shy away from all the yummy foods in England.
I also super loved the setting. I spent a month in England for a January term at my college. I took a theater class, where my group saw 20+ plays. It was an amazing trip for me. I love recognizing all the places that Julia and Jason go. And the places I didn’t go to, like that park, make me want to go back there! Like Julia, I didn’t really have many friends on my trip. But also like her, this sort of worked to my advantage. I did a lot more exploring independently because of it and really got to see everything I wanted to (like Harry Potter tours, Abbey Road, the Sherlock Holmes museum, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, etc.)
I also loved Jason! He was so believable. I loved his up and down personality. I loved how much he wanted to get Julia out! He’s the guy who did cartwheels (literally) across London when Julia was meeting up with a certain guy he didn’t like. He was just so interesting to me. He had family dramas of his own and I like how this inadvertently brought the two together more.
Was the story original? No. It really reminded me of an old Olsen twin movie…but in a good way. I used to love those when I was a kid (don’t judge). Was the twist actually a surprise? Definitely not. I called it all from the beginning. But, in no way, shape, or form did any of this hinder my overall enjoyment of the book. It read like the recipe for a good romantic comedy. And I ate it up! I do think there were a few little loopholes in the plot with their teacher not being able to tell things (like that they were leaving the hotel every night, not really sick when they said they were, or not really present when they were hungover). I just don’t think their teacher could be that dumb or irresponsible.
But, that didn’t really bother me either. I loved this book. It is just what a needed: a great story about growing up, trying new things, and learning to live in a whole new way! I read it in one sitting. I give it a 10/10 and I hope to see more from the author.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (38)

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 Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund (10/15/13):

Description on Goodreads:
Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

In this thrilling adventure inspired by
The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.
How awesome does this sound? I love getting a long description for once too! I love, love, love this author. Everything she writes is wonderful. Her other book that took place in this universe was beyond amazing. I don’t know The Scarlet Pimpernel story as well as I know Persuasion; however, this sounds equally fun! It sounds a like a wonderful subterfuge story. I loved the futuristic world of her other book, and I’m so excited to go back there! I also don’t like this cover as much as the first one in the series because the girl looks kind of dead to me, but the sea is pretty! I cannot wait for this one!
What are you waiting on?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop

I haven’t done one of these hops in a very long time. How could I miss out on a fairy tale one though? Thank you: I Am A Reader, Not AWriter, The Book Rat, and A Backwards Story for hosting such a fantastic giveaway hop!
To see the rest of the blogs participating in the hope (aka: for more chances to win free books), scroll down to the bottom of the post.
I absolutely love fairy tales! And because I love fairy tales so much I am giving away two of the books listed below!
My standard rules: The winner will get an email from me as soon as one is randomly selected on Raffle Copter. My giveaway is open both to US and international followers (as long as either Barnes and Noble or The Book Depository can deliver to you). You will have 48 hours to respond to my winning notification email, and if I don’t hear from you by then, I will have to randomly select a different winner.
What’s up for grabs: your choice of any two of these fairytale books below:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
Entwined by Heather Dixon
Beastly by Alex Flinn
Cloaked by Alex Flinn
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
Wisdom’s Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
East by Edit Pattou
The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Thanks for stopping by! And, good luck!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan

I was super excited to get my hands on this ARC! I absolutely adore David Levithan. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the guy, and he’s totally awesome. His book, Every Day was one of my favorites of 2012, and probably of all time. Another one of my all time favorite books is one he co-wrote with John Green: Will Grayson, Will Grayson. And, I’ve read others that I love too! I’m safely at the point where I will just buy anything with his name on it. I haven’t read any of Cremer yet, though I have the first couple of books in her series in my TBR pile.
This book is about Stephen and Elizabeth. Stephen is invisible, literally. And all the wonderful narrative of Levithan shines through with this character. Stephen was actually born invisible and has spent his whole life not knowing why. He can make himself more solid, so people can touch him or hear him, but no one ever sees him. And it’s not the ideal life, but it works out for him, or it does at least until his mother dies. For the last year or so (following his mother’s death), he has had literally no one to talk to, to play board games with, to understand him. He has a dad that adds money to his bank account, but who has mostly been MIA since his younger childhood.
Everything changes though when Elizabeth moves into his apartment building. She sees him. Elizabeth is coming from a not so great situation herself. She just moved to NYC with her brother and her mom. They moved after her brother, Laurie, was brutally attacked and hospitalized by some teens in his town, for being gay. Elizabeth has grown accustomed to people ostracizing her and her family. Her best friends all kind of abandoned her after and even before the incident. And their sort of conservative father couldn’t accept Laurie for he is. I wouldn’t say Elizabeth wanted to be invisible, in so much as she wished people could be more accepting and genuine.
The two characters briefly have a “pretend” fantasy relationship where Stephen actually can pretend to be normal. He kind of lies to Elizabeth, who just assumes that everyone can see him. Why would she ever think otherwise? And by the time the secret is out of the bag, Elizabeth is already in love with him. And from that point on the book takes a different route. It becomes more about spell casters and curses. Stephen, Elizabeth and Laurie find out that Stephen has been cursed by his grandfather. His grandfather technically cursed his mother to only be able to have children she could never see.
With the help of a comic book store owner/magical mentor, the trio look into ways to breaking the rather impenetrable curse. Elizabeth learns a lot about her rather remarkable abilities. I kind of love that she could see Stephen because of a magical reason, and not just a true love reason. This just seemed more logical than what I was expecting, and I was grateful. Elizabeth learns about her abilities. The evil grandfather comes to town. Tons of New Yorkers are cursed (anything from cursed to not ever being to call a taxi to cursed to not being able to take care of themselves mentally or physically). Some of the curses are scary. And it comes to a point where Elizabeth really has to decide what she is willing to give up to possibly break Stephen’s curse, one of the strongest curses there is.
This book is loaded with family drama, comic books, relationship dilemmas, magic, terrible fates and curses, death, depression, and so many notions about what it really means to be alone.
As far as concepts go, this book was genius. I loved the beginning. Every single part of Stephen’s chapters was beautiful. His loneliness was so real, so intense, that my heart just melted for him. Elizabeth was harder to like. I liked her interest in comic books. I grew to love her curiosity for spells and curses. I also came to love her general need to help people, all people. For some reason though, her chapters just never captivated me. She was sort of a mediocre main character in my opinion. Nothing really stood out about her. Maybe I feel this way because the other main character stood out in all the right ways. I don’t know. It’s got to be hard to compete with Levithan’s character building.
I also just didn’t love this book as much as I wanted to. The beginning captivated me. I was dying to learn Stephen’s story. But once I did, the plot kind of went down hill. It kind of followed all the other YA supernatural plot lines. There’s the magical mentor, the learning of magic existing, the working hard to harness new powers, and then the big fight with the bad guy. I just wanted something a little different, after such a distinctive beginning. I was engrossed in the story again at the very end. Everything kind of culminates back on the rooftop and I could not put the book down until I read the last page. I also give the authors serious points for not ending this book exactly as I thought it would end. I was a little surprised, in a good way!
The writing was still unbelievable. I loved Stephen from the first chapter. He is such a unique, intelligent character! I was not a big Elizabeth fan (she needed a little more depth). Though, I loved her brother (who was my second favorite character after Stephen). I was not a fan of the stereotypical middle part of the book. It disappointed me after such a unique beginning to then get such a cliché plot line about magic and curses. However, the ending was fantastic. I also really enjoyed the New York setting. Overall, I give it a 7/10.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Crash by Lisa McMann

So, I really enjoy this author. I loved Wake, Fade, and Gone. I still need to read her dystopian series for the younger spectrum of the young adult audience because I have heard really great things about them. I got to meet this author when I was in library school. She actually came to the main branch of the public library to do a teen program. I (along with my wonderful librarian friend, Abby) were probably the oldest non parents to go to the program, and not actually be working it. We actually both received some free books for going! Though, we did wait to make sure all the teens got books first.
Meeting an author tends to make me more biased in my readings. It’s hard to hate a book when you know the person who wrote it is totally awesome. And Lisa McMann is totally awesome. I was not the biggest fan of Cryer’s Cross, but like I said, I loved her first series, and I was super looking forward to reading this one.
McMann definitely has a style. She likes the whole suspense thing. She loves the supernatural. She doesn’t shy away from writing characters with mental illness. And she likes to give dark qualities to her storylines. All things for me = a big plus. However, I’m sorry to say this, but I don’t think she’s very good with endings. But, I’ll get to that in a moment.
This one is about Jules, a girl who lives, works, and does pretty much everything with her family. Her family owns one of two competing pizza businesses in her town. Jules owns up in the beginning to not really having many friends. She does drive a pizza food truck to school every day that has two giant meatballs on the top…And she used to have a best friend. Unfortunately, he ended up blowing her off completely most likely because his family owns the other pizza business in town. And oh yeah, Jules is totally still in love with him any way.
Jules thankfully is very close to her siblings who are all close to the same age. None of them, including the mom, seem to be all that close to their dad. He’s a hoarder. He seriously has their whole apartment loaded with cookbooks, newspapers, and old electronics. And he’s also seriously depressed to the point where he only sometimes gets out of bed and goes to work.
Jules, while harboring her long crush, working at her family restaurant every day, working hard for good grades, and being there for her family, is also now starting to see a vision. She sees it in windows, on tv screens, plastered on billboards, taking over her computer screen at the library, etc. She can’t stop seeing it. And as the days go on and it becomes more and more clear that this will be an event that just hasn’t happened yet, and well, Jules becomes more and more determined to stop it.
Unfortunately for Jules, the vision involves a plow truck running into her crush’s restaurant and killing 9 people. One of those nine people is her crush. And she just can’t live without telling him, and without trying to stop it from happening. But how far is Jules willing to go to help a terrible accident from happening? Is it worth her family’s trust, her already declining popularity at school, her sanity, her life?
I know this sounds weird, but one of my favorite things about this book was Jules’ fear of mental illness, of becoming like her father. This becomes a theme of the book not just for her, but also for her crush who is afraid of becoming like his father too. I feel like this fear is so spot on for anyone living in a family with mental illness.
I also loved how close Jules was with her brother and sister. I wish she had more friends, but seeing such a close family was nice too. I loved her to pieces. Seriously, her sense of humor, her acceptance of all people, and her stalker-ish tendencies were just so believable and fun to read about. Sawyer (the crush) was not my favorite character. Yes, I understand why he didn’t believe her. And yes, I understand why he acted the way he did. But honestly, I didn’t get what was so special about him. He so did not deserve all that love, attention, and dedication from Jules for so many years!
This is all leading up to a not so good ending. I just feel like too much was resolved. I know this is a series and a lot of times I say how I hate not knowing things at the end of a book 1. But here, I’m actually complaining that I know too many things. I hate that Sawyer’s story was explained so quickly. The only really unbelievable thing for me (in a book filled with psychic visions) was how Sawyer told everything to Jules so quickly.
His story is sad and Jules deserved to hear it.  And I guess I would have hated Sawyer more without it, but I just don’t think that someone who has been what Sawyer has been through and hid it for so long would just burst out with everything the way he did. I just feel like this was handled too abruptly. Too many things were tied up with a nice bow in the end. Even stuff with Jules’ father was tied up a little more than I liked. I would have wanted to hold on to some more mystery. Though, her family drama/horror story was as good as the best kind of soap opera.
I liked the final twist at the end though. And I loved Jules and her siblings. McMann knows how to write fantastic main characters, suspense, supernatural twists, and romance. I just always seem to wish her endings were a little different. I give this one an 8/10.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dark Star by Bethany Frenette

First, I need to comment on this absolutely gorgeous cover! The panoramic view of the city, (which we learn is Minneapolis) is so gorgeous and it continues on to the back cover as well. Plus, isn’t it perfect for a book about superheroes?
Audrey has grown up believing in super heroes. For starters, her mom is the famous Morning Star. And second, Audrey has a trick or two up her sleeves as well. As her grandma put it, she has a knowing. She can read people, situations, and cards better than most people. It doesn’t always work the same way, but when she gets a knowing for something, she’s usually right.
She has two best friends: Gideon (who knows all her secrets) and Tink (who doesn’t like to talk about weird things). The book pretty much begins when Audrey’s mom explains that Leon, her “side-kick” will be moving in with them. Leon has always had a knack for both protecting Audrey and annoying the hell out of her. But, Audrey can tell that something is up. Something big is going down in Minneapolis if her mom feels the need for Leon to move in.
Meanwhile, teen girls are disappearing and turning up dead. Audrey just knows everything is connected. After following her knowing instincts and repeatedly putting herself in danger, her mom finally starts to realize that it might be safer for Audrey if she knew more about who she is. Audrey meets family members she never knew she had, gets some history lessons about the Kin (people born with supernatural abilities like her and her mother), and the Harrowers (aka: demons) who take up most of her super mom’s and other Kin’s fighting time.
There’s all the normal, fun teen stuff: like dance clubs, Halloween parties, best friends, and movie nights. And then there’s all the demon fighting, back-stabbing, plot twists, and card readings that make this book so much more fun! Everything kind of ends with a big betrayal, secrets unleashed, and a seriously tough decision for Audrey.
This was such a fun book! It kind of reminded me of X-Men mixed with the show, The Nine Lives of Chloe King. There is so much kid power here! Kids seem to develop their abilities at different times, and only some of them get “called” to do what Audrey’s mom does, but everything happens for them all so young! I love the secret society/Kin thing. I loved learning about Harrowers and how the Kin have been dealing with them.
Some of this book was a little predictable. What superhero story isn’t though? Did I guess the whole family drama thing with her dad at the very beginning? Yes. Did I guess the twist early on? Yes. But, I still had a ball reading it. Really, the characters, the sarcasm, the witty banter between Audrey and Leon, the best friend time, and all of the normal teen stuff just made this book so much fun, and so much more than a normal cliché super hero story.
There is still a lot left unanswered. The author never said who a certain person the demons are looking for, actually is…Though I have a guess. I want to know more about Audrey’s powers. I want more time with Leon! And I want some things with her mother resolved! There will be a sequel out later this year though, and I have a feeling none of these things will be left unresolved for long. I give this one a 9/10. I really had so much fun reading it. And I cannot wait for book 2 to come out.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Foretold by Jana Oliver

So, I kind of feel like I’m punishing myself lately, reading all these final endings to series. Seriously, it’s March and this is my 6th final book I’ve read so far this year! Why is everything ending? I tend to like endings because so many questions get answered and all the final hookups finally happen! However, it is all so bittersweet because I also know that this is it for these characters. And I have become so attached to Jana Oliver’s characters in the demon trapper series.
I’m normally hyper aware when books I want to own come out. I read more reviews than the normal person and I certainly read a lot of blogs. But, for some reason, this book came out without me noticing! I walked past it at Barnes and Noble (someone left it on a café table), and I went, “What just happened?” How did I not see this one’s release date?
I love, love, love this series! I have been crossing my fingers for Riley and Beck to get together since book 1.  Book 3 definitely ended with a bang. Riley ended an apocalypse of sorts with an ultimate sacrifice. There was also one, long awaited kiss toward the end too! And this final book begins in the aftermath of the battle of the last book. It becomes known to Riley’s friends (fellow trappers) that her role in things is nowhere close to being finished. To solve two problems at once, they send Riley off to southern Georgia with Beck to say goodbye to his dying mother. Beck needs the companionship and Riley needs to get away for a bit.
Unfortunately, Beck has been pushing Riley away. And While Riley is generally pissed at him for a lot of things, she can’t forget that kiss. Her trip with Beck ends up being a lot more complicated then she thought. She finally learns what it is that Beck has worked so hard to keep from her, and that apparently the reporter in the last book is already writing an article on. And soon Riley is working her hardest to clear Beck’s name, on top of finding a murderer (of the human variety), cleaning up Beck’s dying mother’s home, trying to get Beck’s evil mom to be nicer to Beck, and just overall being there for Beck like he was for her when her father died.
There’s clearly a lot of Beck in this book! And I was more than happy to get his story. There’s also the occasional demon trapping, fallen angel conversing, and meet-ups with Lucifer. As Riley and Beck work things out on his end, and finally begin to start a more steady romantic relationship, Riley is also being taken from her bed each night to help fight demons with Ori, the fallen angel from the previous books. Because of where Ori stands in regards to her soul, there are a lot of demons and general bad folks out to get Riley and him. So, he calls in his favors with her so she can help him do his job, but also so he can train her to be an even better demon hunter.
So, there’s a lot of violence in this one too! A lot of loose ends are tied up. There’s some more rather epic drama going on between Lucifer and Sartael. There’s juicy romance scenes, a prom(!), some traveling, limited Vatican involvement, new trappers in training, and a lot of new developments (good and bad) for the trappers!
I absolutely loved getting to know Beck better! Hearing his story and seeing what he had to grow up with definitely improved my opinion of him. There were some seriously scary moments at a swamp that pretty much made me decide to never want to go to a swamp, ever. And of course, there’s Riley, one of my all time favorite YA heroines. Seriously, she is beyond brave, tough, and strong! I loved watching her with the new trappers! I loved how loyal she was to Beck, and how she always stood by him, even when it all got super tough to do so.
I like how things ended for Riley in regards to heaven and hell. I like how things ended with her friends, with her trapper family, and with Atlanta in general. There was a lot of fun moments with the demon hunting tv show! One of the final scenes acted as this complete 180, almost repeat of one of my favorite scenes in the first book, and I’m so glad that was in there because it definitely gave a nice sense of closure. Things ended so hopefully for all the right characters. There are still demons to trap, new trappers to train, and one last favor that Riley owes, but I was beyond happy with this remarkable ending.
The characters were even better because there was even more development in this book. The story was intense and educational. The fighting was action packed. I read it in one sitting. I give this one a 10/10. I give the series a 10/10. And I know I’ve probably said this before, but these books are great for Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans and also Supernatural fans!  I’m just so sad it’s all over.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (37)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.

This week, I am waiting on The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (9/17/13):

Description on Goodreads:
The second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are
looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...
So, I’m not the biggest fan of the cover. It kind of looks a little too anime for me, which would be great for a graphic novel, but not so much for the feel of this one. Regardless, I was a huge fan of the first book in the series. I’ve been anxiously awaiting any news for this next installment. There isn’t much description to go by, but I really, honestly don’t care. I’m just so excited for this to come out!
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sever by Lauren DeStefano

I have just eaten up this series! Seriously, I was shocked and blown away so much by the first book, that I put it on the staff recommendation wall when I worked at Barnes and Noble, years after the book was released. I sold this series to so many people. I just want everyone to know how great it is!
Sever (which is book 3 in the Chemical Garden Trilogy) begins right where book 2 finishes. Rhine is in the hospital. She was intensely drugged through most of book 2, but the results of her state at the end brought her to the hospital, alongside her husband (who she doesn’t love), Linden and Linden’s other wife, Cecily. Rhine has told Linden everything even though she knows he will most likely not believe her. Linden has been so ignorant in regards to his father. And to hear that not only he had Rhine in their basement all this time so he could experiment on here, but also that he was responsible for almost all the other deaths in the house…well, it’s hard to believe
Rhine soon develops an unbreakable friendship bond with both Linden and Cecily (who’s 4 months pregnant with her second child –at the age of 14!) Remember though that women all die at the age of 20, and men at the age of 25 in this novel. Linden and Cecily hijack Rhine out of the hospital before Vaughn (evil dad) can get to her. They bring her to Linden’s uncle’s house. Apparently, Linden has had a secret relationship with his beloved, quirky uncle that Vaughn has pushed away.
There, Rhine helps fix things. And Reed (uncle) loves fixing things! He’s even working on an airplane in his shed! This book is filled with secret radio news reports involving Rhine’s rebel twin brother, who she’s been searching for and wanting to get back to since book 1. There’s more politics, more science, and a whole lot more answers about Rhine’s parents and the disease that’s killing everyone so early.
And just when I think things cannot get worse for this newly joined trio, the book goes back to the scarlet district carnival of book 2! There’s plenty of hospital scenes, miscarried babies, accidents, death, murder, experiments, and all of the darkness I have come to love and hate at the same time in the earlier books. But, there is also a whole lot more hope. Everything sort of pieces together: the carnival, Rhine’s twin, Linden’s first wife, and Vaughn. Everything is connected.
Eventually Rhine has to make some super intense decisions. And what ends up surprising me the most is how super intense other characters’ decisions end up being as well. I got so wrapped up in Rhine’s problems that I sometimes forgot how traumatized everyone else was. And I guess this was good because there were some seriously shocking moments for me.
I’m still sort of deciding on how much I liked the ending. I’m not sure on how believable the end was. There were some things I was so glad for happening, but there were others that just seemed a little too easy.
It’s so nice to have a strong Rhine back though. She’s no longer drugged out of her mind, and she has such a unique mind! I loved watching her handle Vaughn, watching her react to the Madame of the carnival, watching her tell and not tell her brother things. I love how she is a character who learns from past mistakes, and never forgets anything! She is so observant, resilient, and loyal! She makes sure to take care of everyone even though she doesn’t see herself as the mothering type. She thinks Cecily is the mother hen. And despite all the terrible cards she’s been dealt (aka: short life span, abduction, forced marriage, drugs, carnival sex trade, experimentation, illness, and loss), she still manages to see the good in people. She still hopes for a better outcome.
I have grown to love Cecily too! She was never a favorite character of mine. She was the spoiled princess character who ratted people out. But as a mother, and as someone who has suffered through a miscarriage, she becomes this strong-willed, independent, force to be reckoned with! She becomes a true friend. She learns how to shoot guns and talk her husband into doing things. She is always there for Rhine in this one. And she works her hardest to convince Linden on how awful his father is.
I loved seeing more of the science in this book too! So much of this book deals with finding a cure, and I found it fascinating! Rhine’s twin was not as cool as I was hoping for, but it was really nice getting to see the two of them together again! I wish I got to see more of Gabriel. But, in a way, this allows for Rhine to be more of the strong one! She grows up so much in these pages.
Oh, and finally the title for the series makes a bit more sense! Again, I was blown away by this author’s ability to create such a dark, complex world. The characters were amazingly believable. The action, drama, and terror were never ending. And just when DeStefano has you thinking things are going one way (even at the very end), she’ll turn it all around and continue to surprise you. I loved the twists. I loved how strong all of the characters learned to become. I loved getting so many answers! I think the ending was a tad unbelievable, but I still absolutely loved it. I give this a 10/10. And I look forward to reading anything else this author will put her name on.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Good Week in Books (47)

I’ve had a nice, kind of light book week! I have two new titles from Net Galley! I received one book for review, and I got one from the used bookstore (after I went in to get rid of books…)

The Rose Thorn by Mette Ivie Harrison (NG: 5/14/13)
The Eternity Code by Julie Kagawa (NG: 5/1/13)
Poison by Bridget Zinn (for review)
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

How was your book week?

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Emerald Tablet by Joshua Silverman

I received this one for review directly from the author. A fantasy/sci-fi with Egyptian and Greek mythology sounded right up my alley.
The book is loaded with a lot of different plot arcs and characters. The major characters are: Leoros (a 13 year old boy who has the markings of an ancient prophecy), Leoros’ parents Camilla and Alex (two adults living in the real world, Egypt on an archeology dig), Atlantia (a slave girl from the world of the prophecy), Kesi and her sister Shirin (two daughters of an evil villian to end all evil villains), and Pythos (a powerful priest whose been training the future priests of his world in how to use their powers.
Leoros’s parents discover some pretty ancient, serious find on their dig in Egypt. And before Leoros knows it, he goes through a portal to a different world, a world where special priests train from childhood how to harness energy and defend their people. It’s also a world with a hierarchy that involves slavery, and an ancient feud between good and evil.
Pythos finds Leoros and immediately tests out his theories that he is in fact the one from the prophecy of the emerald tablet (an artifact Leoros’ mother had recently found). My favorite part of the book involves Leoros training with the other, much older (though certainly not more mature) priests in training. There’s fighting, competition, magic, and escaping the temple to hang out with a certain slave girl. And this was all fun! It sort of reminded me of Dragon Ball Z mixed with Harry Potter and Star Wars, and I wish this section lasted longer.
Soon everything turns upside down as the ultimate war looms closer. There’s a big betrayal, plenty of double crossing, some confusing words from the Gods (gotta love Athena!), a little romance, and plenty of magical energy induced battle scenes. It all pretty much comes down to the ultimate battle scene where everyone’s lives are on the line and it’s all up to our young main character to save the day. Everything followed the classic teen fantasy story line. Between the chosen one elements, the big betrayal, the death of a mentor, etc, the whole thing was rather predictable.
However, I kind of liked the predictability. The author definitely had this all planned out way in advance, and knew what he was doing. You could tell the author loves classic fantasy novels because this definitely shines through in his writings. And sometimes I want a nice, classic type fantasy/adventure! I certainly loved the Egyptian and Greek elements to the story! I’m not used to reading a lot about Egyptian mythology and it was nice to see a little of something new.
There were two little things nagging me: 1) there was a little too much going on. And 2) I have no idea what age group I could recommend this novel for. I loved the combining of different worlds. I super loved all the mythological elements. I loved the fighting scenes and I loved getting to know the bad guys. What I would cut out would be all the scenes with the parents. They just did not add anything good to the story for me overall.  I ended up skimming pretty much all the scenes that centered on them. And then the romance scene with them almost made me stop reading the book completely. I literally put the book down and wasn’t sure if I’d finish it after that scene. No young adult would pick up a book with a love scene going on between the two parent characters.
This leads to my whole issue of audience. The main character is 13. He trains with people in their 20’s. One of the beginning chapters involves a young woman using her body (rather painfully) to sleep with an older man and to get him in the right position to kill him.  Granted, this scene kind of rocked in a super awesome spy movie kind of way. But, would I include this in a book starring a 13 year old? Probably not.
Also the slave girl who is close to the main character’s age, almost gets raped and does get molested in one scene, before her powers truly kick in. And the overall way the author writes and deals with sex was not very positive. Women used it to kill their targets and to get men (even brothers) to duel it out with each other. With the amount of sex mentioned in this novel, I would assume it was an adult book, yet the main character is 13 and still innocent enough to be playing with action figures in the start of the novel, and singing himself lullabies his parents used to sing to him, to calm himself down.
Ordinarily this story would go big with a young adult audience. I know so many Percy fans would love the plot of the book, but I don’t feel like it’s appropriate for them. And vice-versa, I can see a lot of adults not really wanting to read about a 13 year old going through all the typical YA fantasy plot lines.
I did enjoy reading this book. It was certainly unique. It’s book 1 in a 7 part series, and I would like to see where everything goes and how the main character handles the situation at the very end. And I guess I’d have no problem recommending this one to bloggers like me with similar likes. I just wish I could recommend it to a younger audience. And I wish less focus was spent on the parents. I give it a 7/10.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

This book has been a long time coming! It’s the final one in the series. And book 2 ended with a crazy cliffhanger. I really loved Pandemonium and went into this book with extremely high expectations. Oliver, again, did not disappoint. This author just knows how to write a dystopia. Seriously, does she teach classes?
Book 1 was all about discovering what love is and learning that it is something worth fighting for. Book 2 is about loss and realizing that love can hurt and do terrible things, but that it is still better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all. It’s about recovery and moving on to new loves. And then this book 3 is all about survival –surviving love and all of its turns.
I am about to SPOIL book 2, so stop reading now if you have not read Pandemonium yet. Book 2 ended with Lena and Julian escaping to the wilds. After a long time Lena finally learns how to love again, except…in come backs Alex, who we all believed to be dead. This book starts right after the last one finishes. Lena and her crew of invalids are in the wilds, deciding on what their next move should be. Her friends don’t just believe in love, but they believe in choice, and freedom. They want to make things better and they want to be involved with the Resistance in any way they can.
Too bad for them that the government is now infiltrating the wilds. At every turn are more and more dead. Families, houses, and even whole towns of people living in the wilds are mowed down and destroyed by the government. And while everyone Lena is with (Alex and Julian included) want to aid the resistance and put an end to the devastation, getting to a destination where they can actually help becomes more and more difficult.
Unlike the last book where chapters went back and forth between two time periods (which was genius), this book goes back and forth between Lena and her old best friend from the first book, Hana (also genius). Hana’s chapters revolve around the days leading up to her wedding with the mayor. At first it’s so hard to read these chapters because I remember Hana as being the loud, brave, and sometimes careless best friend. Now, she’s complacent, submissive, and kind of dull. That is until she sees someone from her past and decides to bring food to the poor, rebel against her abusive fiancé, research her fiance’s past wife, and come to terms with the prospect that the cure might not have actually cured anything for her.
When the chapters follow Lena fighting, escaping bears, running for her life, and even encountering her mother for the first time in years, there’s the whole love triangle thing in the background. Alex has a new girl to occupy his time. Though it’s obvious to everyone but Lena, that he can only ever love one girl. She thinks he hates her now. And she finds herself trying to love Julian, trying to move on from Alex, and trying to put the past behind her, as a certain friend (Raven) advises her to do. But, she can’t. She can’t tell Julian that she loves him back. She keeps trying to block out how she really feels
And Hana keeps trying to remember how to feel.
There’s a lot of drama in this one between wedding preparations, bombings, rebellions, wall climbing, fires, and family reunions. And everything ends back where it begins, in Portland. When the two friends meet up again, they are both two completely different people. And for once in my life, I could make no predictions. I had no idea what would culminate from their eventual meeting. I had no idea!
And I think my favorite thing about Oliver is this: I can never guess what she will do next. She is not afraid to kill people off. And she is not afraid to end things how they should end. Really, I was blown away and impressed how things ended. Even though, I had to double check and make sure the book actually finished. No way was I missing a single moment. I was shocked and in awe at what happened after the two friends met up.
Oliver can also write so perfectly at times. I can see this book being quoted and quoted to the maximum amount of quotes. And there’s some lines I just can’t not share. For instance:
I look away, toward the hundreds and hundreds of people who have been driven out of their homes, out of their lives, to this place of dust and dirtiness, all because they wanted the power to feel, to think, to choose for themselves. They couldn’t have known that even this was a lie –that we never really choose, not entirely. We are always being pushed and squeezed down one road or another. We have no choice but to step forward, and then step forward again, and then step forward again; suddenly we find ourselves on a road we haven’t chosen at all. But maybe happiness isn’t in the choosing. Maybe it’s in the fiction, in the pretending: that wherever we have ended up is where we intended to be all along.” (Page 183).
I actually read, and re-read this passage several times, interrupting my continuing the novel to just soak up these words! Seriously, these words gave me goose bumps.
I was this close just now to quoting the last page, but decided against it. The last passage of the book is just as beautiful and it sums up the spirit and overall feeling of the whole book! It’s another one that I had to read over and over, to soak it up like a sponge, to hopefully never forget. I can see some folks not enjoying the ending, but I did. The ending has only spiked my already high appreciation for Lauren Oliver.
I’ve read reviews that talk about the love triangle in here sort of taking the back seat to all of the rebellion and action. But, I have to disagree. Even in the scenes where people are annihilated and walls are destroyed, the love triangle is always there in the background. And this is the best kind of triangle: one that is always there, but that can blend in with the sky of the utter destruction of everything else.
This was one epic, strong, and emotional finale to the series. If you get a copy of the first printing of this book, there will also be a short story in Alex’s point of view at the end. And that story made things even more intense. How can there be a better love story than a story that takes place in a world where love is taken away from everyone? These books had a great concept. The characters were believable and so strong! The writing was superb and goose bump inducing. Oliver has earned my respect yet again. This gets a 10/10. What are you waiting for? Go read it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (36)

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 Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (6/4/13):

Description on Goodreads:
Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
So, I am so beyond ready for this book! I absolutely loved book 1. It was one of my top three favorite books of 2012. I love that this cover matches the first book’s cover really well. I also love where the story is heading, though I kind of wish I got a little bit more description in that description…I’m pretty sure I would end up buying this one though even if there was no description –that is how much I loved the first one.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pitch Green by the Brothers Washburn TOUR

I received this one as an ARC from the publisher. And I am so glad to be on board with the tour! Below is my review, an interview with the authors, and an awesome giveaway!

This was a fun, quick, mystery! I’m not used to YA mysteries actually surprising me with the way they end, and this one definitely surprised me!
It’s about Camm and Cal, two best friends/next door neighbors who live in the middle of nowhere. They actually live in the desert, and it was really cool getting a different kind of setting for this book too. The book begins with a scary scene when the two are kids, trick-or-treating. Cal’s little brother goes missing. And because the Brothers Washburn go into the point of view of the villain, readers know that he was attacked –and most likely eaten.
Then, it’s seven years later. Cal is now a popular football player and Camm is kind of a brain. They’re thankfully still best friends becaue if it weren’t for Camm, Cal would have been another victim of whatever/whoever got his brother. Unfortunately, another kid does go missing. And while the local police have dismissed the case of Cal’s brother a long time ago, and seem to think nothing of the house he went missing in front of, Camm can’t get over her feeling that the creepy, abandoned mansion has something to do with it.
Then enters the FBI, who really seem to love Camm. They invite her to be an unpaid intern/helper. And this finally allows her the opportunity to go inside the mansion. One go around is not enough though, especially considering it was cut short by some angry townspeople, and Camm breaks back in with Cal to do some real investigating.
Camm and Cal come across some terrifying things in this house, things that link a whole lot of murders together. Between research at the library, interviewing witnesses, meeting with the FBI, school, and dealing with Cal’s need for revenge, Camm has a lot cut out for her. This book is jam-packed with action. There’s secret passageways to discover, skeletons to find, some really interesting town history that dates back to World War II, and plenty of narrow escapes! There’s deaths, kidnappings, and a lot of secrets in their town.
There’s a terrifying moment where the bad guy starts targeting Camm. There’s some creepy supernatural elements too that made everything even more creepy. There’s just a pinch of romantic tension between the two friends. But what will really have readers staying up late at night is the mystery. I needed to know what would happen!
I really enjoyed how realistic Camm and Cal were. Though, I kind of kept mixing them up because their names are so similar. I love how Cal was such a guy. He was hungry all the time and always thinking about hooking up with Camm. The authors were not afraid to throw in some guy humor about farts and vomit, and it gave everything a good sense of humor.  I was hoping for them to get together the whole time too.
I liked the desert setting. I haven’t read a lot of YA books that have taken place in the desert. I also really enjoyed reading the mystery. I was definitely put off course. I kept thinking the bad guy would end up being a werewolf, but I was so out of the ballpark on this one. And I love being surprised with stuff like this! There are still some things I’d like to know, but I have a feeling they will be addressed in later installments.
There was one thing I didn’t quite understand: all of the gun usage. Is it normal for two teens to be so knowledgeable of firearms? No one even seemed upset when Camm blasted through her house. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a very urban environment and I’m not used to teens knowing so much about guns and being allowed to use weapons. Though, I liked that both Camm and Cal wanted to take action into their own hands. They were both so brave and really just wanted to save their town from more heartache. Maybe if they were in some kind of club or in families that liked to hunt or something, it would have made more sense.
Overall, this was such a fun read. This book had great characters, a great mystery, and so much nonstop action! It was hard to put down. Between the missing children, the points of view shifts to the attacker, and all of the mystery behind the supernatural mansion, there was never a dull moment. I give this one a 8/10.

The Authors (Andy and Berk):

Were there any scary stories/urban legends that particularly inspired this story?

From the time we were old enough to sleep over night at a friend’s house or have a friend sleep over at our house, an important part of the sleep-over ritual was the late-night telling of scary stories, and there was no better scary-story teller than our own mother.  Scary stories have always been a Washburn Family specialty, and from the time we were little, a family favorite was The Green Rat.  Variations of this twenty-minute story have been told to family, friends and complete strangers in many different settings over the years and were the basis for Pitch Green.  The general outline for the book came together one evening in November of 2010.  We were attending a writer’s seminar in Manhattan and as we rode the subway from one end-of-the-line stop across town to the opposite end-of-the-line stop, and back again, we mapped out the basic elements we would need to expand the childhood story into a full-length novel.  Andy wrote the first rough draft, and then Berk took it over to edit and expand the tale.  In writing the first book, the ground work was laid for the sequels and prequels in that horror series.

And what are some of your favorite scary stories/legends?

In addition to The Green Rat, there were other family favorites too, like Anna (about a nobleman’s beautiful, young wife, who eats human flesh) and the Fungus Man (about, well, a fungus man) and many others.  Glorious and wonderful were the stories of our childhood.

What are your top three favorite YA books right now?

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Cinder (Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer

And what top 3 YA books would you recommend to fans of your book?

The Maze Runner series by James Dashner
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
The Lightning Thief series by Rick Riordan

Who was your favorite character to write? Why?

Andy said the Guardian because he enjoyed thinking like a predator.
Berk said Camm because it was fun thinking of ways to make her smarter and tougher.

And was it hard writing in the perspective of the attacker?

Not really—it was a convenient way to add depth to the story.

If you could pick any actor/famous person to read your book in audio-book format, who would you pick?

Morgan Freeman

What are your top three favorite scary movies?

The Changeling (1980s movie with George C. Scott)
Alien vs. Predator (or any of the Alien or Predator movies)
Any of the Terminator or Tremors movies.

Giveaway time!

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Good Week in Books (46)

So, I had another excellent book week. This is both good and bad because I’m moving and I’m sort of freaking out about my amount of books. On the plus side, I’ve been waiting a year for some of these lovelies to come out! I received two finished books for review (Thanks, Macmillan!). I purchased two new ones that I have been dying to get my hands on! And I lucked into four ARC’s from my co-worker. The other librarian at my school won a lot of new books/ARC’s, and I actually have a full bag of them that she told me I could donate to my volunteer library and keep what I wanted! I’m donating most of them, but there are a few I just have to read as soon as possible.
Paper Valentine
by Brenna Yovanoff (ARC)
Arclight by Josin L. McQuein (ARC/ April 23)
Born of Illusion by Teri Brown (ARC/ June 11)
Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan (ARC/ May 7)
Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson (Macmillan)
Marco Impossible by Hannah Moskowitz (Macmillan)
Requiem by Lauren Oliver
Fragments by Dan Wells
How was your week in books?