Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Giveaways!

Although this one isn't from me.

Sophia over at The Book Basement is hosting a contest for 200 followers and giving away a prize back of some awesome YA titles.

 

Click on the button above and good luck!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Wish Giveaway!

I've recently moved my blog over from Wordpress to Blogger and I promised a giveaway. Since this time of year, we're so busy buying for others, I figured instead of offering a pre-chosen book, I'd be giving away any book that you've been wishing for (within a reasonable cost).

The only real prerequisite is that you follow my blog! Yep! That's really it!

Enter via the form below to WIN a book of YOUR CHOICE (valued at $15 or less). The book will be shipping from Amazon or Book Depository so please only enter if those sites can ship to you!! Contest will end January 1st and one winner will be selected at random.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

A-Z Challenge 2012

So I happened to stumble upon a challenge that I think is pretty awesome!


 There are two different ways you can set up your own A-Z challenge.

A - Make a list now of 26 books, picking one for each letter of the alphabet. For example: A - Atonement B- Black Beauty C - The Count of Monte Cristo D - Dances with Dragons etc.

OR

B - The lazy way: Make a list on your blog from A-Z. Throughout the year, as you go along, add the books you are reading to the list. Hope that by the end of the year you have read one book for each letter. Towards the end of the year, you can check and see which letters you are missing and find books to fit.

To learn more about the challenge, and to sign up, please click on the image above or THIS LINK.


I'm going to be brave and make a list ahead of time of books I definitely want to read. This list is definitely not set in stone, though, and it may be shifted around. I also have a lot of time off in the next two weeks so I may get to some of these books in advance. I also need to fill this list with the missing letters. We shall see!!

A - All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
B - The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman
C - Cinder by Marissa Meyer
D - Delirium by Lauren Oliver
E - Erebos by Ursula Poznanski
F - French Milk by Lucy Knisley
G - The Glimpse by Claire Merle
H - The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx
I - The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
J - Jessica's Guide To Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
K -
L - The Last Living Slut by Roxana Shirazi
M - Madapple by Christina Meldrum
N -
O -
P -Possess by Gretchen McNeil 
Q - 
R - Reckless Road: Guns N' Roses and the Making of Appetite for Destruction by Marc Canter 
S - Secrets of an Accidental Duchess by Jennifer Haymore
T - Threads and Flames by Esther Friesner
U - The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
V -
W - We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson 
X -
Y -
Z -

Review: Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt

Title: Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane #2)
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Publisher: Vision - Hachette Book Group
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Their lives were perfect . . .
Lady Hero Batten, the beautiful sister of the Duke of Wakefield, has everything a woman could want, including the perfect fiancé. True, the Marquis of Mandeville is a trifle dull and has no sense of humor, but that doesn't bother Hero. Until she meets his notorious brother . . .

Until they met each other.
Griffin Remmington, Lord Reading, is far from perfect - and he likes it that way. How he spends his days is a mystery, but all of London knows he engages in the worst sorts of drunken revelry at night. Hero takes an instant dislike to him, and Griffin thinks that Hero, with her charities and faultless manners, is much too impeccable for society, let alone his brother. Yet their near-constant battle of wits soon sparks desire - desire that causes their carefully constructed worlds to come tumbling down. As Hero's wedding nears, and Griffin's enemies lay plans to end their dreams forever, can two imperfect people find perfect true love?


Review: Even though I was a little reluctant going into this book (because I really wanted the second book in the series to focus on Silence, Temperance's sister), I ended up really enjoying it. Although there are references to events that occurred prior, I do feel this book can be read as a stand-alone. I wouldn't encourage it, though, since the first book is just as awesome.

The second book in Hoyt's Maiden Lane series centers on Lady Hero Batten. The book begins with Hero stumbling upon a gentleman (and I use that word loosely) and some married lady engaged in some boning at a ball. Instead of being shocked and horrified, Hero interrupts the coupling and in the process meets Griffin Remmington, Lord Reading. Surely it's not an ideal way for our heroine to meet the male protagonist that will steal her heart away but in this case...it works. The other hitch, and its a big one, is that Hero is actually engaged to Griffin's brother, the Marquess of Mandeville.

I really enjoy the way Hoyt writes her characters and this book was no exception. Hero is a perfect, conflicted heroine. I really like that she doesn't come off like a wilting flower, even as an aristocratic lady. She's got a mouth on her, and she's bold. Griffin is an excellent male lead. I really liked him for some reason. I think its because unlike in other books, once he is sure about his feelings towards Hero, he doesn't try to deny or ignore them. I know this is a HUGE device used in romance books and it's one I don't particularly like and thus enjoy that it was not employed here.

Lastly, the hot scenes were SUPER hot! Seriously, Elizabeth Hoyt just has some of THE BEST descriptions during her love scenes. Meow!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday



Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Jill from Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

I'm waiting for...

 A masked man...
Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he's the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles—protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.

A dangerous woman...
Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she's asked to tutor the Home's dour manager in the ways of society— flirtation, double entendres, and scandalous liaisons—Isabel can't help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar—and his lips so tempting.

A passion neither could deny...
During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed...But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything—the Home, Isabel...and his life.

Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series is one I recently discovered and LOVE!! This is the fourth book in the series, out in July 2012. I love her characters and I strongly recommend the series. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Review: Living Violet by Jaime Reed

 
Title: Living Violet (Cambion Chronicles #1)
Author: Jaime Reed
Publisher: Dafina
Genre:  Young Adult, Paranomal
Rating: 4/5

Why I picked it: Premise looked interesting and I won an ARC of the book via Goodreads.

Synopsis: He's persuasive, charming, and way too mysterious. And for Samara Marshall, her co-worker is everything she wants most--and everything she most fears. . .

Samara Marshall is determined to make the summer before her senior year the best ever. Her plan: enjoy downtime with friends and work to save up cash for her dream car. Summer romance is not on her to-do list, but uncovering the truth about her flirtatious co-worker, Caleb Baker, is. From the peculiar glow to his eyes to the unfortunate events that befall the girls who pine after him, Samara is the only one to sense danger behind his smile.

But Caleb's secrets are drawing Samara into a world where the laws of attraction are a means of survival. And as a sinister power closes in on those she loves, Samara must take a risk that will change her life forever. . .or consume it.
Review: Via Goodreads, I received an opportunity to read an advance copy of "Living Violet." I was really interested in the plot and the book drew me in from the start. While I thought the premise was original (as original as you can be in the ever-growing paranormal YA genre), there were a few issues that I had which made this a 3.5 (or 4, since you can't have half ratings) read for me.

Let me begin by saying I totally hate this cover. I hate HATE that Caleb is pictured because well...I don't find this cover boy cute at all and it totally threw me off when reading the book since I was just picturing THAT dude as Caleb instead of some imagined hottie, and it made the plot a little unbelievable. Since I know that authors rarely even have a say in what their covers look like, I'm not going to detract any stars for this point. It's a personal pet peeve and I wanted to mention it because it made the book a little harder for me to read.

When I did finally get into the book, one thing I really enjoyed was Jaime Reed's writing style. It was really easygoing and fun and Samara was a character who really bounced off the pages. She was realistic, and realistic is good. I also really appreciated that she wasn't a "Bella Swan" - meek and quiet and far too subtle for my tastes. While I can see where Sam would come off as being a little annoying, I really think that in this case, there was enough sass without it coming across as forced or bratty.

Another thing that really made the book for me was the actual premise. I liked the supernatural beings featured, and I really liked Reed's explanations of how they work. The supporting characters in the book really helped move and shape the story and I really enjoyed getting to know them all.

Now, the one thing that I did NOT like (and I kinda mentioned above) was Caleb. Again, maybe this was because of my cover bias but he just DID NOT come off to me like the likeable, tempting guy that Samara is into. At the beginning, he comes off a little skeevy and really, does not make up for it for the rest of the book. He just did not work for me as the male lead, and do sorta wish he had been written differently.

Overall, I decided to rate the book up to 4 stars because I did enjoy reading it, issues aside. I also am curious to read the 2nd book in the series, because it seems like it would focus more on Samara than on Caleb and Samara's relationship. I'd recommend this book to all fans of paranormal YA.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Speculative Romance Challenge 2012 - My Progress

Christmas has yet to begin but I have already begun to participate in 2012 reading challenges! So, I was always super reluctant to read romance books and then my friends got me into them and I'm kinda hooked. Then, in the last few months, I discovered paranormal, steampunk, and fantasy romance which I also surprisingly loved! Due to this new discovery, I'd like to read more and more of these types of books and thus...


Timeline: 01 Jan 2012 - 31 Dec 2012

Rules: There are FOUR (4) LEVELS to choose from:

• One Sexy Demon: Read 6 Speculative Romance novels in 2012
 • Two Sexy Werewolves: Read 12 Speculative Romance novels in 2012
• Three Sexy Vampires: Read 18 Speculative Romance novels in 2012
• Four Sexy Archangels: Read 24 Speculative Romance novels in 2012



For more details or to sign up click HERE


I'm not sure how many I can read so I'm not committing to a number just yet but I do already have four or five that I bought in the great Borders Haul of 2011 that have been sitting and collecting dust. We'll see how it goes.


JANUARY

001.




Wednesday, November 30, 2011

IMM: Living Violet

So I can only assume that most people who read book blogs are also members of Goodreads. If not, you totally should be! Thanks to entering contest on their site, I won me an advance, autographed copy of "Living Violet (The Cambion Chronicles)" by Jaime Reed.


I'm really excited to read and review this one and will have the review up in a week. If  you can't wait, you can pre-order the book from Amazon! To check out more about the author, please go to http://www.jaimereedbooks.com/

Lastly, there is STILL TIME to win your own copy! Jaime is going away one a week until the release date (12/27/11). Just clicky on this link.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Title: Elsewhere
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Square Fish
Genre:  Young Adult
Rating: 5/5

Why I picked it: Never read anything by the author before and this was a bargain book.
Synopsis: Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice. Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward? This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

(Mini) Review: Let me begin by saying that I was totally hooked on this book about 5 pages in, and it's very rare for me to be so into a book so quickly. Having read nothing from the author before, I was very pleasantly surprised by the subject matter of this book, as well as the create world-building.

Elizabeth Hall is dead. Instead of ending up in a heaven-like world where one lives on a cloud and is surrounded by angels, Liz finds herself in a world called Elsewhere that mirrors Earth but isn't exactly the place that she had left behind.  I found Zevin's interpretation of what happens after you die to be really original. Part of the reason why this book was such a page turner for me was because of how much I wanted to know about this world.

For a long while, Elizabeth is really depressed and accepting of her status as a member of the deceased. The struggles she goes through are just what one would expect of a person who died to young - never being able to grow up and enjoy all that life awaits them.I felt like I was there with Liz on her emotional journey of denial and acceptance.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to readers of all ages. The story works, and the supporting characters really do a wonderful job of really building Liz up as she learns acceptance. Although a book about death, "Elsewhere" brings a refreshingly positive outlook to life, in general, which is always something I enjoy.

Teaser Tuesday (November 29th)

The rules:

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:

"He cocked his head, watching as she carefully licked those lush lips, preparing her argument, no doubt. He felt the beat of the pulse beneath his skin, his body's response to her feminine vitality."


- p. 19 Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt (Mass-market paperback)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Review: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

Title: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Publisher: Leisure Books
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 2/5

Why I picked it: Came highly recommended at Smexy Books.
Synopsis: The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family--rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn't be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them--of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz.

The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He's also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.

Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama--an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband.

And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her.
Review: Maybe this book was a prime example of myself expecting far more from a book than it delivered...and I wanted to like it SO MUCH. But nope.  As I think I wrote not too long ago in another review, all romance/fantasy/sci-fi books ask that you suspend a certain amount of belief when reading them. Where I have a problem is when events happen so fast, so perfectly, or so out-of-the blue that I find myself going "Come on! Seriously?" This book was brimming with such things - to the point where I felt Ashley was trying to cram as much different plots and sub-plots as possible. But before I start ranting and raving about the actual events that occur in the book, let me begin with the characters.

Ah, Ian Mackenzie. Tragic hero with a dubious past. Unlike other romance books, this one really makes a focus on the male lead as being unwell - not just eccentric by that time's societal norms but really - there's something wrong with him. I did not care for Ian at all. I didn't like his bluntness and I did not find him endearing in the least.  I felt bad for his experiences and the reasons behind why he is the way he is but yeah...not enough for him to be desirable.

Beth, our female protagonist, came off completely unbelievable. Formerly the wife of a vicar, apparently she lost all sense of propriety just because this crazy man coaxed it out of her. I found her to be weak and generally unlikeable.

In terms of the plot - ugh. There is a murder in which Ian is the prime suspect. An overzealous detective, with a secret of his own, makes it his job to uncover the truth behind the crime and to discredit the Mackenzie family once and for all. They way everything unfolds is just so unbelievable that the last 100 or so pages had me rolling my eyes as events kept piling on and on.

The last reason why I didn't particularly care for this book was the relationship between Ian and Beth. It wasn't convincing - and what's a good romance read if you can't get behind the main love story?

Overall this was a 2-star read for me because the steamy scenes were super steamy and the book kept my attention well enough for the first half.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

GIVEAWAY: Twenty Boy Summer

According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.

So I know I JUST finished reading this book, but because I loved it ever so much (check out my review here), I'm having another giveaway!! To enter, please fill out the below form AND leave me a comment on this post answering the question: What was your favorite place to vacation? Or, where would you like to go on your dream vacation?

Contest ends November 11th. One winner will be selected at random. US/CAN only.

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="spreadsheet/embeddedform" query="formkey=dEpxOUNjV3NHa1VlWi13dW83WTliLVE6MQ" width="760" height="621" /]

Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Title: Twenty Boy Summer
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Chick Lit
Rating: 5/5

Why I picked it: It's a banned book...so automatic appeal there.

Synopsis:According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Review: I have to really compose myself before writing this review because "Twenty Boy Summer" really impacted me. And I'm not ashamed to admit that - even being like 13 years older than the target audience. Sarah Ockler really blew me away with her story about love, loss, and that kinda awkward time that being a teen girl is really all about.

On the day of her 15th birthday, Anna's wish comes true and she gets kissed by Matt - a close friend and also the brother of her best friend, Frankie. The kiss turns into many more as Matt and Anna steal moments of urgency that can only be associated with first lust. The intensity of their moments is conveyed in a way that made me really feel that rush of desire and innocent love. Instead of telling Frankie about their new connection, Anna and Matt decide to keep a secret - for fear of how she will take it. Matt, as Frankie's brother, decides that he will be the one to tell her during their annual summer vacation to California. With that, he makes Anna promise that she won't say a word beforehand. Before the secret relationship can be revealed, an accident happens and Matt does not survive. Anna decides to keep her last promise to him and does not reveal her secret to Frankie.

The book really picks up about  a year after the tragedy when Frankie and Anna are getting ready for summer vacation. This year, Anna is accompanying Frankie and her parents to California, and both girls vow to have the best summer ever -  a summer filled with twenty boys, one of whom Anna plans to lose her virginity to. Frankie, the more "advanced" of the two girls orchestrates the plan and puts it into motion, while Anna is more just along for the ride.

What really makes the book is Ockler's impeccable writing and how she is able to put descriptive words to the exact emotions,  sense of loss,  and of  the not-belonging that teenagers face - especially teenage girls. One of my favorite lines in the book is:



"Tonight, when Frankie sits at the table and innocently knocks over her glass of Diet Coke, Aunt Jayne starts to cry, and the translucent veil of general okayness evaporates to reveal the honest, ugly parts underneath."


I just cannot gush enough about how well-written this book was. It really brought be back to having similar emotions and experiences, in that sort of cusp of womanhood when you're starting to realize the power of your sexuality and the impact of lust. I can see why this book ends up on Banned Books lists, but I really don't think it should. The lessons it teaches far outweigh the implications that it makes. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone, especially anyone who currently is, or has ever been, a teenage girl.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Another Giveaway @Stuck in YA Blog

And in light of all this giveaway madness, I just HAD to post about this huge giveaway that is currently going on at a blog I follow - Stuck in YA.

Please check out this link for an opportunity to win SEVEN YA titles.

Pretty awesome, no?

Zompacolypse 2011 Trick-or-Treat Hop! Winner

Paranormal Wastelands 



And we have a winner!!


Congrats to AmyS., who commented that they would be dressing up as a zombie this year. Awesome costume choice! Zombies never go out of style. Amy, please check your email for further information. If I do not hear back in the next 72-hours, a new winner will be chose.

Thank you everyone who participated. This Halloween Hop has been really fun and I look forward to hosting more book-related giveaways in the very near future. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Zompacolypse 2011 Trick-or-Treat Hop!

Paranormal Wastelands

I just love LOVE Halloween and especially love all the events that always occur around the book blogosphere during this time. With that being said, I am READY to host my first ever giveaway. It is US/Canada ONLY. Ends at midnight, November 1st.

Continue reading to enter to win a paperback of Richelle Mead's "Succubus Blues," the first book in her best-selling Georgia Kincaid series.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Review: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Author: Beth Hoffman
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Chick Lit, Southern Lit
Rating:4/5

Why I picked it: I generally really enjoy Southern Lit, and this was a bargain buy from Amazon.

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille-the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town-a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah's perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie's all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.
Review: There is something about a book that is oozing with Southern charm that I can't deny. Maybe it's the foreign-ness of that kind of society that never fails to draw me in, or maybe it's the rich descriptions of a slower kind of life, spent sipping sweet tea on a covered porch. Whatever it may be, when I saw "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt," in the bargain section at Amazon, I knew I just had to read it.

The book is often compared to "Secret Life of Bees," which was darling and definitely fit the "Southern Lit" criteria. Both protagonists are young women who are on the cusp of adulthood and discover much about life and family after spending a summer down in the South with very strong female role models.  In CeeCee's world, these women are from all walks of life and of all different races.  As we follow CeeCee on her journey into acceptance with who is she and who her mother was, these women play an enormous role in getting her to that point.

What I really enjoyed most about this book was Hoffman's writing. Her descriptions were so rich and sweet! I really regret not tabbing the pages that had these right lines on them, so that I could go back to them later and just re-absorb the wonderful sentences.

Hoffman really did a great job of balancing the different relationships in the book, without making any of the many characters "one note." Each woman in the book can hold her own and I'd be interested to learn more about them all. My favorite was the lovable character of Oletta, who is the housekeeper in CeeCee's new home. With her as one of the primary character, the very real subject matter of  racial tension was touched upon, but in a way as to not overtake the core of the story - which was about the growth of a young girl.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to fans of other books such as "The Help." It was a short and sweet read that stuck with me.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Razor Bill
Genre:  YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Suspense
Rating: 4/5

Why I picked it: Loved the cover and wanted a more "Halloween"-ish read.

Synopsis: Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Review: Even before I heard of "The Replacement," I was intrigued by Brenna Yovanoff after reading about her upcoming book "The Space Between." After seeing the cover for "The Replacement," I knew I had to read it and what better time to do so than during the Halloween season?

The story centers on Mackie, who is a replacement (changeling - the baby of two mystical creatures like faeries or goblins). Although left in the crib to a new family, Mackie is embraced by his human family and loved as if he was their born son. Their love, though, cannot stop Mackie from feeling as if he doesn't belong. It also cannot stop him from slowly dying in the human world.

While the theme of love and family is strong in this book, it never comes across as cheesy or pandering to the YA-set. The bonds between Mackie, his parents, and his sister, feel natural. It's a kind of relief to read a story where there is a positive relationship between the protagonist and those forces in his life. I especially loved Emma, Mackie's sister - who is thoughtful and protective of her special younger brother, yet does so in an authentic way that mirrors an actual relationship between two siblings.

The other strong theme of "coming of age" has a darker twist to it, due to Mackie's background and the conflicts contained in the book, but it still...works. He's easy to relate to and seemed to me more of a tragic figure than most other heroes in YA books. The other plus is that I did not find him at all annoying, which tends to happen sometimes when I read YA (a tell-tale sign I am old)!

Although it can be dark at times, "The Replacement" doesn't lack funny moments, and is brimming with positive relationships.   Due to some sexual descriptiveness and language, this may be better for the 15+ set but - as I am a prime example of - really has appeal across the age pool. I loved this book and now am even more excited to Brenna Yovanoff's "The Space Between."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Title: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre:  YA, Fantasy
Rating: 4/5

Why I picked it: Love the concept of a story motivated by found pictures. Plus...AWESOME cover appeal.

Synopsis:  A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
Review: From the very moment I happened to stumble upon this book on Amazon, I was intrigued. The cover is fantastic and gives off such a spooky air that I couldn't help but be drawn to it. Although I went into it expecting horror and got fantasy...I was not at all disappointed.

Ransom Riggs collects "found" photos. These old, and often super creepy, pictures are the inspiration behind this novel, which incorporates those images with a fantastical tale about a teenage boy trying to find his place in life.

Jacob has grown up listening to his grandfather's stories about an island on which there is a school filled with "peculiar" children who all have different special talents. When old enough to dismiss such fantastical ideas as magic, Jacob decides to take his grandfather's stories with a grain of salt - that is, until tragedy strikes and our hero realizes there might have been some truth behind it all. The story follows Jacob as he attempts to uncover the hidden secrets of his grandfather's life - with a lot of humor and descriptive language peppered throughout.

I must admit this book hooked me really fast and the author's build-up of events kept me reading well past my bedtime. I loved how the photos were incorporated into the text - with descriptions preceding actual pictures. I found myself really excited to turn the page and see what the described characters looked like. I also really enjoyed that these seemingly scary pictures were turned into something more innocent via the story. Instead of scared, I found myself fascinated by the photos.

One thing I did not care for was how the story builds up to a sequel (which has already been announced). In plain terms, there is more of a lack of resolution than I usually like. Don't get me wrong, I like to read a series but I especially like to read a series where a book can stand alone. While this one can, it's teetering on that edge of the unknown. And as a totally random side note, I actually thought to myself as I read "Hey! There's not many pages left and it seems like too much is still open ended. But they'd have a hard time making this a series, unless they have many pictures of same individuals or enough pictures that kind of obscure the subject's face."

Overall, it was a very enjoyable read and I liked the format and the imaginative story. I would highly recommend this book, but be forewarned - if you like an ending wrapped in a neat and tidy bow, you will likely be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hunger Games and Stuff

Well, it's been all quiet here because I was reading the Hunger Games trilogy for the past two weeks or so. That coupled with a trip to visit an old friend and...no new books were cracked.

First of all, just like countless others, I absolutely LOVED the Hunger Games. After finishing "Mockingjay," I literally had to stop and just absorb everything before I could start functioning again. It was darker than I expected, yet every bit as wonderful. I'm totally a fangirl now - anticipating the movie hardcore.

Since I've been immersed in those books for so long, it's really difficult for me to zone into another landscape and world. I am now attempting to do so by starting "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children." I was really excited for this to come out and I've owned it for a while, only to dust it off now. Halloween is coming so I figured an eerie-ish tale might be just the right tone setter for now until the end of the month.  I'm sure I'll find other spooky books to read before then.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

End of September Book Haul

I got bored and when I get bored, I often look through hundreds of pages, at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, of bargain books. Often times they are books I'd like to read but sometimes I do just buy random stuff because the cover looks cool. Well, I ended up buying a nice amount of books in the past week. All of the below were Bargain Buys, except for "Beautiful Creatures," which I bought at full price because I already own "Beautiful Darkness," the second book, AND "Windup Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi, because I loved "Ship Breaker."




Yes. I finally gave in and bought "Hush, Hush." I've heard so many mixed reviews but I keep coming back to that awesome, beautiful cover. I'll definitely review that one.

Update!

I know I've been rather quiet recently. I heard the crickets too.

I have started reading the Hunger Games trilogy and finally got on board the whole "obsessed with Hunger Games" train. Because the books are so popular, I decided not to review them. I mean, the first book has over three thousand reviews on Amazon. I really doubt my review would say anything the others have not. I can say that it's definitely a 5-star read for me. I got so sucked into the book that I haven't really read much else and it's taken me a long time to read because I am savoring every moment.

So please bear with me as I read this trilogy and then continue on with my reviews and such. I'm also going to be doing a big "Mailbox" post because even though I said I would buy no more books - I lied. :X

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre:  Fiction
Rating: 3/5

Why I picked it: Loved the premise from the get-go.
Synopsis: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Review: I know I am going to reflect the minority here but I did not love the book as much as I wanted to. Maybe it was the repeated hype and build-up, or maybe it was my own excitement, but I really expected a lot out of this book and it did not deliver.

First of all, it took me about 100 pages to get into the book, which was longer than anticipated. I kept reading but it took me a while to get into the energy and flow of the back-and-forth dialogue enough to be truly excited about picking it back up.  While the writing and description were wonderful, the characters struck me as rather bland.  I felt this especially about Marco and Celia, who - as two of the more magical people - could have been focused on more, and given more time in the book. The whole storyline is centered on this competition that both Marco and Celia are unwilling participants in. Instead of pity or empathy, I could offer no emotions for the two protagonists as they did not come off as tangible people. I understand this is supposed to be "magical" but what good is magic if there is no element to tie it to the reader?

My favorites, by far, were the secondary characters - Bailey, Herr Thiessen, Poppet and Widget, and Tsukiko. The colorfulness of these characters, added to the overwhelming blandness of the gray mood of the circus as a whole. While we get bits and pieces of their overlapping stories, Morgenstern chooses to do so in a disjointed time-frame that is often confusing. Her narrative jumps forwards and backwards, but there is really very little reason for her to employ this technique, as the general flow of the story is very linear.

My absolutely favorite thing about this book was the imaginative scenery and the circus as a whole. The smells, sights, and sounds of it were so beautifully explained, that I could almost smell caramel apple as I sat reading it. The many different tents that were a part of the circus were so creative and wonderful that I found myself longing to be a part of that world. The ice garden, in particular, was so beautifully explained. I loved that this book made me imagine the circus so vividly. While the descriptions help, it left just enough out that I am sure my version of the ice garden is different from that of anyone else.

I would recommend this book to other readers who love a fairy-tale like story but are not looking for too much emotional involvement or character substance. I have heard that the rights to the movie version of "The Night Circus" have already been bought and I think that is fantastic! The book is so visual, that I just hope that the studio who will be responsible can do it justice.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mid-September Book Haul

I've been buying random books here and there after my last Borders run (which I, of course, forgot to include in this kind of post), but I really am trying hard to stop - it's just difficult. I've also won 5 books in the past week or so. That justifies my habits. At least they're winnings and NOT books I bought. ;)

Here are the random titles I have obtained in the past two weeks:

These four I WON, thanks to the wonderful ladies over at Smexy Books.


Random Amazon Bargain Buys


More cheap Amazon buys PLUS "Night Circus," which I pre-ordered.


And last but not least, I won the following book from Shelf Awareness, YAY!!!



How terribly exciting!! I believe it also may be signed, but I don't know for sure. Has anyone read any of them? Any tips or reviews?? :D

Lastly, I must explain the lack of updates. I was really sick last week and barely even on the computer. I am back! But...still kinda slacking on the reading. I did start "The Night Circus," but I'm not as into it as I thought I would be...and I'm on page 144. Not that it's bad, but it's definitely not the page turner I anticipated it to be. I'll have a review up once I'm finished, for sure, but I can't guarantee when that will be.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Giveaway @ Parajunkee's Tumblr

Want to win your very own copy of Alyson Noël’s “Dreamland”?
Check out Parajunkee's Tumblr, where you can enter to win!!

About “Dreamland”:
“Riley’s finding that the afterlife can be a lonely place when all you do is focus on work. So she goes to the place where dreams happen, hoping to find a way to contact her sister, Ever. She meets the director, who tells her about the two ways to send dreams. As a Dream Jumper, a person can jump into a dreamer’s dream, share a message, and participate. As a Dreamweaver, an entire dream can be created in a studio and sent to the dreamer. But Dreamweaving was outlawed decades ago, and the studio was boarded up. Thinking it’s her only way to reach out to her sister, Riley goes in search of the old studio. There she finds a ghost boy, who’s been creating and sending nightmares to people for years. In order to stop him and reach out to Ever, Riley is going to have to confront and overcome her own fears.”

Alyson Noël continues the bestselling story of Riley Bloom as she learns how dreams are made and tries to make contact with her sister, Ever.

Links:

Macmillan page for Alyson Noël:
http://us.macmillan.com/author/alysonnoel
Become a Facebook fan: http://www.facebook.com/OfficialAlysonNoel
Website: http://www.alysonnoel.com/





Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Minor Rant

I'm totally hating UPS right now. I pre-ordered "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern, because I was so giddy-ly excited for it. Turns out UPS claims they tried to deliver it and no one was home. Nuh uh! I was home and there was no notice left on my door!

I had planned on it being my read but since it's not here...but will be tomorrow...I'm going to read the shortest book in my TBR pile, which is "Address Unknown" by Katherine Kressmann Taylor. I just really hope it's enough and that I get my book tomorrow.

::fingers crossed::

Review: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Title:Ship Breaker
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre:  YA, Dystopian
Rating: 5/5

Why I picked it: It was on sale for like $4 at Borders and I was really interested in Bacigalupi's other book "The Wind-Up Girl."

Synopsis: Set initially in a future shanty town in America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being dissembled for parts by a rag tag group of workers, we meet Nailer, a teenage boy working the light crew, searching for copper wiring to make quota and live another day. The harsh realities of this life, from his abusive father, to his hand to mouth existence, echo the worst poverty in the present day third world. When an accident leads Nailer to discover an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, and the lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl, Nailer finds himself at a crossroads. Should he strip the ship and live a life of relative wealth, or rescue the girl, Nita, at great risk to himself and hope she'll lead him to a better life. This is a novel that illuminates a world where oil has been replaced by necessity, and where the gap between the haves and have-nots is now an abyss. Yet amidst the shadows of degradation, hope lies ahead.
Review:  What an amazing book! I literally could not put it down and finished it in a little over a day.

"Ship Breaker" centers on a young boy, Nailer, who works in a bleak, gray world salvaging the more precious metals on old ships that have long since been out of commission. He belongs to a "crew" and knows very little of life outside of his physical, dangerous job or his abusive drug-addicted father. Nailer is basically the picture-perfect definition of an underdog. Everything has the potential to change when he comes upon a wrecked ship that is loaded with treasures and riches...if not for the fact that the ship has a lone survivor: a beautiful, rich girl who has a story of her own.

The book takes the reader on a whirl-wind adventure through a dark world where New Orleans, and other Gulf cities, are completely underwater, oil and chemical sludge cover the oceans, and the divide between rich and poor is great. Thanks to Bacigalupi's extremely vivid descriptions and rich - almost poetic - writing, it is a world that seems eerily possible.

While many consider this novel grittier than other dystopian books, I feel that the "grit" is exactly why it works. It is the type of book that stays with you, long after you've closed its pages. For all the reasons outlined above, the book gets a 5-star rating for me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

Title: A Wallflower Christmas (Wallflowers #5)
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre:  Historical Romance
Rating:4/5

Why I picked it: Last installment of Lisa Kleypas' amazing Wallflower series.
Synopsis: It’s Christmastime in London and Rafe Bowman has arrived from America for his arranged meeting with Natalie Blandford, the very proper and beautiful daughter of Lady and Lord Blandford. His chiseled good looks and imposing physique are sure to impress the lady in waiting and, if it weren’t for his shocking American ways and wild reputation, her hand would already be guaranteed. Before the courtship can begin, Rafe realizes he must learn the rules of London society. But when four former Wallflowers try their hand at matchmaking, no one knows what will happen. And winning a bride turns out to be more complicated than Rafe Bowman anticipated, especially for a man accustomed to getting anything he wants. However, Christmas works in the most unexpected ways, changing a cynic to a romantic and inspiring passion in the most timid of hearts.

Review: The first thing one notices about this conclusion to Lisa Kleypas' awesome Wallflowers series is how short it is. It also centers around a brand-new heroine who has had no parts in any of the other novels. For these two reasons, I really thought I wasn't going to like this book as much as I did. Not to be cliche, but it was short and sweet.

The book centers on Rafe Bowman, brother to Daisy and Lillian, who gets an ultimatum from his father to either marry Natalie, a well-bred English lady, or to lose his share of the Bowman's huge amounts of money.  Instead of Natalie, he becomes completely captured with Hannah, who is of plainer stock.  Natalie, of course, sees him as an ill-behaved, American rake. While this center storyline is occurring, readers get a kind of "what are they doing now?" look into the lives of the previous Wallflowers. Although this book takes place almost right after the last, it was really nice to get a glimpse into those characters who we have grown really attached to.

Lisa Kleypas did a really nice job of joining a new story with glimpses into the current lives of the previous Wallflowers. The new characters were well thought-out and the old kept the same traits that made us love them in the first place. Overall, it was a really satisfying companion to the series and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has read the prior books.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Review: Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

Title: Scandal in Spring (Wallflowers #4)
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre:  Historical Romance
Rating: 3.5/5

Why I picked it: Book #4 of Lisa Kleypas' amazing Wallflower series.
Synopsis: After spending three London seasons searching for a husband, Daisy Bowman's father has told her in no uncertain terms that she must find a husband. Now. And if Daisy can't snare an appropriate suitor, she will marry the man he chooses—the ruthless and aloof Matthew Swift.

Daisy is horrified. A Bowman never admits defeat, and she decides to do whatever it takes to marry someone . . . anyone . . . other than Matthew. But she doesn't count on Matthew's unexpected charm . . . or the blazing sensuality that soon flares beyond both their control. And Daisy discovers that the man she has always hated just might turn out to be the man of her dreams.

But right at the moment of sweet surrender, a scandalous secret is uncovered . . . one that could destroy both Matthew and a love more passionate and irresistible than Daisy's wildest fantasies.
Review:  I hate to admit it but this was probably my least favorite book in the Wallflower series. Then again, it's hard to follow "Devil in Winter," which is likely one of the best romance books I have read in some time.

This book is focused upon Daisy Bowman, the last Wallflower left without a husband. Daisy is a character I can relate to. She's cute, witty, and bookish. Best of all, she does not give off an air of "damsel in distress" and desperation that is often found in other romance books.

The book begins with an ultimatum: Either Daisy marry Matthew Swift, a trusted business partner of her father, or she finds someone else to marry before the Bowman family returns back to New York permanently. As with every historical romance book I have read, there is required a certain suspension of facts and general beliefs. This one was pretty bad on that front.

For one, Matthew Swift spends a large portion of the book denying Daisy for reasons untold, until we get to the end of the book. Instead of being satisfied with this plot-line being wrapped up, I was more saying to myself "Really? That's why? That's umm..silly." Also in this book, more than the other Wallflower books, I found myself asking "Why is it so hard for her to find a husband?" Not only is Daisy beautiful, but she's also obscenely rich! The other Wallflowers genuinely had things that may be off-putting to snobby gentlemen callers (a stutter, a brash personality, or a lack of money). Daisy just is imaginative and likes books.

Overall, this may not have been a bad read as a stand-alone. I can't really rate it down much because Lisa Kleypas really knows how to write a damn good romance book, and I did find myself smiling or giggling at certain points. The problem is that it's in line with three other books in the Wallflowers series that are all just so damned good that it's hard for me to rate this one higher.

Friday, September 9, 2011

More Purchases!

So, I am hitting up Borders again today, for the last time before it permanently closes its doors. ::sniffle:: Hopefully there is still some great stuff left for me to browse through. I do anticipate a big 'ol "book haul" update very soon, and maybe I'll do my first video!!

Have a happy Friday, everyone!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday


"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating

This week (like everyone else in the book blogosphere), I am waiting on:

The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern
Out September 13th

I'm so excited for this book, that I've actually pre-ordered it and I really can't remember the last time I cared about any sort of release enough to pre-order it. It just looks terrific and I can't wait to have the review up for everyone!

Synopsis (from Goodreads): The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black- and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Title: Sisters Red
Author: Jackson Pearce
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Genre:  YA, Fairy Tales
Rating: 4.5/5

Why I picked it: A fairy tale retelling? Yes please!!
Synopsis: Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?
Review: Okay, first of all, how awesome is the cover of this book? Seriously, I can't stop looking at the prettiness if it and it automatically drew me to the book right off the bat.

Secondly...wow! What an amazing story! Told from the perspectives of the two main characters, Scarlett and Rosie, the book delivers in terms of action, suspense, and romance. I must admit it took me a little bit of time to get into the book (about 50 pages or so), but once I hit that point, I was hooked and read the rest of the book in one sitting. Seriously.

There were a lot of elements that made this fairy tale exactly that. Setting, tone, and narrative all made me feel like I was in that magical world with the characters. Jackson Pearce entwined that world with the modern day and instead of feeling inauthentic or forced, it actually worked!! I think it also helped that the characters were really great.

Sisters Scarlett and Rosie have a relationship that is complex and deep. I found that the switched perspective (each chapter alternates as either being told by Rosie or Scarlett), actually really helped get into the core of what each character was feeling. It kinda would have been nice to hear more from Silas and what he was thinking, but that is just a minor point for me, as I really enjoyed his character.

My automatic instinct was to empathize with Rosie and pity Scarlett but as I got further on in the book, I felt more empathy for Scarlett as well. Although she was unwillingly thrust into a life where she is aware of the Fenris, due to tragedy striking, she takes that knowledge and chooses to turn it into something tangible. She chooses to fight every day for what she believes  and to protect those innocents who don't know any better.

Overall, this was a terrific, quick read that I would recommend across the board. It's a modern take on a classic story that isn't merely a retelling. It's a complete overhaul for today's audiences, and it's one that rocks!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Review: Alpha by Rachel Vincent (Shifters #6)

Title: Alpha
Author: Rachel Vincent
Publisher: Mira Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating:4/5

Why I picked it: Last book in the Shifters series, which I have read all of.
Synopsis (From the back of the book): YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE FAYTHE…

The unscrupulous new Council chair has charged Jace, Marc, and me with trespassing, kidnapping, murder, and treason. Yeah, we’ve been busy. But now it’s time to take justice into our own hands. We must avenge my brother’s death and carve out the rot at the heart of the Council.

It’s not going to be easy, and loss seems unavoidable, but I have promised to protect my Pride, no matter what. With a target on my back and Marc at my side, I’m heading for a final showdown that can—that will—change everything forever.
Review: Geez. I thought I had a hard time trying to sort my thoughts after the last book. This one...well it's even more difficult. The conclusion of this 6-book series certainly packs a punch, but the kind of punch where you're not really trying to leave any bruise - if you know what I mean.

We knew what was coming in this book and the all-out war with Cal Malone is finally fought. After all the backstabbing (literally and figuratively), kidnappings, and arrests, Faythe and her Pride finally have the chance to get their payback. As with everything Faythe seems to be involved in, nothing comes easy. "Alpha" actually did raise my opinion of her, a lot. In particular, there is one scene where the reader is just left alone with Faythe and her thoughts as she shifts to heal her wounds. It was really powerful stuff and was the first time I thought to myself "Holy hell, that is one bad-ass and strong character."

With that being said, I don't think there's enough progression in Faythe overall to make the "Faythe haters" change their minds. As a matter of fact, I can't tell if I grew to like her more than I did initially or if I just got used to her. What I can tell you is that I did grow to love some of the secondary characters in this book, and Rachel Vincent had them frame Faythe so well that, for me, they became more important than the main character herself.

As a finale, the book is not without heart-wrenching events and "OMGWTF!" moments, but I found it to be much more subdued than in say, "Pride." You're very aware that the series is winding down and that Rachel Vincent is wrapping things up. There are still action-packed scenes but they feel rushed compared to the epic battles portrayed in the previous books.

Rachel Vincent clearly has a gift for storytelling. The world she creates is so rich and so well though out that the main bonus, for me, of reading Shifters was to be more and more immersed into that.  Overall though, I did enjoy the series and this book was as decent of an ending as any would have been. Would I recommend it to others? Yes! But I would also warn them that if by Book 2 or 3, they still completely hate Faythe, to not even bother with the rest.

Book Blogger Hop (9/2/11)

Book Blogger HopHosted by Jen at Crazy-For-Books.

This week's question: “What are you most looking forward to this fall/autumn season – A particular book release? Halloween? The leaves changing color? Cooler temperatures? A vacation? (If your next season is other than fall/autumn, tell us about it and what you are most looking forward to in your part of the world!)”


I love Fall and all the wonderful things that are associated with that season - apple picking, cider, leaves changing colors, good hair weather. Heheh. Halloween is also one of my absolute favorite holidays. Who can resist playing dress-up, no matter how old you are!!!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

End of August Book Haul

So I bought A TON of books in the last 4 days. I was actually going to take this opportunity to do my very first video "In My Mailbox" but the video would have been like 10-15 minutes long so I opted to just do an image listing of the books I bought. As you can see...I have really REALLY eclectic tastes in my books.

Unfortunately for me, with this last haul - I swore that I would NOT purchase any more books until 2012. Yes. 2012. See...I have a really bad problem where I buy books so often that my "To Be Read" pile grows at an alarming rate. Currently, it's at about 120 books...no joke. Soooo...NO MORE! I'm still going to be doing contests and stuff to possibly win books but no more will be purchased until I make a damn good dent in my shelf. Perhaps I can take a picture of it for y'all at sometime next week so you can see just how bad it really is. :)

And without further ado...the books I purchased in the past 4 days!!
(I'm especially excited about Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which I've had my eye on since it first came out, but have been waiting for it to go on sale - all the rest of the books were bargains and less than $5 a pop- until I just couldn't take it anymore!)











Has anyone read any of them? Any tips or reviews?? :D

Top 100 YA Books

I found this list on The Book Rat, based on a poll and list compiled earlier this year by Persnickety Snark. You can find out about all the work that went into it and how the votes were tabulated at Persnickety Snark.

Titles I've read are in bold, ones I own are italicized.

1. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
4. Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson
5. Northern Lights (aka The Golden Compass), Philip Pullman
6. The Truth About Forever, Sarah Dessen
7. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
9. Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
10. This Lullaby, Sarah Dessen

11. Looking for Alaska, John Green
12. Just Listen, Sarah Dessen
13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
14. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
15. City of Bones, Cassandra Clare
16. On the Jellicoe Road, Melina Marchetta
17. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
19. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
20. Along for the Ride, Sarah Dessen

21. Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater
22. Vampire Academy, Richelle Mead
23. Graceling, Kristin Cashore
24. Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher
25. Sloppy Firsts, Megan McCafferty
26. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
27. Alanna: The First Adventure, Tamora Pierce -- YESSS!
28. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
29. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
30. Uglies, Scott Westerfeld

31. A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray
32. Tomorrow, When the War Began, John Marsden
33. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, E. Lockhart
34. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
35. The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
36. Paper Towns, John Green
37. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling
38. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
39. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith

40. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
41. Lock and Key, Sarah Dessen
42. The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman
43. Evernight, Claudia Gray
44. Sabriel, Garth Nix
45. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
46. Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl
47. Forever, Judy Blume
48. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
49. Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine

50. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
51. Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli
52. Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
53. The Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper
54. Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick
55. Saving Francesca, Melina Marchetta
56. Second Helpings, Megan McCafferty
57. Dreamland, Sarah Dessen
58. Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer
59. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
60. Fire, Kristin Cashore

61. The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier
62. Weetzie Bat, Francesca Lia Block
63. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
64. Looking for Alibrandi, Melina Marchetta
65. How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
66. City of Glass, Cassandra Clare
67. Keeping the Moon, Sarah Dessen
68. Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer
69. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
70. If I Stay, Gayle Forman

71. The King of Attolia, Megan Whalen Turner
72. Wintergirls, Laurie Halse Anderson
73. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast, Robin McKinley
74. The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley
75. Feed, M.T. Anderson
76. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, Ann Brashares
77. Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
78. Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr
79. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
80. Someone Like You, Sarah Dessen

81. The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan
82. Jacob Have I Loved, Katherine Paterson
83. The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
84. Poison Study, Maria V. Snyder
85. Shadow Kiss, Richelle Mead
86. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi
87. An Abundance of Katherines, John Green
88. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon
89. A Ring of Endless Light, Madeleine L’Engle
90. Glass Houses, Rachel Caine

91. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I:The Pox Party, M.T. Anderson
92. Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech
93. Whale Talk, Chris Crutcher
94. Perfect Chemistry, Simone Elkeles
95. Going Too Far, Jennifer Echols
96. The Last Song, Nicholas Sparks
97. Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver
98. Hatchet, Gary Paulsen
99. The Pigman, Paul Zindel
100. The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley

22 read? Hmph. I need to get some more of these and brush up on my YA!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Review: Shift by Rachel Vincent (Shifters #5)

Title: Shift
Author: Rachel Vincent
Publisher: Mira Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating:3/5

Why I picked it: Book #5 in the Shifters series, which I am really enjoying.

Synopsis (from back of book): Being the first female werecat enforcer isn't easy. Scars accumulate, but I'm stronger in so many ways.

As for my personal life? It's complicated. Choices worth making always are. Ever since my brother's death and my father's impeachment, it's all I can do to prevent more blood from spilling. Now our Pride is under attack by a flight of vicious thunderbirds. And making peace with our new enemies may be the only way to get the best of our old foe.

With the body count rising and treachery everywhere, my instincts tell me to look before I leap. But sometimes a leap of faith is the only real option….

Review: Where do I begin? This is a really tough review for me to write because my feelings on this book were so mixed that I'm having a hard time sorting them out. Please bear in mind that this review may contain spoilers for previous books in the series.

The start of this fifth installment of the Shifters series introduces the reader to a new breed of shifter - thunderbirds. Hands down, my favorite part of this book was being immersed into the world of the birds, and I am truly in awe of how...realized their race was, down to legal systems and homes. The thunderbirds are honor-bound creatures that kidnap Kaci at the start of the book. As we continue on, it seems that Calvin Malone is back to his old bastardly tricks yet again. Although Malone does not feature prominently in this installment, you definitely get even more of a taste of just how vicious he really is. This is a reason why I really do not get how Blackwell is only now starting to realize how much of a douche Malone is, and perhaps do something about it.

Thunderbirds aside, my other favorite part of this book was Kaci. You really start to see her growth as she depends on and trusts Faythe in situations where any 12-13 year old would be scared - let alone one who has the history of trauma that Kaci does. It was really nice to see Faythe in a role with a more motherly and nurturing feel - as opposed to being her usual selfish self.

But speaking of Faythe...yeah I still can't deal. The fact that she goes through this book downright lying (via omission) to Marc about her and Jace makes my eye twitch. She is still playing with emotions and being totally selfish with her relationships. Marc comes off as both emotionally unstable as well as insanely jealous and possessive. How are we to think that Faythe is making the right choice in not telling him what happened with Jace, when every sign points to him needing to know such information ASAP? Please, if I was Faythe I would NEED to let him know because I would be downright terrified of what would happen if he found out from another source.

One last bright spot in this book for me was Jace. Vincent really develops him from a fun-loving, jokey guy to a determined and tough man. The Jace of Book 1 is a far cry from the man he has become further on in the series, and I really think it's because he has nothing left to lose. One minor point: Jace's mother. Really? How pathetic and weak can one be?? She kind of horrifies me as a character based on what she's willing to put up with without protest. She's a tabby! By our understanding of werecat society, we are to think she'd have much more options!!

Overall, I am glad I read this book and I do feel that the series is really well developed and thought-out, but I cannot help but be disappointed in the choices the main characters seem to make, as well as how - for the most part - they do not grow. I am going to finish off the series with my next book, "Alpha" - and I have been told that the last book makes the whole series worth it so I'm excited to start.