Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday #39


“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:

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha 1)
By: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: June 5, 2012

Description:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near-impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one unlikely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves is life – a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha… and the secrets of her heart.

Why I’m Waiting: Yay for high fantasy! This looks awesome! And I’ve heard the most amazing things about it already from the few reviews I’ve seen. Can’t wait!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers Exclusive Content

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers is coming out in April and it looks so AMAZING, but while we're waiting for it, there's some awesome bonus content to hold us over!

This info was provided from the author through NetGalley (thanks NG!), and if you've ever been intrigued by poisons (in a non-sinister way, of course), you'll definitely want to check this out.

And then head on over here to read an excerpt, see the book trailer, and more!

__________________________________________________________________________________


Poison: The Assassin’s Art


“We will teach you to make poisons.” Sister Serafina’s voice is as gentle as the lulling waves. "Poisons that grip the gut and force a man’s life to dribble from him into a slop pail. Poisons to stop the heart or squeeze the humors from the body. Bloodwort to congeal the blood so it can no longer move through the veins. We will show you subtle poisons that take days to fell a man, and those that kill within seconds. And that is just to start.”



Ismae spends a large part of her time at the convent of Saint Mortain with the poisons mistress in her workshop. Too much time, perhaps, as she ends up missing other important lessons in order to keep up with the convent’s demand. However, other than Sister Serafina, Ismae is the only one who has the special skills needed to work with such toxins. Many of the plants and other ingredients used in the poisons were so toxic that merely touching them or breathing in their fumes at the wrong time could prove fatal to the other girls at the convent.

Poisons were a standby of the medieval assassin’s toolkit. They were cheap, easy to find, and even easier to use. Hemlock, nightshade, belladonna, monkshood, thorn apple, lily of the valley, rosary pea, hensbane, hellebore, foxglove, mandrake, opium, cantharides (extracted from dried beetles), mushrooms (including death cap, avenging angel, deadly webcap). Even the mold that formed on damp rye was poisonous and was
called Saint Anthony’s Fire.

Depending on the ingredients used, some poisons provide a peaceful death, others a much more painful one, with paralysis of the heart, convulsions, cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, and the drying up of all bodily fluids.

True master poisoners weren’t content with a simple plant extract or decoction. They often created compounds or went for a multilayered approach to creating the perfect poison. For example, Sister Serafina, like other medieval poisoners, kept her own beehive. Her bees collected pollen almost exclusively from the toxic rhododendron and laurel plants, which in turn tainted the honey. Thus, even the sweeteners used in the
convent’s poison were deadly.

But at the convent of Saint Mortain, Death’s handmaidens sometimes preferred an even subtler approach. In those cases they might serve their victim a quail who had fed on hemlock while alive, or a rabbit who dined on belladonna. The meat would often contain enough toxic effects of those plants to kill a person.

Ingesting poison wasn’t the only method employed by poisoners. Depending on what sort of access they had to their victim and how far away they wanted to be when the poison took effect, there were other ways to administer the deadly substance. Some poison had merely to come into contact with the skin. Historically, gloves, gowns, hunting horns, have all been used to transmit poison to a victim. For these sorts of applications, the convent used a formulation they called Arduina’s Snare.

Other substances were so toxic that simply breathing them brought death. Pomanders were often used by the noble classes to protect their delicate noses from the inescapable medieval stench found in cities. Consequently, pomanders also became a reliable method for delivering inhaled poisons. Ismae herself uses a carefully crafted candle that contains a poison called Night Whispers. Once lit, the fumes from that candle can kill in minutes.

Of course, the convent (or assassins) wasn’t the only source of poisons. Many, many noble and wealthy families in the Middle Ages had their own poisoner on staff. One simply never knew when there was a pesky political rival or fractious neighbor that needed to be got rid of.

This poisoner not only was responsible for having poisons at the ready for the family’s use, but was expected to be able to prepare a number of effective antidotes as well. Some popular antidotes were waving gemstones, such as emeralds or rubies, over one’s plate or cup to nullify the poison. Drinking from a unicorn’s horn was believed to neutralize all poison. (Narwhal tusks were often mistaken for unicorn’s horns back then and were even more expensive than the rubies or emeralds.) Bezoars stones were also renowned for their poison-neutralizing properties. These “stones” were found in the stomachs of goats. Or, without a goat, a deer’s, antelope’s, or gazelle’s. The stone was actually an indigestible object that had found its way into the animal’s stomach and had accumulated layers of secreted stomach chemicals to form a “stone” around the foreign object, much like a pearl forms around a grain of sand in an oyster. A popular practice of the time was to place a bezoars stone in your cup to neutralize any poison that might find its way there. (Can we all say, Ewwww!)

The very wealthy would also employ poison tasters who would sample any dishes or drinks for them. If they tasted nothing suspicious—and did not show any ill effects—then the food was considered safe to eat. The problem was, many medieval foods were so heavily spiced that poison was hard to detect until it was too late. Nor would a poison taster be of much use if the poison was absorbed through the skin or lungs.

For those who couldn’t afford any of the above, the best recommendation was to drink large quantities of milk. Or engage in vomiting and purging.

Oddly enough, it is these last remedies that come the closest to modern science.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review: Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John

By: Antony John
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: April 12, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary (Christian)
Pages: 336
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

One crazy road trip that’s a mix of rejection, redemption, and romance.

When sixteen-year-old Luke’s book, Hallelujah, becomes a national bestseller, his publishing house sends him on a cross-country book tour with his older brother, Matt, as a chauffeur. But when irresponsible Matt offers to drive Luke’s ex-soul mate, Fran, across the country too, things get a little crazy. On the trip, Luke must loosen up, discover what it truly means to have faith, and do what it takes to get the girl he loves.

Told with Antony John’s signature wit and authenticity, and featuring smart, singular characters who jump off the page and into your heart, this story is a spiritual awakening and rockin’ road trip in one.


I’m not really sure exactly how to review this one. I actually went back and forth about whether I should even write a review or not, but I decided to at least put some thoughts down.

It’s not that this was a bad book, by any means. It’s just that it wasn’t really for me, mainly because the story has much more of a Christian slant than I had realized. There were hints in the title and the blurb, but since I hadn’t seen it marketed as Christian fiction anywhere I just didn’t realize how large a role it would play. I generally tend to stay away from faith-based books, simply because they're not really my thing.

However, now that that’s said, the story itself is well-written and I did enjoy reading it. I love road trip books, and it was fun watching them explore Route 66, especially with Matt’s unexpected detours. The locations are wonderfully described and it definitely intensified my ever-present wanderlust. I felt like the growth of the characters throughout the novel was also done really well. Thou Shalt Not Road Trip has a very unique and colorful cast, and I was intrigued by their personal journeys even if I didn’t really personally identify with any of them.

If you enjoy books that have more of a religious slant to them, I’d definitely recommend Thou Shalt Not Road Trip. Overall it was just an okay read for me, but I don’t think I’m necessarily the intended audience for this kind of story to begin with.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday #38

“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:

If I Lie
By: Corrine Jackson
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: August 28, 2012

Description:

A powerful debut novel about the gray space between truth and perception.

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy – he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep – secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend… and her promise.


Why I’m Waiting: Over the past year I’ve become more and more enamored with contemporary novels, and this one looks amazing. The first sentence of the blurb has totally sold me… the gray space between truth and perception? Oh, yes please. I can’t wait for this book. The cover is gorgeous too, I love the black and white color scheme with the bold lettering, the simplicity, and the fact that you can't see their faces.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

By: Elizabeth Norris
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Paranormal Sci-Fi
Pages: 445
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed – as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she’s opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows – with every fiber of her being – that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.

But her revival, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something – but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened – the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life – points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets – and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl’s fight to save herself, her world, and the boy she never saw coming.


WOW. This book is one craaaaaazy ride and I loved every second of it. The characters are wonderfully relatable, the story is unique and edge-of-your-seat thrilling, and it all leads up to a shocking conclusion that will leave you reeling.

Janelle is a fantastic protagonist. She’s smart and brave, and she’s so determined to investigate everything that’s going on, which is great fun. I especially loved her interactions with pretty much everyone in her life. She’s close with her father and protective of her little brother, she has an AMAZING best friend, Alex (I’m such a sucker for best friend stories), and I really enjoyed watching her relationship with Ben develop. The characters are all so real, and I really came to identify with them and care for them. I’m not ashamed to say that I might have cried a couple of times because of certain events in this book. The wounds are actually still a little tender. Yeesh.

The story is wonderfully addictive; I tore through it all in one night. I love that Unraveling is such an atypical paranormal story. I won’t give anything away, but I absolutely did NOT see anything coming, which was kind of awesome. There were so many “Woah!” moments and I was never ever bored.

I don’t know whether or not Elizabeth Norris is planning a sequel, but I would LOVE to read one. And even without one, Unraveling is one hell of a ride. Occasionally heartbreaking and completely gripping, with fantastic characters and a unique paranormal twist, this book is not to be missed.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In My Mailbox #32

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.



From the publisher for review:
The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe
After the Snow by SD Crockett

Bought:
Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson
Fated by Sarah Alderson

I am SO excited for both of these! I finally bought them from the Book Depository because I keep hearing the most amazing things and I decided I couldn’t wait any longer to read them.

Won:
Fracture (signed) by Megan Miranda
Fracture t-shirt

I won these from the lovely Anna over at Anna Reads and I’m so happy to own a copy of this amazing book. My review will be up in a few days.


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

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday #37


“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:

Smart Girls Get What They Want
By: Sarah Strohmeyer
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 26, 2012

Description:

Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are best friends and total overachievers. Even if they aren’t the most popular girls in school, they aren’t too worried. They know their real lives will begin once they get to their Ivy League colleges. There will be ivy, and there will be cute guys in the library (hopefully with English accents)! But when an unexpected event shows them they’re missing out on the full high school experience, it’s time to come out of the honors lounge and into the spotlight. They make a pact: They will each take on their greatest challenge – and they will totally rock it.

Gig decides to run for student rep, but she’ll have to get over her fear of public speaking – and go head-to-head with gorgeous California Will. Bea used to be one of the best skiers around, until she was derailed. It could be time for her to take the plunge again. And Neerja loves the drama club but always stayed behind the scenes – until now.

These friends are determined to show that smart girls get what they want – but that could mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for…


Why I’m Waiting: I was totally one of these smart girls in high school (and definitely expected to meet a cute guy with an English accent in the library at college, haha!), and I’m so excited for this book. It sounds so fun and entertaining and yay for the smart girls!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Broke My Heart a Little

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. It’s a super fun to way to connect with other bloggers through one of my favorite things ever… LISTS! :D


Today's topic:

 Top Ten Books That Broke My Heart a Little

I’m a very emotional person, both in real life and with my fiction, and I get very emotionally invested in the lives of fictional characters, so I tend to cry a lot, haha. I love it when this happens though, even though it’s painful, because it means I really connected with the book and it made me feel.

This is not a full list of ten, because even thinking about these is making my heart hurt. And I’m going to try to be vague to avoid spoilers, but hopefully if you’ve read the books you’ll understand what I mean.







If I Stay by Gayle Forman (I started crying from nearly the first page.)

















Where She Went by Gayle Forman (The ENTIRE book. Oh god.)
















Graceling by Kristen Cashore (The bit at the end when Katsa confronts Po.)















Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Peeta’s situation, Katniss and Gale’s outcome, Prim.)














Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (Um, duh. Dobby. Forest scene. All the deaths. Fred is still alive in my heart.)














Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (“Had we but world enough, and time…” This book is even more painful during rereads because you know the significance of certain events ahead of time.)














Fracture by Megan Miranda (The teenage angst in this book is ridiculously painful. I just wanted them to work it out.)















Sally Lockhart Trilogy by Phillip Pullman (Specifically an event in the second book, The Shadow in the North. Guys, if you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about.)











What are your favorite heartbreaking books? I can already feel a sob-inducing marathon coming up...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Review: Dark Eyes by William Richter

By: William Richter
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: March 15, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary Thriller/Mystery
Pages: 383
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

Wally was adopted from a Russian orphanage as a child and grew up in a wealthy New York City family. At fifteen, her obsessive need to rebel led her to life on the streets.

Now the sixteen-year-old is beautiful and hardened, and she’s just stumbled across the possibility of discovering who she really is. She’ll stop at nothing to find her birth mother before Klesko – her darkeyed father – finds her. Because Klesko will stop at nothing to reclaim the fortune Wally’s mother stole from him long ago. Even if that means murdering his own blood. But Wally’s had her own killer training, and she’s hungry for justice.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” for teens, this debut thriller introduces our next big series heroine.


Wow. So this book was a lot darker and more intense than I was expecting. It is not your normal fluffy YA novel, but a tense action thriller with high stakes and real consequences.

The action and thriller side of the novel is done really well. The mystery of Wally’s mother’s identity, the clues we’re slowly given, how everything falls into place… it all kept me reading late into the night. And the climax is full of nonstop action and unexpected twists that had me both cringing in horror and laughing in delight.

This is the second book I’ve read recently by a screenwriter (Jennifer Bosworth’s Struck was the other one), and oh man, do they know how to bring the excitement! The writing is engaging and each scene feels like it could come straight off the pages and right onto a movie screen.

The one thing I had an issue with in terms of the plot of the novel was how easily Wally discovers everything. She makes connections and draws conclusions based on very little evidence and she’s never wrong. She guesses things and figures things out that even trained detectives would have trouble with, much less one sixteen-year-old with very few resources. I don’t think there were any setbacks in her investigation at all. Every single lead she followed turned into a wealth of information, her timing was always perfect, and the whole thing felt unrealistic. I just wish it was done in a way that was more believable.

Other than this, I did enjoy Dark Eyes as an action novel. It’s the emotional side of the novel that I felt was lacking a bit. I never really understood Wally’s motivation for running away from home, since she obviously cares for her adoptive mother, Claire, and feels guilty about leaving her. She has led a privileged and pampered life, and comes across as rather selfish. Wally is also just a very hardened character and keeps everyone at arm’s length, which makes it hard to really connect with her. She talks about her friends as her family and the people she truly belongs with (the whole reason she ended up leaving home), but I would have liked more development of her relationship with them. I personally never really saw the connection they all had, so while I became intrigued by Wally and her quest to find her mother, I couldn’t really bring myself to care that much about the crew.

Despite my issues with the book, I enjoyed Dark Eyes. I especially loved the Russian aspect to the novel, since I lived in Russia when I was a kid. It made me feel a little nostalgic. :) Overall, Dark Eyes is a dark, gritty story that will keep you turning the pages until the thrilling conclusion.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In My Mailbox #31

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.



The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

I didn’t actually get any books in the mail this week, just a couple from the library which I’ve been wanting to read for ages, so I’m super excited for both of them. 

HOWEVER, I did get something very exciting in the mail, and those are my From A to Z mini business cards!! I feel so legit now, haha. And they're so prettyyyyyyy, I just want to stroke them. They were really fun and easy to design, and if you want some of your own you can check it out here. (And if you use that link you’ll get 10% off!)



What’s in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Follow Friday & TGIF

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

Today’s Question: What would you prefer: reading your favorite book over and over again until you get sick of it OR reading hundreds of mediocre books? And why?

Hmm, tough question. I think I’d rather read my favorite book over and over again, because even reading a couple of mediocre books in a row would drive me crazy. There are too many amazing books out there to read the mediocre ones, and if it’s really my FAVORITE book, then I’d have no problem rereading it multiple times.


TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads!

Love Stories: What are some of your favorite fictional love stories?

Ooh, love stories! I love love stories! I’ll try to keep my list to a reasonable level. :P

·         Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – This is one of my favorite books of all time. And it’s such a sweet love story. Char is definitely one of my top fictional boyfriends ever.
·         The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – Lovely and heartbreaking. Never fails to make me cry.
·         Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – St. Clair! Need I say more? This love story is so sweet and charming and adorable, it makes my heart hurt.
·         The Boy Next Door by Jennifer Echols – This book has so many elements that I love. It’s a best friend love story, it involves “fake” dating to make someone jealous, lots of teenage angst, a kickass heroine, I am IN LOVE with this book. All of Jennifer Echols’ books should actually be on the list.
·         The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen – Slow-developing romance, tons of cute moments, love it.

Okay, I could just keep going so I’m going to stop there. :) I can’t wait to see what love stories everybody else is in love with! I’m always looking to add to my list.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

By: Cath Crowley
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 14, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary
Pages: 272
Source: ARC from NetGalley and Random House

Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she’s going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He’s out there somewhere – spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night – and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy’s stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she’s managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they’re suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.



There are absolutely no words for how much I LOVE this book. This is probably going to be less of a review and more of just a gushing love letter to Graffiti Moon and Cath Crowley. I fell in love when I first read it back in August last year and then I fell in love all over again when I reread it just a few weeks ago. Everyone needs to go preorder it RIGHT NOW, because this book is amaaaaaazing.

Graffiti Moon is one of those rare books where every element seems to come together and blend pretty much perfectly. The plot, the execution, the dialogue, the characters, the writing…they’re all flawless and create this perfect little package, this wonderful gem of a book.

I knew I wanted to read Graffiti Moon the moment I read the synopsis. A group of teenagers, giddy and celebrating the end of high school, going on an all-night adventure to search for a mysterious graffiti artist? And then add in the fact that the two main characters have an awkward past together? Oh yes please, sign me up. And what a group of friends! These kids are AWESOME, you guys. Funny and clever and witty and they have the BEST conversations. There are some truly hilarious moments where I couldn't help but laugh out loud. Seriously, I wish I had conversations like this with my friends. The dialogue and banter between Ed and Lucy in particular is enough to make me grin, but all the other side characters are just as awesome. Even Lucy’s parents are fantastic. This book just crackles with chemistry and the magic of this kind of night when anything can happen.

And the writing. Oh my goodness, the writing. I could go on and on about how beautifully this book is written. It took me longer than usual to read Graffiti Moon because I kept stopping and reading certain segments over and over again. My second time reading it I decided to highlight all my favorite passages, and then I stopped because I realized I was highlighting almost the entire book. The writing is just gorgeous and flowing and perfect. Cath Crowley paints beautiful pictures with her words and the entire night comes alive for the reader. This is particularly magical because of all the art happening in this book – Shadow’s painting and Lucy’s glassblowing and Poet’s words. She makes me want to put on a smock and create something.

The story is told through alternating points of view, going back and forth between Lucy and Ed, with occasional short chapters of Poet’s poems. I loved this format, and I think it worked really well for the book. It was so fun being able to get inside both Ed’s and Lucy’s heads. At times the chapters would overlap a little, and even though this sometimes felt unnecessarily repetitive, at other times it was really interesting to see the same scene from both sides. Both characters are so incredibly real – they make mistakes and say stupid things and life isn’t a fairy tale, and that’s part of why this book is so delightful.

Graffiti Moon is a stunning novel, one that I will be rereading over and over and over again. With fabulously clever dialogue, gorgeous descriptive writing, and an all-night adventure you won’t ever want to leave, this is officially one of my favorite books of all time.


Some favorite quotes:
(I don’t usually do this for books but I just couldn’t help it. Also this is not NEARLY all of them. I had a hard enough time limiting myself to these.)


‘The night didn't go so well because I broke his nose, which was an accident that happened when I hit him in the face because he touched my arse.’
~~~~~

‘“I know about graffiti,” I say, and the words come out as if I’m an old lady saying she likes the hip-hop.’
~~~~~

‘Mum says when wanting collides with getting, that’s the moment of truth. I want to collide. I want to run right into Shadow and let the force spill our thoughts so we can pick each other up and pass each other back like piles of shiny stones.’
~~~~~

‘He was leaning back in his chair and staring at me. And every time he stared I felt like I’d touched my tongue to the tip of a battery. I was nothing but tingle. After a while the tingle turned to electricity, and when he asked me out my whole body amped to a level where technically I should have been dead. I was pretty sure we had nothing in common, but a girl doesn’t think straight when she’s that close to electrocution.’
~~~~~

‘I liked that he had hair that was growing without a plan.’
~~~~~

‘For that week after Ed asked me out and before we went on the date, I felt like the world was heated glass and I was glad to be trapped.’
~~~~~

‘“I know that” I say, trying to act like I’m not embarrassed for thinking love and sex are the same thing. I know they’re not, but I want them to be close enough to at least brush each other as they pass.
~~~~~

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday #36

“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:

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life
By: Tara Altebrando
Publisher: Penguin Group
Release Date: July 5, 2012

Description:

An all-day scavenger hunt in the name of eternal small-town glory…

With only a week until graduation, there’s one last thing Mary and her friends must do together: participate in the Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt. And Mary is determined to win.

Mary lost her spot at Georgetown to self-professed “it” bully Pete Lembo and she’s not about to lose again. But everyone is racing for the finish line with complicated motives, and the team’s all-night adventure becomes all-night drama as shifting alliances, flared tempers, and crushing crushes take over. As the items and points pile up, Mary and her team must reinvent their strategy – and themselves – in order to win.

Why I’m Waiting: Haha, this sounds awesome! I’m a big fan of the all-night adventure stories (Graffiti Moon, One Night That Changes Everything), and I’m also a huge fan of scavenger hunts, so this sounds perfect. And I love the cover! The silhouettes, the striking color against the black...  So cool.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

By: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Dystopian
Pages: 327
Source: ARC from Around the World Tours

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself – and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.


I was immediately intrigued when I first heard about The Selection, both because of the interesting premise and the gorgeous cover. I’m left with mixed feelings after reading it, but overall it was a fun and entertaining read.

The Selection has been pitched as “The Bachelor” meets The Hunger Games, and I can definitely understand the comparisons to both. I’ve never actually seen “The Bachelor,” but the competition that the girls go through in The Selection seems pretty similar to me. I really enjoyed the girls’ interactions as they realized that they were becoming friends (some of them, at least!) despite the fact that they were all competing to win the heart of Prince Maxon. And Maxon himself is such a sweetheart! I do wish that his friendship with America had happened a little slower, but their interactions were a lot of fun.

America herself is a likeable heroine, though at times she came across as a little too perfect and admired. Her interactions with Aspen and her family were some of my favorite moments, especially her little sister, May. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her. (And more of Aspen!). This is one of those love triangle books where I don’t feel very strongly toward either boy, YET. I like them both, so we’ll just have to see what happens. :)

The comparison to The Hunger Games is also understandable to me, although I think they are alike less because they’re both dystopians and more because of other very similar plot elements (which I’m not going to go into, but you’ll probably notice as you read the book).

To be honest, in comparison to a lot of dystopians, The Selection hardly even feels like a dystopian novel. People are divided into numbered caste systems (with Ones being the highest and Eights the lowest), and there are occasional rebel attacks, but the overall tone of the novel is much more relaxed and the story focuses mostly on the Selection itself. Which in some ways is a refreshing change from the heavier novels out there, although I am hoping that in future novels we’ll get more information about the rebels and everything that's going on.

If you like your dystopians a little on the fluffier side, and if you enjoy reality competitions like “The Bachelor,” I’d recommend reading The Selection. For me, it wasn’t am-AH-zing, but it is definitely a light, entertaining story that I enjoyed reading, and I am planning to check out the next book in the series.

Monday, February 6, 2012

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


In honor of her novel Falling In Between, Devon Ashley is visiting From A to Z today to share some of her favorite love songs! I'm a gigantic music nerd, so I can't wait to see what she's come up with. You can also stop by Devon's blog to enter for a chance to win a signed doodle-graph copy of the book!


Devon Ashley's Falling In Between Playlist:

I've got a loooooong list of favorite love songs so what I'm giving you here is just a sample. Some are sweet, some are funky, and some are heartbreaking. Some even remind me of my characters in Falling In Between. I think my fave on this list may be Hey Na Na just cause it's so funky and different. Any of these on your list of faves?

1.       4Real by Avril Lavigne
2.       Arms by Christina Perri
3.       Moments Between Sleep by VersaEmerge
4.       Hummingbird Heartbeat by Katy Perry
5.       Never Say Never by The Fray
6.       Hey Na Na by Katie Herzig
7.       Fallin’ For You by Colbie Cailat
8.       All I Have by Mat Kearney
9.       Love You Like a Love Song by Selena Gomez
10.   When it Rains by Paramore
11.   Hear You Me by Jimmy Eat World
12.   Hologram by Katie Herzig
13.   Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift




Great list, Devon! Hear You Me is definitely one of my favorite songs and I'm also a huge fan of Christina Perri, Mat Kearney, and Katie Herzig. Thanks so much for the tunes! :)







Find Devon Ashley:

Blog | GoodreadsFacebook



Sunday, February 5, 2012

In My Mailbox #30

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.


For Review:

Digit: She’s Got Your Number by Annabel Monaghan

These are both from Around the World ARC Tours. I haven’t started either yet, but I'm looking forward to reading them. Especially Digit, it looks really fun.


The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

I received this for review and I’m PSYCHED. This book sounds so awesome and creepy. And I actually think I prefer the original blue cover to this new one but oh well. I actually just noticed the people in this one which makes me like it a little more. Thanks so much to Macmillan for this review copy!


What’s in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Review: Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis

By: Phoebe Kitanidis
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 17, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Paranormal
Pages: 352
Source: ARC from Around the World Tours

What if you forgot your identity and had to rely on other people to tell you who you were?

And what if to discover your true self, you first had to unravel a mystery so big and terrifying you were not sure you’d survive solving it?

When Marshall and Elyse wake up in each other’s arms with zero memory of how they got there or who they are, it’s the start of a long journey through their separate pasts and shared future.

Terrified by their amnesia, the two make a pact to work together to find the answers that could jog their missing memories. As they piece together clues, they discover they’re in the idyllic mountain resort town of Summer Falls, where everyone seems mysteriously happy, but as Marshall and Elyse quickly learn, darkness lurks beneath the town’s perfect fa├žade. Not only is the town haunted by sinister ghosts, but none of its living inhabitants retain bad memories of anything – not the death of Marshall’s mom, not the hidden shame in Elyse’s family, not even the day-to-day anguish of high school.

Lonely in this world of happy zombies, Marsh and Elyse fall into an intense relationship… but the secrets they uncover could be the death of this growing love – and the death of everyone, and everything, they love in Summer Falls.


Glimmer is such an interesting story. There’s a lot going on… magic and ghosts and heat naps and old legends and amnesia and a seemingly idyllic but confusing town… but somehow it all manages to work together and form this absolutely crazy and fun ride.

It’s really interesting when the main characters of a story have absolutely no memories, even of themselves. As a reader, it’s hard to get a sense of who they are when they don’t even recognize their own names or faces. In some ways this is a cool way to go through a story, because you’re really discovering everything along with the characters, but there were times when it was frustrating for me. Elyse in particular could be annoying, because she’s clearly an attractive girl, which apparently pisses her off as soon as she looks in a mirror and realizes. She kept making comments about her “stupid pouty lips and huge green eyes” (That’s not an exact quote, by the way, but pretty close. At one point I believe she even says she looks like a Disney princess.) and how she didn’t feel like she should have been born into this curvy body, and why are all her clothes so short and tight? Girl, you’re pretty, just get over it. I never really understood her resentment towards herself.

But for the most part it was great fun going along on the journey with Marshall and Elyse. After waking up naked together, they set off immediately in search of answers, with the reader egging them on every step of the way. With each new revelation they learn a little bit more about Summer Falls, but for the majority of the time everyone is left wondering WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?! I really loved the sense of mystery throughout the whole novel, it was an exciting change to the majority of YA novels I read. And everything is so unpredictable that you’ll have a hard time getting bored or even guessing what’s going on.

Phoebe Kitanidis has created the little town of Summer Falls really well; it’s so full of character. I visited Colorado last summer and as I was reading I could totally picture Summer Falls just nestled in the mountains there. The whole town has this awesome mysterious atmosphere to it.

Glimmer is a fun, fast-paced read, partly because you won’t want to put it down until you’ve figured everything out and know what’s happening. It’s mystifying and thrilling and just a little bit creepy. I definitely enjoyed this wild adventure.
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