Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blog Tour: Extraction by Stephanie Diaz {Review + Favorite Quotes + Giveaway}

Release date: July 22, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 416
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
"Welcome to Extraction testing."

Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.

What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon's lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet's leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too. 

Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don't want her running—they want her subdued.

With intense action scenes and a cast of unforgettable characters,Extraction is a page-turning, gripping read, sure to entertain lovers of Hunger Games and Ender's Game and leave them breathless for more.
Extraction is fast-paced and exciting, with a world that I found myself intrigued by from the first pages. And while it has a lot of familiar elements, it's also interesting and original enough to make it an enjoyable read from the first page to the last.

Clementine is nothing if not strong-willed, dedicated to saving the life of the boy she loves, the only person she has in the world. It tinges all of her efforts in a new light, because everything she does is to save him. Yes, she, like anyone, is selfish at times, knowing what she does leads to helping herself more than Logan, but it's admirable nonetheless. It's a shame we don't see all that much of Logan, since he comes off as sweet and caring, with only Clementine's welfare in mind.

I'm very intrigued to see where this series goes, because it's very much dystopian with a bit of science fiction thrown in here in this first book, but I feel like it has a lot of potential to turn heavily in the science fiction direction, which would make for a really interesting rest of the series. Nonetheless, the concept is interesting and the world is very well-realized.

Extraction is a very solid introduction to a new series that has a lot of growing potential. With a smart, selfless heroine, a well-built world, and great pace, I devoured Extraction and am definitely looking forward to more of Clementine and Logan.

About the author:

Twenty-one-year-old Stephanie Diaz wrote her debut novel, Extraction, when she should've been making short films and listening to college lectures at San Diego State University. When she isn't lost in books, she can be found singing, marveling at the night sky, or fan-girling over TV shows.

I forget about things that used to matter. Things that hurt me, scarred me, and worried me. Floating here, I could be a cloud, a krail, a wanderer among the stars. Or maybe I am a star. Whatever I am is a small thing with little significance in a universe as wide as this one, but in this moment, I feel big. I feel like nothing can break me.

Fear makes me weak, but facing it makes me strong.

"It's not your fault, I promise," he whispers. His starry-night eyes stare straight into mine, sending a flutter into my stomach. He holds me like I'm a shard of trembling glass. Like he's sure he's going to make a mistake and I'm going to break, but I'm waiting for it. I've wanted it forever. 

"We want you to be stronger. Fiercer. Better."
"Aren't we better already, sir?" the dark-skinned boy, Stanley, asks.
Sam grins. "Of course."
Colonel Parker doesn't argue. Neither does anyone else.
I want to say something. I want to tell them they're wrong, we're not better than anyone in the camps. The only difference between us and them is the clothes we're wearing, and the food we eat down here, and the lack of scars on our faces.
The only difference is we got lucky, and they didn't.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Unleashed (Uninvited #2) by Sophie Jordan {54}

Title: Unleashed (Uninvited #2)
Author: Sophie Jordan
Release date: February 24, 2015
What if the worst thing you ever did was unforgivable?

Davy’s world fell apart after she tested positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome. She was expelled from her school, dumped by her boyfriend, abandoned by friends, and shipped off to a camp that turns HTS carriers into soldiers. Davy may have escaped, but the damage has already been done. The unthinkable has happened. Now, even worse than having everyone else see her as a monster is the knowledge that they may have been right about her all along. Because Davy has killed.

On the run from government agents, Davy is rescued by Caden, the charismatic leader of an underground group of rebels. Despite Caden’s assurances that the Resistance is made up of carriers like her, Davy isn’t sure she can trust them. Then again, she doesn’t even know if she can trust herself . . . or her growing feelings for Caden. But if she doesn’t belong with Caden and his followers, is there anywhere she can call home?
I enjoyed the first book quite a lot, and more than I anticipated, so I'm really excited for its sequel! I don't looove the cover, but I do like the color--and I still like the DNA strand in her hair. It's cool! :)

So what are you guys waiting on this week? :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore {80}

Title: Just Like the Movies
Author: Kelly Fiore
Release date: July 22, 2014
Pages: 300
Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson. 

Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend. 

While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?

Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.

My teaser, from 21% in the egalley:
"A romance meter," she says over her shoulder. "One kiss for 'just friends,' two for 'fun and flirty,' etc. It goes up to five--'hot 'n' heavy' or something like that."

This is what I get for complaining about Senior Wills--a prom proposal expose complete with a rating system?

I force myself not to gag. Here it is--hard-hitting journalism at its best, folks. I'm sure my Pulitzer is already on its way.
Happy release day to Just Like the Movies! This sounds so cute, so I'm really excited to read it. :) Gotta love fun romance books in the summer!

I'll be visiting around and visiting back, so leave me links to your teasers! :) Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Release date: July 8, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 489
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.
I adore high fantasy. It's one of those genres that I'll never tire of, but where I also have high standards. That means, clearly, The Kiss of Deception appealed to me. There are a couple of elements that felt less than satisfactory to me, but generally The Kiss of Deception is a highly entertaining and promising fantasy.

There's a lot to be said for this book. The writing is, without a doubt, gorgeous. Time and time again I found myself stopping just to reread a phrase or to sit and think about the wording. It was simply lovely and a joy to read, just on the level of sentence construction. I also found myself really liking Lia, especially in the latter parts of the book. Running away from her duty was something I could understand, but never really admired her for. I see the bravery in going against the expectations, breaking out, but I see more bravery in facing what scares you and fulfilling duty. It didn't make me dislike her at the beginning at all, because it's an understandable reaction. However, her strength in taking on work she's never done and dedication to learning make me like her more as time went on. When later events spurred her into bigger action, I really grew to admire her. She's strong, dedicated, and willing to do anything for those she loves. That growth is just great.

Really, the biggest detraction is the love triangle. It's there, and it looks like it's not going away in the next book, but at the same time, I found myself pretty darn invested. Pearson keeps you from knowing who the prince and assassin are, making their introductions from Lia's point of view, so we get descriptions and names, but not their purposes. I was so sure I knew who each was, but was wrong--and while being wrong is frustrating, I was deeply happy as well.

The only other problem I had was that a lot of the mythology of the world was kind of foggy. The story fragments at the beginning of each chapter were compelling and the background we're given is really interesting, but I never found a full picture. It's compelling and gets better as the story goes on, but the focus on the relationships didn't allow for as much growth of the storyline. Hopefully this will be expanded in the sequel.

In all, The Kiss of Deception is a promising start to the series. The characters and story are compelling and the writing is beautiful. None of my problems really hindered my enjoyment. It's a pretty darn long book, but the moment I finished I was wishing for more--and that says a lot.

About the author:

Mary E. Pearson is the award-winning author of The Jenna Fox Chronicles, The Miles Between, A Room on Lorelei, and Scribbler of Dreams.  She writes full-time from her home office in California where she lives with her husband and two golden retrievers.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Stacking the Shelves {77}

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to share the books we've bought, been gifted, or received for review!

How was everybody's week? Mine's been pretty good! Got some great grades back, did some reading, normal stuff. :) Hehe, two weeks from today I will be finished with college--can you believe it? I'm so ready! :D

For review:

Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee
Starry Night by Isabel Gillies

A big, big thanks to Skycape and FSG for these! :)


On the Fence by Kasie West (paperback--too much effort to take picture....)
I couldn't help myself, y'all. After The Distance Between Us I NEEDED this.

A recap of the week here on Paper Cuts:
Monday - Review: Reboot by Amy Tintera
Tuesday - Teaser Tuesday: Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard
Wednesday - Waiting on Wednesday: The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons
Thursday - Review: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch
Friday - Review: Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) by Susan Dennard

Books I read this week:
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
Magnolia by Kristi Cook

I'm currently reading:
Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen
Extraction by Stephanie Diaz

So that's been my week! Boom! Another week of reading more books than I got. I'm kind of loving these slow weeks. You also might be able to tell what I've been in the mood for. I'm loving contemporaries right now--part of which might be the fault of Friday Night Lights, which I started watching on Friday and really love. :) Have a lovely Sunday and a fabulous week!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) by Susan Dennard

Release date: July 22, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 400
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus...all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.
I don't know what happened to me after I read Something Strange and Deadly, because I remember liking it a lot, but it never made it a priority to read A Darkness Strange and Lovely--until I got my hot little hands on a copy of Strange and Ever After, that is. Maybe I knew myself better than expected, because the moment I finished ADSaL, I needed to start SaEA, which is not a normal reaction for me. Normally, I'm happy to wait a few weeks or a month, even if the ending was fantastic or a cliffhanger and I have the book in my possession. Nope, not the case here. I actually read one book between the two, and found myself daydreaming about SaEA, rather than reading. It was a sickness, and it was only cured when I turned the final page of SaEA. I adored this book from cover to cover, and I haven't been so satisfied in finishing a book or series in a very long time.

At the same time, Strange and Ever After has a lot of ground to cover, and not all of it is rainbows and butterflies. Eleanor is still on the run from the Hell Hounds, and Marcus is still constantly one step ahead of the Spirit Hunters, not to mention that her magic is pushing her away from those she loves most. It's a story filled with necessary heartache, but one that also promises and delivers beautiful moments full of deep love. The relationships Eleanor has formed over the course of the series are tested and they can't win without loss. There are heartbreaking moments, but the story is really lovely and memorable.

There are lots of highlights, but the biggest is definitely Oliver. All through the second book he was a bit of a mystery, though a delight to read about, but here we see his true colors and he is marvelous. He's still got his signature wit and sharp tongue, but there's so much more to him as well. The growing relationship between him and Eleanor, while never romantic, often made me just as happy as the romantic interludes did. Oliver just has so much more depth and more hurt that one could ever expect, and Eleanor finally realizes it.

Honestly, I could ramble for days about each and everything that I enjoyed about this series and this installment in particular, but I'll save you all the trouble. Strange and Ever After is a wholly satisfying and emotional ending to an outstanding series. As I read, I found myself alternately cheering, swooning, grinning like a fool, clutching my heart, and downright ugly crying. Its plot never stops delivering exciting scenes and raising the stakes until the ultimate exciting conclusion. And while I may have been left an emotional wreck at the end, it was completely worth every bit of pain.

About the author:

Susan Dennard is a reader, writer, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She used to be a marine biologist, but now she writes novels–and not novels about fish, but novels about kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues. She lives in the Midwestern US with her French husband and Irish setter, and you can learn more about her crazy thoughts and crippling cookie-addiction on her blog, Twitter, or Facebook. Her debut, Something Strange and Deadly, as well as the prequel, A Dawn Most Wicked, and the sequel, A Darkness Strange and Lovely, are now available from HarperTeen! The final installment in the series, Strange and Ever After, will release 7/22/14, and her new series will launch with Tor in fall 2015.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

Release date: July 1, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 304
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Perfection comes at a price.

As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.

Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows…and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating.

But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving…and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.

For fans of Keira Cass’s Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series, Perfected is a chilling look at what it means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous—and dangerous—bow.
I rather devoured Perfected. It was a one-sitting read and one that I largely enjoyed while I did so. At the same time, it felt rather...lacking, as well. That could be the world-building, or lack thereof, or it could be that I never felt like Ella was in real, pressing danger or that her situation never felt as horrific as it should have. It's still an interesting read and an idea that is thought-provoking, but not a book that I'll find myself thinking about next week.

The idea that people (really, just women) created in a lab are bred and trained to be "pets" for the wealthy is one that is rife with ideas to explore. And some aspects of this are explored in Perfected, but they're not deep and they're not even prevalent. At the same time, it just never feels dangerous, even at the climax of the story, so it was hard for me to become engrossed in a story that didn't have any stakes and didn't make me question things. What happens to Ella is appropriately horrific in many ways, but it just doesn't have that sinister feel to it that would make the story one that sticks with you.

I also never got a good feel for the world. There's little to no explanation of the science behind the pets or why they came about, aside from a mention that they're created so people don't have to think of them as human. It's interesting that it's not post-apocalyptic or even futuristic in any manner aside from the pets, but what led to this happening? There are lots of mentions of the congressman working to get a bill passed to make the pets legal, but things like opposition are glossed over, with only a nosy neighbor to represent it. If we have the uproar that we have in this country over even the tiniest matters, why wouldn't something like genetically-engineered humans have caused more of a fuss? And continue to cause a fuss even after the law passed? It felt a little like, "Oh, we passed this law so now everyone is fine with this, except for those few radicals, and they're barely a threat anyways," and that just didn't feel right.

None of this is to say that Perfected isn't an entertaining or interesting book, one that can raise questions, but I simply think it could have been executed better. A darker tone and a better explained reasoning would have made all the difference, because Ella is a sympathetic character who grows a lot and the romance is appealing. There are definitely people who will love it, too, but it just needed more for me.

About the author:

Kate has loved writing ever since she was a little girl. She wrote her first novel in fourth grade (the main character was suspiciously similar to herself). As an adult, her essays and short stories have been published in numerous journals. Her first play, (a man enters), co-written with Elaine Jarvik, was produced in 2011 by Salt Lake Acting Co.

Kate studied painting and drawing at the University of Utah and graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in 2005. Her work is currently being published by Poems Publishing and is sold internationally. Over the years her paintings have been used in feature films and TV shows, such as Glee and 21 Jump Street.

Kate lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and their three children.