Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

By: Julie Cross
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: January 17, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Paranormal/Sci-Fi
Pages: 352
Source: ARC from NetGalley and Macmillan

The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.


Time travel stories are always a little iffy for me. Sometimes they work incredibly well (like The Time Traveler’s Wife), and sometimes they’re just too confusing and give me a headache (can’t think of an example right now but you know what I mean! :P). Tempest falls somewhere in-between for me, but overall I did enjoyed the story.

We learn about the rules of Jackson’s ability to time travel right at the beginning, which sets up the story nicely. But as things progress Jackson slowly begins to realize that he doesn’t even begin to understand everything that’s going on and things are way bigger than he ever imagined.

This is kind of where things got out of hand for me. I felt like the plot just had too many different elements and everything was unnecessarily complicated and a little bit unbelievable (yes, even for a science fiction story). I didn’t fully buy into the CIA/Enemies of Time subplot, and I wish that there had been a bigger focus on the simpler aspects of the story instead of trying to introduce so many things at once. The time travel aspect itself can be confusing if you start to think about it too much, but as long as you just go with it then it’s easy enough to understand.

I did really love Jackson’s visits with his sister, they were some of my favorite scenes in the novel, and I would have liked to see more of that developed. It was also really fun watching Jackson interact with the past versions of his friends, especially Adam (yay for science geeks!). Having a male protagonist is always a refreshing change in YA and I enjoyed seeing things through his point of view. And THANK YOU Jackson, for refusing to go back to high school! I’ve always thought it was so ridiculous that so many supernatural immortal characters would actually spend their time in high school (Really?? Really?), and I might have cheered a little bit when college-age Jackson put his foot down (although I don’t understand why his dad was so accommodating; MY parents definitely wouldn’t have been). All that said, I never really connected with Jackson very well, and I also didn’t feel much for Holly. I think this may be because she is shot so quickly at the beginning of the novel that I didn’t really have a chance to get to know her, so I just didn’t care that much.

The climax of the novel is action-packed and high-stakes, and leaves the reader with a slightly bittersweet feeling and a desire for more. Holly’s writing is incredibly visual and cinematic, and the whole thing kind of feels like a action movie, which made the book fun to read even with my lack of connection to the characters. I also definitely still have some questions about the logistics of the time traveling, but I’m hoping the second book might answer them.

Overall, although it didn't wow me, Tempest is an engrossing and entertaining story, and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In My Mailbox #29

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren that gives bloggers the opportunity to showcase the books they’ve received that week. You can learn more about it here.


No IMM last week because of… laziness? Haha, I don’t remember. Anyways, two weeks worth of books!

For review:


The Selection by Kiera Cass
Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis
Dark Eyes by William Richter

These are all ARC tour books from Around the World Tours (love that place!). I’m reading The Selection right now and I’m liking it so far (only a couple of chapters in though). Glimmer was really good, and When the Sea Is Rising Red was amaaaaaazing. So so fantastic. I stayed up until around 4 in the morning reading it. <3 My reviews for all of these will be up soon.

Bought:


Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick

Oh how I love John Green (my tumblr name is because of him). I’m so excited to read this one – I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. And I ordered Silence way back when it first came out, but since I preordered TFiOS with it, they both just arrived together. I haven’t decided whether I want to reread the first two books before Silence, but I’m really looking forward to visiting with Patch and Nora again. :)

Other stuff:


I’m on the street team for Don’t Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala, and I got this awesome swag pack in the mail last week. It’s full of posters, stickers, magnets, bookmarks… I’m not sure just how I’m going to share all this DBaW love yet, but I’m sure I’ll think of something. ;)


That’s it for me, what did you get in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Friday Hops #7

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read.

Today’s Question: Which book genre do you avoid at all costs and why?

There’s no genre that I avoid at ALL costs, but I generally don’t read a lot of nonfiction. That said, I just remembered that I’m in LOVE with The Beak of the Finch, which is nonfiction. Haha, ah well. I like a little bit of everything!


TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads!

Buy or Borrow: Where do your books that you read come from? The bookstore? The library? Do you prefer to own a book, or have it on loan?

I definitely prefer to own books (which is obvious when you see my bookshelves), but I actually hardly ever buy books these days. Between the books that I already own but haven’t read, books that I get for review, and library books, I have MORE than enough to read. (Plus I’m broke. :P) I do love used book sales though – especially for finding out-of-print editions. I went to school in Baltimore, which has the most amaaaazing place called The Book Thing, which is basically like a used bookstore, but everything is FREE! They run on volunteers and donations, and you can just go in and take however many books you want. It’s FANTASTIC. I definitely miss being able to go there and search for awesome books.


Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday #34

“Waiting on” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights an upcoming release that we’re eagerly anticipating. Let the salivating commence.

My pick this week:

Bitterblue (The Seven Kingdoms 3)
By: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Dial
Release Date: May 1, 2012

Description:

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad every happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle – disguised and alone – to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past. Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

Why I’m Waiting: I LOVED both Graceling and Fire, and I am so so excited for this third book in the series. Kristin Cashore is awesome and I can’t wait to fall in love with these characters all over again.


What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blog Tour: Falling In Between by Devon Ashley (Review)

From A to Z is one of today's stops on the Falling In Between Blog Tour, so welcome! My review of Falling In Between is posted below, and be sure to stop by Devon's blog for the full tour schedule and a chance to win a signed doodle-graph copy of the book!

Devon will also be visiting From A to Z on February 6th to share some of her favorite love songs, so don't miss that!


By: Devon Ashley
Publisher: Indie Published
Release Date: February 14, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Paranormal
Pages: 264
Source: ARC from author

Finally! A private conversation. And all I had to do was throw myself off a cliff, drown in a pond in my undies and let him put his hands on my breasts to bring me back to life. Yay me… (yeah, that’s sarcasm).

Yep, that pretty much sums up the most craptastic night of Jenna Baker’s life. She drowns after jumping off a cliff, meets a hotty named Chance in the pearlescent in-between and is brought back to life by her soon-to-be boyfriend Robert.

Just when things start to move forward with Robert, the guy she’s been crushing on for a year now, in walks the man of her dreams – literally. Chance suddenly appears in her dream every time she closes her eyes. So it’s Robert by day and Chance by night. One in the real world and one in the dream world. What could possibly go wrong?

Absolutely nothing – until she comes face to face with the guy she met in the in-between, and realizes her romantic rendezvous with Chance may be more than just her imagination.


Falling In Between has a really unique premise, and while I did enjoy reading it, unfortunately it didn’t grab me the way I had hoped it would. The story starts off very promising, with Jenna drowning and meeting a mysterious guy in the “in-between” before being revived, but I feel like it never really lived up to this promise for me. It wasn’t a bad book by any means, it just wasn’t completely my cup of tea.

The main issue I had was that there was very little development of Jenna’s relationships with both Chance and Robert. Her relationships with both of them start pretty quickly, and even throughout their time together I feel like I didn’t really see the progression of their connection.  It felt like almost every time we saw them it was in some sexual situation – I feel like I never really got to know either of the boys very well outside of that and I didn’t feel invested in her relationship with either of them.

There isn’t much plot or conflict other than the main issue based around Jenna being with the two boys, and since I didn’t really  connect with either of them I just couldn’t bring myself to care that much. Because of this, I felt like there was a lack of material for me to identify with, although I did enjoy their story on a surface level.

In contrast to the lack of development of Jenna’s romantic relationships, I think her relationship with her best friend and roommate Sophie was very well done and it was my favorite part of the novel. I really loved Sophie and the scenes with the two of them and their bonding sessions and conversations in the room were so fun. Jenna clearly needed a guiding influence in her life and I love that Sophie was there for her.

Though technically not in diary form, reading Falling in Between feels very much like you are reading Jenna’s journal and she’s just having a conversation with you. It’s very casual and intimate and you can get inside her head easily, which I liked a lot. This also gives the book a bit of an addictive quality – I read the almost the entire thing in just one sitting.

If you’re looking for a sweet and simple love story with a bit of a paranormal aspect, you might want to check out Falling In Between. Overall I would have liked a little more from the story, but it was nevertheless a light, enjoyable read.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

By: Jennifer Bosworth
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Paranormal Post-Apocalypse
Pages: 373
Source: ARC from Around the World Tours

Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.


Okay, so this book almost makes me want to go stand in a storm and try to get struck by lightning. And if a book makes me want to do something that’s potentially fatal, well… the book has to be pretty awesome, right? Right. (Please note the use of almost.)

Struck is such a unique story. From the view of what might happen to Los Angeles after a horrible earthquake to the idea of a girl who is addicted to getting struck by lightning, the fascinating premise will draw you right in, and the remarkable world-building will keep you there.

Jennifer Bosworth is a screenwriter, and it’s completely evident as you read Struck. The devastated city of LA is brought to life through her wonderful descriptions and everything jumps right off the page. I almost felt like I was watching a movie in my head, and I would love to see Struck on the big screen. The story moves along rapidly, with the book broken up into the three days before the storm hits, and you can feel the tension as it gets closer and closer. Everything leads up to the explosive ending, with twists and turns all along the way, including something that I totally did not see coming (and I’m usually pretty good at guessing things so it’s awesome when an author can surprise me).

I really liked Mia from the start. She’s not one of those annoyingly naive heroines who can’t ever tell what’s going on. She has her moments, of course, but for the most part she’s incredibly smart and intuitive, and I absolutely loved reading from her perspective. The rest of the characters are also great; everyone from Mia’s family to her love interest to the members of the two cults are interesting and fun to read about. Although I will say that I wish there had been a bit more development to the romance; it was just a bit too fast-moving and instalove for me to really get invested in it.

And one note about the cults, while there are pretty heavy religious themes to the novel, it’s not done in a preachy or overbearing way at all. Jennifer handles the cult aspect very well, and I would recommend not letting that prevent you from reading Struck.

One of the things I love about this novel is that while there is definitely the possibility for future books, Struck itself is a complete and engaging story with a satisfying ending. There’s no awful cliffhanger, no frustrating loose ends. Not that I don’t enjoy the occasional tantalizing cliffhanger, but it’s a refreshing change to finish a book and actually have it end.

With an awesome heroine and a unique premise, Struck is an addictive, fast-paced novel that you won’t want to put down. I can’t wait for more from Jennifer Bosworth!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: Slide by Jill Hathaway

By: Jill Hathaway
Publisher: Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Paranormal Mystery
Pages: 256
Source: ARC from Around the World Tours

Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth – her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: when she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger, and with no one else to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.


I’m having very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I love the idea of being able to slide into other people’s bodies – I think it’s a really fresh idea for a paranormal novel and I was immediately intrigued. A lot of things about the novel were done really well and overall it was definitely an enjoyable read. At the same time, I had a few issues with it and I feel like it didn’t fully live up to its potential.

Vee is a likeable and realistic character, and I really enjoyed her interactions with the various other characters in the novel. Jill Hathaway portrays the interpersonal relationships in Slide incredibly well, that was probably my favorite thing about the story. The way the characters deal with things like grief and forgiveness is particularly delicate and touching. And although there are a lot of heavy themes touched on in Slide, the novel never felt overly dark.

As I already mentioned, Vee’s ability to slide into other people’s bodies adds a really fun and interesting paranormal aspect to the story, although I would have loved more exploration into where the ability comes from, especially whether there’s any connection to her mother. There are hints that it is hereditary but it’s never really mentioned further than that. I like that the sliding is the only paranormal element of Slide and doesn’t take over; it’s still a largely realistic story.

I think my main disappointment with Slide lies in the murder mystery. Vee is a pretty crappy detective, to be honest, which at times was very frustrating as a reader. There were many things I figured out long before she did, and she had a tendency to jump to the obvious conclusions very quickly, so by the time she got to her big revelations there wasn’t as much of an impact for me. However, I wouldn’t say that the murder mystery is completely predictable, and there are many twists and turns along the way. But the story behind the murder felt very far-fetched to me. The culprit’s motive wasn’t entirely convincing and it didn’t have the satisfying “Oooohh!” that I like to experience at the end of a murder mystery.

All that said, Slide is still a quick, engrossing read that manages to entertain despite the flaws. I thoroughly enjoyed the concept and had fun reading it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday #33

“Waiting on” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights an upcoming release (or releases) that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week:

Masque of the Red Death
By: Bethany Griffin
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Release Date: April 24, 2012

Description:

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up… and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club – in the depths of her own despair – Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for – no matter what it costs her.


Why I’m Waiting: Gorgeous cover aside, this book sounds awesome. Devastating plague by day, crazy club parties by night… count me in! And don't forget those two mysterious guys. :P Can’t wait to read this one!


What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday #32

“Waiting on” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights an upcoming release (or releases) that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My picks this week:




Vessel
By: Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry Books
Release Date: September 11, 2012

Description:

In a desert land where serpents made of unbreakable glass fly through the sky and wolves made of only sand hunt within storms, Liyana is destined to be a vessel, to sacrifice herself so that her clan’s goddess can inhabit her body… but her goddess never comes.


Why I’m Waiting: Um, WOAH. This sounds amazing. Flying serpents made of glass? Wolves made of sand? And just look at that cover! SO gorgeous.







From What I Remember (cover not final)
By: Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: May 15, 2012

Description:

KYLIE:
Tijuana WHAT? I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY! And is this a wedding band on my finger??

MAX:
It all started with Kylie’s laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics. Okay, it was kind of hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we’re stranded in Tijuana. With less than twenty-four hours before graduation. Awesome.

WILL:
Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was stuck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border – but there’s no reason to rush back home right away. This party is just getting started.

LILY:
I just walked in on my boyfriend, Max Langston, canoodling with Kylie Flores, freak of the century. Still, I can’t completely hold it against him. He NEEDS me. It’s even clearer now. And I’m not giving him up without a fight.

Why I’m Waiting: I really like stories that are told from multiple points of view, and this one sounds like it could be crazy fun. I can’t wait to see what shenanigans these four manage to get up to.


What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

By: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Dystopian
Pages: 375
Source: ARC from Around the World Tours

Lauren OIiver captivated readers with Delirium, the first book in a thrilling dystopian trilogy in which Lena Haloway dared to fall in love with Alex and escape the cure, the government-mandated procedure that renders a person immune to the disease of love. Lena and Alex staked their lives on leaving their oppressive society, but only Lena broke free.

Pandemonium continues Lena’s gripping story. After escaping from Portland, Maine, Lena makes it to the Wilds and becomes part of an Invalid community, where she transforms herself into a warrior for the resistance. A future without Alex is unimaginable, but Lena pushes forward and fights, both for him and for a world in which love is no longer considered a disease. Swept up in a volatile mix of revolutionaries and counterinsurgents, Lena struggles to survive – and wonders if she may be falling in love again.

Full of danger, forbidden romance, and exquisite writing, Lauren Oliver’s sequel to Delirium races forward at a breathtaking pace and is sure to appeal to fans who crave the high-stakes action of The Hunger Games and the bittersweet love story of Romeo & Juliet.


If you’ve read my review of Delirium, you know that I went into it with incredibly high expectations and was left feeling slightly disappointed. And while I still have a lot of the same problems that I had with Delirium, I’m happy to say that I liked Pandemonium a lot more. This may be partly because I had more of an idea of what to expect, or maybe I was just too harsh with Delirium, I don’t know. But Pandemonium has made me want to go back and reread Delirium, and I feel a new affection for it that I didn’t feel before.

The story is told in two parts, with chapters alternating between Lena’s life when she first arrived in the Wilds (picking up right where Delirum left off) and her life as a member of the resistance about six months later. I loved this format, because of course we all want to know how she immediately adjusted to life in the Wilds but it’s fantastic to see where she ends up and how she changes. A lot of the situations in the alternating chapters parallel each other, which was also really fun.

There is a brand new cast of characters in Pandemonium, and it was great getting to know the inhabitants of the Wild and see how they live. They take Lena in and she quickly becomes one of them, doing what she needs to do to survive without Alex. Alex’s absence is felt very strongly and Lena frequently thinks about him, using his memory as a source of strength. I absolutely LOVE the new, stronger Lena, she feels so kickass.

I’m still not totally feeling the romance in this series, but that’s okay. I have hopes that it might finally win me over in the third book. Another thing I had an issue with is that the Invalids still refer to love as a disease and talk about getting “infected.” I thought the whole point is that they want to rid the world of the idea that love is a disease, not just convince everyone that it’s okay to be infected. Ah well.

The last 50 pages are tense and race along at breakneck speed, and I couldn’t read fast enough to find out what was going to happen. And at the end of it all, once again, Lauren Oliver leaves us with a heart-clenching cliffhanger. I can’t say whether I was surprised by the ending or not (because certain people know my theories and I don’t want to spoil it :P), but I will say that whether or not I was expecting it, the last page is an awesome, heart thudding moment that will leave you wailing for the next book.

I never even really felt that desperate for Pandemonium after finishing Delirium, but I NEED the third book now. I’m so excited with the possibilities and I really hope that Lauren Oliver delivers. Pandemonium is an excellent follow-up to Delirium and fans of the first book definitely won’t be disappointed.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Review: Life Is But a Dream by Brian James

By: Brian James
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Genre/Age: Contemporary YA
Pages: 234
Source: ARC from Around the World Tours

Alec and Sabrina are crazy in love. Problem is: Sabrina’s really crazy.

Sabrina, an artist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents check her into the Wellness Center. There she meets Alec, who is convinced it’s the world that’s crazy, not the two of them. They are meant to be together; they are special. But when Alec starts to convince Sabrina that her treatment will wipe out everything that makes her creative, she worries that she’ll lose hold of her dreams and herself. Should she listen to her doctor? Her decision may have fatal consequences.



This book was so much more real than I was expecting. For some reason when I first heard about it I got the impression that it had almost a psychological thriller feel to it and that the reader was going to be unsure about which was reality - Sabina’s dreams or the facility where she lives. This is NOT the plot, clearly I am just an idiot (in my defense I think I first read a different synopsis than the one above), and what happens is actually a very beautiful story about Sabrina’s struggle with schizophrenia.

Life Is But a Dream portrays Sabrina’s condition incredibly well and it is so easy to sympathize with her. Brian James really manages to get inside her head, allowing the reader to see the world the way Sabrina does and understand why she gets worried about losing herself to the medication. Some of the things she sees sound so beautiful, and it doesn’t always feel like she’s crazy. She’s just afraid of her life changing and she doesn’t want to become a mindless robot like the rest of the world. You can’t help but get caught up in her story.

Alec as a love interest was very interesting. He and Sabrina fall in love very quickly, which isn’t my favorite thing, but is understandable under the circumstances. They have both been locked away from the world, told that they’re crazy, and they find comfort and understanding in each other. I totally get it, and it was wonderful to watch their connection develop and see someone understand Sabrina in a way that she hasn’t experienced for her entire life. What made it interesting to me was that at certain times I thought that Alec almost felt like the villain. As a reader I became so invested in wanting Sabrina to get better and conquer her disorder that it was really hard to read when Alec tried to convince her that the doctors were the crazy ones and didn’t have her best interests at heart. I went back and forth between not wanting Sabrina to lose her world and wishing that she would just trust her doctor.

Overall I really enjoyed Life Is But a Dream. The writing is beautiful and it is a fascinating look at the world through the eyes of someone who has schizophrenia. I’ll definitely be watching for more from Brian James. 

In My Mailbox #28

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren that gives bloggers the opportunity to showcase the books they’ve received that week. You can learn more about it here.



Pandemonium (Delirium 2) by Lauren Oliver
Slide by Jill Hathaway
Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

I received these three for ARC tours, which is great, but sad because I don’t actually get to keep them. Sigh. Ah well. Sharing the book love! Pandemonium was awesome (my review will be up very soon), Slide was a mixed bag but overall enjoyable, and Struck is very good so far.



I won this from Kristina’s World of Books and I can’t wait to read it. Thanks, Kristina!


A couple of the packages also had some book swag, which is always such fun.


Overall, a very good week! What did you get in your mailbox?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Cover Reveal: Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

I was wandering the internet this morning (as is my habit), and I was THRILLED to stumble across the shiny new cover (and title!) for Stealing Parker, Miranda Kenneally’s upcoming companion to Catching Jordan. It’s no secret that I loved Catching Jordan, and I am SO excited for her next book.


It was previously titled The Girl I Used To Be, but I like Stealing Parker a lot more because of the symmetry with Catching Jordan. I also love that the covers have a similar theme. I can’t wait to have them both on my shelf!

We don’t know much about Stealing Parker, just that it’s about a 17-year-old who falls for the 23-year-old coach of the baseball team. And characters from Catching Jordan make appearances! You can read an excerpt here.

What do you guys think? Are you as excited for this book as I am??

Friday Hops #6

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read.

Today’s Question: Go count the number of unread books sitting on your shelf. How many?

Um. Is this a real question? Hahahahaha. I have NO IDEA. A LOT. Like, a lot a lot. I can’t even give you a number. Hundreds, probably. Between the books I own but haven’t read and the books I’ve checked out from the library… it’s just a lot. My eyes are definitely bigger than my stomach when it comes to books, and I’m clearly unrealistic about the amount of time I think I’m going to have to read. SIGH.


TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads!

Reading Resolutions: What are some of your reading goals for the new year?

I don’t like making too many goals for myself, but I do hope to read at least 100 books this year. I’ve also signed up to participate in the 2012 Debut Author Challenge and the 2012 YA Contemporary Challenge (read more about those here).

Other than that, I’m just hoping to have fun reading. Sometimes I start to feel like it’s a chore, when I have reading schedules and review schedules and I’m just trying to read as fast as I can so I can check it off my list and get onto the next book. That’s NOT what I want reading (or blogging) to be like for me, so I’m going to try to keep it stress-free this year. :)


Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cover Reveal: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

This morning USA Today revealed the cover for the fifth book in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, City of Lost Souls, which comes out on May 8th.




To be honest, I'm not really a fan. It looks too much like a romance novel, and I don't like the fact that you can see both of their faces pretty clearly. In the previous books their faces were mostly cut off, and all the figures were facing front, which I liked better. Ah well. I do like the blue and red color scheme though! Haha.

What do you guys think? Am I missing something?

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In addition to the cover, USA Today also released the exclusive prologue! Check it out below:



Simon stood and stared numbly at the front door of his house.
He'd never known another home. This was the place his parents had brought him home to when he was born. He had grown up within the walls of the Brooklyn row house. He'd played on the street under the leafy shade of the trees in the summer, and had made improvised sleds out of garbage can lids in the winter. In this house his whole family had sat shivah after his father had died. Here he had kissed Clary for the first time.
He had never imagined a day when the door of the house would be closed to him. The last time he had seen his mother, she had called him a monster and prayed at him that he would go away. He had made her forget that he was a vampire, using glamour, but he had not known how long the glamour would last. As he stood in the cold autumn air, staring in front of him, he knew it had not lasted long enough.
The door was covered with signs—Stars of David splashed on in paint, the incised shape of the symbol for Chai, life. Tefillin were bound to the doorknob and knocker. A hamesh, the Hand of God, covered the peephole.
Numbly he put his hand to the metal mezuzah affixed to the right side of the doorway. He saw the smoke rise from the place where his hand touched the holy object, but he felt nothing. No pain. Only a terrible empty blankness, rising slowly into a cold rage.
He kicked the bottom of the door and heard the echo through the house. "Mom!" he shouted. "Mom, it's me!"
There was no reply—only the sound of the bolts being turned on the door. His sensitized hearing had recognized his mother's footsteps, her breathing, but she said nothing. He could smell acrid fear and panic even through the wood. "Mom!" His voice broke. "Mom, this is ridiculous! Let me in! It's me, Simon!"
The door juddered, as if she had kicked it. "Go away!" Her voice was rough, unrecognizable with terror. "Murderer!"
"I don't kill people." Simon leaned his head against the door. He knew he could probably kick it down, but what would be the point? "I told you. I drink animal blood."
He heard her whisper, softly, several words in Hebrew. "You killed my son," she said. "You killed him and put a monster in his place."
"I am your son—"
"You wear his face and speak with his voice, but you are not him! You're not Simon!" Her voice rose to almost a scream. "Get away from my house before I kill you, monster!"
"Becky," he said. His face was wet; he put his hands up to touch it, and they came away stained: His tears were bloody. "What have you told Becky?"
"Stay away from your sister." Simon heard a clattering from inside the house, as if something had been knocked over.
"Mom," he said again, but this time his voice wouldn't rise. It came out as a hoarse whisper. His hand had begun to throb. "I need to know—is Becky there? Mom, open the door. Please—"
"Stay away from Becky!" She was backing away from the door; he could hear it. Then came the unmistakeable squeal of the kitchen door swinging open, the creak of the linoleum as she walked on it. The sound of a drawer being opened. Suddenly he imagined his mother grabbing for one of the knives.
Before I kill you, monster.
The thought rocked him back on his heels. If she struck out at him, the Mark would rise. It would destroy her as it had destroyed Lilith.
He dropped his hand and backed up slowly, stumbling down the steps and across the sidewalk, fetching up against the trunk of one of the big trees that shaded the block. He stood where he was, staring at the front door of his house, marked and disfigured with the symbols of his mother's hate for him.
No, he reminded himself. She didn't hate him. She thought he was dead. What she hated was something that didn't exist. I am not what she says I am.
He didn't know how long he would have stood there, staring, if his phone hadn't begun to ring, vibrating his coat pocket.
He reached for it reflexively, noticing that the pattern from the front of the mezuzah—interlocked Stars of David—was burned into the palm of his hand. He switched hands and put the phone to his ear. "Hello?"
"Simon?" It was Clary. She sounded breathless. "Where are you?"
"Home," he said, and paused. "My mother's house," he amended. His voice sounded hollow and distant to his own ears. "Why aren't you back at the Institute? Is everyone all right?"
"That's just it," she said. "Just after you left, Maryse came back down from the roof where Jace was supposed to be waiting. There was no one there."
Simon moved. Without quite realizing he was doing it, like a mechanical doll, he began walking up the street, toward the subway station. "What do you mean, there was no one there?"
"Jace was gone," she said, and he could hear the strain in her voice. "And so was Sebastian."
Simon stopped in the shadow of a bare-branched tree. "But he was dead. He's dead, Clary—"
"Then you tell me why he isn't there, because he isn't," she said, her voice finally breaking. "There's nothing up there but a lot of blood and broken glass. They're both gone, Simon. Jace is gone. . . ."

"Waiting On" Wednesday #31

“Waiting on” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights an upcoming release (or releases) that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My picks this week:

Reunited
By: Hilary Weisman Graham
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 12, 2012

Description:

1 Concert
2000 Miles
3 Ex-Best Friends

Alice, Summer, and Tiernan are ex-best friends.

Back in middle school, the three girls were inseparable. They were also the number one fans of the rock band Level3.

But when the band broke up, so did their friendship. Summer ran with the popular crowd, Tiernan was a rebellious wild-child, and Alice spent high school with her nose buried in books.

Now, just as the girls are about to graduate, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion show.

Even though the concert’s 2000 miles away, Alice buys three tickets on impulse. And as it turns out, Summer and Tiernan have their own reasons for wanting to get out of town. Good thing Alice’s graduation gift (a pea-green 1976 VW camper van known as the Pea Pod) is just the vehicle to get them there.

But on the long drive cross-country, the girls hit more than a few bumps in the road. Will their friendship get an encore or is the show really over?

Why I’m Waiting: I am a huge concert addict and I love road trips, so this book sounds perfect. I also love friendship stories, especially when it is THIS EXACT SITUATION. Ex-best friends forced to be in the same place for an extended period of time and work through everything. Bring it on.



Unbreak My Heart
By: Melissa C. Walker
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: May 22, 2012

Description:

Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life.

Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now.

Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart?

Told in alternating chapters that chronicle the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that healed it, Unbreak My Heart is a wonderful dual love story that fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will flock to.

Why I’m Waiting: Spending a summer on a sailboat? Yes please! I would kill to be able to do that. I’ve always loved sailing and being on the water, and combine it with a love story and I am SO THERE. I also love the fact that the story is told in alternating chapters between the past and present. I can’t wait for this one!


What books are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Review: Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

Be sure to visit the virtual book birthday party for Don't Breathe a Word!! You can read the first two chapters, listen to the playlist, watch Holly take you around Seattle, check out a sneak peek of the graphic novel, enter to win party swag, and so much more!


By: Holly Cupala
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Source: ARC from Me, My Shelf and I Book Tours

Joy Delamere is suffocating…

From asthma, which has nearly claimed her life. From her parents, who will do anything to keep that from happening. From dangerous Asher, who is smothering her from the inside out.

Joy can take his words – tender words, cruel words – until the night they go too far.

Now, Joy will leave everything behind to find the one who has offered his help, a homeless boy called Creed. She will become someone else. She will learn to survive. She will breathe… if only she can get to Creed before it’s too late.

Set against the gritty backdrop of Seattle’s streets and a cast of characters with secrets of their own, Holly Cupala’s powerful new novel explores the subtleties of abuse, the meaning of love, and how far a girl will go to discover her own strength.


Don’t Breathe a Word is a beautiful and powerful story that tackles several issues that aren’t often dealt with in YA literature. Ideas of abuse, homelessness, love, and family are all woven into the novel and make it a painful and riveting read.

This book almost definitely will make you look differently at the next homeless person you see, but for me the most powerful message in Don’t Breathe a Word was about abuse and the effects it can have on someone. Even though Joy is living on the streets, she never really felt “homeless” to me. She’s still in the same city as her family and she could go home any time she wants to. The story is more about her past and her journey to discover who she is. The topic of abuse is threaded throughout the novel very delicately and it’s handled extremely well. Joy’s past is unfolded slowly, with flashbacks of her time with Asher interspersed with her present life on the streets, and it is wonderful to see her reflections on their toxic relationship changing as she begins to grow and evolve.

The friends Joy meets on the streets of Seattle are also a fantastic addition to the story. Each of them has their pasts, their own reasons for living the way they do, as well as their own struggles and challenges. Joy can’t help but be caught up in their lives, and you’ll be pulled right along with her.

There were two main things that kept me from giving Don’t Breathe a Word a full five star rating. The first one is the connection between Joy and Creed. On the one hand, I absolutely loved their relationship and the bond they shared, and I really did feel like they had great chemistry and some really wonderful scenes together. The thing was that it was so instantaneous and it felt like they had already been friends for several months. I feel like we missed the beginning; I never understood why they had this connection. Joy basically runs away from home to try to find Creed because he saw her on a sidewalk once and told her he could help her. This seemed totally random to me and kind of threw me off for the rest of the book. I would have liked a little more meat to the beginning of their story together.

The second thing is the ending. Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that it felt very unrealistic and left me unsatisfied. After such an intense and gritty story, I wasn’t prepared for or expecting it to end the way it did. A lot of people will probably be happy with the ending, but again, I wanted more. This book could have had an even greater emotional punch if it had ended differently.

Despite these flaws, Don’t Breathe a Word is an amazing novel. It’s intense and heartbreaking, thought-provoking and utterly addictive. Definitely not one to miss.

Blog Tour: Pantheons by EJ Dabel (Interview)

From A to Z is today’s stop on the Pantheons Blog Tour! Gladys from Sea Lion Books and author EJ Dabel have kindly provided an interview for us, which is posted below.

In addition, Bookaholics Book Club is hosting an international giveaway for Pantheons which you can enter here. It ends January 9th, so don’t miss out!


About the book:
On the streets, they call fifteen year old orphan Isaiah Marshall the “Indestructible Diamond.” Isaiah is the leader of the “Redrovers,” a group of teenage misfits consisting of his friends Jeremy, Monty, and Pipsqueak, but when they trespass into Kaliber Academy to get even with the arrogant Jason Ollopa, they are in way over their heads.

Principal Webb enrolls them into the high school and Isaiah soon learns about the existence of the gods of the Ancient World. Because the gods have refused to fight the last War for fear of the Mysterious Dark, the Powers-That-Be have stripped them of their spiritual bodies and given them mortal, teenage forms.

Isaiah discovers he’s not only a god, but that he’s the child of the Greek goddess Metis, the son destined to overthrow his cruel and sadistic father Zeus, the Darkener of the Sky, and become the greatest god in all the Pantheons. Isaiah is thrown into a world where the democratic Olympians, war-mongering Norse, Gothic Celts, firstborn Egyptians, the enlightened Hindu, the animal-like Aztecs, the martial artist Asians, the intelligent Babylonians, the great spirits of the Native American Indians, and the fierce Finnish will war against one another for the greatest of all prizes: the Dominion.


Interview:

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

My name is Ernst J. Dabel, and not only am I the author of PANTHEONS, but I’m also the President and co-owner of Dabel Brothers Productions.  I’ve been in the publishing business for over 10 years and my company has adapted numerous novels into graphic novels.  I’ve worked with authors such as Dean Koontz, Laurell K. Hamilton, Jim Butcher, George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, Orson Scott Card, Raymond E. Feist, and many others.  Many of our graphic novels have been on the NY Times Bestseller’s list, Jim Butcher’s Welcome to the Jungle, and Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time.  Mercy Thompson: Homecoming graphic novel by Patricia Briggs was actually on the Bestseller list for well over 6 weeks. 

Also, about a month and a half ago, I had the pleasure of becoming the proud father of my firstborn son Nathan Ernst Dabel, and he is amazing!!! He can smile now! When I act silly and goofy with him he actually laughs at me, I must admit, it is one of the most wonderful feeling in the world to be a father.  Now, I can understand what my father Ernst Dabel Sr. must have felt for all of us when we were born.  I made up this little story for Nathan about this frog who wanted to fly and whenever I put on my storyteller hat for the occasion, he stops crying, and actually stares at me intently.  I think he likes that story .  I do a lot of daddy-things now, bottle-feedings, diaper-changes, etc.  There’s nothing quite like it! I can’t imagine life without him.  My first book Pantheons is dedicated to my son Nathan, because I love him with all my heart :)   

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?

It was Christmas day and I was twelve years old at the time. I remember the excitement I felt as I waited for my turn to come to open gifts, then it finally came, my younger brother Les handed me a wrapped gift.  Curious as to what it was, I tore into it with a vengeance. What could it be? It had to be something good and then my heart sunk in disappointment as I held up a book. I gave a half-hearted smile, hugged him, and thanked him for the present. For the next several weeks, Les proceeded to bother me constantly about when I was going to read the book. It was annoying! I guess he didn’t know that at the time I did not like to read, but I have to say that he was a persistent little fellow as I recall. Eventually I picked up the book, to his delight, and decided to ‘pretend’ to read the book so I could get him off of my back.  The cover showed a chubby guy with a sword and some kind of creature next to him, and the title read The Hobbit. So under the watchful eye of my brother I started reading. “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.” I was like, ‘what’s a Hobbit?’ and ‘Why would it live in a hole in the ground?’
I was hooked, and Les had a big grin on his face as I devoured that book, then went on to read the Lord of the Rings, and finally the Silmarillion all before my thirteenth birthday.  When I finished the Silmarillion, a passion for writing stirred within me I never knew existed and I knew then that I wanted to be a writer.    

If you had to choose, which writer made the biggest impact in your decision to write?

I’d have to say that a lot of authors made an impact in some way or other.  J.R.R. Tolkien was the first writer who made the first big impact in my decision to write.  His novels were the first to keep me up all hours of the night when I was twelve.  My biggest regret, however, was the fact that he died in 1973 and I was born in 1975.  I would have liked the opportunity to have met him.  I could say that he was the only author that I read and enjoyed as a kid, but unfortunately died before I had a chance to publish his work, and that is one of my biggest regret in my life.  Aside from Tolkien, every other author that kept me up at night and made an impact in my decision to write, I’ve had the honor of publishing them all. 

What book are you reading now?

Right now, I’m reading a book by C.S. Marks called ‘Ravenshade’. I finished the first two books in the series ‘Elfhunter’ and ‘Fire-heart’. C.S. Marks is brilliant! I’m happy that my brother David is publishing her series at his company Sea Lion Books.

How did you come up with the idea for Pantheons?

Actually, I didn’t.  My brother Les, the same one who first got me the Hobbit back when I was twelve, said to me ‘Ernst, why don’t you write a book about all the gods of the ancient world as teenagers in the same school.  You can have the Greeks, Norse, Egyptian, Celts and all of the others.  Can you imagine Zeus fighting Odin?’  Before he even finished talking, my pen was already flying across my notebook, that very same night I started my research and the idea evolved from there.  The next day, I had papers all over the place filled with notes. 

The characters you created for Pantheons take a life of their own.  Like they leap off the pages.  Do you find it hard to remember each character’s personality? 

Yes, they do take a life of their own.  Sometimes, I’m surprised at the turn they take.  One such character which leapt off the pages was the Celtic god Lugh.  There are some of the main characters whose personalities I’m used to by now, but for the vast majority it is very hard to remember.  With the amount of characters I have to deal with I have to keep good notes on them all.  My wife, Aba, she helps me a lot by filling all of my characters.

We hear that you are in the process of writing Pantheon’s sequel.  Will this be a trilogy or a series?  Do you have any other books in the works?

Yes, I’m hard at work with Pantheons Book #2, and it will be a series.  My first reviewer, Katy Sozaeva, had asked me about The Morrigan and Cerridwen, and I told her that both will make their appearance in book two, as well as Cerridwen’s sons Morfran and Taliesin.

The first book in my other series, ALBINO book #1 is about woodland creatures in a fantasy setting.  The story is finished and will be edited soon to be released sometime next year.  The hero is Albino, a mouse as big as a rat with fur as white as snow and eyes as red as cherries.  I’ve sent a picture of Albino so you can get a sneak peek, I hope you enjoy it. 

My third book series, which I’m still very early into, unlike Pantheons and Albino I can’t talk about yet, but I’m having lots of fun with it :)

Will there be a graphic novel of Pantheon’s in the near future?

It will depend on the fans.  If they ask for it, I’ll have to give it to them ;)





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