Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dystopian Giveaway Hop!


I'm so excited to be apart of the Dystopian Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and My Shelf Confessions.  Let's be honest - who doesn't love a good dystopian this day in age?  I'll be giving away a copy of Blood Red Road because I somehow ended up with two copies.  It's only been read once and is in excellent condition.  Enter with the Rafflecopter below and then check out the dozens of other blogs participating.


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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Two and Twenty Dark Tales

Two and Twenty Dark Tales
various authors
340 pages
Released: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Month9Books
Source: NetGalley
★★★☆☆


You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Two and Twenty Dark Tales is a charity anthology by Month9Books, containing twenty-two short stories by some of your favorite YA authors.  Each story is a dark retelling of Mother Goose rhymes.

Anthologies are notoriously difficult for me to review and this one is no different.  As expected, there were stories I loved and there were stories that I didn't care about or simply "didn't get."  But there were enough stories that held my interest that I ultimately really enjoyed reading this collection.  I did find as I read that I tended to enjoy those stories that leaned more to the contemporary side rather than those that took place in the past or were very heavy on fantasy.  It's hard for sufficient world building to be included in just a few pages, I think.

While I did recognize some of the Mother Goose rhymes included at the beginning of every story, there were some I wasn't familiar with at all, so it was interesting to read those.  I think some of my favorite stories were "Clockwork" by Leah Cypress were a girl can transform herself from human to mouse and back; "Life in a Shoe" by Heidi R. Kling where a woman whose husband is away at war finds a way to have as many children as she can even though she cannot provide for them; "Candlelight" by Suzanne Lazear, which had a definite "HA! Serves you right!" vibe to it.  Finally, my absolute favorite story in the collection was "Wee Willie Winkie" by Leigh Fallon.  This was one of those Mother Goose  rhymes I'd never heard before, by Leigh Fallon wrote such a creepy little story, I read it twice.

Three stars.  While every story wasn't necessarily for me, I do believe there's a little something in this anthology for everyone.  So if you're a fan of short stories, Two and Twenty Dark Tales is definitely worth picking up, especially since the proceeds go to charity.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Capital Girls (Capital Girls, #1)

Capital Girls
Ella Monroe
295 pages
Released: August 7, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: purchased
★★★★☆


You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Jackie, Lettie, and Laura Beth are Washington D.C. socialites and best friends trying to get over the death of their friend Taylor.  Jackie is dating the president's son, but their relationship is on the rocks due to some secrets both of them are keeping from each other.  Then, when a new girl named Whitney arrives in town and the girls are forced to be friendly to her, things really start getting out of control.

This was completely unplanned, but I managed to read a YA book with politics in it the week before the election.  Let me just say right off the bat that I really enjoyed Capital Girls and if you're looking for a book to celebrate election season (but who celebrates that?  I'm just waiting for it to be over,) this is the book you need to pick up.

While the book tells the stories of the girls from their different points of view, it was Jackie's story that I felt was really the focus of the novel, and the one I was most interested in.  The way her relationship was flaunted for the press astounded me, especially since the couple is only in high school and high school relationships rarely last or are that important (please don't send me hate mail for this opinion.)  But each girl had her own problems.  Lettie, for example, wasn't rich like the other girls and is constantly worried about her brother's safety in their native Paraguay.  What was fabulous about Capital Girls was there was an excellent balance of frivolous girl drama, Washington D.C. political drama, and more serious issues that help the girls come off less like floozies and more like actual human beings.  Each character was distinct with her own personality.

Of course, Whitney was a whole other bag of chips and that's not just because she's from California and the other girls think she's incapable of understanding the social structure around her.  Whitney's mother is a huge tabloid gossip writer in California and she's practically blackmailing her own daughter for the juiciest secrets she can get on the Capital Girls.  Whitney is an unlikeable character at first, but as the novel went on I got little glimpses at the real Whitney.  Hopefully we'll get more of that as the series continues on.  There's nothing better than the redemption of a mean girl.

But as I said, Capital Girls isn't just about the girls and their personal lives.  The president in Capital Girls (who is a woman! Woot!) is trying to pass an immigration bill and we learn about about those who are for and against it, and what means they will go through to ensure their side "wins."  Blackmail abounds.  Now, I don't know how accurate this is to actual D.C. politics, but the whole thing was very interesting.  Maybe we'll find out how that bill turned out in the next book.

Four stars!  Capital Girls really drew me and I hated to put it down.  The stories of the girls and how their lives - and secrets - were intertwined made for some very interesting reading, particularly by the end of the novel when part of truth about Taylor's death comes to light.  I can't wait to read the next book in the series, Secrets and Lies, which I just got from NetGalley!  Seriously, pick this one up and give it a read if you like contemporaries.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

In My Mailbox (57)

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.


It's almost embarrassing how many books I acquired this week.  Thankfully, my relative anonymity on the Internet allows me no shame.  NO SHAME!  It was my birthday Monday, dammit, so I was going to spend all my birthday money on books.  And I did.  (PS: Book links in this post go to the respective Goodsreads page.)


I used the check my parents sent me to buy this lovely Kindle.  I think after I use it I'll be able to write a great post comparing Nook to Kindle.  It's a highly Googled topic, I know, especially with the holidays coming up.  So far it's helped me a bit with NetGalley - I had one book formatted horribly on Nook but it reads so much better on Kindle.  Look for a review of Two and Twenty Dark Tales in the somewhat near future.

TO REVIEW: 

Merit Press sent me The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab and Louder than Words by Laurie Plissner.  I'm so excited to be reviewing for this new YA imprint!  The Girl in the Wall sounds absolutely amazing.  



From NetGalley, I acquired Secrets and Lies by Ella Monroe.  I'm reading Capital Girls right now and I'm really enjoying it.  It's kind of like Gossip Girl, but if the girls were a tad less superficial, lived in Washington D.C., and one was dating the president's son.
Also from NetGalley: Sacrifice by Cayla Kluver (the last in The Legacy Trilogy) and Undeadly by Michele Vail.


WON/GIFTED: 

I won a giveaway over the summer from another blog, but never received the books.  Jody Gehrman was so gracious about the whole thing, she sent me Babe in Boyland with a great inscription inside.  Thanks, Jody!  I've been wanting to read that one for quite some time.  I also received ARCs of Breathe by Sarah Crossan, Crewel by Gennifer Albin, and League of Strays by L.B. Schulman.  The ARCs were free with any purchase at my favorite used book store.  Score one for the home team!

GIFTED:

My mother-in-law was too good to me this year.  We have the same birthday, isn't that crazy?  She sent me a flat rate box filled with birthday goodies (Glee Season 3, anyone?) and included were these books: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, Decked with Holly by Marni Bates, Origin by Jessica Khoury (which I also got from the library the day before, I guess that one can go back!), and Fire by Kristin Cashore.  I've been wanting to read Fire ever since by YA book club read Graceling last summer.  Yay!

PURCHASED: 

Almost forgot this book - The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater.  I picked this one up Sunday after book club, because it's our November pick.  




Dark Days by C.A. Kunz.  Remember how I read The Childe earlier this month but my book buying ban prevented me from buying the sequel?  Well, now I've got it.  Bam!  Then, after a sushi lunch on Monday, I headed to that aforementioned used book store and picked up Uglies, Pretties, and Extras by Scott Westerfeld.  The keen eye will notice I didn't get Specials.  That's because I was stupid and didn't realize Extras was the fourth book, not the third.  Oops.  I just ordered Specials off PaperBackSwap to fix that.

Speechless by Hannah Harrington Zom-B by Darren Shan were also purchased (new) at the used book store.  Speechless sounds like a great contemporary and I've only read good things about it on other blogs.  I haven't read much about Zom-B at all, actually, but it sounds good to me!  Before my schedule got all shifted around I was going to read it on Halloween, but now I have to work.  It's short, so I'll probably read it before bed on Halloween.  

Finally, my husband slipped a Barnes & Noble gift card into my birthday card (as he does every year, the dear,) so I picked up these three: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian, The Blessed by Tonya Hurley, and Across the Universe by Beth Revis.  The Blessed I've been eyeing for quite some time, but it was Burn for Burn that I looked for specifically.  I can't wait to read that one!
FROM THE LIBRARY:

When it rains it pours, folks, so naturally all my library holds became available this week.  That's how I ended up with: The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent, If I Lie by Corrine Jackson, and Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne.  I was supposed to be on an ARC tour for The Unnaturalists late summer, but the book went missing.  Now I get my chance to read it!

The library also provided Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama, Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin, and Wake by Amanda Hocking.  Because It Is My Blood is the sequel to All These Things I've Done, which I read last year and gave five stars to. I hope the sequel is just as good!
So for those of you keeping score at home, that's twenty-nine books I acquired this week.  They're still sitting on the kitchen table, which we never use anyway, because I've got nowhere else to put them.  My husband wants to throttle me, but what can you do - when it' s your birthday, you want what you want!  Hope you had a great book week, too.  Tell me what you got this week in the comments! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Easy: Review + Giveaway!

Easy
Tammara Webber
310 pages
Releases: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Source: the publisher
★★★★★


You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Jacqueline is nineteen years old and has just been dumped by her high school boyfriend, whom she followed to college.  When she's attacked outside a fraternity Halloween party, she's saved by an attractive guy she's never noticed before, but now she's noticing him everywhere.  They're immediately attracted, but Lucas has a secret past he's not sure he wants to share...

Gah!  Easy totally got me out of a little reading slump I've been in for a few weeks.  I absolutely loved everything about it, including the fact that I was hooked by page one and stayed up until two a.m. before I had to put it down more than halfway through.  I eagerly finished it up after work yesterday.

The book starts with an attack outside of a fraternity Halloween party.  I barely knew Jacqueline at that point, but for some reason (probably the nature of the attack) I really felt afraid for her.  When Lucas saves her I breathed a huge sigh of relief and remained on the edge of my seat for the remainder of the novel for two reasons.  First, Lucas and Jacqueline have this intense chemistry together and I couldn't get enough of it.  Second, her attacker isn't done just because Lucas punched him in the face.  That part of the plot was heartbreaking and I was really waiting for things to turn right.

Yes, Jacqueline is saved by a man at the beginning of the book, but that doesn't mean she's a weak female character.  In fact, the by the end of the book she's holding her own, kicking ass and taking names.  I was really proud of how her character grew through the novel.

There are a couple twists in Easy.  The first one I caught on to right away and couldn't believe Jacqueline didn't.  The second one twist, regrading Lucas, was definitely less obvious but really explained why Lucas was the way he was as a person.

Now, I do want to mention that Easy is from the emerging genre "New Adult," which falls somewhere between YA and adult novels.  The characters in Easy faced the same coming of age issues characters in YA novels often do, but Jacqueline's problems were a little more serious and she and her friends acted their ages, which means there's sex and alcohol in Easy.  That doesn't bother me at all, but I thought I'd mention it for those of you who prefer to avoid those subjects.  This was the first New Adult novel I've read and if others in the genre are anything like Easy, I'm totally on board.  If you aren't opposed to adult themes, I highly suggest you give this one a try.

Five stars!  This book was amazing and I didn't want to put it down.  Easy is a standalone and I'm a little devastated there won't be a sequel just because I loved the characters so much.  I will definitely be checking out the author's other works.

And now's your chance to win!  Berkley Trade has graciously offered up a copy of Easy to one of my followers, so enter via the Rafflecopter below!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pure

Pure
Terra Elan McVoy
331 pages
Released: April 7, 2009
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: library
★★☆☆☆


You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Tabitha and her four best friends have a common bond - a vow they made before each other and their churches to remain virgins until marriage.  They have gorgeously expensive purity rings to show for it, as well.  But when Tab meets a new boy whom she falls head over heels for and when one of her friends breaks a vow, their group quickly unravels and Tabitha must reexamine her beliefs.

Oh, oh.  I thought I was going to love this book so much.  The description sounded so great and, what's more, it takes place in the town I live in!  As I read I recognized several landmarks and that was indeed a very enjoyable part of the novel.  I also really loved Tabitha's character.  Tabitha doesn't quite know what she believes and that makes her a very realistic character.  She struggles with realistic issues, like what to do when your best friends are fighting and whether or not sex before marriage is that serious of an issue.  Tabs is a little more religious than I am, but I was happy she had beliefs to stand up for, even when it came to her parents.  Tabs really was the shining star of the book.

But there were things I didn't enjoy about Pure.  First and foremost - the high school girl drama.  Tabitha's friend Morgan came off as very intolerant.  It's great to have your own morals and do what you believe, so in Morgan's case I'm all for her wearing a purity ring and avoiding sex like the plague until marriage.  But just because her friend decided not to make the same decision doesn't mean the should stop being friends.  Morgan got on my nerves, even more so when it became clear that her decision was going to cause the group to fall apart.  I wanted to shake each and every one of those girls and say, "You're over thinking this!"

True confession: when I was in high school I craved drama, although I sought it out in other ways than in Pure.  Regardless, I felt like I thrived on the drama, but at this point in my life (I just turned twenty-six) I'm over it.  I hate drama of all kinds.  High school drama, work drama, wedding planning drama... it's so unnecessary.  And that's why I was disappointed with Pure, not because the writing was bad or the characters were awful (they weren't) but because I'm too old for this.

Two stars.  I'm sad I didn't like Pure, but I really do think this is all on me, not the book.  If I weren't so removed from high school and its dramatic ways, I would have enjoyed Pure much more.  If you like YA contemporaries about tricky subjects, Pure is a book you should definitely check out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop!


Happy Halloween!  I'm very excited to be participating in this year's Spooktacular Giveaway Hop and I'm even more excited about what I'm giving away... The Diviners by Libba Bray!  I just finished this book last week and really adored it.  It's "pos-i-tute-ly" perfect for this time of year and I think you'll agree.  



Here's what Goodreads has to say, "Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City... The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."  When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first."

So what are you waiting for?  Enter with the Rafflecopter form below.  Please note since I will be mailing the book myself, this giveaway is US only for ages 13+.  Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out the other hundreds of giveaways in the hop!


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Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)

The Diviners
Libba Bray
578 pages
Released: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown
Source: purchased
★★★★☆


You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Evie O'Neill's parents have had it with her drunken party tricks, so they've kicked her out and sent her to live with her uncle in New York.  Uncle Will is the owner of a museum the locals affectionately call "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."  When people around town start showing up dead thanks to an occult-based murderer, Evie is on the case along with the help of her special power, hoping to find the killer before he finds her.

So basically what we've got here is a young adult novel that takes place in the roaring twenties in New York City featuring a spunky young woman with powers.  This book had me at "hello."  Add to that a cast of other characters with a penchant for the supernatural and a supernatural serial killer on a mission.  Yes, sir!  The Diviners had me hooked from page one and even though it took me a week to get through the whole thing, I really enjoyed every minute and so did all the other gals at my book club.  This was our October pick!  And appropriately so because The Diviners is one creepy, creepy novel.

Let's talk about that creepy factor for a second.  Our first inkling that dark things are to come is when a girl pulls out the Ouija board during a party and she and her friends accidentally release something sinister.  That sinister being, in turn, starts a homicidal killing spree.  There may or may not be some flesh eating nastiness.  I don't want to give away all the fun!  I just want to mention that if "The Museum of Creepy Crawlies," which Evie's uncle owns, were a real place, I would love to visit it.  It was filled with all sorts of interesting and admittedly creepy artifacts.

The research Libba Bray did for this novel was fantastic.  I knew she did a lot, so when Evie started using a flashlight, I had to Google it and find out when flashlights were invented (the early 1900s).  I loved reading about New York City during the 1920s, the settings were so diverse.  Everything from Harlem to speakeasies and anything between was included and I thought they way Evie talked was "pos-i-tute-ly" adorable!  Evie was such a fantastic character.  She just wanted to find her place in the world and by the time to novel would up I felt like she was really on her way.

But Evie wasn't the only well-developed, likable character.  All of the characters in The Diviners are well-written and developed.  They all felt unique and had their own problems that were webbed together, which made the book very interesting to read.  Of course, there were also those darker, completely unlikeable characters who made the book even more interesting.  Loved it!

Four stars!  The Diviners is a brick, but a brick that reads very well.  I was really impressed with Libba Bray's world building and research.  If you have any love for the 1920s or creepy paranormal murders, this is a book you must check out!

In My Mailbox (56)



I feel so guilty, y'all.  I didn't review a single book on my blog this week.  I've been so busy with work and The Diviners is a long book!  Never fear, I have several days off next week and will be catching up on those reviews for you!

Small week this week in the mailbox department.  But this is totally the calm before the storm because tomorrow is my birthday and most of the birthday money my family sent me is going towards new books!  What else am I gonna do with it, buy clothes?  You can't read clothes.  I'll be hitting up some of my favorite used book stores Monday and I'm practically salivating at the thought of a day off from my book-buying-ban.

Anyway, here's what I got this week:

TO REVIEW:
Sourcebooks sent The Liar Society: The Lies That Bind by Lisa & Laura Roecker


WON:
Kiki Hamilton sent a signed copy of The Torn Wing



Thank you Sourcebooks, I'm looking forward to being a part of the tour for The Lies That Bind!  Thanks also to Kiki Hamilton for being so awesome and sending me her latest and some swag.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Pirate's Wish - cover reveal!

Last week I reviewed the Strange Chemistry book The Assassin's Curse (link to review).  It was pretty kick-ass and I highly recommend it, so I'm excited today to show you the new cover for the sequel, The Pirate's Wish due out this coming June.




I'm loving it!  It matches beautifully with The Assassin's Curse and that being on the cover is pretty intense looking. Since The Assassin's Curse was so great, I can't wait to read The Pirate's Wish; I'm sure it's going to be just as awesome!  Be sure to check out this series.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

In My Mailbox (55)

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

To review, Simon & Schuster sent:


To review, Penguin/NAL sent:


Swapped for:


A huge thanks to Simon & Schuster and Penguin for sending me some new reading!  I've been wanting to start the Dust Lands books for quite some time and I'm especially excited for Bitter Blood, since Black Dawn was a five star book for me!


Friday, October 12, 2012

The Childe (The Childe, #1)

The Childe
C.A. Kunz
398 pages
Released: February 18, 2011
Publisher: the authors
Source: the authors
★★★★☆


You can read the Goodreads summary here.

You might remember my Decatur Book Festival IMM post from about a month ago where I mentioned meeting the authors of The Childe after stumbling upon their booth.  Well, my husband politely reminded me last week that I owed them a review and I agreed... it was time to read the book and finally figure out once and for all what a "Childe" was.

I was not disappointed!   The Childe follows the live of Cat Colvin as she enters high school and goes through all those normal, teenaged problems - problems with teachers, boys, friends, and of course the occasional parental grounding.  But as Cat gets closer and closer to turning sixteen, strange things start happening and she can't figure out what's going on with herself.  Worse, everyone around her seems to be in on it but her.

There is definitely mystery and intrigue throughout the novel.   We know from the back cover that Cat is turning into a Childe.  Several other YA novels have gone this route, a teenage girl turning into something paranormal, but what was unique and awesome about The Childe was that even though we know Cat is turning into one from the get-go, we don't learn what a Childe is until practically the end of the novel.  Naturally, I had my suspicions as I read, but the suspense of not knowing really kept the novel interesting and kept me turning the pages.  You're sure to have your own guesses as you read, but I know you won't be one hundred percent right.

Quite frankly, I think the book got better the farther I got into it.  The plot started out a bit slow, but by the end of the novel I was almost breathless for more.  We learn what Cat is, but what of it?  How will it play out in the sequel, Dark Days?  Will her parents every stop lying to her?  And what's the deal with her feline friend (there's got to be something more there)?  I think The Childe is the start of something great.

The only thing I didn't like about The Childe was the point of view - or rather the lack of a consistent point of view.  Much of the story is told from Cat's, but we often get a glimpse of what other characters are thinking, sometimes one right after another.  This didn't stop me from enjoying the novel a great deal, however.  It's been my novel of choice while I've been sick and out-of-commission these past few days.

Four stars!  Much of The Childe takes place during the fall season and a portion of the book is even dedicated to Halloween festivities, so it's definitely an appropriate novel to be reading right now.  Please give it a look - this is one independently published novel that won't disappoint.  If I weren't subject to this husband-imposed book buying ban until February (112 days to go!) I would have ordered the second book off Amazon by now.



PS: I would like to thank the authors again for taking the time the talk to me at the Decatur Book Festival and for giving me a free copy.  For FCC purposes, I would like to mention that even though the book was given to me, that did not affect my review and the opinions are all my own.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Quick weekend giveaway!



It's been too long since I've done a giveaway and I wanted to show off that new "Networked Blogs" widget on my sidebar, so I'm going to do a quick giveaway for this weekend.  Four lucky winners will win an ecopy of Immortal Lycanthropes, a YA novel by Hal Johnson.  I haven't read the book yet, but the Goodreads description goes a little something like this,

"“A shameful fact about humanity is that some people can be so ugly that no one will be friends with them. It is shameful that humans can be so cruel, and it is shameful that humans can be so ugly.”  So begins the incredible story of Myron Horowitz, a disfigured thirteen-year-old just trying to fit in at his Pennsylvania school. When a fight with a bully leaves him unconscious and naked in the wreckage of the cafeteria, Myron discovers that he is an immortal lycanthrope—a were-mammal who can transform from human to animal. He also discovers that there are others like him, and many of them want Myron dead."

Ouuu, sounds dramatic and good.  If you're interested in a free ecopy (ePub or PDF) enter the Rafflecopter form below!

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Justice (Deck of Lies, #1)

Justice
Jade Varden
190 pages
Released: December 24, 2011
Publisher: the author
Source: the author
★★★★☆


You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Ignore the fluffy, pink cover.  Justice is a short novel with substance and a very interesting plot.  Rain loves her family, even her annoying brother, but when it turns out her parents have been lying to her her whole life and they aren't who they say they are, Rain's world is turned upside down.  Now she's living with a new family who are the complete opposite of what Rain grew up with.  Rain desperately tries to figure out what happened when she was a baby, but finding answers seems to bring up even more questions...

I read a review of Justice that called it "predictable," but I couldn't disagree more.  Jade Varden really kept me on my toes with this one.  The novel starts with Rain starting a new school on scholarship, making the transition to a private school with very wealthy students who are nothing like herself.  So at first I thought, "So it's going to be one of those books," you know, where a less-than-well-to-do kid gets shoved in with the rich kids and all kinds of drama ensues.  Sure, that happens in this book, but it quickly turned into so much more.

As I kept reading I couldn't help but think Justice reminded me a lot of V.C. Andrews work, which is admittedly a guilty pleasure of mine.  Rain's world is turned upside down when it turns out her parents aren't who she thinks they are.  Meanwhile, Rain starts a new relationship with an attractive young man.  I couldn't believe how that turned out!  I really can't give it away, but I will tell you this quick book was anything but predictable to me, especially when the book ended with a dramatic crime.

Justice is a self-published book that was extremely well written.  There wasn't a typo or error is sight as I read.  Jade Varden really has a way with bringing her story to life, I could easily picture everything that was happening and I was never bored.

Four stars!  I think fans of V.C. Andrews will really enjoy Justice, it definitely had that same kind of vibe.  The ebook is only 99 cents right now, so you really can't go wrong, especially if you're looking for a quick, light YA read filled with intrigue and mystery.  The mystery is all set up to continue in the second book, The Tower.

Between the Lines

Between the Lines
Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer
352 pages
Released: June 26, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: the library
★★★☆☆


You can read the Goodreads summary here.

I've tried a couple times to read Jodi Picoult's work, but I've never actually finished anything she's written.  Those that I've tried reading have all be kind of "meh," to me.  But when I found out Picoult was writing a YA novel with her daughter (an actual young adult!) I was kind of excited to read it.

Delilah is a high school student with a bit of a closeted obsession - she can't stop reading the one-of-a-kind fairytale "Between the Lines," which she found in her school library.  Sure, she knows she's too old for this kind of thing, but she finds herself in love with the hero of the book, Prince Oliver.  When Prince Oliver learns how to communicate with Delilah, they set to work trying to figure out a way for Oliver to exit his book and enter real life so they can be together.

This was a really intriguing concept to me, which is mainly why I wanted to read Between the Lines.  The fantasy that characters in the books you're reading have lives outside their storyline; that when you shut the book, they interact with each other, have their own hobbies and loves... It's pretty much the same concept as when you're a kid and you imagine that your stuffed animals come to life when you leave the room.  I was really interested to see where Picoult and her daughter would take that concept.

Unfortunately for me, the whole thing fell kind of flat.  The first few chapters really drew me in, but as the book wore on and all we got as more of the same, I got bored rather quickly.  While Between the Lines is billed as a young adult novel, I think this story would be more appropriate for younger girls.  I think it would be a fantastic book for a mother to read to her eight-year-old daughter, for example.  (And then have a feminist conversation about girl-power and not falling in love with fictional men.)

Three stars.  Between the Lines isn't the best book I've read in 2012, but it was the best smelling.  Don't lie, I know you smell books, too.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Raft

The Raft
S.A. Bodeen
231 pages
Released: August 21, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Source: library
★★★★☆


You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Warning: do not start this novel when you've only got a few minutes to spare.  You'll drive yourself nuts having to put it down!

Robie is visiting her Aunt in Honolulu when her aunt suddenly must leave on a business trip.  Robie tries to be excited to spend some time on her own, but she soon decides she needs to take that trip back home to Midway as soon as possible.  But when the plane she's flying on goes down and she finds herself on a raft with the copilot, Max, and a bag of Skittles... what's a girl to do?

I anticipated The Raft to be a harrowing read that would keep me entranced and I was right.  Once I was done with those first couple chapters introducing Robie, I was hooked.  I had to know what happened next, I had to know what Robie was going to do and most of all... I had to know if she would survive.  The Raft is chock-full of nail-biting excitement that kept me in the edge of my figurative seat.  It tore me up to have to put this book down at the midway point, but when I came back I quickly fell right back into the story, turning those pages as fast as my eyes could read them.

I hope I stressed the excitement of this novel enough, but there was actually a part of this novel I really enjoyed aside from all that action, and that's Robie's character.  Robie is only fifteen-years-old.  So often in today's YA lit I feel like the main characters are unrealistic because they're so mature, but Robbie wasn't like that.  I don't mean she was immature in the sense that she made bad decisions like doing drugs, but rather Robie's character was realistic because she didn't act fully grown.  When she stays at her aunt's place alone, she's afraid of the dark and spends the night huddled under the covers.  When things go from bad to worse on that infamous raft, she cries for her mommy.  To me, that kind of behavior is so realistic for a young fifteen-year-old girl that I couldn't help but love and root for Robie.

Four stars!  Like I said before, do not start reading this book unless you've got the time to really sit down and read most if not all of it.  It's a really short, quick read and I guarantee you once you start turning those page you won't want to put it down.  The Raft loses one star from me for having a bit of an anti-climatic ending, but that didn't detract from the story or reading experience overall.  I highly, highly recommend this one to YA contemporary fans looking for a standalone.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

In My Mailbox (54)

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.


FOR REVIEW:
Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier



PURCHASED (Free ebooks don't count in a book buying ban, right?):
Glimpse by Stacey Wallace Benefiel


Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse, #1)

The Assassin's Curse
Cassandra Rose Clarke
270 pages
Released: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Source: the publisher
★★★★☆


You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Ananna is the daughter of pirates and when she's betrothed to the son of a different pirate tribe, an unwanted marriage, she escapes the wedding on camel back.  Her fiancĂ©'s family soon sends an assassin after her in retaliation, but when Ananna saves the live of the assassin, Naji, they become bound together in a curse and together they must travel through the desert to find a cure for the curse.

Okay, when was the last time I read a kick-ass book about pirates?  I can't remember, but probably never... until now.  The Assassin's Curse was one of the best books I've read this year simply because of the plot line, which drew me in right away.  Who doesn't love a good runaway bride story?  Or a story where two characters who should hate each other are forced to spent all their time together and are thusly forced to like each other a little bit?  I mean really, what more could you ask for?

And that's why I loved The Assassin's Curse!  Ananna is a spunky, independent girl who doesn't need saving; in fact she's the one doing the saving much of the time.  This is the kind of heroine a girl can get behind.  It took me a second to get into The Assassin's Curse, because of Ananna's voice, though.  She doesn't speak properly (she uses the word "ain't" a lot, for example) but once I got into the swing of Ananna's voice, I really got into the book.  I wanted to see how she would escape her wedding and fiancĂ©, and later how she would escape her curse.

I was really intrigued by the way Ananna and Naji were bound to each other.  If Ananna was in danger  and strayed away from Naji, he would get a terrible headache or worse depending on how far apart they were from each other.  It forced Naji into the role of protector, a role that neither of them found very comfortable.  This adds an underlying tension to the plot that was delightful to read because it meant it could turn into another kind of tension, if you know what I mean.

The book is filled with all sorts of treats described by the author, I really felt like I could picture every setting Clarke described.  Everything from pirate ships by the ocean, bazaars, and deserts.  Her secondary characters were all rich, too, and it all adds up to a spectacular debut novel.  And let me say a quick word about the ending - fantastic.  It set everything up for the second book in the series in such a way that I cannot wait to get my hands on it next year.

Four stars!  I really enjoyed this novel!  Everything about it made for a joyful reading experience - the plot, the characters, the foreshadowing and ending - I loved it!  If you're a fan of pirates or fantasy novels, I highly recommend this one.  Currently the ebook is priced under five dollars - score!

Poltergeeks

Poltergeeks
Sean Cummings
282 pages
Released: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Source: the publisher 
★★★☆☆


You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Fifteen-year-old Julie is a witch, and when she and her friend Marcus witness an elderly lady thrown out of her house by a poltergeist, Julie begins to investigate with Marcus's help.  Soon, the two of them are drawn into an even bigger plot, where Julie's school is under paranormal assault and someone (or, something) has it out for Julie and her mother.  Can she conquer the paranormal before it's too late to save her mother?

I expected lots of action in Poltergeeks based on the description and hoo boy, was I right!  I excepted this to be a fast read considering it's under three hundred pages, but the action in this novel really keeps the pages turning.  While I couldn't read all of it in one sitting because of work obligations (damn you, real life!) I would have if I could have.  The action starts with an old lady and her cat being thrown out of their house by an angry spirit - entertainment and action right from the get-go and it doesn't stop as Julie gets involved, trying to figure out who did this to the old lady and why suddenly something paranormal seems to have it out for her and her mother as well.  

While the issues in Poltergeeks are serious for Julie, her mother is hospitalized and her father has been dead since she was a young girl, there is a whimsical lightness that Sean Cummings has interjected throughout the novel that I really enjoyed.  I don't really know how to describe it, but I'm sure if you pick up Poltergeeks for yourself you'll understand what I'm talking about.  Part of that lightness occurs when it's revealed that Marcus has a thing for Julie, though she's not sure how she feels about Marcus.  What could would a YA paranormal book be without a little romance on side? 

Three stars.  Overall, Poltergeeks is a quick, entertaining novel about the paranormal.  Perfect for this time of the year, Poltergeeksl is sure to delight ghost lovers, young and old.  Strange Chemistry is a new YA imprint of Angry Robots publishing and Poltergeeks is the second book I've read from them (the first was Blackwood) and I'm really looking forward to reading more from them in the future!  If you love the paranormal, give Poltergeeks a look this fall.  As of now, the Kindle and Nook editions are around six dollars - definitely affordable and worth it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily
Jodi Lynn Anderson
292 pages
Released: July 3, 2102
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: library
★★☆☆☆


You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Aw, sadface.  I was so looking forward to reading Tiger Lily because of my love for Peter Pan - at least the Disney version and the ride at Disney World.  Tiger Lily, as the title would suggest, is a novel about  Tiger Lily told from the point of view of Tinker Bell.  Through Tink's tiny eyes we watch Tiger Lily fall in love with Peter Pan, but her adoptive father announces she will be wed to someone from the tribe whom Tiger Lily finds repulsive.

So, as I mentioned I was very excited to read Tiger Lily, but unfortunately this book simply didn't do it for me.  I'll be brief - I didn't find myself identifying with any of the characters and I found most of them to be pretty flat.  In addition, the plot was slow and at times boring.  I really don't know what else to say and that saddens me.

Perhaps I would have enjoyed Tiger Lily better if I had read the non-Disney-fied version beforehand.  I don't know how the original story goes, but I did notice some differences between Tiger Lily and the Disney version, like how Peter Pan meets Wendy, for example.

Two stars.  I'm so sad I didn't love this book, but by the end I was so bored I skimmed the last sixty-or-so pages.  But if you hit up Goodreads you're sure to find four and five star reviews from people who loved the novel and maybe you'll be one of them, though I would recommend borrowing a copy before purchasing.

Monday, October 1, 2012

September Recap!


Well, it's officially fall.  I know this because we're starting to put out Christmas product at work - haha! Anyway, I really wanted to amp up the number of books I read in September... let's see how I did...

Overnight Sensation by Hal Eisenberg
The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse
Covet by Melissa Darnell
Sultry with a Twist by Macy Beckett
Ordinary Beauty by Laura Wiess
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
More Than He Expected by Andrea Laurence
Impossible to Resist by Janice Maynard
The Liar, The Bitch and the Wardrobe by Allie Kingsley
Brightest Kind of Darkness by P.T. Michelle
Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch
Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler
Velveteen by Daniel Marks
The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

...so fifteen books total in September.  Not bad for thirty days.

Total books read in 2012: 168
Total pages read in 2012:  49,831