Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Forbidden by Megan Curd

Release date: October 22, 2011
Pages: 209
Format: Ebook
Source: Provided by author
Ebook available from: Amazon
Levi's job is to protect his human until it's their time to go. That's what a Guard does. He's done it for years on end, and he'll spend his eternity doing the same, mundane thing, following the same, mundane rules.

...Watch from afar.
...Never share your name.
...And above all, never touch a human.

What Levi doesn't know is that his newest human to protect, Hannah, just might be the catalyst to tipping the scales between good and evil, and he will be forced to decide which side he belongs to. Which friends will he side with, and who will he ultimately protect: his human, or the delicate balance that hangs on stopping the heartbeat of the person he has sworn to protect?

And, when you're already condemned, what's there to lose by breaking the rules?
Angel books! Forbidden was yet another new take on angels. I do love all the different views, and so far I've had pretty good experiences with all of them. I fear the angel book I read that ruins this...

Levi was a good protagonist. We could see his struggle between following the rules so he has a chance of being redeemed and doing what he believes is for the best. We understand the choice he makes in the end, and root for him the whole time. He had an individual voice and way of speaking. He doesn't believe he's good, and blames himself for a crime he didn't really commit. But we can see that he really is kind, and how hard he's fighting to be a better person, worthy of redemption.

The plot was fast paced and really kept me engaged. I just wanted to keep reading every time I finished a chapter. Things happened that I didn't expect, and I'm excited to find out what happens next!

My real complaint, and one that weighed rather heavily, was Hannah. I could not for the life of me figure out why Levi was willing to risk everything he worked for and break all kinds of rules for her. I could see why he did it, but I couldn't understand his attraction to her. She didn't do anything remotely remarkable or have any outstanding traits. She said mundane things and went to dances with other boys. Good on her. I could see so much more appeal in Angie. She was tough, outspoken, smart-mouthed, and really fought against the hand that was dealt to her. If someone broke every rule in the book for her, I'd get it.

Overall, though, I enjoyed reading Forbidden. Megan Curd has set up a different take on angel mythology that I would like to read more about. And though I don't like Hannah, I want to see more of the repercussions of Levi's actions.

Risk a paper cut? Well, you see, it's an ebook. There is no danger of paper cuts. So I will ask, risk electrocution? (Though I highly doubt you'd get electrocuted, so I quit trying to come up with something.) If you like angels, you'll definitely want to check it out. Otherwise, if you're in the mood for an utterly likable protagonist and fun supporting characters (and who isn't?), you'll enjoy it!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Release date: January 4, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 435
Format: Hardcover
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
WHY, OH WHY, DIDN'T I READ THIS EARLIER?? I heard about it and I heard about it, and yet I thought I was too cool. Where did I get this pretense? My mind. Obviously, I am not too cool for hype. OBVIOUSLY. I thought I'd learned this lesson, but I've been schooled again. Okay, my rant is over, I swear.

Unearthly was just as wonderful as everyone has said it is. I read three angel novels within three weeks, and Unearthly is by far the best of the three. I loved the way Ms. Hand dealt with fallen angels, always an interesting subject, and the idea of children of angels. You always think angels are perfect, and therefore immune to things like lust and the ties of mortal relationships, but that is not the case here.

Little did I know that a novel full of things I dislike doing would appeal to me so. I dislike fishing and dances, for example, and yet I enjoyed those scenes. Bravo. It's a little thing, but important in my opinion. Though these may have had something to do with Clara's companion... Mmmmm.

I am dying to learn more about Jeffrey and Clara's mom. There's tons more to learn about them, and I hope that will be explored in Hallowed. Even though we don't know a whole ton about them, Clara's mother is as normal as she can be, given that she's half angel. There's tension between the two, but that's totally normal for teenagers. She's present and worried, and that's really how families in their situation are. There are many exceptions, but for the most part.

There are so many things I could talk about from this book, but I fear my articulation will not be as good as normal. Already, reading this back, I can tell it's not as good and for that I'm sorry. I will say you should read Unearthly as soon as you can. It is a wonderfully executed paranormal romance that doesn't rely on swoon-worthy love interests--though they're there--to keep its readers interested.

Risk a paper cut? While Unearthly is about angels, it is anything but a fluffy, disposable teen paranormal romance. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Release date: November 15, 2011
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through GalleyGrab
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.
 I didn't quite know what to expect coming into The Pledge. I read The Body Finder, but just liked it, and never read the other books in the series. I thought the premise of The Pledge sounded super intriguing but wasn't sure if she could pull off the task that is a well-written and developed dystopian. While it isn't perfect, The Pledge is certainly an entertaining and original addition to her work.

A couple of things struck me at the start of the book. First, I didn't feel like the languages were differentiated well enough. I loved that the classes were divided by language, because it truly would be a perfect way to divide people into castes. Charlie's big important talent is that she understands all languages, even though she's not supposed to know but two. There were only a couple of times where it felt like her friends and family were truly excluded from what was going on, and they spent a decent amount of time around people not of their class. Language is the great divider in Charlie's world, and it just didn't feel all that divisive, though I'm a big fan of the idea. The other thing that hit me, in a good way, was that Ludania was ruled by a monarch. I haven't seen this in dystopians much, if at all, and it was an interesting view. This made the government's motives very different and more human, though the queen didn't seen to have much humanity left in her.

I enjoyed the romance a lot, and the "pledge" set me to swooning. I appreciated Charlie's reluctance to engage in any sort of relationship with Max at first. It was realistic. Sure, she was a little bit of a rebel at first, but it was normal teenage rebellion. An instant relationship and trust just wouldn't have fit. At her heart, Charlie was trying her best for her family. Eventually, Max does earn her trust and their relationship grows from there. I did feel like the situation set up in the end--in terms of their relationship--was odd. It didn't mesh with how they'd been up until that point, but we'll see.

I also really loved the ending. There was a very satisfying conclusion to the problems Charlie had faced, but new problems arose. We had closure, but we're still left wanting more without a cheap cliffhanger.

The Pledge is filled with thrilling and breathtaking moments of action and romance. It explores the ties of romantic, familial, and societal love and the heart of friendship. Kimberly Derting has written an individual and exciting dystopian that definitely exceeded my expectations.

Risk a paper cut? I pledge that The Pledge will quench your hankering for a new kind of dystopian while leaving you dying for more.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (4): Miss Me?

Howdy all! It's time for my fourth In My Mailbox! In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where bloggers get to share just what kind of lovely books and swag they got over the past week through purchasing, borrowing, gifting, etc. 

I'm been rather MIA this week. We went and stayed in a cabin for Thanksgiving and the park's internet was down, so while I meant to do several posts over the past few days, I couldn't! :( I'll be back and posting this week though, and have no plans to go anywhere else that doesn't have internet. No vlog this week because I didn't get much, so I wouldn't have that much to talk about. So here goes!

For review from Netgalley:
Another Jekyll, Another Hyde by Daniel and Dina Nayeri (No cover image! Sad face.)Big thanks to Candlewick Press! 
Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney

I have seven more books from the same order as those two, but they didn't come! :) I'll have a lot to talk about next week though. I hope you all have a lovely week, and I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. It's the Christmas season now! :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford

Release date: February 22, 2011
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Eden didn't expect Az. 

Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick-up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings. 


So long, happily-ever-after. Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven. 

She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else's game. Her heart is her own. 

And that's only the beginning of the end.

A Touch Mortal... My thoughts upon finishing it were confused, to say the least. I knew I liked it, but couldn't quite tell how much. At this point, I'm still a little confused about how I feel. I do know that I engulfed the book like there was no tomorrow, and that I'm dying for A Touch Morbid, the sequel. I'm going to put those two down as good things!

The immediately striking thing about the book is Leah's interpretation of angels, the fallen, and "Siders". There have been tons of ways to view angels, and most of them have been fascinating, but the addition of the Siders and the repercussions of their existence is what really captivated me. I like the idea that the very people who no longer want to exist in our world are punished to do just that, as a punishment of sorts. I very much likened them to zombies, in that they are technically dead and really are decomposing, but they're also completely and utterly different as well. Siders are definitely a creation unto themselves, and learning more about them should be interesting.

I also found myself a big fan of several of the characters, though at the same time I felt a little distance from them. I liked how they were all very imperfect. I don't know a single person who is perfect, and I can't identify in the least with fictional characters that are. Most everyone had their kryptonite, and that led to a lot of problems, but for the most part they were good people, or at least did what they believed was best. While I found myself admiring the characters in their flawed ways, I couldn't help but not feel close to them for some reason. I couldn't get myself into the mindset of Eden and figure out just why she did what she did, especially.

The plot is engaging and roils on at a quick pace, keeping you on your feet. I did see the biggest twists coming, but I do sit around sometimes contemplating plot... But the tightly wound story of Eden and her journey into the world of warring Heaven and Hell culminates in a truly heartbreaking ending that will make you beg for more.

Risk a paper cut? A Touch Mortal wraps you up in angel wings, leads you to a soft and lovely happy place, them dumps you on your butt, leaving you crying for more.... So.... Yeah, you should. :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (3): Cricket Cricket...

Howdy all! It's time for my third In My Mailbox! In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where bloggers get to share just what kind of lovely books and swag they got over the past week through purchasing, borrowing, gifting, etc. No vlog this week because I didn't get much, so I wouldn't have that much to talk about. So here goes!

For review from Netgalley:

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Life Is But a Dream by Brian James
After the Snow by S.D. Crockett
A big thanks to MiraBooks and Feiwel & Friends for these!

For review via Booksneeze:

The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead (audiobook)
A big thanks to Thomas Nelson Inc. for this!

I hope you all have a very lovely week, and can't wait to see what you all got in your mailbox! Leave me links, and I'll check them out!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Follow Friday #17!

Hallelujah it's Friday! I'm heading home for Thanksgiving today, so I'm up for 10 days of leisure, and I could not be more excited about it. I missed last week on here (sorry!!!) because I spent my entire day dissecting a cat, isn't that lovely? I was too tired to come back and do anything useful, so I just crashed, and I was a bad blogger. :( But I'm back and with a vengeance!

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read each week and is a joint effort between all of us bloggers to find new blogs to read, love, and obsess over. Plus each week a different question is answered, so we can all learn a little bit more about the bloggers whose opinions matter to us. :) Tally ho!

Q. Letter to Santa: Tell Santa what books you want for Christmas!
ME. Goodness... There are so many books I want, but I'll limit myself to the ones I want the very most, and to 5, in no particular order. 
  1. Always a Witch, by Carolyn MacCullough
  2. Born Wicked, by Jessica Spotswood
  3. Wither, by Lauren DeStefano
  4. Mermaid, by Carolyn Turgeon
  5. Forest Born, by Shannon Hale (But the pretty new one that matches the old books!! Otherwise it'd look odd with my copies of the others.)
So there! I limited myself to my MOST anticipated upcoming release, since I'm being realistic and the entire list would be upcoming releases if I didn't. :)

So that's all the Follow fun! I hope you all have a great Friday and a lovely weekend! Don't get too cold! Leave me links to your posts and I'll visit back! (Though I'll probably have to do my visits on Saturday, since I'm going to be away from a computer all day. Just don't be surprised!)

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

Release date: November 8, 2011
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing...

Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.
When I read on Goodreads "The Picture of Dorian Grey meets Pride & Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" I was sold on Darker Still. I love The Picture of Dorian Grey for its darkness and fascinating premise, and I just can't get enough Pride & Prejudice. Darker Still seemed like a book tailor-made for me. That being said, coming in with those kinds of expectations can ruin a book, but my expectations were met and thoroughly exceeded.

I knew going in that the story was told through Natalie's diary entries, and was excited because I can't remember reading an epistolary novel since I read a ton of the Dear America books in elementary school, which I always loved. Natalie is mute, so diary entries were the perfect way for the reader to get to know her. In diaries people freely express themselves, and given that she couldn't carry on conversations, Natalie could have seemed like a distant protagonist, but that was absolutely not the case with this method.

The romance between Natalie and Denbury was also a standout. There was definitely an element of love at first sight and very quick infatuation, but it seemed natural and unforced and comfortable. Plus their relationship was sweet and impassioned, but it also fit for the time period, which is important. I would also very willingly spend many hours alone in a picture with Lord Denbury without hesitation. :)

I also loved that while the romance was important, and so very sweet, it wasn't the central theme or struggle. In order for Natalie and Denbury to even have a future, they have to overcome his situation so that is the focus. The elements of magic fit in perfectly and are developed so they're easy to understand. But the most striking part is definitely the evil. Our bad is just downright BAD. He has no redeeming or sympathetic qualities. The method in which he does is evildoing is also just really bad. I have no reaction other than disgust.

Darker Still has elements of all of my favorite classics and modern novels, mashed with a wonderfully executed and adorably romantic story.

Risk a paper cut? A paper cut is only a small payment for the magic of Darker Still.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Anathema by Megg Jensen

Release date: February 5, 2011
Pages: 206
Format: Ebook
Source: Provided by author for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Reychel is a slave girl surrounded by magic, lies and manipulation. Her best friend disappears in the middle of the night leaving Reychel to face her fifteenth birthday, the day her master burns his brand into the back of her bald head, alone. She's sheltered from the outside world and doesn't have any hope for escape, but when people desperate for freedom ask for her help can Reychel learn to believe in herself?

Anathema was so so so much better than I could have ever anticipated! I thought the synopsis sounded intriguing enough, but Megg Jensen just blew me away with this book. I've never read anything else of hers, but I know I'll be reading much more soon.

First, I thought the ideas behind Reychel's world were very intriguing. Reychel is a slave, but has always been sheltered and treated differently from everyone else by her master, though no one knows why. She cannot go outside or even look out windows but when in the presence of her master. This gives Reychel an interesting world-view, rather unlike most anything I've read. She is also a strong lead character, who does what she thinks needs to be done, rather than cowing in front of those more powerful than her.

One thing I especially enjoyed was how I found myself questioning every single one of the character's motives. Megg found a way to write the book in such a way that allowed for that, and no single character was transparent. We only could get an idea of their loyalties after taking in their actions for a while, even the most secondary characters.

The story was also filled with a lot of good twists and turns, even though the book is barely over 200 pages. None of them felt forced, but they were all unexpected and intriguing, propelling the story along very well.

My only complaint was that some of the dialogue felt stilted at times, and this is the only reason I couldn't give the book five stars. The flow of the conversations didn't feel natural, like a conversation I would have. I've found this to be a problem in a lot of books. People say things only to propel the story, rather than because it's something they'd actually say. It's not actually a big, glaring problem in Anathema, but a noticeable one for someone reading critically.

All in all, I very much enjoyed Anathema, and will be reading Oubliette as soon as I can. It is very much worth the read and your time. :) It ended so suddenly that I almost went and just bought the second one immediately!

Risk a paper cut? Anathema is an exciting tale of self revelation and first love that will engage your heart and mind.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

In My Mailbox (2): Where I Can't Speak A Little Bit

Hey, hey, hey! It's time for my second In My Mailbox! In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where bloggers get to share just what kind of lovely books and swag they got over the past week through purchasing, borrowing, gifting, etc. I like to think my talking got a teensy bit better, but probably not. :) I have come to the conclusion that vlogs are fun, though. Again, I'm sorry about all the crazy faces I make, dunno where those come from....

Books mentioned:
Forgotten by Cat Patrick
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
Lost Voices by Sarah Porter
Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley
Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

I hope you all have a great week! Please leave me links to your mailboxes, and I'll check them out!! I stalk In My Mailboxes, so even if you don't give me a link... I'll find it. Hehehe. And now I'm creepy... Time to get off... :)

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

Release date: November 15, 2011
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 352
Format: Advance Reader's Copy
Source: Page & Palette Bookstore
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Google
Everything burns in Pandemonium--a city in Hell made of chrome and steel, where there is no future and life is an expanse of frozen time. That's where Daphne lives.
The daughter of a demon and a fallen angel, she wonders what lies in store for her. Will she become a soulless demon like her sisters? Or follow in the footsteps of her brothers Obie, whose life is devoted to saving lost souls on Earth? All she wants is to find a place where she belongs.

When Obie saves a bleeding, broken boy named Truman from the brink of death and then suddenly goes missing, Daphne runs away to Earth to find him. But on Earth, everything is colder and more terrifying, and Daphne struggles between her demon instincts and her growing--yet achingly unfamiliar--feelings for Truman. As Daphne and Truman search for Obie, they must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violet archangels who stand in their way.

But Daphne also discovers, unexpectedly, what is means to love and be human in a world where human in the hardest thing to be.
To be quite honest, I did not want to read The Space Between. But I had the copy in my hands, and I knew I'd regret not reading it. So I did. That was one of the better decisions I've made recently. :) Brenna Yovanoff really has a knack for making what is dark and dingy seem beautiful and enlightening. What should be a gross novel about Hell and its denizens is instead a lovely novel about Earth and how love can make you.

Where do these names come from? I'm sorry, but Truman? All I can think of is The Truman Show. You know that Jim Carrey movie where his whole life is a reality show? Yeah... There are more odd ones, but I just wonder. I seem to recall the names in The Replacement being rather odd, too.

I do love the creativity here. Pandemonium is an interesting and mysterious place, filled with nooks and crannies I'd love to explore. The mythology involved is intriguing, and I always love a bit of ambiguity within good and bad. In this story, those we see as being good normally (angels especially) aren't presented as being all good, and those we normally see as bad aren't always bad. Things are being looked at from a different side, and it gives us a whole new view.

I thought the characterization was really well done, especially in the supporting characters. Everyone is distinct in their speech and actions. We can understand why Daphne does what she does and why Truman says what he says. I especially loved Raymie. Pairing the things she says with the image in my mind was always a kick.

The romance worked well for me, and I found myself dying to know just how the relationship was going to work, especially with the events close to the end. I needed to know, and the ending didn't disappoint. I also love that Brenna Yovanoff seems to like writing stand-alone books. I love series, but I also love books that are just happy on their own. I think sometimes authors get stuck in writing what they know and are afraid to branch out. But if readers love an author, they'll read whatever they write. I know that's how I feel about my favorite authors.

Risk a paper cut? This dirty tale of true love is eerie and beautiful. A perfect mix.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Release date: November 15, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 342
Format: Advance Reader's Copy
Source: Page & Palette Bookstore
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color. 

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now. 
Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior. 
Oh my goodness, I have no idea where to start with this book y'all. Shatter Me is written in a way that makes me want to literally climb into the pages and lounge about in them. I don't really know what climbing into the pages would accomplish, but it'd make me feel better somehow. I've waited a little while to write this review because my brain's only output after finishing translated into something like, "Pfft.dklas;kljdf.zxvkldfkl;jweiorjzx,.m." For real. I'm sorry if this review ends up in the gutter because I'm too busy swooning/freaking.

First and foremost I absolutely have to talk about how Juliette's narration is written. It is utterly fabulous. It does take a little bit of getting used to, but once you know what's going on, you'll die it works so well. Here's an example (taken from an ARC, but once I have a finished copy I'll update this if it is different from the final text):
6,336 hours since I've touched another human being. 
"You're getting a cellmate roommate," they said to me.
"We hope you rot to death in this place For good behavior," they said to me.
"Another psycho just like you No more isolation," they said to me.
I love love love the strikeouts. It gives a sense of what's going unsaid, which is sometimes hard to imagine in a story not of your own creation. We see that Juliette sees through all of the bull given to her, too. BUT, the strikeouts aren't the only quirky bit of writing. At times Juliette's narration is more like a stream of consciousness than a traditional narration. The way Tahereh Mafi has written certain scenes makes the reader feel exactly what Juliette is feeling at these times. When Juliette is having a panic attack, I felt like I was having one too. When she was running for her life, with only getting to safety on her mind, that's all I could think of. At these times there's little to no punctuation, which only accentuates the urgency of how Juliette is feeling. This style may not be for everyone, but I couldn't get enough of it. Reading should be a visceral experience, don't you think?

When we first meet Juliette, she is a jumbled mess of emotions and fear. As she gets to know Adam and as we get to know her, she comes out of her shell, and we see what a strong, fearless, and engaging heroine she is. We hear how she grew up with parents who never touched her, how she was shunned in school, and learn exactly how she came to be in isolation. Juliette's story is one of sadness and loneliness, but as the story goes on, it becomes one of hope and love.

And, ohhhhh, Adam. What an utterly perfect guy. I just couldn't get enough of him, and the more we learned about him, the more I loved him. One moment he'd break my heart with sadness and the next he'd have me smiling like the biggest idiot in the world. Adam's opposite in most every way is Warner. He's presented as a villain who only wants Juliette for the power she can give him, but at the same time we get the idea that there's a lot more to him. And I can't help but want to know! It doesn't hurt that he's completely gorgeous, charming in a sly way, and has a wounded soul thing going for him. :)

On my little list of wonderful things I have yet to cover and don't want to bore you with my gushing:
  • James, who is sweet and vulnerable, and just makes me want to hug him at all times
  • Kenji, who I'm thinking we'll see a good deal more of, which doesn't bother me in the least :)
  • THAT ENDING. It was totally perfect and totally cruel, and now I just need to know what happens next!!
Tahereh Mafi's style is riveting, different, and utterly engaging. It's hard not to immediately be absorbed into Juliette's world and even harder to extricate yourself. There is probably no way I could recommend that you read Shatter Me more.

Risk a paper cut? There is nothing that could deter me from shoving this book into the hands of every person I meet and telling them to suck it up if it cuts them. I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVED IT. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Dig by Audrey Hart

Release date: November 7, 2011
Publisher: Backlit Fiction
Pages: 208
Format: Ebook
Source: Advance copy provided by the author
Buy the book: Amazon

Zoe Calder has always been an outsider. Stashed away in boarding schools since her parents died, Zoe buries herself in the study of ancient worlds. Her greatest thrill is spending her summers with her archeologist aunt and uncle on digs around the world. And one day, while investigating a newly unearthed temple in Crete, Zoe discovers a luminous artifact that transports her to ancient Greece. 

As Zoe quickly learns, the Olympian Gods are real, living people—humans with mysterious powers… Powers that Zoe quickly realizes she has come to possess, as well. However, when the people of ancient Greece mistake Zoe for an Olympian, the Gods must restore the balance of the ancient world… No matter what. 

Zoe is forced to play a confusing and dangerous game as Hera rallies the gods against her—all except for Zeus, the beautiful, winged young god who risks everything to save her.
 I have always had a love of Greek mythology. I don't consider myself an expert on it or anything, but the stories of the gods and all the crazy creatures has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. I've seen a whole lot of interpretations of the stories, and the The Dig is definitely one of my favorites. All of our favorite gods are there--Zeus, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Hermes--but they're human teenagers. I really love this idea, because I always felt like the gods seemed like big, powerful teenagers anyways, with their scrabbling over stupid things and falling in love with their own reflections. Audrey Hart has incorporated all of the things we love about Greek mythology within the coming-of-age story of Zoe Calder, and it's a fun ride.

Zoe was definitely a highlight of the book. I know there are a lot of "introverted" young adult protagonists, but Zoe felt like the most genuine and realistic interpretation of this, and I felt like she and I would get along. She's smart and intuitive. Sure, she freaks out about somehow ending up in ancient Greece, but she doesn't whine about it for the whole book: she does something about it. Her insecurities felt real and much like how I felt in high school. She doesn't have the same interests as her classmates, and can't quite relate, but somehow knows there's really nothing wrong with that. At the same time, Zoe's journey is a trip to find herself. Though she knew she was strong, she never had to really show it, and she learns just what kind of person she is.

I also thought the relationship between Zoe and Zeus was well-developed, which is a rarity recently. In true teenager fashion, Zoe rushes into labels for what they are and thinks she's way more in love than she really is, but their real relationship (not the one in Zoe's head) moves at a good pace. There's no insta-love, just attraction, and their relationship develops over time spent together having a good time, not brooding stares. Zeus is also a very worthy love interest. I'm definitely looking forward to more of him. 

The Dig is a very fast-paced and fun read. At just above 200 pages, you can read it in one sitting and be very satisfied with how you've spent your last few hours. It is packed full with action, mythology, and romance that all blend together for a great adventure, and I can't wait for the rest of the trilogy!

Risk a paper cut? It only comes in digital form right now, so there's no danger! Muahahaha. But even if there were danger of a paper cut, I'd still advise you to read The Dig as soon as possible.

I need to extend a big thanks to Audrey Hart for contacting me about reviewing The Dig and for providing me with an advance copy! You're the best!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Release date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 452
Format: Hardcover
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Google

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.
So. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Yeah, I loved it. Sure, I had problems with it. Nonetheless, it is definitely a new favorite. First, look at that cover!!! Oh my gahhh. It's so lovely, and once you've read the book, the idea of it just fits. Mara Dyer was nothing that I expected it to be, but so much more.

Michelle did an excellent job of portraying Mara's mental state. Many times I couldn't tell the difference between reality and Mara's delusions. And while I was confused much of the time, it wasn't a confusion that made the book in and of itself confusing. I knew what was going on, but I felt like I was living Mara's reality, which was awesome. And while nothing was really revealed, I was entertained for the whole book, and am quite ready for the second.

Mr. Noah Shaw needs his own paragraph. For a long time I couldn't figure out if I liked him or not, or if he was worthy of my diligence in deciding. But once we got to know him better, I decided positively on both counts. I found it a little cliche that he's "misunderstood", but he was convincing enough in that so I let him be misunderstood, and I understood Mara's obsession. By the end of the book I was quite endeared by him.(Though I didn't get him driving a Prius. Were I in his situation, I'd have something at least a little better. I don't like Priuses. [Is that the plural of Prius??])

My only real problem with the book lies with Mara, and only at times. I did feel like she ignored what was right in front of her face, just because of a boy. Sure, Noah was definitely someone you could ignore a lot for, but not when people are dying all around you. You'd think she would notice a trend there... I think the story needed more focus on what was going on, rather than Noah. Also, what was with her at the end? I mean, really?? Gahhhh.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was a book I was dying to read, and my excitement was justified and paid back quite well. The book was filled with mystery, romance, uncertainty, crazy, and fear. It had me on my knees (figuratively) for the entirety of the book, and I can't wait for the next one to find out more about Mara and Noah!

Risk a paper cut? A paper cut is the least of your fears when you're around Mara Dyer. (If that's unclear, yes, risk a paper cut!)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In My Mailbox (1): The Very First!

Hey guys! So I decided to do In My Mailbox this week, and I'm a little bit excited. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren featuring books that we've bought/received/borrowed during the last week. 

I'm thinking I was just excited, and had a lot to say to you guys, so this video is like 10 minutes long. I'm sorry for that. I'm a talker, and I like to share... :) I think next time I'll be better. Plus, sorry about all the random and slightly disturbing faces I make. I have a feeling I make those normally, and now I wonder what people think of me... Eek. I'm hoping with practice this will get better... Or maybe I'm just this awkward. We'll see!

Books mentioned:
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (my review!)
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
Double by Jenny Valentine
iBoy by Kevin Brooks
The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
The Calling by Kelley Armstrong
I also received these from Netgalley:

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Pure by Julianna Baggott 
Thanks to HarperTeen, Grand Central, and Feiwel & Friends for the books!

Also, a big big thanks to Amanda at Stuck in YA Books, Michelle Hodkin, The Survivors Series on Twitter and Page & Palette Bookstore! My video wouldn't have been as long without you!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Follow Friday #16

Friday again already! The weeks seem to go by so quickly, not that I'm complaining, since every week gone is another week closer till I'm in Disney! :) It's finally November, and that means real fall weather, and Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays.

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read each week and is a joint effort between all of us bloggers to find new blogs to read, love, and obsess over. Plus each week a different question is answered, so we can all learn a little bit more about the bloggers whose opinions matter to us. :) Tally ho!

Q. Today's question is something new, an activity. We want to see what you look like! Take a pic with you and your current read! Too shy? Boo! Just post a fun pic you want to share.
ME. Well you see, we have a problem. I have absolutely no camera handy. Bleh. So, I'm going to post a picture of me, and a picture of what I'm currently reading, and that'll just have to suffice. Picture us molded together. :) You should get the gist!

Me oh my... I'm resorting to what is probably my most favorite picture of me ever. It's not because it's a super wonderful picture, but it seems to capture how I feel that I am most of the time. Staring off into space, yet having a lovely time, dancing all by myself. It's from my junior year of high school, and we did Bye Bye Birdie for the spring musical. I played Mrs. MacAfee, which is why I'm not in a poodle skirt or something like that. My dress was fantastic. It had clocks on it, and I still own it for it's amazingness, though I've yet to find another occasion to wear it... :)

I am currently reading Anathema by Megg Jensen. I'm about half-way through, and so far I'm really liking it. :)

Well that's all I have to say. The sad thing is that I've only one question to answer this week, and I've become even more rambly than normal. Sad, really. Anyways, have a lovely weekend, and root for Alabama when we play LSU on Saturday!! :) So leave me links to your Follow Friday posts and I'll visit back!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Release date: August 30, 2011
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 316
Format: Hardcover
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Google
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.
If you know me at all, you know I don't like scary movies in the least. In fact, I watched a couple last Monday night, and couldn't sleep four complete hours that night. It was terrible. I avoid haunted houses like the plague. Scary things and I are not even acquaintances. But, sometimes something comes along that's so good that the frightening parts are completely overshadowed by the mindblowingness of the awesomeness. (<==that phrase is an odd one...) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake was just that. Sure, I can't walk under my attic at home without of thinking of a certain scene, but who cares? The experience and fun of reading the book was totally worth the fear.

Anna Dressed in Blood is perfectly plotted and executed. It is creepy enough to make you want to keep all the lights on, yet so interesting you have to keep reading, despite how creeped out you are. Luckily, I managed to read most of the book during the day, though I did read the last 50 pages or so at night, and was super creeped out. I felt like a lot more was accomplished in the book than most YA novels I've been reading. Rather than having one complication for Cas to overcome in the one book, things just keep getting thrown at him. This kept the book from feeling nothing like the first of a series, even though it is.

Every character felt like a fully developed construct, not a filler. Cas was a wonderful narrator, with a very individual voice and specific demeanor. Cas is also the most gutsy seventeen year old I've read about in a long time. Killing those that are already supposed to be dead is something that would make me ruin my pants, personally, and Cas just runs in gung-ho, and for that I salute him.

Though Anna Dressed in Blood is narrated by and follows Cas, Anna is really the character that takes the focus, no mean feat for a book filled with so many good characters. At the beginning, the reader knows only what Cas knows: that Anna Dressed in Blood is a ruthless ghost that pulls those who enter her house into little pieces. Little do we know what lies behind that exterior. Anna is described as pale with long hair as dark as ink, and when she gets angry, it's a sight to behold. When we learn why Anna is the way she is we feel her pain and are horrified at her circumstances.

If you're looking for a YA horror book that will scare you out of your pants, yet is tolerable for even the biggest wimps (like me!) then look no further. Anna Dressed in Blood has answered the call, and you will not be disappointed. It can be as scary as you can imagine it. Once you finish it all you will be able to think about is that sequel, Girl of Nightmares, that is coming out next year.

Risk a paper cut? YES INDEEDY. Anna Korlov will scare your face off, but melt your heart at the same time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness: November 2011!

It's November! This means it's time for another month of RAK. I actually skipped last month because I knew I wasn't going to have the time to look through lists and send out books, but I'm back on board for November! :) I've had a great time the last couple of months I did it, so I'm excited.

Book Soulmates

Random Acts of Kindness is hosted by Book Soulmates and anyone can sign up! It's a fun way to make some new friends and share your love of books. If this sounds like something you're interested in (and why wouldn't it be?), go here to check out more information.

And, of course, here's a link to my wishlist! :)

Have a happy November, and happy RAKing!