Wednesday, January 30, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Indigo Awakening by Jordan Dane



Welcome to my stop on the Indigo Awakening blog tour hosted by YA Bound.  I am so excited to be a part of this tour. As soon as I read the description for this book, I knew I had to be a part of this!


Summary (from Goodreads):

Because of what you are, the Believers will hunt you down.

Voices told Lucas Darby to run. Voices no one else can hear. He’s warned his sister not to look for him, but Rayne refuses to let her troubled brother vanish on the streets of LA. In her desperate search, she meets Gabriel Stewart, a runaway with mysterious powers and far too many secrets. Rayne can’t explain her crazy need to trust the strange yet compelling boy—to touch him—to protect him even though he scares her.

A fanatical church secretly hunts psychic kids—gifted “Indigo” teens feared to be the next evolution of mankind—for reasons only “the Believers” know. Now Rayne’s only hope is Gabe, who is haunted by an awakening power—a force darker than either of them imagine—that could doom them all.

Review

I was super impressed with the fast-paced, action packed plot. There was never really an easy moment to put the book down. I kept anticipating certain romantic relationships, and waiting for brother and sister to reunite, and I couldn’t stop reading until things were somewhat in a good place for the main character.
I really enjoy books that focus on good family relationships. And while, Rayne’s older sister was awful, and forced their brother into a mental institution, Rayne clearly loved him and refused to stop trying to find him and help, and then of course believe him. And more than that I loved that the majority of the book was either in Rayne’s point of view or in her brother’s. I love when the point of view shifts in YA branch away from just the two components of the “it” couple. I think I was actually more anxious for the brother and sister to reunite than I was for Rayne to hook up with Gabe, and that is such a good, surprising thing!
I was never quite as involved in the point of views of the bad guys as I could have been. I found myself skimming their sections at times because I needed to know what was happening elsewhere, though I get why it was included. It allowed for the readers to understand just how strongly the church and other organizations were fighting against the kids. Bounty hunters were hired to track down powerful kids. And the point of view shifts definitely showed how intense certain moments could become (particularly the moments with weapons).
I loved all the kid power in here! I loved seeing how capable young people are at surviving. Whether it be in an underground tunnel, a shack at an abandoned zoo, or in an emancipated apartment, all of the kids had to learn how to grow up rather quickly. Add all the surviving tough circumstances to some crazy, unique supernatural abilities, and you can tell even more why it was hard to put this one down. I’ve never really seen a character in a YA book do what Gabe could do, power-wise, and everything with his dead dog was just so cool!
I found the characters rather believable considering the circumstances. Though, I do want to know more about the kids in the tunnel! I’m hoping to learn more about them later. At first I was kind of afraid this would be another book where only the boys got to be interesting, with supernatural abilities because the main character seemed to be the only ordinary one. However, I later met other kids with abilities (some girls). The main character had just enough sarcastic humor for me to eventually love her. There are a few pop culture references that are always fun too. I also found the whole idea of mixing up these gifted kids with the mentally ill kind of fascinating. It definitely did not make the church look good because their solution was to hide these kids in mental institutions, drug them unconscious, and experiment on them in top-secret wards.
There can definitely be some X-Men comparisons made; however, there are very clear distinctions between a world with people born as mutants and a world where children are hunted down with weapons for their unique abilities that are never visually obvious. I’m excited to see where everything continues in the next installment. I can’t wait to get to know the other characters. I give this one an 8/10. It will go by as fast as a fun comic book turned to movie. There are really cool super powers, violence, fun characters, and just enough creepy suspense! I really just had a blast reading this one.
Book Links:

Watch the Book Trailer here!

Jordan Dane:


Bio


Bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Jordan Dane’s gritty romantic thrillers are ripped from the headlines with vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense novels to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag, naming her debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM as Best Books of 2008. She also pens young-adult novels for Harlequin Teen. Formerly an energy sales manager, she now writes full time. Jordan and her husband share their Texas residence with two cats of highborn lineage and two lucky rescue dogs.

Social Media Links:
Website  / Twitter  / Facebook  / Pinterest 

Thriller Crime Fiction Blog:
The Kill Zone 

YA Blogs:
ADR3NALIN3  / Fringe Dweller 

Don’t miss the other blogs participating in this tour! See them here!

There’s also one amazing giveaway! Here’s what’s up for grabs:

HarlequinTEEN prize pack, includes (US only):
·         INDIGO AWAKENING by Jordan Dane
·         ON A DARK WING by Jordan Dane
·         IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS by Jordan Dane
·         THE JULIET SPELL by Douglas Rees
·         BELONGING by Karen Ann Hopkins (ARC)
·         DANCERGIRL by Carol M. Tanzman
·         2 Harlequin notebooks

4 Infinity Bracelets: (US only)
For anyone who has read an advance copy of INDIGO AWAKENING, you know that a silver infinity bracelet plays an important part in the story. Special bracelets will be given away on the virtual tour so the lucky winners will be part of Rafael’s street family. Rafe’s bracelet was in black leather, but I’ve added a white leather braid as my personal remembrance to you for being in MY family.

-1 audio book of In the Arms of Stone Angels. Digital download only. (International)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (31)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
Technically, I’m waiting on Tuesday this week because tomorrow (Wednesday) is going to be all about a blog tour I’m lucky to be a part of!

This week, I am waiting on The Originals by Cat Patrick (5/7/13):

Description on Good Reads:
17-year-olds Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey Best grew up as identical triplets... until they discovered a shocking family secret. They're actually closer than sisters, they're clones. Hiding from a government agency that would expose them, the Best family appears to consist of a single mother with one daughter named Elizabeth. Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey take turns going to school, attending social engagements, and a group mindset has always been a de facto part of life...

Then Lizzie meets Sean Kelly, a guy who seems to see into her very soul. As their relationship develops, Lizzie realizes that she's not a carbon copy of her sisters; she's an individual with unique dreams and desires, and digging deeper into her background, Lizzie begins to dismantle the delicate balance of an unusual family that only science could have created.
So, I loved Revived by Cat Patrick. I still need to read her first novel, The Forgotten, but I will be getting to that soon. As soon as I read that this book was about clones, I was pretty much sold. The description sounds so good! And I know this author is great at writing suspense. I am so beyond excited for this one!
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman



So, this is so not my first reading of this book. I think I first read it for the first time when I was 14, in a school book club. And now, tomorrow, I’m lucky enough to have students who trust my judgment enough to want to discuss it in their book club! I’ve read this one several times before, but it was so nice coming back to it today! It was like meeting up with an old friend for coffee.
It’s about Lyra, one extremely brave main character who has no problem with lying (or at least coming up with outstanding stories). She grows up in a world that is similar to this one, but definitely not the same. For starters, there are witches, armored and talking polar bears, and daemons. Daemons, not to be confused with demons, are actually souls. People walk around with animals always at their sides. These animals are not pets, but actual representations of their souls. The animals feel what their people feel. And until Lyra, along with the rest of the children of her world, hit puberty, their daemons are constantly changing forms. They can go from a bird one moment to a mouse the next. But, adult daemons remain in the same form.

Lyra grows up in Oxford, amongst a community of scholars who all want to teach her what they are studying. Lyra, however is more interested in playing with the neighborhood children. And by playing, I mean warfare. The Jordan college kids are at war with the servants’ kids from all of the other colleges in Oxford, and they are all at war with the townies. And war seems to be all about throwing mud or plums at each other and once stealing a boat. When Lyra isn’t avoiding lessons about things like particles or strategizing warfare with her friends, she is exploring all Oxford has to offer with her best friend, Roger. They jump from rooftop to rooftop, enter forbidden passages, and explore the underground catacombs together.
The kids begin playing a game called Gobblers where some kids pretend to be Gobblers and the rest run for their lives. But it soon becomes clear Gobblers are real, and the kids in Oxford begin disappearing.
Everything really changes for Lyra one day when her uncle comes to Jordan College with a slide show to present to the scholars. Hidden in a wardrobe with Pantalaimon, her daemon, Lyra watches and listens to a remarkable scientific discovery. Her uncle has been to the north (near the armored bears) to study something called “dust,” something that baffles all the scholars. And in the process of his scientific investigations, her uncle learns about another world that only presents itself in the Northern Lights.
After this discovery, Lyra and Pan embark on an adventure of a lifetime. She saves her uncle’s life, gets taken in by a lady scholar, and plans her own journey northward, hoping to learn more about dust. Also, before she leaves, the headmaster of her school gives her a device called an aleithometer, one of only six ever made. And when a person knows how to use the device, they can find out the answer to any question; they can find truth. She’s told to keep the device hidden from the woman she is staying with.
Soon she discovers that the woman teaching her everything about going north is actually involved with the Gobblers and the woman’s evil monkey daemon discovers the hidden aleithometer. Lyra decides its time to run away.
From there, Lyra goes on a journey with Gyptians, characters that seem like a mixture of gypsies and pirates), witches, and armored bears. She wants to rescue all of the kids who have been taken (including Roger). There’s flying air balloon rides, fires, kids being experimented on and tortured, boats, real war, ghosts, and a lot of foreshadowing prophecies for the books to come. And to top it all off, there are some of my all-time favorite characters! Lee Scoresby, the one flying the balloon is so fascinating! There’s an armored bear that will just melt your heart! And then of course, there are the bad characters too (like Lyra’s discovered parents, who are both above and smart and evil).
This is one amazing story, filled with action, science, adventure, magic, and unbelievable characters. Lyra is still probably my favorite YA character of all time. She is just so creative, strong, intelligent, and good! She goes over backwards to save her best friend. She learns bear politics, talks herself out of a frozen prison, and tells story upon story to save another friend and find her father. She travels the world and risks her life to do what she thinks is right.
And then of course there’s all of the inner layers of politics and religion. So much is going on in this novel in regards to religion and science. And it’s not just about something as simple as creation versus evolution; it’s about power. It’s about other worlds existing and how certain people refuse to let the people know. It’s about discoveries being more important than the lives of children. And frankly, neither side looks very appealing. Both the scholars/scientists, and the Magisterium (parallel to Catholic church) come off looking pretty evil.
This is no simple children’s or YA book. It is loaded with layers of different themes and ideas. It’s the kind of book that both makes you bite your nails in anticipation for things to happen, and makes you ask serious questions. The ending is a cliffhanger to top all cliffhangers, and you finish this book immediately ready to start book 2 (and thankfully, all of the books are out already so you can!). I don’t really have anything negative to say here. I am a little biased. I have read this book several times. I was even dressed up as The Amber Spyglass (book 3) one year for Halloween. Yes, I am that cool. It definitely gets a 10/10 from me. And I cannot wait to discuss this tomorrow! I just wish I had time to re-read all of them right now.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Good Week in Books (41)


So, I’ve gotten a little behind in my book reviewing…My life keeps getting in the way of my blogging! I refuse to let this keep happening. I am still reading a lot. I might currently be in the middle of six different books…And I can’t wait to finish them and talk about them. In the mean time, I had a very light book week. I received one ARC to review. I received one new requested title on Net Galley. And I bought one new book too!

Pitch Green by The Brothers Washburn (ARC 3/16/13, Thank you, Jolly Fish Press!)
Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding (Galley, 2/5/13, Thank you, Entangled Publishing)
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (30)


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 Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (10/22/13):

This is all Goodreads says at the moment:
The Retribution of Mara Dyer is the last book in the Mara Dyer Trilogy.
I want more information! Though, I get that I am early in my waiting…But, oh how nice is this cover? I really am a big fan of this series, and I guess I can wait till October because it will be like a birthday present for me. The 21st is my birthday, so the 22nd will be a book-shopping day! What are you waiting on this week?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Good Week in Books (40)



So, I had a bit of a book-spending spree at Barnes and Noble.  There are just so many good books that came out this month! Seriously, I had nine written down for January…I bought five new YA titles and one new cookbook (I actually have started another blog about food/cooking with my good friend, Robyn: Hunger Wars: Catching Fire in the Kitchen).
Purchased:

Shades of Earth
by Beth Revis (!!!)
Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi (!!!)
Gates of Paradise by Melissa De La Cruz (The las one in this series!!! I hope it’s good!)
Crash by Lisa McMann (!)
Catherine by April Lindner (So excited for this one too!)
The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz (Totally plan on using some of these recipes on my other blog!)
How was your week in books?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson


I kind of already thought I’d read this one, but when I was at a conference last year (with Maureen Johnson in attendance), I definitely realized I hadn’t. Maureen Johnson is one of the people you meet, and then just kind of want to attach yourself too. She is one snarky, hilarious, intelligent individual. I was lucky enough to be a part of the audience for a game show she was hosting, where all the contestants were YA writers (like John Green and Stephanie Perkins). I’m pretty sure it was one of the funniest moments of my life.
Any way, I’ve read other books by Maureen Johnson (including The Name of our Star), and have loved them, so I knew I would pretty much love this book too. It has such a fantastic contemporary YA storyline. It’s all about Ginny growing up, coming to terms with her favorite aunt’s sudden death, and learning to branch out of her normal, more reserved self.
Not long after Ginny’s aunt dies, she receives a package from her in the mail. The package is made up of 13 blue envelopes (each one numbered). The first letter includes 1,000 dollars cash and the demand of Ginny to buy a plane ticket and head for England. There’s also a set of rules (things like no technology, just one backpack allowed, and no camera). It’s summer so Ginny has the time to do this. What kind of crazy aunt sends their niece on such a weird journey, after their death?
Ginny’s aunt wasn’t crazy per se. She was odd. In most of the letters, she refers to herself as Ginny’s runaway aunt. She never really stayed anywhere long. She definitely was a believer in living her life to her fullest. She traveled, painted, worked all manor of interesting jobs, and loved to try on extravagant clothes she could never afford. This lady has been homeless, has lived in a café (literally), has had a job in the Empire State building, has been all over the world, and just sounds like one amazing character. And besides being amazing and interesting, this aunt is the only one who seems to get Ginny. She, as Ginny says, makes Ginny interesting. She gets Ginny to try things and branch out of the norm in most situations.
Ginny can’t open the next envelope until she’s completed the task on the first. She’s given tasks to do all across Europe. She donates to an artist in England, meets her aunt’s muse in Scotland, goes on a date with a Roman boy in Italy, etc. Each task is fun, and somewhat out of the ordinary, and some are definitely harder than others. Though, Ginny follows all the rules.
Everything goes down hill after a certain event on the beach in Greece. However, Ginny has a new group of friends, a sort of British boyfriend, and a loving family to call her own by the time everything is through. And all of her crazy experiences, along with some amazing art, allow her to get through it all.
This book has all the good things that make a wonderful YA contemporary: international travel, cute boys, family drama, grief, and growing up. The characters all stand out in exceptional ways. The settings for all of Ginny’s tasks were fascinating. I loved getting into all the artsy culture of places. And it was so much fun watching Ginny learn to do new things.
The only character I wasn’t in love with was Ginny. She was kind of boring. I loved that she grew throughout the novel. But, I never really got to learn about her. What was her favorite food (and why was she never hungry???? Seriously, the book spoke of her not being hungry so many times…And I was like, French bread! Italian pastries! Crepes!  Etc. etc.) If she seriously never ate, she’d be so much crankier. Where did she want to travel to the most? What was she studying in school? What books did she read? What did she like to do for fun? I never really got to learn any of these things. Instead, I just sort of learned that she was rather rigid and afraid to try things. And that’s fine. Not all YA main characters need to be brave. I just wanted more about who she was and what she liked to do (outside of her aunt).
I did read this book pretty much in one sitting (in a waiting room, waiting for my dad). It is so much fun! I felt like I really was going to all the places Ginny got to go to. I loved all the scenes that took place in England. I even loved the somewhat heart-breaking scene in Greece. There were so many of those awkward teen moments that only someone who really gets teens can write. I loved Maureen Johnson’s opinions about tourism in general, and how Ginny and her aunt classified themselves above it all. I give this one a 9/10. And I seriously am thinking about ordering the sequel right now, as soon as I post this.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (29)


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 School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins (5/14/13):

Description on Goodreads:
Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

Rachel Hawkins' delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the
New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance.
I had no idea there would be a spinoff series!!! I’m so excited for this one. I was not aware of her other series being over though…Hopefully it’s not over? Either way, I love this author’s characters, supernatural elements, and fun suspenseful plots! This book sounds really good. And I like how the cover reminds me of the covers from the other series. This like never happens, and I totally appreciate it.
What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Stealing Magic by Marianne Malone



Stealing
Magic was definitely magical. This is the sequel to The Sixty-Eight Rooms (and you can read my review for book 1 here). These books are definitely more a part of the younger spectrum of young adult literature. Technically, it’s more middle grade than young adult, but I’ve seen teens reading it too.

I was particularly drawn to these books, a) because they take place in Chicago, b) because much of them take place in my favorite Chicago museum: The Art Institute, and c) because the story is all about kids who can literally shrink in size and go into the miniature Thorne Rooms. The Thorne Rooms are miniature rooms, designed to represent different countries, styles, and time periods. It’s every kid’s (or in my case, adult’s) dream to be able to go inside them once you see them. Malone takes it a step further with her books because Ruthie and Jack can actually time travel to the times the rooms are from as well.

If you have not read book 1, you might want to stop reading because I will spoil a bit of it in my review of book 2.

Book 1 was all about figuring out how to do things: how to shrink Ruthie and Jack, how to get from one corridor in one size to another corridor in another size, how to go back in time, how to not ruin history, how to get into certain doors, how to save lives, etc. They already know so much in the start of this second book.

Everything really begins with the two best friends having mixed feelings about leaving Jack’s bento box and letter behind in one of the rooms. When the kids go to get it back, there’s a response to their letter. Who wrote the response? Is it connected to the person who’s been leaving behind modern objects? Is it connected to an art thief? Is it a stranger, or is it someone they know and trust already?

The duo go into more rooms and do more time traveling. This time, they venture into the south, before the civil war and befriend a child slave. They also visit Paris just before World War II and meet a girl, escaping Germany with her Jewish family. There’s plenty of history. And now there’s the bonus of the mystery of the disappearing artifacts. Ruthie and Jack are more open about their secret than ever before, and this could be a good or a bad thing.

Before they know it, Ruthie and Jack are in a time crunch to get back to the rooms and save their new friends’ lives before they are prevented from going back into certain time periods ever again. Something they’ve learned about the rooms is that they are all very connected to certain objects; the objects allow for the time travel, so when objects go missing, so do their ability to walk out into different times and countries.

Almost all of the questions I had left over from book 1 have been answered. Certain characters that were only briefly mentioned in the first book, have a large role to play in this one. Also, this one had a lot more plot on Ruthie and Jack’s side of the rooms.  The things going on outside the Thorne rooms was actually more interesting than the history inside them for me this time. Things like the purse at the end of book 1 are addressed. And it was really so nice to learn so much more in a sequel and not to be left hanging quite as much.

The only thing I’m still aching to know more about is the magic involved in the creation of the rooms. And I’m seriously hoping that a book 3 is in the works!

Overall, this book was nothing but fun! Between the art heists, the surveillance cameras, the art, the history, the mystery, and the adventures, there never really was a moment I felt capable of putting the book down. This gets a 10/10 from me.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Essence by Kimberly Derting


So, I actually made my friends wait in my heated car, while I ran into Barnes and Noble, the night this came out. As I was parking, one of my friends said, “I thought she was kidding about a late night bookstore run.” My friends who have known me longer were like, “We knew she wasn’t kidding.” I seriously don’t understand my need to buy books the day they come out, particularly when I cannot even get to them for a while…This one I made time for immediately. I absolutely loved book 1, The Pledge (read that review here).
And as soon as my friends had gone home, I started this book…It hasn’t gotten as good of reviews as book 1 has, but I actually think I enjoyed it more than book 1. [I am about to spoil some of book 1, so don’t read this review if you haven’t finished the first book yet.] It begins shortly after the first book finishes. Charlie is now queen, after “defeating” the last queen at the end of book 1. No one knows, except possibly her younger sister, that the evil essence of the old queen is still in Charlie. Yet, ever since Charlie made the much-feared oath in book 1, she has had a glow, literally. She glows like a beacon, and whenever a certain revolutionary guy kisses her, she glows even more.
I know that sounds corny, but it actually didn’t bother me. It felt more like an X-Men thing and less like a Twilight sparkle thing, somehow. Any way, the world outside the castle is rather mixed up. Not everyone is okay with the changes Charlie has made. While people seem to be pretty down with getting rid of public execution, laws for executions, and law prohibiting free speech, not everyone is cool with attending schools with people who were once known to be of a lower class.
The people who used to be the higher class are still prejudiced of the lower classes. And the lower classes are still afraid to look everyone in the eye (because the punishment for this used to be death). There are many assassination attempts on Charlie. And the person heading the assassination attempts and rounding up other new policy haters is Charlie’s best friend’s father. Brook is now actually in charge of Charlie’s army and security. And it’s hard for Brook sometimes to always have to work one step ahead of her father.
This book, like the first one, has it all: politics, languages, super powers, pissed off society, revolutions, assassination attempts, kidnappings, rescues, adventures and journeys, royalty, balls, mystery, explosions, school shootings, and plenty of death. At the opening of the first school to accept students of all classes/languages, Charlie goes to make her first public/glowing speech. And while monitoring the school’s first day, she is simultaneously betrayed by someone close to her and also partially to blame for the deaths of many innocent children. Brook’s father brought in guns and bombs to the school, killing anyone protecting Charlie and any kids who got in the way.
Around the time of that school day, Charlie is invited to a summit of sorts for all of the queens of the realm, and because she cares about her people (probably more than they do for her), she wants to build good relations with other queens to form trades and better communication. Unfortunately for Charlie, trouble follows her everywhere. There’s not a ton of romance in this one because Charlie and Max are separated for a lot of this book, and I was totally okay with this. The romance was sort of the one thing that bothered me about book 1. It all just happened too quickly for me. And this one was all about Charlie telling Max she wasn’t ready for marriage yet. She wanted to get used to being a queen first and learning things for herself before going there, and I loved her so much more for this decision!
On top of the constant action, suspense, and danger, there’s also the whole thing about Charlie battling with the essence of the old queen. There are some serious Joker-from Batman-type crazy moments where Charlie wakes up in the hallways shaking and screaming. The old queen is definitely still there, and she most certainly makes her presence known at the summit, when a certain immortal man from her past shows up. Poor Charlie finds herself so drawn to another man because its who the old queen loves. And the inklings of a light triangle start to form.
There’s a little history about the queen/essence that I found fascinating too! I seriously love everything about that storyline. I also loved getting some other characters’ point of views, like Brook’s. I loved how strong and loyal a friend Brook was. I seriously would want her to lead my army too.
I loved seeing other realms than the one realm we saw in book 1! I loved meeting the other queens, and guessing at what their supernatural abilities were. There’s secret passages, murders, and assassination attempts throughout the whole book, including the parts at the summit. And I was never bored, ever. The ending was pretty epic, and I have no idea how I will wait for book 3.
There was one little thing that did get to me though. Did no one really expect anything that whole time? I mean the girl would wake up screaming at someone to get out (to herself…) And she glowed…Did no one really put two and two together and think that the glow was because of the old queen? I mean they all saw her take the oath…I feel like that wasn’t believable and there were just two many smart friends/allies to be that dumb. At least one person should have suspected something.
Overall though, this didn’t annoy me that much. I loved this book. The characters, story, suspense, and world-building were just so wonderful! The bad parts of the romance in book one weren’t in here and I was so grateful. And I’m dying for a third installment already! I give this a 10/10. Kimberly Derting needs to just always keep writing YA books. Seriously, I love all of her things!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Good Week in Books (39)



I had a very light book week this week. That is totally fine with me though because my TBR piles are just slightly ridiculous. And I plan on doing a January new book splurge soon because a million titles release this month, and I like need all of them...I won one book from the wonderful Christina at A Reader of Fictions! And I received one new title on Net Galley.

Won:

Just One Day by Gayle Forman (Thank you, Christina!)
From Net Galley:


Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed (1/22/13 –Thank you, Disney Book Group!)

How was your week in books?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan


So, I was kind of expecting to be blown away with this one. Sarah Rees Brennan’s other book, Unspoken, was my favorite book of 2012. Justine Larbalestier wrote a series (Magic or Madness) that I was slightly obsessed with as a teen, not to mention her involvement in my favorite YA short story collection, Zombies Vs. Unicorns. And then I read that this was supposed to be a YA vampire parody, and well I’d been anticipating its release for a while.
Maybe my expectations were a little too high going in, especially considering the mixed reviews I’ve already read for this one. I had fun reading this one, for sure; it just was nowhere near as funny or as wonderful as I expected it to be.
It’s about Mel, a girl who lives in a city that’s rather segregated. Part of the city, made up of shades, is where the vampires roam, and the other part is where the scared humans live. While a lot of humans are scared or prejudiced against vampires, like Mel is (though she denies it), there is a general law and understanding between the two. For starters, vampires cannot feed off of any unwilling humans. Also, no one under the age of 18 can be turned into a vampire.
There’s sort of this mutual tolerance of each other. The vampires bring in a lot tourism to the humans. And the humans don’t mind being studied and written about by the vampires. The tolerance and the laws most likely have a lot to do with the fact that in this world, 2 out of every 10 people who decide to be turned into a vampire die. Part of this is because of the whole zombie thing. About half of the failed attempts result in zombification. As a result of past mistakes, it has been learned that zombies spread their disease really fast and the only way to prevent mass disease spread and death is to kill a zombie immediately.
Mel is a tough character. She fences for fun, hangs out with her exes like it’s no big deal, helps solve all her friends’ problems, and seriously has no problem hitting a guy when something is out of line. Everything changes for her when Francis, a vampire, begins to attend her school, and her classic novel-reading best friend becomes enamored. The book then becomes all about Mel trying to convince Cathy to stay away from the heartbreaking undead.
Too bad for Mel, it soon becomes clear that Francis returns Cathy’s feelings. Though, Mel believes his feelings are to due more with a book Francis is writing about love than about his actual feelings. One of Mel’s other best friends is going though her own vampire problem. Her father has left her and her mom alone, without even a note (besides a later text message), to run away with a vampire woman client of his. This friend’s mother is the school principal, and Mel decides to investigate things when she sees how poorly her principal reacts to Francis. A principal should never be afraid of a student, should they? Why admit them to begin with?
Before Mel knows it, it’s not about keeping Cathy away from Francis so much, as it is about keeping Cathy human. Cathy wants to become a vampire so she can spend the rest of eternity with Francis, after only knowing him a few weeks. The two friends’ stories connect and Mel has a lot of questions to ask herself about what matters most. All this is happening of course, while she meets a boy (human for the moment) of her own. And while she teaches Kit (who grew up with vampires) about what it means to be human, Kit teaches the stubborn Mel, about the goodness of vampires.
This book has zombies, vampires, fencing, the beach, hidden caves, lot of rats (literally), high school drama, and a lot of charm! I was however, expecting it to be funnier (being a parody). Mel has plenty of good one-liners, and a collection of undead jokes up her sleeve, but there are only so many times one can hear the same jokes over and over. There are only so many times I can read about the importance of smiling and laughing, and how vampires can’t do it. Seriously, I got it. And frankly, I can see why Mel’s bestie would get so pissed. Saying the same thing over and over again doesn’t get someone to change their mind. The repetitiveness just makes someone need violence. Seriously.
Cathy deciding on an eternity with someone after a few weeks was a good parody laugh out loud moment for me. But other than that, I didn’t see a lot of parody, or at least anything that really stood out. All vampires always are written to be like Francis, and his character was actually just too predictable and boring for me (though I guess this was the point). Maybe I was hoping for some more in-your-face/obnoxious parody and less of the subtle, small connections each character/event has had to other characters/events.
I did love Mel and all of her friends. And I loved how they weren’t as wealthy as the teen characters in most other YA books. They spent their allowances on burgers, and most of them couldn’t afford a car. This made them all the more believable. I also loved the phone conversations Mel had with her sister. Family and friends were so important to this main character and this made her more real too. I loved Kit and how sarcastic he was. Everything with him though was a little too predictable too.
I was kind of hoping for less predictability and more hilarity. I’m not saying parodies can’t be serious. I just thought this one was a little too serious. The authors did a fantastic job with the world building and the characters. Maybe the problem was in the marketing of this book because if it were just to be a regular, paranormal book, I’d probably have enjoyed it a lot more. I give it a 7 /10 .

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (28)



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 Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin (4/23/13):

Description on Goodreads:
In Dance of the Red Death, Araby’s world is in shambles—betrayal, death, disease, and evil forces surround her. She has no one to trust. But she finds herself and discovers that she will fight for the people she loves, and for her city.

Her revenge will take place at the menacing masked ball, though it could destroy her and everyone she loves…or it could turn her into a hero.

With a nod to Edgar Allan Poe, Bethany Griffin concludes her tragic and mysterious Red Death series with a heroine that young adult readers will never forget.
So, this sort of seems like the worst description ever….Absolutely nothing is given away about what happens in book 2. I feel like the description was written by someone who hasn’t read it yet. But, it doesn’t matter to me. I just loved the first book. It was so dark and unique, and I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on this sequel. I also love how well this book cover goes with the first one. It definitely has a Poe feel to its image as well as its story.
What are you waiting on this week?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Good Week in Books (38)


So, I had a crazy, awesome week with all my best friends in town! And I have one best friend here with me for the next 3 months because she’s interning at the University of Chicago. 2013 has already had one fantastic start! I also have had a rather decent book week too.
I received one book in the mail for my library (I already own it). I bought four really reduced priced books at my favorite Chicago used bookstores! And then I also purchased one brand new book that just came out this week! All of my books this week look super good!
 
Cinder
by Marissa Meyer (going to my library! Thanks, Macmillan)
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna (Looks so amazing!)
Black City by Elizabeth Richards (This one has kind of bad reviews, but it just looks so pretty…)
Before I go to Sleep by S.J. Watson (the manager at my old bookstore convinced me to read this one a long time ago, and it helped that I found it for two dollars yesterday. Also, it will be one of my few adult books that I will probably read this year)
The Essence by Kimberly Derting (!!!)
Under my Hat by Jonathan Strahan (This is a collection of stories by some awesome YA authors all writing magic!)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Elder by Raine Thomas



I am so excited to be a part of another blog tour for Raine Thomas! I literally jumped up and down when the wonderful author, herself, contacted me to be a part of it! I have super enjoyed this entire series.
Review of Elder (book 3):

The first book centered on Tate, and the second book was more about Sophia. This third one is mostly about Clara Kate (CK). I was so excited to learn more about this character, because she always sounded so amazing before. She has a lot of Tate’s bravery, but also a lot of Sophia’s intelligence. Any way, her sad love story was always so interesting to me, so I was more than ready to be able to delve into her story!
When CK was in the human realm, she fell in love with Ini-herit (also known as Harry), but when the two returned home, Ini-herit couldn’t remember being in love. He’s actually known for not having/showing much of any emotion at all. And poor CK can barely be in the same room with him. Unfortunately for her though, it seems she is connected to him all the time, along with the rest of the crew of eight destined to find the scroll pieces.
For another Estilorian to become an Elder, all three scroll pieces need to be found. CK, Ini-herit, Tate, Sophia, Tiege, Quincy, Ariana, and Zacharias are all in a race to find the last scroll piece before the wrong Estilorians do. No one wants the scroll to get into the wrong hands, particularly into the hands of those who have murdered, tortured, and attacked loved characters from previous books.
Unlike the last book that began in safety, this book begins right in the middle of a capture! Poor Tate and Ariana are actually in a cage in the beginning! Between the escapes, rescue scenes, flying, fighting, and mind-reading, there really was never a dull moment here! This book also still has all of the wonderful charm, romance, and world building of the first two books! And add to that a wonderful masquerade scene, a scary fall from an insane height, a surprise pregnancy, more avowals, more ceremonies, and more politics, and frankly what’s not to love?
The characters never have it easy. They seem to only escape one capture to be forced into another one. But just as so much hardship is faced, so is a lot of new, positive discoveries about elders, memories, and love. I won’t say if Ini-herit gets his memories back, but I will say there is a whole ton of romantic tension between him and CK.
All of the characters are again pushed to their limits to do what they need to do to protect their loved ones. I loved watching everyone’s reactions to Zacharias change. I loved the sizzling romance between all the couples too! I loved all the scenes about CK in the human realm. The ending scene with the scroll, the elders, and the final decision, pretty much had me biting my nails in anticipation! Everything tied together so nicely in this final installment. And I really felt like the majority of my questions about Estilorians were answered, particularly my ones about the Mercesti and the Elders.
The ending might have been a little too perfect. The bad people got what was coming to them. The good people got what they deserved. And everyone had to work together to accomplish the ultimate ending. It was a little too fairy-tale ending for me. And don’t get me wrong. I’d probably be mad if things ended poorly for my favorite characters. It’s just that these books are filled with some torment, torture, and death, and I thought the fairy tale ending was a little too happy to be believable enough.
Overall though, I’m so pleased to get so many answers! I love how everything tied together. I loved the romance, the characters, the setting, and the action! I couldn’t get enough of CK and Ini-herit. And the book maintained all of it’s humor and charm from before. The ending might have been a little too good to be believable; however, deep down, I’m glad that everything ended the way it did. I give it a 9/10.
About Raine Thomas:

Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of a series of YA fantasy/romance novels about the Estilorian plane, including the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy and the Firstborn trilogy. She is a proud member of Romance Writers of America and is a contributing blogger to The Writer's Voice. When she isn’t planning weddings, writing or glued to social networking sites, she can usually be found on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches with her husband and daughter or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.
Connect with Raine Thomas:
Raine Thomas is also hosting a giveaway! She is giving away one crazy, awesome prize pack, and you can enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (27)


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 Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting (4/16/13):

Description on Goodreads:
Violet thought she’d made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers…that is until she acquired an imprint of her own. Forced to carry a reminder of the horrible events of her kidnapping, Violet is more determined than ever to lead a normal life. However, the people who run the special investigative team Violet works for have no intention of letting her go.

When someone close to Violet becomes a suspect in a horrific murder, she finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a madman with an army of devoted followers. Violet has survived dangerous situations before, but she quickly discovers that protecting those closest to her is far more difficult than protecting herself.
How awesome does this sound? I don’t know why, but these flowers on the covers of this series are so creepy! I have been a big fan of the ominous flowers. Also, I’ve been a big fan of this series. Derting is so good at romance and suspense (and also dystopia now too). I don’t know how I can wait till April for this release.  What are you waiting on?