Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (94)

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 Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano (10/1/14):

Description (on Goodreads):
After escaping through the bottom of Internment, Morgan and her fellow fugitives aboard the great mechanical bird land on the ground to finally learn what has lived beneath their floating island home all these eons.

The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and customers watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, their dead are buried in vast gardens of bodies, and Internment is the feature of an amusement park.

It is also a land at war.

Everyone who fled Internment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven. But caught under the watchful eye of another king that wants to dominate his world, they wonder if coming to the ground will drag Internment down with them.
Why I’m Waiting:
I was blown away by book 1. I remember being surprised, moved, and slightly in awe with what DeStefano accomplished. Also, it had such a cliffhanger! I need this book like 3 days ago…This second installment sounds rather epic. I can’t wait to see the characters adapt to a new world. And also, see how their old world affects what the do now. I’m not quite sure how I feel about the new cover. I loved the first cover. And I’m always mad at cover changes done mid-series. Why can’t more series remain consistent? The new covers just aren’t nearly as pretty. What do you think?
Also, what are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Summary (from Goodreads):
Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.
I love Rachel Hawkins. Her other series had me laughing out loud and biting my nails in suspense. And when I first read the description of this new series, I immediately thought, “If there is a YA writer who could pull off a Buffy-type series, it would so be Rachel Hawkins.” While I read this one rather fast, it did not get close to fulfilling my Buffy expectations (though I love that there were a few Buffy references in here –can more books do this?). When the main character was searching for her Giles, I practically did a little happy dance.
I super shipped the romance (which I did in the other books by this author too). It was one of those long-building, hate turns to love kind of romances. Harper and David have been competitors and enemies in all things since kindergarten, and seeing them have to deal with each other and then learn to be friends, and then learn to possibly be more then friends was spot-on awesome. I love those kind of Elizabeth/Darcy romances. There is so much passion and tension.
I also loved the idea of paladins, oracles, and mages! I’ve never read any YA that dealt with this kind of mythology before. And I loved the idea of gender reversal. Normally it’s female oracles and male paladins, and the role reversal here definitely made for a more interesting plot. I’d much rather read about a teen Southern belle learning to kick butt, than a teen guy.
So, while this book really did seem to have a lot of things going for it, I never really felt like I was connecting with any of the characters. Even in the cheesiest moments of the cheesiest first season of Buffy, I loved all the characters.
Harper is another main character dealing with a death in her family. Her sister died in a drunk driving accident (where she was the drunk one). But besides Harper continually trying to be the best at everything to prove she’s not her drunk sister, I never really thought this was handled at all. Harper just didn’t seem affected enough for me. And I get that everyone handles death differently, but still. This felt more like an added side note that was added to the story later on, and less like an actual element to the book overall.
Harper was also not the typical main character I would flock to in any way. She was a belle, preparing for homecoming crown and cotillion. She was super popular and always surrounded by tons of people. She was also already dating someone when she started to fall for David. And I hate when girls fall in love with someone new, but keep pulling their current boyfriends along any way.  But still, all these things are things I’d be willing to look past if I ever really connected to Harper more.
I also thought the pacing was a little slow. Serious paladin fighting and magic spells didn’t really happen until the end of the book. And I kept waiting for it to happen earlier. Too much of the book (before that epic ending) was focused on school dances and friendship falling-outs. I wanted a little more action spread throughout.
I read this super fast. I loved the snarky humor. I super loved the slow building romance. I thought the idea of paladins was interesting and unique. I do wish there was more action throughout the book, instead of just at the end. I also wish I connected more to Harper, and that her sister’s death added a little more depth to the story and character development. It really had an amazing ending. That ending plus the author’s easy going writing style will probably equate to me continuing with the series. I give it a 7/10.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Amulet: The Last Council (Book 4) by Kazu Kibuishi

Summary (from Goodreads):
Emily and her friends think they'll find the help they need in Cielis, but something isn't right. Streets that were once busy are deserted, and the townspeople who are left live in crippling fear. Emily is escorted to the Academy where she's expected to compete for a spot on the Guardian Council, the most powerful Stonekeepers. But as the number of competitors gets smaller and smaller, a terrible secret is slowly uncovered--a secret that, if left buried, means certain destruction of everything Emily fights for.
I know this is sort of becoming a theme for me with this series, but each book just gets better and better! Again, I found myself drooling over the artwork. I checked out the whole series from the library, but am now contemplating purchasing them all, and possibly purchasing a second copy of this one (so I can literally tare pages out and frame them to put on the wall of my living room. I like the art so much, I want to see it every day…
I loved the plot in this installment too! Things definitely took a Hunger Games/dystopia type turn, and I just loved every second of it. Other stonekeepers had to fight each other to stay alive, as part of a creepy test put on by the council. There’s kidnapping, prison breaks, haunting and desolate cities, more stonekeeper history, underground catacombs, and lots of amazing new characters! One of the new characters is a wyvern (a creature I’ve only ever read about in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making)! While no other wyvern can be as cool as one that is combined with a library, this one was quite adorable.
Emily is becoming stronger with her new abilities, and she’s definitely building her confidence levels. Her crew seems to slowly be accumulating new friends and hopeful rebels. Yet, at the same time, the ever-powerful Elf King is also growing in power (particularly now after a certain plot arc comes to pass).
 I feel a little bad for Emily’s mother and brother who always seem to get the short end of the stick. Their main purpose tends to be being captured and being used as a motivator for other characters to use Emily. This is sad because her brother is pretty cool, as far as little brothers go. And the mom, who is usually the logical thinker in a lot of cases, is also kind of awesome for agreeing to stay and help her daughter do what needs to be done.
I have fallen in love with this series. I’m slightly postponing reading book five because then I’ll be stuck waiting for the next installment for months (thought I might have heard a rumor about it being at BEA this year…). I give this one a 10/10. And I really can’t recommend these graphic novels enough.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Summary (from Goodreads):
Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?
After my little obsession with the Lux series, it was only a matter of time before I started reading more by this author. Thankfully, I’d already received this title for review (special thanks to Disney-Hyperion!) And I was so happy to hear it was a stand-alone. I would not be counting down the minutes till the next book came out, after reading another cliffhanger!
It read a lot differently than Armentrout’s other books. It started a little more slowly for me. Knowing that the romance would be awesome and that writing style would be great, was still not quite enough to keep me a little skeptical of the plot. I’ve read the whole main-character-with-no-memories story before, several times. I knew this would need to stand out for me to get over the very used storyline.
And at first, I wasn’t sure if it would stand out. It actually kind of reminded me a little of Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall mixed with Sara Shepard’s The Lying Game. It had all the redemption earning of Before I Fall, with a main character that isn’t the easiest to like, and all the suspense of a Sara Shepard novel. The suspects, like with The Lying Game, are all people Sam is close to –which makes it all the more suspenseful.
Despite the rather familiar beginning, I couldn’t stop reading this. I had to know things! And I know I keep comparing this to other books, but I just have to make one more comparison; it also seriously used a lot of the creepy elements I loved from The Unbecoming of Mara Deyer by Michelle Hodkin. The main character here (like Mara) wasn’t always sure if she was actually seeing/hearing what was real, or if she was possibly loosing her mind from posttraumatic stress. And having an unreliable, possibly crazy main character seriously made this book stand out for me.
I did guess who the murderer was, but like I said, I have read a lot of similar books. On the other hand, there were some reasons behind what the murderer did that I absolutely did not guess at. So, props for a little bit of surprise! The author also wins point from me for getting me to care about so many wealthy, entitled teens. It helps that Sam can look back at her life and see how shallow she used to be, but still…I did not think I would end up liking her as much as I did.
And yes, the romance was excellent. Armentrout has serious romance skills. She is just so talented at building tension between the two romantic leads. Also, the story was very well thought out. The amount of people who could and did lie to Sam (knowing she wouldn’t remember things) was rather disgusting. But, I guess I do think it’s rather believable. If you could take away all the bad things from a relationship or friendship, without your significant other/friend knowing, would you?
On a weird side note, I’m seeing a lot tree houses popping up in YA lately. I think I need to add it to my list of random things that tend to pop up in a lot of YA books (maybe this will be a post soon). I’m adding tree houses to the list that also has learning to play pool and romantic interactions that involve the small of the girl’s back.
Any way, I super enjoyed reading this one. It was not as action packed as this author’s other books. I guess the majority of the action had already happened, and it was more about the main character trying to remember it. There were definitely a lot of familiar elements to the story that I have seen in plenty of other YA. However, the possibility of the main character loosing her mind and the sizzling romance more than make up for this. I give it an 8/10. I highly recommend it to fans of Michelle Hodkin, Sara Shepard, and Lauren Oliver.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Amulet: The Cloud Searchers (book three) by Kazu Kibuishi

Summary (from Goodreads):
Emily, Navin, and their crew of resistance fighters charter an airship and set off in search of the lost city of Cielis. There they hope to find help from the Guardian Council's powerful Stonekeepers. It's a mission that Alledia's survival depends on, and time is running out--Emily's got to find Cielis before the Elf King finds her.
This may be my favorite book in the series so far! The artwork just gets better and better as the story goes along and become more and more fantastical. A large portion of the book takes place in the sky, and all the panoramic views of the ship and the skies were just plain beautiful.
This one focuses more on getting the help the characters need and finding this mysteriously missing city in the sky than it does on Emily learning not to give in to the stone. This on was also definitely more action oriented then book two was. I also liked that the characters have developed a truce of sorts with two elves (and past enemies). I like the idea that not all elves are bad.
I also found myself a lot more interested in the elf storyline with this book. Like what really went down with the elf king? Who is this crazy assassin who can steal memories? And why did he steal the memories of a certain character?
Also, what is with this mysterious city that has disappeared? Why haven’t the stonekeepers there been helping with any of the stuff that is expected of Emily? And why did so many characters refuse to believe it existed? I have so many questions. And I was sad that the book ended where it did because I have a feeling a whole bunch of questions were about to be answered. I’ll have to get to book 4 soon.
I like that the mom is in the story, though all of her dialog seemed a little too forced –too motherly, or too much like a mom in a sitcom and not enough like a real mom or a mom in a fantasy setting. Also, it’s clear that Emily is in charge and not the mom, which is super interesting.
This one also had a bit of a steam punk vibe to it. It reminded me a little bit of Scott Westerfeld’s Levithan, which also took place partly on an airship. I can’t wait to see more of this beautiful world. And I certainly can’t wait to have my questions answered. I give this volume a 10/10. And I’m so looking forward to reading more of these.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (94)

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 This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (12/23/14):
Description on Goodreads:
The second installment in our epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

The stunning second novel in the Starbound trilogy is an unforgettable story of love and forgiveness in a world torn apart by war.
Why I’m Waiting:
I absolutely loved the first book in this series. I’m just dying to get my hands on this one: another epic sounding sci-fi romance. I will miss the characters from book 1, but how cool do these new characters sound? Seriously, I have a feeling all these books will be amazing! I like the cover is consistent with the first one, thought it definitely is nowhere near as pretty.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Die for Me by Amy Plum

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.


I’ve read mixed things about this series. I’ve owned the book for so long; how can I not own such a pretty book? I feel like reviewers either hate this book or love it. And I’m definitely more in the love category.
I super related to the main character. She just suddenly lost both her parents. And a couple months ago, I suddenly lost my dad. My blogging in March was rather limited…I wasn’t really capable of writing much. I’m working on a book (that may never be finished and that I haven’t really been working on since before March), and I blog (clearly). But, writing anything meant feeling something and that was hard for me. And maybe I just came across this book at the right time or maybe this author really gets what it feels like to loose a parent, but either way I felt so much of what Kate was feeling.
I feel like a lot of main characters in YA and MG have lost at least one parent, but in a lot of cases I feel like this loss doesn’t stay with the main characters very long. It stays for the first book or the first chapters, and then the rest of the story erases it. In this book, Kate’s loss was always there. And my fascination with her relationship with Vincent was multiplied when I realized what Vincent was and what she would have to endure if she maintained a relationship with him. I don’t think I’d be able to handle it.
I also of course super related to Kate’s reading addiction. As one can assume, I’ve always been an avid reader. However, my last couple of months have involved an increase in books and tv shows –the ultimate need to be lost in a good story, in someone else’s story. And I love that Kate was the same way.
I found the whole revenant idea to be super interesting too. I’ve never read about anything quite like it. I think my favorite thing about the book though was the romantic Parisian setting. Why don’t more YA books take place in other countries? Seriously, I fell in love with the art museums, the cafes, the long walks, and the boat rides. It makes me want to go to Paris even more than I did before. I want to go to one of those cafes and read a book, and people watch, and order a coffee every hour.
The one thing that didn’t pull me in quite as much as I wanted it to was the romance. It was very PG. But more than that I’m not quite sure what they had in common. Vincent didn’t ever really seem to be reading. I guess they both like looking at art, but in Paris, who doesn’t? I plan on reading the rest of the series, but I hope there is a little less insta-love and a little more sustenance to the relationship.
I recommend this one to paranormal fans. I also think you’d like these books if you like Jennifer L. Armentrout. I read it super fast. The setting was magical. And the main character was beyond relatable. Again, I’m not sure if I loved it so much because I happened to read it at the right time or just because it was awesome, but who cares? I give it a 9/10.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

Summary (from Goodreads):
Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.
After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?
I have read so many good reviews for this one, that I absolutely had to read it. It was a recipe for all things I enjoy: feminism, Victorian England (or more just post Victorian England), Pre-Raphaelite art, sizzling romance, and a strong female main character not afraid of sometimes going against social norms. And while this book had so many good things that I love, there just seemed to be something missing for me.
Sometimes historical fiction books come off as a little unbelievable to me. There cannot have been as many women like Vicky, who were so brave to go against what society wanted, as I feel these books would like us to believe.  Sometimes I feel like current day society influences characters in historical fiction books a little too much.  And while I loved that Vicky was passionate about her art (even willing to put it before any guy), she reminded me of so many modern day fiction heroines.
My favorite scenes were all of the ones where Vicky painted Will. The tension between them was fantastic. Also, I loved that Will was supportive of Vicky’s art and her passion for women’s rights. I also loved the beginning in France with the male artists who also supported Vicky.
This also happens to be a period in history that I happen to know a lot about. I minored in Women Studies in undergrad, and have since had a fascination with the suffragettes. It is abundantly clear that Waller did her research. And it’s not very often that you come across a YA book that approaches this topic at all. And I love Waller for writing on this subject.
I did find the subject matter to be a tiny bit sugar coated. Granted, Vicky never went to prison with some of the other characters, but still. Stuff was a lot harder for the suffragettes. And while I appreciated the chapter that involved Vicky learning to live in a different economic class, I also think that was a little unbelievable. Things should have been much harder for her. And I found it a tad bit much that her friend would just take her in (even though it was offered). What are the chances of a fellow suffragette just happening to have the space, patience, and income to have Vicky tag along?
I found all the drama with the engagement to be addicting. And I loved reading about Vicky’s mother’s artistic past. There were so many interesting details and characters involved in this story to make it all work. I think my favorite character was actually the lady’s maid.
While there were parts of the book that seemed a bit of a stretch, historical-wise and other things that seemed sugar-coated, I did still enjoy it. I loved the characters and I loved the romance. I also loved the topic, the setting, and the art appreciation. All in all, I give it a 7/10.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Good Week in Books (75)

I had a great book week! My pre-order came in for the ending to one of my favorite YA dystopia series. Though, I sort of have a collection of final dystopia installments in my TBR pile at the moment. So many series have ended recently, and I guess I’m slowly going through them –postponing my endings as long as I can. Not sure I can hold off to long on reading this one…Any way, I also received four finished books for review. Thank you Disney Hyperion and Macmillan Kids! There are some interesting new titles here:

Dustlands: Raging Star
by Moira Young
Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
Without Tess by Marcella Pixley
Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Nantucket Red by Leila Howland
How was your week in books?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Amulet: The Stonekeeper's Curse (book 2) by Kazu Kibuishi

Summary (from Goodreads):
In this thrilling sequel to AMULET #1: THE STONEKEEPER, Emily and her brother Navin head for Kanalis, a beautiful and mysterious city of waterfalls, where they hope to find the antidote for the poison that felled their mother. That cure lies in the eggs of a giant serpent atop Demon's Head Mountain, but the kids' archenemy, Trellis, is headed for the peak, too. A battle that will engulf all of Kanalis is looming. It's up to Em to triumph over evil while controlling the amulet's power . . . without losing herself!
These books really make me wish I had some inkling of artistic talent (besides mad writing skills of course). The plotline of book 2 wasn’t as enticing for me as the first one. However, the artwork is even better. There are whole new cities, mountains, and evil elf kingdoms to look forward to. Sometimes it would take me a long time to turn the page because I had to just stare longingly at this beautiful world Kibuishi has created.
On a weird side note, the summary talks about the cure being in the eggs of a giant serpent, and that actually wasn’t the case. In the book, Emily has to get the cure for her mom from the fruit of the ancient Gadoba trees…Maybe the book originally had giant serpents? This is weird, right?
This book definitely focused more on what it actually means to be a stonekeeper. Emily’s new necklace is beginning to look more and more like one of Harry’s horcruxes: the one that made everyone slightly evil when wearing it. We also learn that Emily, unlike the wizard trio, cannot actually take the stone off. The stone wants control over Emily. But thanks to a new friend named Leon, we know that Emily absolutely must not let the stone gain control.
On top of the mission to save her mom, the stone trying to gain control, learning about the history of the stonekeepers, and making new friends, there’s the constant threat of the evil elves. The elf king wants Emily dead at all costs, and the poor girl never has it easy. Each step of her adventure is followed by elves out for her life. And these elves have wicked scary teeth.
I like that this series starts with the kids rescuing their mother. I liked that Emily has to work to control her magic. Cause frankly if she didn’t, things would be too easy. I like that there is a strong emphasis on family. I love the moving house, the mechanical friendships, the animal people, and the prophecies of the trees.
Book 2’s plot was a little too much like other middle grade fantasy books for me. What made this stand out though was it’s illustrations and its strong emphasis on family. Seriously, the artwork gives new meaning to world building. And I loved the dynamic of the brother/sister relationship. I give this one an 8/10, and I’m excited to start reading book 3. I’m so ready for a kid/elf showdown.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (93)

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 Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (9/2/14):

Description on Goodreads:
Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?
Why I’m Waiting:
So, I have a feeling a lot of people will be waiting on this one, this week. The cover was recently revealed, and I’m glad it matches all the other covers in the series. 3 cheers for consistency! But, more than that I’m just so excited to read about what happens next. This is such a fun, easy to read fantasy series. And I just adore all the characters in it. Though, I have to admit some of the description is a bit fuzzy to me; maybe I can do a little re-reading before I delve into the new story. Either way, I’m so ready for the book to be out already!
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, May 12, 2014

The One by Kiera Cass

Summary (from Goodreads):
The Selection changed the lives of thirty-five girls forever. And now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.

America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants.

From the very first page of The Selection, this #1 New York Times bestselling series has captured readers' hearts and swept them away on a captivating journey... Now, in The One, Kiera Cass delivers a satisfying and unforgettable conclusion that will keep readers sighing over this electrifying fairy-tale long after the final page is turned.
I absolutely adore these books! I have so many good memories with the series. I remember placing The Selection (book 1) on the “Staff Picks” wall at the Barnes and Noble I once worked at. As soon as I got the go-okay to add a recommendation to the wall, I put that one on. And I remember my managers smiling and laughing about how many people (of various ages) I was able to recommend this book to. Seriously, the store had to order more copies. I take pride in my book talking skills…
Any way, this book could not have come fast enough. I know a lot of dystopias get compared to the Hunger Games, and at this point that almost always makes me not want to read the book. But, in this case, Cass actually pulls one of my favorite elements from Collin’s series –the whole idea of everyone watching what’s happening. I’m a little surprised not more dystopias deal with the whole reality tv topic. Though, in the long run, I guess I’m a little bit happy about this too –because then books like this one can become a huge treat!
I loved that on top of the fairy tale story, the dystopia type world setting, the insane competition, and the all the pretty dresses, there was also a voyeurism theme, where nothing really is private. Cass has a way of writing about scary, political, and in depth ideas in general, in a rather fluffy way. That sounds weird. And I don’t want to bring any negativity with that comment. If anything, I love this. She has a very easy to read writing style. It’s so easy and fast that I think it will be hard for any fan not to read this in one sitting (like me). But, Cass also goes into some deep topics here.
The whole caste system was fascinating to me. I also loved the idea of two different groups of rebels. I found the whole concept of the girls being attacked and bombed left and right an interesting addition to the story too. This was no easy episode of the Bachelor. This book has more death, more class divides, more danger, more confrontations between America and the evil king, more romance, more fighting, and lots of more action.
I know a big appeal for people was the love triangle, which I actually think this author also handled remarkably well. For me, love triangles either rock or don’t rock. And I also loved that there was a lot more at stake for America than a future husband. She finally decides what she wants and who she wants in this book, and it was so nice to see this character finally figure things out. Because once she did, she was a force to be reckoned with.
I absolutely can’t talk too much more about the plot because I don’t want to spoil things. This is definitely a book you want to go into, spoil free. Just know, I thought it was a great ending for a very addicting series. This is definitely a more romance heavy dystopia than others; however, it’s a romance done right. I highly recommend this to fantasy, dystopia, and reality tv fans. What a great series to take to the beach this summer! I give it a 10/10.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Good Week in Books (74)

I had a nice and light, yet excellent book week. I had a bit of a fan-girl moment/screech of excitement when a certain pre-order arrived on my doorstep. I don’t even know how long ago I pre-ordered it…And I guess that’s kind of the best thing. I love being surprised by a pre-order of long ago. Side note: I already finished reading it, and in one sitting of course. I also received two new ones for review (Thank you Disney Hyperion and Macmillan Kids!)

The One
by Kiera Cass (aka: the book I screeched over)
Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly (!)
The Summer Invitation by Charlotte Silver (this looks adorable)
How was your week in books?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Spring YA Giveaway!

In further celebration of my 3 years of blogging, I want to give away another 3 YA books!
This contest is open to everyone (including my international followers!), as long as the Book Depository, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble can ship to your address.  
There have been a lot of amazing new YA titles this spring. And there are also a lot of new ones about to come out. One lucky winner will get to pick 3 of the following titles. If a title is not out yet, I will pre-order it for you.
If you’d rather have the first book in the series, let me know and you can have the book 1 instead. The winner has 48 hours to respond to my email, or I’ll have to pick a different winner.

Good luck! And thanks for following.

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Panic by Lauren Oliver
The One by Kiera Cass
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
We Were Liars by E.Lockhart
Raging Star by Moira Young
Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L Armentrout
Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly
Take Me On by Katie McGarry

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Summary (from Goodreads):
Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.
I absolutely love this author! I really cannot recommend her enough to teens. She’s sort of like this hybrid mixture of Sarah Dessen, Maureen Johnson, and Stephanie Perkins all rolled into one. She writes about how love works. And more than that she writes these stories that all teens, no scratch that, all people dream about happening. It’s like each book is your biggest daydream come to life.
Who doesn’t want to meet their soul mate in an elevator when the power goes out? Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an extreme, but I swear I’ve had that daydream. I might have even written a short story about it when I was in high school.  But it’s more than Smith getting what we dream about. It’s making the dream seem so real, so possible.
I like that her characters are never simple. Owen is recovering from the death of his mother. And he’s helping his father overcome his grief as well. And Lucy has always been a bit of an introverted loner, who now is literally all alone. Her parents are always traveling in a different country and her brothers left for college.
The setting was kind of magical. Reading about NYC loosing power was kind of like reading a fantasy novel. Seriously, it just seems so unreal. No cell phones, computers, air conditioning, fans, or even refrigerators. Reading about all the sweaty characters going up the stairs to their 24th floor apartments was rather painful. But the characters being able to really see the stars made up for it.
And then the book becomes a bit of a traveling book. Owen travels cross-country with his depressed father, searching for employment for him. And Lucy finally gets to go to Europe (Edinburgh, and then London where her father takes new jobs). Each teen gets to finally have what they always wanted: to travel. And in the process of growing up and learning about love and how they feel for each other, each character also learns a little bit more each day about what makes a place home.
I loved how their inside joke of postcards became their major source of communication –and how this was so much easier than email for them. I also loved that nothing was really defined for them. They weren’t in a relationship so they both felt mostly okay about meeting/dating other people. And I super loved that they both came to the conclusion that they knew they were not in love with these other people because what they felt for each other was so different, and so much stronger. I feel like there comes a point when everyone feels this way. When you know what love feels like, why settle for anything else?
It was interesting to read about two teens both being so okay about switching schools and moving elsewhere all the time. But, I guess it made sense with who they were. I just love the idea of one moment, one meeting, changing everything for two people. Also, it’s so nice to read about their love barely being physical at all. It was more about the conversations, and the dreams than anything else.
Seriously, this was a magical book. And I cannot wait to see what else this author has to say. I give it a 10/10.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

Summary (from Goodreads):

Graphic novel star Kazu Kibuishi creates a world of terrible, man-eating demons, a mechanical rabbit, a giant robot---and two ordinary children on a life-or-death mission.

After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids' mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals.

Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves.
I’ve been meaning to read this series for some time. The artwork of the covers have always super-appealed to me. The artist of the new Harry Potter paperbacks is the same one, and this reminded me again about wanting to read the Amulet series. And then my coworker just finished all of the books that are out, and recommended them to me. So, I finally gave in and checked out the whole series from the library. There will be more reviews for these coming up soon.
The artwork in here is so gorgeous that the beautiful covers don’t even come close to doing them justice. Seriously, the angles and perspectives used on the magical scenery felt more like camera angles. It was like getting the slow motion version of each frame of a beautiful movie, and the whole first book kept this up.
I loved the characters. What’s not to like about a friendly mechanical rabbit? And the monsters looked like they were imagined up by a master, like super awesome mashup of Tim Burton and Hayao Miyazaki.
The sad beginning was sort of reminiscent of Batman for me. The bad things that haunt our childhoods shape our futures seemed to be the idea. And the poor girl will definitely be haunted by her father’s death for time to come. And like Bruce Wayne, she has to grow up fast, and she seems to feel a need to redeem herself by saving her mom. The kids are the heroes here, and I love a good book with kid power.
The book has a little bit of everything that makes up a good middle grade read: magic, monsters, horror, adventure, kid power, steam punk, talking animals, and good characters. I read this first book incredibly fast and I most likely will continue to read at this quick pace; they are just so good. Though, some times I purposely slow down, to soak in the pretty illustrations. I highly recommend this one to fans of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I give it a 10/10. I was very impressed.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (92)

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 Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout (08/5/14):

Description (from Goodreads):
In the stunning climax to the bestselling Lux series, Daemon and Katy join forces with an unlikely enemy to ensure the survival of not only their love for each other, but the future of all mankind.

Opposition will bring forth a new dawn to the Lux universe, where man must stand with alien to survive, and the future, no matter the outcome, will never be the same.
Why I’m Waiting:
Um…I don’t know if you’ve seen my blog lately, but I just binge-read all of this series. I like need this next book right now. August is seeming mighty far away at the moment. Thankfully, I have other books by this author to read in the mean time. But still, I’m so excited to see how this all ends! I’m not sure how I feel about the cover (or any of the covers for that matter). I know there are a lot of fans of these covers and these particular cover models, but I find them a little cheesy. I guess you can’t really judge a book by its cover though, thank goodness. But, I do sometimes and I think that’s why it took me so long to get to Obsidian. If only I knew.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Summary (from Goodreads):
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword. . . .

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
This book wasn’t what I was expecting. Like some of the blurbs mention, it really did read like a YA Game of Thrones. There were various perspectives and point of view shifts. And it was the kind of fantasy that dealt more with warfare and power than with magic and adventures. Though, I guess it wouldn’t be fair to say there is no magic and adventure in here either because its certainly there. Also, like Martin, Rhodes is not afraid to kill off characters. This surprised me a little, in a good way.
It’s one of those books where you’re never really sure who you should be rooting for. Is the vengeful revolutionary correct? Or is it the ignorant, yet kind and brave princess? I liked this. The author didn’t feel the need to spell everything out for you; you are supposed to make your own mind up about each of these very different characters. Also, I like the mystery of the magical element. It wasn’t all really explained until about ¾ through, and even then readers are meant to add up their own bits and pieces to fully understand it.
The kings in all three lands were rather terrifying. And I can’t really judge the newer generation for any of their brutality, ignorance, or weakness because who look who all their dads were! I felt particularly bad for Magnus’ upbringing. Though, I guess no one had it easy.
I found the actual magical elements of the story to be a little cliché. No one’s allowed to do magic. Yet, there’s a magically protected palace door, a mistress that’s a witch, and hawks that are actually magical folk spying on the humans. But, the part that was just a little over done was the stuff with the stones. The hidden magic rocks that not everyone can touch and no one has been able to find sounds a little familiar to me.
Though I’m excited to see the effects of a certain magical ring (again familiar). And I certainly can’t wait for a particular princess to come into all her new-found abilities.
I found the war elements and strategy scenes to be interesting. I never knew who would win the war. And I still don’t know all the motives for having it in the first place, and this is just so refreshing (not being to guess everything)!
I didn’t love any of the characters. A lot of them sort of fell in between the shades of good and bad. There wasn’t one true hero. And I guess I both liked this and didn’t. I wanted to root for someone, but it was also kind of nice to have something a little different. I guess though that it would have been nice to not have all the characters react to death in the same way. I feel like every character that lost someone then immediately goes into a vengeful need of more blood. No passive characters, I guess.
All in all, it was nice having a different kind of fantasy than what I’m used to. I loved being able to make up my own mind about characters and events. I found the power battles to be addicting to read about. I’m interested in seeing where things end up going in regards to the magic. There were a few elements to the story that I have read before (and they stood out because so much of the rest of the story was new). It gets an 8/10.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Summary (from Goodreads):
Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything.

But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on?

And will they even be together?
This one was my definite favorite so far. This series has gone from teen paranormal territory to sci-fi, and now to sort of a dystopia-type genre. The romance is still there; there has always been a strong emphasis on romance, which is fine by me.
I read this book in practically one sitting. There aren’t many books that can interrupt my Breaking Bad binge-a-thon I have going on, and this one definitely slowed down my tv intake. I sort of believed though that this was supposed to be the last book in the series, and I was both surprised and grateful to learn that it’s not the conclusion. Armentrout is fantastic with cliffhangers.
I think I liked this one the best because there was a lot more action in it. Katy is really tested, torn apart, and pushed to her limits here. And I love how strong she has become! It wasn’t so hard to have her apart from Daemon as I thought it would be. I liked kind of getting to know her better separate from her guy. And I also liked all the chapters in his point of view too.
The alien/hybrid/origin storyline serious took off here, and I found all the scary government experimenting to be fascinating. I had no idea that this was where the story would end up going, and frankly I loved every second of it. I do so wish that Katy’s mom could have been allowed in the loop because she must be so upset. Though, I get why this couldn’t have really happened. I loved the incorporation of media in the big picture. And I loved how far the aliens were willing to go to maintain their freedom.
There’s more death, lots of more action, plenty of sizzling romance, an interesting/new plot arc, an introduction of origins (kids born from one alien parent and one hybrid parent), secret government torture facilities, stealing, escaping, chasing, and surviving. This book seemed to literally have everything. And wow, that was one crazy ending. Like I said before, this is my favorite in the series so far. I just found it to be one fun, fast, and amazing read. It gets a 10/10.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Three Years of Blogging Giveaway!

I have officially been blogging for three years years! It both feels like I’ve been doing this my whole life and like I just started. It’s clearly something I need to do. I can’t imagine my life without this blog being a part of it. I feel so beyond lucky to have discovered an outlet for my passion (YA novels).
On that note, I seriously need to give some books away to my followers! I will have three winners (for my three years). And each winner can pick two books from this lovely pile of finished books.  This is just for US followers. I will be offering up an International one soon though (I realize I’ve been not-so-good with giveaways lately and I will fix that).
What’s up for grabs:

The Rule of Three by Eric Walters (hard cover)
Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block (hard cover)
The Rules of Disappearing by Ashley Elston (hard cover)
The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines (paper back)
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (hard cover)
Unleashed by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie (hard cover)
Undeadly by Michele Vail (paper back)
The Fairie Ring by Kiki Hamilton (hard cover)
Black City by Elizabeth Richards (hard cover)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! Thanks for reading and thanks for following.