Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (56)

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 A Shard of Ice by Alivia Anders (3/14):

Summary from Goodreads:

When 13-year-old Lilix Morgan is found alive and floating on a bed of ice at sea, everyone counts it a miracle. Kidnapped nearly four weeks earlier, she remembers nothing of her mysterious abduction. When she tries to remember what happened, she hears only a melody – a faint and delicate set of notes, strung together in a tune she doesn’t understand.


A year later and desperate to put the lingering nightmares of her past behind her, Lilix crosses the country to enroll at Baelmorte Academy, aiming to become the violinist she once dreamt of. Things seem to be finally going well, and Lilix settles into a routine of sheet music and inspiration among new friends.

Then the dreams start.

The melody and night terrors she thought she’d left behind return with a vengeance, threatening to ruin her fragile version of normalcy. Then an unlikely ally tells her that she isn’t alone. That there are others just like her, fighting to hide their own shocking truths from coming to light. That they know who she is, and what she’s been through. Now, accompanied by four other girls, Lilix discovers her nightmares are larger than a single trauma; they’re a window to a hidden part of her soul, a place of immense power with a destiny that cannot be ignored.


With this knowledge comes a new and frightening reality. For Lilix has been reawakened to stop an age-old enemy, one thought to have been destroyed centuries ago. Trapped by her destiny, Lilix is torn between what feels right and what she remembers. Her memories tell her of a star-crossed love waiting to be reunited, of friendships and trust broken in the past. But can she save that love when reality brings her an enemy, and an evil that will be the undoing of them all if they don’t destroy it?
Why I’m Waiting:
Wow. So, that is what I call a good-sized summary! It sounds super interesting to me. I like the idea of the music being her one memory of what happened. It sounds like one super epic survival story that also involves starting over with a new life. And I love everything about the way this sounds. I’m also so drawn to this cover.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Summary (from Goodreads):
After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?
Wow. So, I’m like still in this post-book haze. What an amazing book 2! It was definitely worth waiting in line for an hour to get this ARC at BEA. Though I wish I got it the day I happened to be standing behind the author in line at Starbucks…then I could have gotten it signed. The book comes out in a month, so you don’t have long to wait for it. But, oh how you need to be waiting for this one! I actually enjoyed it more than I did the first.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about reading all about the jobs the king required of Celaena. After all the fighting and training of book 1, she is now officially the king’s champion. And it’s not like there’s ever a dull moment for a champion of an evil king. I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Celaena in book 1. But all the hate was gone in this one. She has definitely stepped it up here. Instead of complaining and whining about things, she actually does them!
Rebel Celaena is a force to be reckoned with. She’s killing, fighting, defending, and learning all the time. And I loved seeing how far she has come in the right direction. When her beloved friend calls her a coward in this book, I would have agreed in book 1. But here, Celaena is doing all she possibly can to defy a king who has murdered everyone she ever loved (in her past). She truly has become a hero in this one.
I also super loved the romance! It is another love triangle, but the good kind, promise. The kind that’s believable and revolves around so much more than instant love. The characters Maas writes are real people with real problems and personalities and this gave the whole fantastical world so much more depth. Plus, things get a little steamy for a while with my favorite boy, so I was very happy.
A lot of things are learned about Celaena’s past –things that were only briefly alluded to in book 1. And while the major twists/suprises were things I had a feeling might be coming, I loved how the author introduced them. Not everything is ever all explained at once. The readers get Celaena’s past in fragments, fragments that need to be packed up and stored away for future reference and puzzle solving later.
The book is layered with riddles, magic, mystery, and suspense. And all bets are off for Celaena when a loved one is kidnapped, someone close to her is brutally murdered, and the next person on the king’s list who she’s required to kill is an old friend from the past. There’s tiny tidbits of hope and references to possible future revolution. There’s a lot more magic and death and politics. But there’s more love and chocolate cake too.
I can sort of see where things are going in the series, and I am so beyond okay with the direction of it all! There’s a bit of a cliffhanger at the end, but I’d be disappointed if there wasn’t one.
All in all, there isn’t really a negative thing I can say here. The book has it all: assassinations, kidnappings, court politics, magic, secret passages, mythology, libraries, love triangles, spying, killing sprees, slavery, prison sentences, and so much action and suspense that I literally could not put the book down until I finished it (I was up till 4:30 am reading). The plot, mystery, and characters have improved since the last book. I cannot wait to see what Celaena does in the next one. I highly recommend this book to fans of Kristin Cashore and Tamora Pierce. It so gets a 10/10.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Good Week in Books (58)

I haven’t done one of these posts in a little while because I’ve really been trying not to get any more books…I’ve been sort of successful at this. I’ve managed to avoid my library’s annual book sale, which is really hard to do. However, I did make a small purchase on Amazon recently. I also received a couple of books for review (thank you to the Disney Book Group).
Ordered from Amazon (which by the way does not send me books the next day or the day after with my Prime membership!):

The Pirate’s Coin by Marianne Malone
Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
Things I Can’t Forget
by Miranda Kenneally
For Review:
In Too Deep
by Coert Voorhees
False Sight by Dan Krokos
How was your week in books?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Summary (from Goodreads):
There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away.

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them.
So, this book had so many things going for it. The summary sounded epic. The cover is awesome. And Jennifer Lynn Barnes is pretty amazing at writing strong female main characters who I love. Unfortunately, things fell a little short for me.
The premise was different. Though, there does seem to be an invisibility theme going down this year. I liked the idea that some people are just born to not stand out. There’s nothing really wrong with Claire. She was just born with an invisibility defect of sorts that prevented people from really noticing her. I really loved getting to see how awful this made things. She got left places and forgotten by her parents all the time. No one ever heard her speak. She never got things like towels (at the pool) because no one ever knew she asked for one.
I kind of wish I got to see more of these situations. I got to see the pool thing, but the others were just summarized stories that felt like things that were supposed to make me feel empathy for the main character, and not actual events. And because of all these summarized moments I never got to really see, I never really bonded with Claire.
And then Nix’s story is supposed to be even more sad. Unlike Claire, he was brought up knowing about what he was. He was trained, tortured, experimented on, and forced into becoming an assassin, because like the summary says, whose better at killing people than someone who no one can see? And While I found Nix’s story really interesting (what’s not interesting about teenage assassin whose sent to kill senators?), I never really cared for him that much either. And like with Claire, his past was summarized. I never saw him being tortured or experimented on. I just knew it was bad. I get that Nix isn’t the type of character to dwell on his past, but still –a little more character development would have helped lots.
I loved the story. I liked the idea of the nobodies and the nulls. And I found the whole energy/science/subterfuge aspects to be the best parts of the book. It was un-put-down-able in parts because of this. I wanted answers just as much as Claire and Nix. And being a librarian, I really wanted to help explain to them how to do better library searches during a particular scene. I also cringed when Claire stole so many library books. (And would a girl who loves libraries and books so much, really steal from a library?)
I think another big reason I never really liked Claire or Nix was that it’s so hard to like such self-hating characters. Nix was always telling himself he was nothing and no one could ever care for him. And Claire had just gotten so used to not being seen. I tend to like stronger, more confident characters. And while the confidence of both characters increased as the book went on, it was never quite enough for me. They both seemed rather sad for most of the book.
And then of course the two characters also have an instant connection. Though, I was kind of expecting this from the summary. And I’ve really enjoyed how this author has written love (even a bit of the instant love) in the past, it just wasn’t working for me here. It never really felt like love to me; it was more about how no one else noticed and less about how each of them did. And I kind of feel like a real romance/relationship should be built on more than just the fact that the couple notices each other, even when the whole rest of the world can’t see.
All in all, the characters came off kind of weak. Too many scenes were summarized. I wanted to see more of the characters’ lives, and without seeing them, I never really empathized with them. The romance was of the instant variety, and not handled that well. But, the story and the idea of nobodies kept me interested until the end. I needed to know how things would turn out. And I did like the stand-alone-feel I got from this one. This book was not my favorite, though I have loved other books by this author. I give it a 6/10.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (55)

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 Daughter of Chaos by Jen McConnel (3/14):

Description on Goodreads:
Witches must choose the path they will follow, and Darlena Agara is no exception. She’s been putting it off long enough, and in her case, ignoring it has not made it go away. In a moment of frustration, Darlena chooses to follow Red Magic, figuring she had outsmarted the powers that be, since there’s no such thing as Red Magic. But alas, Darlena’s wrong (again) and she becomes a newly declared Red Witch.

Her friends are shocked and her parents horrified by the choice Darlena has made. As a Red Witch, she now governs one third of the world’s chaos. She is the walking personification of pandemonium, turmoil, and bedlam, just as the patrons of Red Magic would have it to be.

But Darlena believes there must be more to Red Magic than chaos and destruction, and she sets out on a journey to achieve balance. Only doing so puts her at odds with the dark goddess Hecate, who simply will not allow Darlena to quit. She encourages Darlena to embrace who and what she is and to leave good magic to the good witches. If only Darlena could, life would be simple, and she would not be the Daughter of Chaos.
Why I’m Waiting:
I sort of came across this title randomly, on Goodreads. It’s not the most enticing cover. But, I’m always on the look for another great witch story. Seriously, I’m tired of the same witch story over and over. And this one sounds utterly and completely unique. I love the idea of her being this witch of chaos. And I love that the goddess, Hecate is thrown in. I’m so ready for this book to come out!
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Summary (from Goodreads):
What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though –she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.
But everything’s she ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he’s also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line?
So, I’m not really sure as to what took me so long to read this one. I’ve read a lot of good reviews for Kenneally’s books. I love books that depict female athletes because we don’t get many of those in YA. And I just adore these book covers! They are so eye-catching. On the other hand, this really is a perfect lazy summer day read, and it’s just what I needed right now.
Jordan is such an interesting main character. She’s not a typical girl at all. She prefers binge eating on buffalo wings, playing foosball, and watching videos of old football games to just about all else. She’s a tomboy of the first order, always rocking the sweat pants/sportswear look. And all of her friends are boys.
The relationship she has with her team is wonderful. They all love her and respect her. When anything is said about her being a lady or about some other guy disrespecting her, they take care of her. She’s also a really great quarterback.
She lives in a town obsessed with football, and her dad is an NFL player. It doesn’t sound like there’s much to be sorry for her. Then you see how her football obsession takes over her life. She’s never dated anyone and says no to most social gatherings and parties, in effort to watch more football and prep more for games. But more than that even is her disintegrating relationship with her father.
He refuses to support Jordan’s dreams of playing football. He goes to Jordan’s brothers’ games. He practices with Jordan’s teammates and friends. He helps Jordan’s friends with colleges. But he won’t support his daughter; he is desperately afraid of her getting injured. And stubborn, strong, sarcastic Jordan refuses to let anything or anyone prevent her from accomplishing her dreams.
The book is good at making it clear how complicated sports (especially football) is for women. Everyone always expects Jordan to be hideously manly or feminine and terrible. She deals with copious pick up lines, comments about her gender, and jokes from everyone she’s up against. The college she’s been dreaming about attending for years seems interested in her, but she has to deal with sexism in an academic setting too. She’s recruited for calendar photos, and college promotions. All she really wants to do is play football. And everything involved with being a woman makes this 100 times harder than it should be.
The boys in this book are great! Actually, most of them are players, but I still love them. I love the biggest player of all, her best friend. And I also kind of loved her first boyfriend, Ty. There’s a lot of things I didn’t agree with in regards to the boys’ behavior, but overall I thought this was rather authentic.
What I loved most was watching Jordan deal with emotions she wasn’t used to feeling. I loved learning about why she became such a “guy.” And I loved watching her handle her first serious relationships. She’s not someone I think I could easily be friends with, yet at the same time she reminds me of one of my closest friends. You know she’s someone who would have your back no matter what. She’s the kind of girl who would stay friends with the guys she dates after she breaks up with them. And she always wants to do the right thing for her team, above the right thing for herself. She is a true leader, and kind of a true inspiration.
The writing and dialog in this one were not my favorites. Sometimes a lot of the dialog between Jordan and her friends seemed forced and dumbed down. The author kept emphasizing how not all football players were the same. Some liked to write, some liked to cook, some were players, and some were afraid of talking to girls. Yet, none of their conversations seemed too intelligent, and I kind of wish she wrote the team to be a little bit smarter.
All in all, I loved this book. I was highly entertained by Jordan and her team. I found the romance addicting. I found the games and practices suspenseful (something I was not expecting), and I found all the hardships Jordan had to face because of her sex to be empowering. I wish certain characters and certain conversations sounded a little smarter. But, this didn’t take too much away from the story. I still read it in one day. It gets a 9/10 from me.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

Summary (from Goodreads):
The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother –or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.
So this book has been taking over this summer. Seriously, I see it everywhere. I wasn’t sure about the description, but after reading six really good reviews, I knew there was no way I couldn’t read it.
The biggest thing this book has going for it is the characters. I absolutely loved Cassie. I thought she was honest, brave, and real. I liked that she was always herself throughout all the terrors she endured. She never looses her thoughts about her high school crush. She’s always thinking about her brother. She hates being alone, but knows she has to be. And she’s willing to kill people in order to protect herself and her brother. She is pushed to her limits over and over, but her personality still remains intact. And she has such a personality!
There’s all these snippets of the past that the reader gets in small does. The epic downfall of our planet isn’t all summarized and jammed down out throats in the first chapter (though it is just tiny bit). It happens fluidly over time. I really was guessing as to what exactly happened for at least half of the book. Each wave was terrible, and the worst one seems like the fifth, which you eventually understand in the later parts of the book.
A lot of people have remarked on the suspense and surprise here. I called almost all the major twists; however, this author wrote them extremely well. Everything was in the right spot –and nothing about this world was summarized. It was all shown through painful memories and the questions/debates characters have among each other, and I was super impressed by this. I loved hearing this conversations –knowing what people believed and didn’t believe.
I liked the other characters too. The book did sometimes follow other characters, besides Cassie. And at first, this was kind of confusing. Almost the entire first half was in Cassie’s point of view, and then it just all of a sudden changed to someone else’s with no indication of doing so, and it took me a few pages to realize I was now in the head of male character. I get why Yancey did this. He didn’t want you to know who the character was yet; there’s a big reveal later. But, still it was really disorienting sometimes and it took away some of my enjoyment of the story because I had to keep reminding myself who I was reading about.
On another note though, I read this one super fast. It gets to a point during the last half, where it is literally impossible to put the book down. Do not read this book until you have the time to read a book in almost one sitting!  I was up to 2 am reading, when I had to be up by 5:40am the next day. That was a mistake. But seriously, there is no good point to stop reading here.
The sci-fi elements weren’t brand new, but mixed in with the way Yancey writes dystopia elements, the story really did become unique. Some of what was happening was legitimately terrifying. And I was on the edge of my seat, biting my nails, in hope of a lot of these kids surviving. The romance was pretty awesome. The description makes it sound like it’s a much more major part of the book than it is. Frankly, there’s not a ton of time for falling in love. But, I absolutely adored the relationship between Cassie and Evan. So much tension, fighting, and mystery –my favorite kind of romance.
I wanted to learn more about Evan than I had the chance to. I’m hoping more is explained in the next installment. I also want to learn more about Them. I want to learn more about other camps, other survivors, and I’m dying to see how things work out between Cassie and someone else too.
This book is sad, suspenseful, terrifying, romantic, and just so addicting. It definitely feels like a Stephen King novel for the YA audience. And nothing is sugar-coated. I highly recommend this one to fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games. Cassie is an amazing main character. The story is impossible to put down. And I’m dying to get more answers. This gets a 10/10 from me (even though the character points of view switches were a little confusing).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (54)

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 Uninvited by Sophie Jordan (1/28/14):
Description on Goodreads:
The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan's chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she's destined to become a murderer.

When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.
Why I’m Waiting:
How cool does this idea sound? So, I feel like I’m seriously interested in stories about killers lately…(My favorite show is Dexter. And I’m a little obsessed with the new abc family show: Twisted). What does this say about me? But any way, the idea that you can’t change what your genes give you is very interesting to me. I really enjoyed this author’s other books, and I’m excited to see she’s writing something new. I’m not the biggest fan of the cover, but the story sounds too good to pass up.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Agency: The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee

Summary (from Goodreads):
Get steeped in suspense, romance, and high Victorian intrigue as Mary goes undercover at Buckingham Palace - and learns a startling secret at the Tower of London.

Queen Victoria has a little problem: there's a petty thief at work in Buckingham Palace. Charged with discretion, the Agency puts quickwitted Mary Quinn on the case, where she must pose as a domestic while fending off the attentions of a feckless Prince of Wales. But when the prince witnesses the murder of one of his friends in an opium den, the potential for scandal looms large. And Mary faces an even more unsettling possibility: the accused killer, a Chinese sailor imprisoned in the Tower of London, shares a name with her long-lost father. Meanwhile, engineer James Easton, Mary's onetime paramour, is at work shoring up the sewers beneath the palace, where an unexpected tunnel seems to be very much in use. Can Mary and James trust each other (and put their simmering feelings aside) long enough to solve the mystery and protect the Royal Family? Hoist on your waders for Mary's most personal case yet, where the stakes couldn't be higher - and she has everything to lose.
So, I absolutely adore these books. This is book 3 in a wonderful mystery series, and I’m pretty sure this is my favorite book so far. What’s not to like about disguise, mystery, romance, Buckingham Palace, a little drama (of the Downton variety), murder, family secrets, and of course a secret agency of crime-solving Victorian ladies?
This one in the series stands out for many reasons. For starters, the romance is taken up a notch. Mary really can’t fool herself any longer into thinking she has no feelings for James and their encounters become more and more entertaining. I love all their banter, their arguments, their mutual need to help everyone, and their stubbornness. They make quite the literary match of the best kind (a match made by shared interests, witty dialogue, strong opinions, and friendship).
I also loved reading a YA book that features Queen Victoria as a character. At first, I wasn’t necessarily feeling this author’s interpretation of one of my all time favorite monarchs, but as the book went on, I loved Lee’s version of Queen Victoria almost more than anyone else’s. The feminism that leaps out at you on these pages is wonderful and empowering! And the queen definitely did not end up disappointing me.
I’ve probably said this in reviews of earlier books in the series, but I just love all the historical, gritty details. Nothing is sugarcoated. Monarchs go out on fun nights in opium dens, the Chinese are persecuted for being different, maids are treated like garbage, and women never really have much choice about anything. I know a secret detective agency of women at this time period is rather far-fetched; however, it’s the only far-fetched notion of the book. There are just so many details about the terrible lives people led in this time period that it makes up for this one crazy, yet amazing idea.
A lot is learned about Mary’s history in this one (something she’s very private about). And Mary is seriously pushed to her furthest limits in regards to her family, her job, and her James. The two women in charge of the Agency have hit a wall in their differences and so to top everything off, Mary has to decide which boss she would like to stick with (because there will soon be two agencies).
Y.S. Lee has an amazing strength in writing dialogue and character. Her women are believable. Her characters all have their secrets that you need to find out. (I want to know more about the reporter!) The romance is of the best kind. The mystery has you guessing for the whole book. The setting is spectacular. And I really don’t have a single negative thing to add. This gets a 10/10 from me. And I look forward to the next one.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (53)

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 Dangerous by Shannon Hale (4/1/14):

Description from Goodreads:
Maisie Danger Brown just wanted to get away from home for a bit, see something new. She never intended to fall in love. And she never imagined stumbling into a frightening plot that kills her friends and just might kill her, too. A plot that is already changing life on Earth as we know it. There's no going back. She is the only thing standing between danger and annihilation.

From NY Times bestselling author Shannon Hale comes a novel that asks, How far would you go to save the ones you love? And how far would you go to save everyone else?
Why I’m waiting:
So, I really love this author! I have never really disliked anything I have read by her (YA or adult). The description sounds really interesting, though it doesn’t really give that much. Though, I kind of like not knowing too many details –it goes with not knowing too many details from the cover too. The non detailed cover still is really eye-catching. There’s just so many things I want to know –like what is this dangerous plot that kills her friends?
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Smantha Van Leer

Summary from Goodreads:
New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult and her teenage daughter present their first-ever novel for teens, filled with romance, adventure, and humor. What happens when happily ever after…isn’t?
Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.

Delilah and Oliver work together to attempt to get Oliver out of his book, a challenging task that forces them to examine their perceptions of fate, the world, and their places in it. And as their attraction to each other grows along the way, a romance blossoms that is anything but a fairy tale.
So, I read this one really quickly. Who hasn’t dreamed about fictional characters being real? I feel like there are so many retellings of fairy tales and Jane Austen stories that it is clear that a lot of people dream of this. (Not to mention all the fan fic out there). And who hasn’t dreamed of the male protagonist coming to life in the real world and falling in love with them?
What this book does really well though, besides bring an adorable fictional prince to life, is it plays on this concept of all book characters being real. When a reader isn’t reading the book, all of the characters in the fairytale get to relax, collect butterflies, cook pastries, and enjoy each other’s company. It’s like they’re actors that act out the same play over and over again, but when no one is paying attention (reading the play), they get to be themselves.
Jodi Picoult, in her adult books, likes to go back and forth between different characters’ points of views. She and her daughter do this too. And hands down, the best parts of the book, are the parts where we get to see the fairytale characters in their real lives. The mermaids who fell in love with the prince in the story are actually feminists. And the evil villain prefers reading about insects to just about anything. All of these characters become real. And we get to see Delilah in the real world, Prince Oliver in the fairy tale world (wishing to do more than just keep acting out the same story), and we also get to see the actual fairy tale.
Throughout the whole book, are gorgeous illustrations. There are pictures of Oliver in his story, but also there’s pictures of things from Delilah’s story, and little pieces of the magic between them. I wish I got to see more pictures of the characters too, but I guess it was mostly about Oliver, so that makes sense.
I felt bad for Delilah and what she was going through at school, but she really didn’t seem 15 to me. And it’s not because she loved a children’s book (because well, I’m an adult who loves children’s books). Her problems with friends and her ways of handling them just seemed more like the actions of a 11 or 12 year old. Nothing is really wrong with this. However, Delilah’s emotions and real life problems made this book seem more for a younger audience than YA. The situations at school felt kind of Disney Channel Original movie, and not so much like high school.
I also wasn’t really buying the romance. I felt like Oliver didn’t really know Delilah. He knew what her room looked like, and what her eyes looked like. And he liked her for wanting to help him, and being able to hear him. But other than that, they didn’t have too much background for love. Though, I guess, if they are following fairy tale guidelines, everyone falls in love instantly? I also felt bad for a new character at the end, and kind of felt like that story was rushed too much.
All in all, the characters were fantastic, the illustrations were gorgeous, and the concept was amazing. It definitely read as more of a book for the younger spectrum of the YA audience (I’d have no qualms with putting in the Children’s room at my library, as compared to the teen room –same category as Gail Carson Levine). The romance was handled kind of abruptly. And not all of the loose ends were tied up with the happily ever after. I read it really fast and I can see a lot of people loving this one. I give it 8/10.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fragments by Dan Wells

Summary (from Goodreads):
Kira Walker has found the cure for RM, but the battle for the survival of humans and Partials is just beginning. Kira has left East Meadow in a desperate search for clues to who she is. That the Partials themselves hold the cure for RM in their blood cannot be a coincidence—it must be part of a larger plan, a plan that involves Kira, a plan that could save both races. Her companions are Afa Demoux, an unhinged drifter and former employee of ParaGen, and Samm and Heron, the Partials who betrayed her and saved her life, the only ones who know her secret. But can she trust them?

Meanwhile, back on Long Island, what's left of humanity is gearing up for war with the Partials, and Marcus knows his only hope is to delay them until Kira returns. But Kira's journey will take her deep into the overgrown wasteland of postapocalyptic America, and Kira and Marcus both will discover that their greatest enemy may be one they didn't even know existed.

The second installment in the pulse-pounding Partials saga is the story of the eleventh hour of humanity's time on Earth, a journey deep into places unknown to discover the means—and even more important, a reason—for our survival.
So, I cannot believe how long I have ownend this book before I finally got to reading it! I feel like I have forgotten just how awesome book 1 was. As soon, as I started this sequel though, things started coming back to me.
It’s a little massive (564 pages), and maybe this is why I kept putting this farther behind in my TBR piles, However, I read it super quick. The action, the adventure, and all the clues that keep coming through out the whole suspenseful story just made it so impossible to put down. It’s one of those books that will have you up late, dying for answers. 
And thankfully, here is a sequel that does give us answers! Kira discovers so much history about partials, about herself, and about how her world came to be as bad as it is. She has to work extremely hard to get these answers though. To start with, she scavenges the ruins of NYC. She battles panthers, conquers floods, escapes bullets, and befriends a crazy loner. When she does eventually meet back up with Samm and Heron, things only get harder.
They cross rivers, survive acid rain, outsmart soliders and partials, and communicate with survivors back home. The book kind of reads like its part dystopia, part sci fi, part war story, part horror movie, and part epic fantasy. The quest Kira goes on with her friends to cross half of a decimated country was both terrifying and wonderful. Getting to see how the rest of the country faired from so much disease, war, and genocide was so, so amazing to read.
The characters come off stronger. I actually began to care for the lesser-present characters, particularly Marcus, who goes on some adventures of his own.
And almost more interesting than all the violence, battles, and destruction is Kira’s own history. What is she? How did she come to be? And is it really possible for her to attain her goals of a peaceful co-existence? Partials are dying off because of their expiration date. And humans are dying slowly because the disease that prevents the survival of new babies is still thriving, despite the cure that Kira found. 
As all the best dystopias are, Fragments, is loaded with tough questions, tougher answers, and some seriously moralistic dilemmas. Kira has a lot to learn, a lot to sacrifice, and a lot to do if she really wants to save the world (both humans and partials alike). There’s a very tiny bit of romance in this one, and I was actually really okay with this. It was more about survival, about saving the human race, and deciding how far you can go to do what you think is right.
I was super impressed by the setting, about how thought out Wells’ destroyed world is. I was even more impressed by the questions this book address about survival.The bad guys also super impressed me. Good and bad is a little bit blurry here and that makes everything even more interesting. I wasn’t quite as interested in Marcus’ story as I was with Kira’s, but who could really compete with Kira?
I think I enjoyed this one even more than I enjoyed book 1. It was fast, action packed, and just so good. I highly recommend this series to fans of Divergent, The Hunger Games, and Blood Red Road. I give it a 10/10.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

International Follower Giveaway!

So, I’ve been having a bunch of US followers only giveaways (because I’ve been giving away books in my possession). And I promised an International Follower Giveaway, so here it is. I’m giving one International winner their choice of two of the books I’m listing below.
It’s a little over halfway through the year, and there have been a ton of really good YA titles released so far. These are my current favorites of 2013 so far. Winner gets to pick two! If the book isn’t out yet (I’ve read and ARC of it), I will preorder it for you.
Standard rules apply. This is for International followers only. You do need to live somewhere that either Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the Book Depository will be able to ship to you. I will have more contests for everyone soon. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email or I will have to randomly select a different winner.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Fragments by Dan Wells
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (preorder)
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Gates of Paradise by Melissa De La Cruz
Requiem by Lauren Oliver
The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender
Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
Good luck!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 5, 2013

Need the shelf space Giveaway!

So, I seriously need more shelf space. All of the books up for grabs are books I have multiple copies of or I have already read or I just don’t think I will get to in a reasonable amount of time. And I know I promised an international giveaway, and there will be one soon, but this one is just for my US FOLLOWERS. I am doing the shipping.
I will have 3 winners! First place winner can have up to 3 books of what is listed below. Second place winner will have their choice of up to 3 books of what is left. And the 3rd place winner with have the last 2 (if he/she wants them).
Again, this is for US FOLLOWERS ONLY. (I have an international contest soon though).
Winners will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their book choices and their shipping address. If I don’t hear back by 48 hours, I will have to randomly select a different winner. 
What’s up for grabs:

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (paperback)
The girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry (hardcover)
Unwholly by Neal Shusterman (hardcover)
Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson (hardcover)
The Creature Department by Robert Paul Weston (ARC)
Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig (ARC)
The Cutting Room Floor by Dawn Klehr (ARC)
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna (hardcover)
Good Luck! And happy summer!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

(First, happy 4th of July! What a great book to post about on the 4th.)
Summary (from Goodreads):
Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.
What a great summer book! I need to say right off the bat that the book summary is a little wrong (if not leading you in the wrong direction). It’s not really about dating a guy and finding someone new/different. Emaline’s boyfriend, Luke, also never comes off as “perfect.” He refuses to wear a shirt most of the time. He also meets up with a girl at a nightclub, and Emaline finds out about it (from a note left behind from the girl). The two break up before Emaline considers Theo, the New Yorker.
And even more misleading is the idea that this book is all about the romance. Because as tends to be the case with all of Dessen’s books, it’s more about growing up. Emaline is spending her last summer at home before heading off to college. And a lot of this book felt like her coping with her inevitable goodbyes. There’s also a lot going on in Emaline’s family life. Her birth father, after coming back into her life and encouraging her to apply for ivy league schools, bails on her when she finally comes to rely on him again.
Instead of having Columbia paid for, Emaline’s birth father sends her a rather cold letter telling her he can’t pay for it after all, and doesn’t even respond to an invitation to her graduation. Emaline’s mom really tries hard to protect her daughter from any disappointment her birth father is certain to continue to give. And her dad, the one she grew up with, seems to handle it all in stride.
Just when Emaline begins to sort of let go of the disappointment of her father, he comes back into her life, with her half-brother, Benji.
The summer is spent working in her family rental business, befriending her brother, and hanging out with her friends who are all having their own separation anxieties. There’s dress-making, documentary-making, art shows, house-cleaning, and a lot of letting go. The book deals with high school relationships ending, new relationships beginning, and most of all it deals with change.
Dessen totally nails that feeling of wanting to change, but also not wanting to let go. I loved watching Emaline get to know her brother better. And I super loved all the divisions between the tourists and the townies. A huge part of this book was the differences between New York and Colby, between college and work, between summer and fall, between temporary and long-lasting. I love how everyone in Colby respected one another. They gave free Ferris wheel rides to fellow townies. They gossiped at the gym. They understood and trusted each other way more than they ever would an outsider. It was so entertaining watching Theo and his boss try to break into their mindset, and never really get there.
I never really liked Theo. He reminded me way too much of a boy I once knew in high school, a boy I knew Emaline would not work with. He was just way too much in his own head, and not enough in anyone else’s. All of the mistakes he made and bad places he took Emaline were rather hilarious though. The book was so entertaining because of all the things he didn’t know. Yet, he saw Emaline as the more ignorant one. Emaline just becomes so much stronger as the summer goes on. I was so happy when she finally saw Theo for who I saw him to be from the beginning.
The book deals with the pressures of parents, jobs, boyfriends, college-applying, and just all of the things a teen would/should/does go through. The characters were so real.  Also, there were so many cameos of past Dessen characters that it felt like a mini beach vacation reunion for me. This is a perfect summer read. There’s nothing too intense going on in it, though Dessen has this magical power to put it all through the lense of a teen, so everything seems so important and intense in the moment.
I give it a 10/10, and I highly recommend it to contemporary fans (particularly Dessen fans). It’s one of my favorites by her.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (52)

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 Evertrue by Jodi Ashton (1/24/14):

So, there doesn’t appear to be a description yet for this book…Which is kind of weird because descriptions do exist for other books being published months after this one. Oh well. I guess I don’t need a description to know I need this book! The first two were wonderful! The darkness, the mythology, the unique retelling of things, and the romance! I want this third installment right now! Also, I love how all three books in the series have covers that go together!
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gravity by Melissa West

Summary (from Goodreads):
In the future, only one rule will matter:

Don’t. Ever. Peek.

Seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander just broke that rule and saw the last person she expected hovering above her bed — arrogant Jackson Locke, the most popular boy in her school. She expects instant execution or some kind of freak alien punishment, but instead, Jackson issues a challenge: help him, or everyone on Earth will die.

Ari knows she should report him, but everything about Jackson makes her question what she’s been taught about his kind. And against her instincts, she’s falling for him. But Ari isn’t just any girl, and Jackson wants more than her attention. She’s a military legacy who’s been trained by her father and exposed to war strategies and societal information no one can know — especially an alien spy, like Jackson. Giving Jackson the information he needs will betray her father and her country, but keeping silent will start a war.
So, this book definitely had 3 things going for it, right off the bat: 1) a gorgeous cover, 2) dystopian elements, and 3) some dark sci-fi plot arcs. I was expecting to just eat this one up. And well, I kind of did.
The whole concept of an alien race coming into your room every night and sucking some of your energy is just so beyond terrifying. Ari knows its something you just have to get used to. But, deep down, you know it always freaks her out. Can you imagine putting a helmet on every night before 10 pm and knowing some stranger you can never see, will have access to you. So, so creepy.
And then just when you kind of get used to the creepy aliens and the contract they have with the humans, West turns everything around. The humans kind of become the bad guys. They don’t want to hold to their end of the contract. They refuse to co-exist with aliens. And in the time the aliens are getting used to the environment and going into bedrooms to do whatever it is they need to do, the children/teens of earth are all being trained on how to fight.
Ari has been trained every day in the art of fighting, defending, and beating aliens. She’s kind of in a military family, and spends nowhere close to enough time sleeping, and way too much time trying to appease her strict father and fight better. The book is loaded with training sessions, fighting, tests, simulations, and all kind of work. There’s also school bombings, air-born viruses, death, and a lot of political propaganda. When Ari gets to know the ancient (alien) assigned to her, her whole life changes.
I kind of liked that the humans ended up being really bad. They refused to accept anyone that was different and went to extremes to get rid of differences. But all in all, both aliens and humans ended up killing innocent people. Though, I do think a lot of lives would have been spared if the humans actually held up their end of the bargain.
I loved learning about the ancients alongside Ari. I loved how Ari was willing to take note of where she was wrong. Nothing is set in stone with her, and it’s so nice having a main character who is so willing to learn. I kept expecting this book to go a certain way, and it didn’t. And I’m actually really pleased that it didn’t have the same storyline as a lot of other similar sci-fi’s. Though, I did still predict most, if not all of the big twists (like who certain characters really were).
I wasn’t an enormous fan of the romance. I kind of kept waiting for the power couple to have more in common, or to grow closer. Instead, they kind of just instantly were a couple without much buildup. Granted there’s a lot of suspense going on, but still. I just didn’t take Ari for the instant love kind of character. Not that I didn’t love Jackson. I did. I just wish their relationship was built upon something besides him keeping an eye on her all the time, over the years. It’s another kind of stalker-like romance to add to the instant love YA titles (at least another romance where the boy watches the main character sleep).
Besides the romance though, I did really enjoy this one. I found the characters entertaining, the plot suspenseful enough to make you not want to put it down, and the story itself, rather unique. I give it an 8/10.