Friday, December 7, 2012

A Temporary Farewell

Ladies and gents,

I've obviously been pretty nonexistent on the blog in recent months. Simply put, I'm burned out, if you can believe it. I've found I can't effectively handle school and a blog, though I definitely envy those of you who can. With all of the deadlines associated with school, between day-to-day work, papers, exams, applications for programs, scholarships, and hopefully internships, I have so many obligations that I will break down if I force another on myself. I can't even bring myself to read young adult books right now, because they feel like work and stress me out; that is not why I started blogging. Forgoing posting here is the obvious choice to relieve myself.

I love blogging and I love everyone I've met since I began. I love those of you who take the time to read my reviews and comment on them (or not!) I'm going to still be active on my Twitter and Goodreads accounts and will probably occasionally post something book-related on the Facebook, but I won't be posting here for a while. I'll also be regularly checking my email associated with the blog, so if you--for whatever reason--need or want to contact me, I'll get back to you in a timely manner. Hopefully I'll get my mojo back soon and will return to post more reviews. For the time being, I hope you all have a happy holiday season! :)


Monday, November 26, 2012

Blog tour: Meet Dylan Kennedy - The Marked Son by Shea Berkley

Title: The Marked Son
Author: Shea Berley
Series: Keepers of Life #1
Release date: August 2, 2011
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Format: Egalley
Source: Provided by publisher
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Seventeen-year-old Dylan Kennedy always knew something was different about him, but until his mother abandoned him in the middle of Oregon with grandparents he's never met, he had no idea what.When Dylan sees a girl in white in the woods behind his grandparents' farm, he knows he's seen her his dreams. He's felt her fear. Heard her insistence that only he can save her world from an evil lord who uses magic and fear to feed his greed for power.Unable to shake the unearthly pull to Kera, Dylan takes her hand. Either he's completely insane or he's about to have the adventure of his life, because where they're going is full of creatures he's only read about in horror stories. Worse, the human blood in his veins has Dylan marked for death...
Entangled hasn't let me down yet. Everything I've read published by them has been good, and The Marked Son is no exception. I greatly enjoyed reading about Dylan and am excited to read more about him in The Fallen Prince!

Shea Berkley has created an interesting take on alternate dimensions that I quite liked. Dylan has dreamed of a mysterious girl all his life, telling himself she's not real yet hoping that she is. He is shocked when he sees her outside of his dreams and in the woods outside his grandparent's house. This leads him on a journey unlike anything he'd dare to imagine.

I always think there aren't enough male protagonists in YA, so I enjoyed reading about Dylan. He seems to be a genuinely nice guy who has just gotten caught in bad circumstances. He wants to do good but has just never gotten the chance. Despite his mom's countless failed relationships, Dylan grew into a compassionate and caring person, one that really shouldn't have happened. I'm so glad it did though. :) Shea does a good job making Dylan not only believable as a character, but she makes him sound like a male narrator rather than a female saying she's a guy.

I also enjoyed reading about Kera, though it did take me a little bit to get a good handle on the world she lives in, Teag. She's got some spunk and is definitely headstrong. One can't really help but like her.

There is so much to love in The Marked Son: interesting plot, great lead characters, well-developed secondary characters, a menacing villain, adventure, and, of course, loveee. I was entranced pretty much from the start and didn't want it to end. I"m so excited to find out the rest of Dylan's story.

About the Author:
Shea is an author of YA fantasy novels, which means she's the luckiest person alive because she gets to spend her day playing with her characters. Some are totally cool, others aren't so nice, but they all bring something to the party. Find out more about Shea here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Blog Tour: Bonded by Michelle Davidson Argyle

Title: Bonded
Author: Michelle Davidson Argyle
Release date: November 1, 2012
Publisher: Rhemalda Publishing
Format: Egalley
Source: Author
Pages: 380
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Rhemalda

What happened after Cinderella married her prince? How did the evil sorceress in Sleeping Beauty turn evil in the first place? Discover these stories and a world filled with magic, forbidden love, elves, sprites, dragons, and the most powerful creatures of all— the fairies —in Bonded, a collection of three fairy tale inspired novellas.

CINDERS: A Cinderella sequel. Money can’t buy love, but magic isn’t a sure bet either. Cinderella, now officially a princess, finds royal life is not what she once dreamed. When a mysterious elf from her past stirs up long-suppressed passion, Cinderella begins to wonder if there really is love beneath the spell that captured her husband’s heart. But undoing magic can be harder than casting the initial spell, and the results are even less predictable.

THIRDS: A retelling of the Grimm’s fairy tale, One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes. Issina is surrounded by magic, yet none of it belongs to her. Despised and abused by her mother and sisters, she finds comfort when she meets the beautiful elves living in the nearby woods. The elves want to help her discover her own magic, but it’s not the kind of power she hoped for, and she learns there is more to magic than getting what you want.

SCALES: A Sleeping Beauty prequel. The sun never sets in the realm of the fairies. When the young fairy Serina looks into her sister’s eyes, she sees darkness for the first time. After her mother is murdered, Serina defies fairy law to follow her sister to the human realm. There she discovers the strength of a bond, the weight of a promise, and the darkness in her own heart.

I don't know that I've read any short story collection (if that's what you could call this) that I've loved as much as Bonded. Yes, the description basically tells you it's going to be continuations or retellings of stories you're already familiar with (or maybe not, in the case of Thirds) but I was completely taken aback by the strings connecting the three stories. That is what made them so special. They all take place within the same realm and build off of one another, bringing you in a full circle that is so satisfying and heart-breaking.

The first story, Cinders, was previously published, but I had never read it. I was quickly drawn into Cinderella's plight; she doesn't know if the prince loves her for herself or simply because of the spell, she is having dreams of stranger she thought was long gone, and there is unrest in her country. Here we are first introduced to the threads of story that continue through the other two stories that makes this book so good, but Cinders also stands alone as a fantastic story, one that I'd love without the other two stories in the book (though the addition of the other two just make this one better!)

Following Cinders is Thirds, a retelling of One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes, a Grimm fairy tale I had never heard of. It took me a little bit to get used to the idea of people with one or three eyes being beautiful, but Issina is another fantastic protagonist who struggles with things she can't find a way to change, her lack of magic, the treatment at the hands of her sisters and mother. When she finds her way into a magic she never dreamed of she struggles with the realization she will never become what she wanted, but could be even better.

I think my favorite story was Scales, though. This is the story that connects all of the dots from the other two and really dives deep into the magic that surrounds the other stories. Serina's story is also the one I found to be most resonant. She is a fairy, the most powerful of magical beings, and should be perfectly happy. But she struggles with secrets her sister has entrusted to her and with the knowledge that things are not as they probably should be. The unfailing love Serina displays is honestly just moving. She's resented her sister since her birth for her perfection, yet she loves her so deeply that she's willing to risk her way of life, safety, and anything else to help her. The ending of Serina's story is one so heartbreaking, I just didn't know what to do with myself. I adored it, though.

While wonderful stories on their own, Cinders, Thirds, and Scales are a near perfect collection. The themes of bonding and self-sacrificing love run throughout and make the reading experience all the better for it. I honestly don't know if I can come up with words that work well enough to explain how perfectly done this book is. Just read it and you'll understand!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Every Day by David Levithan

Title: Every Day
Author: David Levithan
Release date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Knopf
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Pages: 336
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.
Going into Every Day I had both high expectations and low expectations. How does that happen, you ask? I'll tell you! I was absolutely and completely in love with the description of the book. I couldn't get over the idea of someone stuck in a new body every day, but with the continuance of loving the same girl through them all. I don't know how you could not love that! BUT, my only other experience with David Levithan is Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, which I absolutely hated. Yep. So you can see why I was of two minds. Every Day took the route of my high expectations, though it didn't follow what I expected in the least.

I'm going to have a hard time explaining how I feel in this paragraph, I think. Someone might dislike me for saying this, but hey, this is my blog and I'm allowed to state my opinion. I didn't like that A didn't associate with a gender. This is the biggest thing I disliked. Honestly. YES, I understand the point, that we aren't necessarily defined by our genders (or shouldn't be), since love certainly doesn't. But I felt like it was hard to get a grasp on A without this, this could be because A needed more defining characteristics other than being nice and switching bodies every day. Or it could be because I'm a terrible person. Either one will work for me.

Otherwise, other than the ending that made me sad, I found this to be an utterly fascinating book. The idea is unbelievably awesome and I was always curious to see who A woke up as each morning. I wanted to know how A was going to reach Rhiannon and how they could possibly make such an impossible situation work. I liked seeing repercussions of A's interference in the host's lives, even though A tries to not leave a mark. (I am having the hardest time writing sentences without him/her and he/she. Gosh darn you David Levithan!) And while the ending was not what I'd wish, it made sense and it really would have ruined the book if I got my way. :) Though I don't think I'd complain.

I'm not afraid to admit reading Every Day genuinely made me uncomfortable at times, in more ways than one. This is not a sensation I'm used to, but isn't one I'm averse to. I like to expand my horizons. The kind of books David Levithan writes are not generally my kind of thing, so it's a bit of a stretch for me. It takes consideration and a truly engaging story for me to enjoy their kind. Luckily, Every Day hit the mark.

Risk a paper cut? Even if contemporaries aren't your thing, I'm glad I read Every Day and I think you will be too.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hexes and Haunts: A Halloween Review by Nancy Fulda

Title: Hexes and Haunts: A Halloween Collection
Author: Nancy Fulda
Release date: October 2011
Format: Ebook
Source: Provided by author for review
Pages: 47
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Smashwords | Audible
Award-winning author Nancy Fulda presents five stories of ghosts, witches, vanishing chocolate, and haunted pumpkins. Two of them are humorous. Two are thought-provoking. And one of them might just keep you up at night. In "Hexes and Tooth Decay", a grumpy rock fairy crosses paths with an impolite witch, and trouble ensues. Two brothers release an ancient curse in "The Scream". "Ghost Chimes" tells the story of an orphan, her mother, and a most unusual type of haunting. Felipe sets out to catch a candy thief in "The Half-Life of Chocolate", and in "Like Rain From Silver Skies" a teenage girl is obsessed with the mysterious red letters that appear on a wall near her home.
Every year around Halloween, I like to read something for the season. This year, I just happened to get a request from Nancy Fulda to review her short story collection, Hexes and Haunts, so I was excited. This was absolutely the most perfect thing! There is a fantastic mix of lighthearted and heavier stories that made reading quick and very enjoyable.

With five stories, I originally expected it to be longer, but the whole collection numbers less than 50 pages, making it a quick, one sitting read that I deeply enjoyed. My favorite story was definitely "The Scream" and I think it could easily be expanded into a full length novel, one that I'd definitely read. Nancy's writing is very, very good, descriptive and full. Each story conveyed a palpable and, at times, very chilling feel that I loved.

All in all, I had a great time reading this Halloween collection, and I think you will too! So click away and get your own copy of it, it'll put you in the mood for the spookiest night of the year!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Title: Monstrous Beauty
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Release date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Pages: 304
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.
I am finding it hard to hold a firm opinion on Monstrous Beauty. I think I liked it? I know I loved the writing and the setting and the dark feel of it. I guess this means I liked it. But I also was not excited reading about Hester like I was Syrenka. I couldn't feel a whole ton of love for Hester's best friend (whose name escapes me, clearly not the best sign.)

On the bright side, there are just too many amazingly delicious things in this book. Like I said, the writing, setting, and feel were perfect and beautiful. But so were a good number of the characters, especially Syrenka (and OOH that mermaid queen. She was AWESOME.) She has such an innocence and willingness to love but finds her very nature keeps getting in the way of her happiness. This doesn't stop her from fighting for what she wants, harder than most characters I've read about, making her memorable and lovely in a way unlike any other. I think I'd read this book simply for Syrenka.

Luckily, we don't have to! I know this sounds terrible and morbid, but there are some awesome deaths in this book, not to mention some of the creepiest locations and characters, all of which I love. (Come to think of it, this would be a great book to read around Halloween...) What makes these grotesque--and I mean grotesque--things bearable is how they're presented to the reader. They're not thrown into the story to make it seem sensational or for shock value. Most of them are there to show how truly horrific the circumstances of Syrenka's, and other character's, lives became. They're also presented in such darn pretty language you almost don't recognize how terrible they are. This is a talent I applaud.

So... Um... Apparently I liked this more than I thought. Nothing like writing a review to learn how you felt about a book! While I'm a fan, this is not a book for the younger readers of YA. There's a great deal of violence that I wouldn't recommend it to a young crowd. But older readers of YA should find this book fascinating and very appealing.

Risk a paper cut? If you're looking for a step up (and away) from the normal paranormal books, this is just for you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Title: For Darkness Shows the Stars
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Release date: June 12, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 402
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.
I absolutely ADORE Persuasion by Jane Austen. I love the story of Anne Eliot and Captain Wentworth with all of my heart. I might just love it more than Pride & Prejudice (don't hate me!) So when I heard of For Darkness Shows the Stars and learned that it is a retelling of Persuasion, I was sold immediately. Pride & Prejudice gets the retelling treatment a lot, but Austen's other works get looked over pretty often, despite how amazing they are. Not only did I enjoy the romance of Eliot and Kai, I loved the whole new world (Cue Aladdin!) created by Peterfreund to surround her classic characters in.

A large part of my love of this stemmed straight from Persuasion. The relationship between our two characters is not the normal one shown in literature, their past is more intense and passionate. I thought that that intensity was retained here with the childhood friendship and later deeper relationship of Eliot and Kai. All in all the general feel of the original was retained, which I found to be a great success, all while creating a fantastic place to see familiar characters react to.

As I've noted, I loved the world Peterfreund created. It was probably the highlight of the book for me, since the relationship and its progress were things that were familiar. I enjoyed learning about humans destroying themselves and building themselves back up and the repercussions of that. The world is one fully-formed that I'd certainly love to explore more of.

I'm not going to talk for eons on this one, since it really sells itself. If you love the story of Persuasion, you should read this. If you love young adult romances or science fiction, you should read this. This story took my heart.

Risk a paper cut? The Luddites and Posts agree. This one is a winner! :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cover Reveal: Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta (US Edition)

I am over the moon today. You know why? I get to help unveil the US cover for the final book in Melina Marchetta's Lumatere Chronicles, Quintana of Charyn. I am so unbelievably in love with this series and can't believe it's already coming to an end, but I'm so excited to find out what happens to all of our favorite characters.

So I'm not going to talk anymore, since I know you just want to see the cover. :) Here it is!

Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta
Release date: March 12, 2013
Publisher: Candlewick

The climactic conclusion of Printz Award winner Melina Marchetta’s epic fantasy trilogy!

Separated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi and his companions travel through Charyn searching for Quintana and building an army that will secure her unborn child’s right to rule. While in the valley between two kingdoms, Quintana of Charyn and Isaboe of Lumatere come face-to-face in a showdown that will result in heartbreak for one and power for the other. The complex tangle of bloodlines, politics, and love introduced in Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles coalesce into an engrossing climax in this final volume.
So, what do you think? Do you love it? I know I do. :) How do you think it compares to the Australian cover? And how excited are you for the book itself?? Please let me know in the comments, I'd love to discuss!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October Comment Contest!

So I'm going to 'fess up. I like comments. I don't get enough of them. :) I've seen this on other blogs, and I just love the idea. I'm going to hold a comment contest! If it's successful, I could easily make it an ongoing thing.

To enter, all you have to do is comment (a meaningful comment, please!) on any post in the month of October. There's no form to fill out, extra entries by tweeting, none of that. You can earn as many entries as you'd like, simply by commenting on as many posts as you'd like! All I ask is that the comment is a little more than "Great review!" and your name and that you leave me some way to contact you, be it a link to your blog, your email address, Twitter handle, ANYTHING. As long as I can find you, I will take it as an entry.

So for the prize, I'm going to keep it very open-ended. You can win your choice of book (up to $15 USD) from The Book Depository (or Amazon or Barnes & Noble if you're in the US and want it from there). That means this is INTERNATIONAL. This will end 11:59 P.M. October 31 CST. I will announce a winner on November 1st!

I believe that is it. There are little to no rules, and you can have whatever book you want! :) So get to commenting! And if you leave me a link, I'll visit you back! :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Immortal Rules
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: Blood of Eden #1
Release date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Format: Egalley
Pages: 485
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity. Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of "them." The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked--and given the ultimate choice. Die...or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend--a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what--and who--is worth dying for.
So I pretty much worship at Julie Kagawa's feet. It's a fact I'm just completely unashamed about. Needless to say, I was beyond pumped about The Immortal Rules. I loved what she did with the fey and was hoping she'd work the same kind of magic with vampires, especially since I'm pretty fatigued with them at this point. Boy did she not disappoint!! I don't have the same love for this book as I do for the Iron Fey books, but I love it more than a lot of other things. (So that's good, I guess...)

One of the thing I disliked about Julie Kagawa's former protagonist, Megan, was that she was rather whiny and wimpy in the first two books. Our new protagonist, Allie, nips that worry in the bud almost immediately. She is hardcore and takes no nonsense. After she becomes a vampire, she wields a katana, for goodness sake! I liked her general willingness to own up to the fact that she wants to keep living, she's a fighter through and through and will not lie down and die, even if it means becoming what she hates most. Sure, a martyr is nice, but someone who just will not give up is refreshing. Having Allie become what she abhors lets us explore our own lines and wonder if we'd do the same thing.

It pretty much goes without saying that Julie Kagawa can write a swoon-worthy love interest. She does not slack in this series. Zeke is different from what I expected, but so sweet and a perfect complement to Allie. She's all aggression and passion, whereas he's sweet and sensible.

I was so happy to see a new twist on vampires, as well. I've seen humans treated as "blood cattle" in other interpretations but not in a YA book for sure. They're also just not very nice people, even Allie, who tries as hard as she can to not become a monster, finds herself giving into the nature of a vampire. Awesome.

As a whole, I really enjoyed The Immortal Rules. I didn't love it like I love Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series, but it was a solid introduction and has the potential to become just as good.

Risk a paper cut? With all those vampires lurking around, it's definitely a big chance you'd be taking, but one that is ultimately completely worth it. Just make them let you finish reading first!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Music to Read To... Or Not??

I know a lot of people have differing opinions on music, and really sounds in general, while they read. Personally, I can almost never read if there is a conversation going on around me or if the tv is on--unless it's sports. But, I can tolerate any and all music. In fact, a lot of time I find that the right music makes my reading experience more dynamic. Different types of books and/or scenes call for different kinds of music. I even have a playlist in my iTunes entitled "How to Read a Book". Most of it is from movie soundtracks, but there are a few other things as well. Here are a few things I keep on repeat for while I'm reading:

For epic battle scenes:

The Battle from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, composed by Harry Gregson-Williams

Guardians at the Gate, by Audiomachine

For a romantic scene or happy ending:

Tristan & Yvaine from Stardust, composed by Ilan Eshkeri

Your Hands Are Cold from Pride & Prejudice (2005), composed by Dario Marianelli

For basically any part of a good dystopian:

Shelter by Greenwheel

What Shall We Die For from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, composed by Hans Zimmer

So that's just a teeny tiny little bit of what I listen to when I read. If you'd like to know more, just ask! I love sharing, it's actually kind of sad. I'd also love to know your opinions on music while you read and/or what you listen to when you read! :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Abandon (Possession #3) Cover Reveal!

I am so excited to be helping unveil the cover for the third book in Elana Johnson's Possession series, Abandon, hosted by AToMR Tours. I actually haven't gotten around to reading the second book (EEK!) but I quite enjoyed the first. Not only are we getting a stunning new cover, but Elana is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to one lucky reader, and it's so easy!

But first, without further ado, the cover:

Isn't it pretty?? And it looks so good with the others.

Now for that contest! Elana is running a Pinterest contest for the cover. She wants to get 500 pins (or repins) over the next  two days. If we can get that many, she'll pick someone who pinned the cover to win a $50 Amazon gift card. It's so easy to do this. All you have to do is click over to Elana’s blog for details
seduced by power,
broken by control,
and consumed by love...

Vi has made her choice between Jag and Zenn, and the Resistance may have suffered for it. But with the Thinkers as strong as ever, the rebels still have a job to do. Vi knows better than anyone that there's more at stake than a few broken hearts.

But there is a traitor among them...and the choices he makes could lead to the total destruction of everything Vi has fought for.

Vi, Jag, and Zenn must set their problems aside for the Resistance to have any hope of ending the Thinkers' reign. Their success means everything...and their failure means death.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2)

Title: The Crown of Embers
Author: Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns #2
Release date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow
Format: ARC
Pages: 410
Source: Borrowed
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions.

As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds.
I put off reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns for quite a while, and was schooled on that when I read it and loved it. What actually spurred me was that I borrowed an ARC of The Crown of Embers, so I was lucky to finish the first and immediately begin the second. This sequel absolutely did not disappoint! I just might have loved it more than the first, it's that good.

We saw Elisa grow up so immensely in The Girl of Fire and Thorns that it's hard to believe she has any left to do, but boy does she. Yes, she's a hero to her country and their queen, but that doesn't mean her rule is accepted without questions or with complete trust. She has to fight for everything she wants to accomplish and cannot trust most of those within her court. In order to harness the power of her godstone and better rule her adopted country, Elisa must go on a perilous journey to the ends of the earth.

I just love Elisa. She started off so pitifully in the previous book and she became just the greatest character to root for. You can't help but love her and the fight within her. She has such love for a country that was not her own until recently and she will sacrifice everything and anything for the good of her people, even her own happiness. Like I said, I just love her.

I absolutely could not get over the romance in this one! I loved her relationship with Humberto for it's sweetness and innocence, but that love and loss has shaped Elisa. Humberto was her first love, someone she'll never forget, but it also prepared her for her great love, whose name I'm not mentioning. Their relationship is founded upon trust and respect for the other. The relationship is slow-burning and so, so fulfilling when acted upon. I was melting into a little pool of jelly at parts and crying with frustration at others. I might love this book simply for the romance, but everything else was so well done I couldn't. :)

We see a whole other side of Joy D'Arena in The Crown of Embers. Elisa's journey takes her to the exotic and mysterious islands of the country, a place that I loved exploring with her. I love the well-developed world and its beauty that just leaps from the page.

If you liked The Girl of Fire and Thorns, you will be blown away by The Crown of Embers. I cannot recommend this sequel enough. It's the epitome of young adult fantasy done perfectly. I might just be crying in my bed every night waiting for The Bitter Kingdom...


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Throne of Glass
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Release date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Pages: 416
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
 I've been quite excited for Throne of Glass for a good long while, and reasonably so. This is just the type of book I've always had the biggest weakness for, fantasy set in a medieval kind of time with a sprinkling of magic! Nothing gets better than that, and I just can't get enough of them, especially recently, though some have definitely been better than others. I believe that Throne of Glass is a solid addition to the ranks of YA fantasy, though certainly not the best I've read.

Throne of Glass had a wonderfully engaging and fast-paced plot. We're treated to lots of sword fights, palace intrigue, glittering balls, secret passages, and mystery. These were all fun parts of the story and a large part of what kept me reading. I was invested in solving the mystery of the palace killings and the results of the  competition of the champions. The book is over four hundred pages, but it definitely didn't feel that long.

Celaena is definitely not a simpering, cowering, helpless protagonist. She has a sharp comment for anyone who riles her up and can easily back up her words with actions. I never knew what she was going to say next. I also liked her grit. She doesn't back down, even when things are looking bad. It would be so easy to for an author to rely on someone else to swoop in and save her when the going gets tough at the end, but instead she grinds her teeth and gets through it. That is a much better character to me.

My complaints lie in the predictability of the plot and the love triangle. While I did think the plot was engaging, I figured it out way too quickly and could almost predict what was going to happen next. The love triangle felt forced, especially on the part of Prince Dorian. He didn't feel genuine in his affections, whereas Chaol seemed earnest. Honestly, I didn't feel like a love triangle was remotely necessary here.

Despite my complaints, I do feel that Throne of Glass was a good and entertaining read. I think there's some work to be done for the sequel, but there is quite a lot of potential for this series and I will definitely be looking forward to what happens next. I look forward to meeting Celaena again!

Risk a paper cut? This light fantasy will endear readers to Celaena and her plight, making them willing to risk her rapier wit, something much more intimidating than a measly paper cut.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Goddess Interrupted (Goddess #2) by Aimee Carter

Release date: March 27, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Pages: 296
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

Kate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she'll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn't supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she's as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he's becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate's coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.

As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.

Henry's first wife, Persephone.
I enjoyed The Goddess Test, but didn't love it. I liked the idea behind the tests and liked the way the gods were depicted. All the things I liked about The Goddess Test were present in Goddess Interrupted, but boy oh boy did I like it SO much better! I liked that Aimee Carter went deeper into mythology into the story of Kronos and the Olympians taking him down, which is not an aspect of the mythology I've read much fiction about. OOH, and I LOVED getting to meet Persephone! More about that later. :)

Kate has passed the seemingly impossible test. She's immortal. You'd think she would have some time to rest! But no, the father of the gods and most powerful of the Titans, Kronos, has been let out. When he was captured before, it took the power of all of the gods, and Henry has been taken hostage by Kronos. In a seemingly hopeless situation, Kate proves her mettle. And this is why I love her. She is seemingly powerless in the this situation. But she steps up to the plate and helps those she's grown to love. I did find her a little annoying at times, and very unwilling to notice the things right in front of her face, but the stronger traits of Kate's character outshine the weaker ones.

I liked the increased action here, and adored the slightly deeper look into mythology. Honestly, before this book I was aware of the Titans, but was unaware of their real relation to the Olympians. (Now, of course, I'm taking Greek & Roman Mythology and just know WAY too much of the weird details. :) College.) I was fascinated by the idea, and liked seeing more sides to each of the characters and how they faced a life and death situation, since Kate was really the only one risking anything in the first book.

And OH MY GOODNESS that ending. Sometimes I get so incensed at super cliffhanger endings, but this one just made me that much more excited for the final book in the trilogy, not to mention it fit very well and while it was a surprise, it also wasn't. I'm glad it didn't just come flying out from left field.

If you liked The Goddess Test you are in for a treat here. We get all of the romance, action, backstabbing, drama, and mythology that we loved in the first, but to an even higher degree. Goddess Interrupted is such a fun and captivating read.

Risk a paper cut? Zeus, king of all the gods, shall send his thunder upon you and magically...somehow...fix your poor fingers should something happen to them. Yeah.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Defiance by C.J. Redwine

Release date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed
Pages: 416
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.
When you read the synopsis of Defiance it sounds pretty much like a fantasy, doesn't it? I hate to tell you, but it's really not. Somehow, it's set in the future, with advanced technology and everything. This juxtaposition didn't sit well with me. I didn't like a world that seemed archaic with technology past what we have today. With such technology, I don't feel like the people of this world would live like they do. Everything points to something medieval, but it's NOT and it bothered me. (This is a slight rant, and for that I"m sorry. I just had to get it off my chest before I got to really reviewing or the whole thing would be a rant. I also realize this whole paragraph makes no sense. Ignore me. :) It shouldn't be terribly difficult.)

Despite the above rant, generally I really enjoyed Defiance. Most things were done well, with Rachel being a stand-out protagonist. From a young age, she is trained to take care of herself. She can fight, hide, survive in the wild, and is mentally very tough. She has lost much but persists on, even when all seems lost. Despite being a rather tough person, she is very loving and wants to protect others. This is evidenced in her relationship with her father, with Logan, and with her surrogate grandfather, all of whom she loves fiercely and will do anything to protect. I just loved the girl.

The relationship between Rachel and Logan, obviously a romantic-skewing one, could have been a low for this book very easily. BUT it was done well and flowed very naturally, even though Rachel had established feelings before the start of the book, so it didn't feel like it was too quick or forced. Logan is, admittedly, an easy character to fall for. He is, like Rachel, loving and protective, but he's also insanely intelligent and has a plan and an invention for just about every situation. I loved in his chapters when he'd list all of the things that could go wrong and the best and worst case scenarios. That added something very individual to him that helped make him real to me. It never hurt that he was so ready to sacrifice everything for the girl he loved. :)

My biggest disappointment, as evidenced in my rant, is based in the world-building. I didn't get it. Without the dystopian aspect and the technology, it would have served very well as a alternate medieval times. Magic substituted for the technology would make much more sense and could solve most of my problems. Sad, I know. (MAGIC IS NOT THE ANSWER. It's like a drug...) I understood that this unknown monster had destroyed the world as they knew it and that this guy somehow prevented the monster from attacking the people, but I just couldn't wrap my head around it working. I couldn't. And still can't. Normally, world-building is a minor complaint for me, but it is what made Defiance a shaky four stars rather than a comfortable five.

While I felt that Defiance was absolutely worth my time and a very enjoyable read, there is a lot of ground to be covered in the second book in order for me to continue with the series.

Risk a paper cut? A solid yes for this installment. You'll root for Rachel and Logan's plight like your life depends on it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu

Release date: November 29, 2011
Publisher: Putnam
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 305
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
I didn't realize for a long time that I wanted to read Legend. I thought I was exhausted with dystopians. This was before I knew that the relationship between Day and June was based on the one between Jean Valjean and Javert in Les Miserables. They were mentioned together one time to me and I was sold. No need to know anything else. And while this was a fun way to hook me personally, the book itself was what convinced me in the end.

Sometimes I'm all for pensive and thoughty books. Other times all I want is a book that keeps barreling on with action. Legend is just that kind of book, which makes it terribly fun to read and not easy to put down. When I finished one chapter, I found myself flipping through the next one to see how long it was so I could convince myself I needed to sleep, eat, wash dishes, anything else.

Recently I've found myself very disconnected from characters I'm reading. This could be my choices in the books or it could be me, but I was quickly hooked by June and Day and found myself feeling for them much more deeply than I have for characters recently. With the death of her brother, June has no family, and turns to her rage and loneliness to find his killer. It seems like the investigation is easy, with no doubt that Day, a criminal wanted by the Republic, is her guy. But as June looks deeper into the story and becomes closer to Day, she sees that not all is as it seems in the Republic. I found myself grieving with June, frightened with Day, and rejoicing in their triumphs.

I did feel a slight lack of world-building. We were given the situation, but not a lot of information regarding outside the Republic. People's passivity looked a little more like stupidity. Generally, I'm not a nitpicker on world-building, though, so it's really not a huge chunk out of my personal enjoyment. I am hoping for more in Prodigy, though, as we get deeper into the story.

If you're a fan of dystopians, Legend will be your cup of tea. If you may be getting a little bit tired of 'em, maybe try it! I thought I was worn thin with controlling governments, rebels, and big brother, but Legend kicked that thought to the curb.

Risk a paper cut? I should say so. With nonstop action and romance, you're in for a good ride.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Books of My Childhood

I've wanted to do some more personal posts for a long time, but I have had trouble figuring out what to do. When I think of something I convince myself out of it because I just don't think people will be interested, honestly. While this is probably just stupidity on my part, I figure that is the case sometimes, so I've taken some time to figure out what to write. But I was browsing some blogs and came across Belle's Bookshelf. First, she clearly loves Beauty and the Beast (my favorite Disney movie of all time). I immediately liked her. And second, she's done a lot of posts listing her favorites of things. One she had was "Top 5: Series that Defined My Childhood". I read it, and immediately knew that was what I wanted to talk about. I've always been fascinated hearing what made people the readers they are today, and have never really explored it in myself, though I've always wanted to... So thanks Belle! My list is not exactly the same; it's not a top 5 and it's not necessarily series, just books that impacted my reading life growing up.

The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey, illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren

This is one of the first books I remember loving as a child, aside from the Berenstein Bears books. The puppy always reminded me a little of myself, getting curious and wandering off to find interesting things, and I always got sad when he didn't get his dessert. As a kid who loved her food, I felt for a guy who didn't get that pie.

Every once in a while I pick it up at the store and find myself reading it, since I'm not sure where my childhood copy went. I always smile. I always find the puppy's plight sad, but it's also a perfect reminder of the time in my life when the saddest thing that could happen was being sent to bed without dinner. I certainly haven't had a hard life, but, as is inevitable, I've become more jaded and realistic than I was as a child, and I love the reminder and the memories of my parents reading about the poky little puppy as I fell asleep.

The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

Apparently I was a competitive little bugger growing up. In elementary school, we had Accelerated Reader. If you don't know what it is, it's a system where books are assigned a grade level and points, and you take a test after reading them to earn those points. At the end of the year, my school awarded the student who had earned the most points in each class, as well as in the school. In first grade, I decided I wanted to win. Badly. So I picked up The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, with a grade level of 8 and worth 26 points. I read it and took the test, pretty much on the last day that we could earn AR points. I HAD THE MOST POINTS IN THE FIRST GRADE. I WAS SUPERIOR TO ALL AND WAS QUEEN OF THE WORLD. Until the teachers decided it wasn't fair that I had taken a test at the end of the year worth so many points, and didn't let me win. I got a special certificate, but NO TROPHY. Needless to say, it has scarred my memory ever since, and the book that would have been a fleeting memory is ingrained for having helped me beat all of the wimpy first graders, and yet not.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Even today this is one of my favorite books. Out of every book I've ever read, I've read this one more times than any of them. I'm not huge on rereading things, but I've easily read Ella Enchanted thirty times. I remember a time when I literally read it over and over and over again. I finished it and immediately flipped back to the first page and started again. If that's not love of a book I don't know what is.

I think this is what fostered my love of fairy tale retellings. It's one of the first books I remember that gave me the familiar yet new sense that I love about retellings, and what has made me seek them out even now. It didn't hurt that I was in love with Char and thought Ella was about the coolest girl ever. I think Char was probably my first swoon-worthy love interest; the first male character I wanted to marry. I even love the hokey movie starring Anne Hathaway that is practically unrecognizable from the book. In my mind, this book is flawless and always will be.

---We're on to my fantasy phase! The one that really lasted from the middle of elementary school and pretty much hasn't stopped. I read other things, but fantasy is kinda my lifeblood. I don't read it often even, but it's what I love more than anything. I'm not sure about the order of these last three in my life, since they all go together in my brain, but it's not really of importance.---

The His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

Interestingly, The Golden Compass was the first book I ever listened to as an audiobook, and I think it set the tone for the audiobooks of my life (of which there are very few). I feel like I don't get the story properly. When I finished listening to this, I immediately picked up the physical book and began reading it again. This was partially because it was awesome, but also because I didn't feel as connected to the world as I was used to.

After I finished it, I got the next two pretty much immediately and devoured them. And though the first one is the only one I've read twice, I feel profoundly connected to these books. I was close to Lyra's age when I first began them, and felt like she and I were related in some way. I didn't go on fantastic adventures like she did, but I was finding myself, just like Lyra was. I was certainly jealous of her, going into alternate dimensions with Pantaliamon while I was stuck learning math, but Lyra was important to me and, really, she still is.

The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

To this very day, as I sit in my bed, Robin McKinley is unequivocally one of my favorite authors of all time. I'm a couple of books behind on her recently, but I at least own everything she has written. She is one of the first authors I could admire simply for her writing itself. The words flow on the page so beautifully and her worlds practically create themselves in my head. I read these two books as I was growing to appreciate such things and as I was learning not every story has a perfect happy ending. The Hero and the Crown was written second, but takes place before The Blue Sword, so I read them for chronology, rather than publication date, but it really doesn't matter. Both stories are of women finding themselves in situations that should be beyond them, yet they persevere and they succeed beautifully, but not without a cost. I don't love many books like I love these two. They've both gotten later rereads to find that I love them just as much now as I did then, though I'm due for an all out McKinley fest. (Would anyone join me???)

The Abhorsen series by Garth Nix

Sabriel and the other Abhorsen books were definitely some the first darker books that I read, and clearly grew to love. A girl who can control the spirits of the dead through a set of powerful bells. My first introduction to necromancy, a subject I've been fascinated with ever since (but not in the evil way, I swear!) The idea of the Old Kingdom living alongside a normal world was such a new idea at the time that I couldn't really even fathom it. I didn't get how a world full of magic and the ways of a forgotten time could exist right alongside cars and gas lamps, and yet it did here and it worked so well. This is also one of the first series that I just couldn't get out of my head when I finished. Honestly, it's still very prevalent in my imagination. Luckily for me, next year Garth Nix is supposed to be publishing a sort of prequel about Chlorr of the Mask, called Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen! I know I will be rereading the series before it's release and will be first in line for it. Part of my excitement lies in the continuation of a beloved story, but another part is simply excited to reenter a world I loved so long ago with a fresh story that I've not read before.

So there we go! These are the books that most formed my tastes as a reader and formed, well, me. I'm sorry it's so long-winded, but I got started and just wrote to my heart's content. This is what I got! I hope I haven't bored you, and I hope y'all will share the books of your childhood, either here or even as a post. :) I'd love to chat, guys.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Release date: July 24, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Edelweiss
Pages: 388
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

Something Strange and Deadly was an easy sell for me. I love anything remotely period, steampunk or not, though steampunk never hurts my feelings, and zombies are like candy to me. Generally I like my zombies to be as disgusting as possible, mindlessly searching for their food, popping up when they're least expected, eating the man next to you's brains. These were not THOSE kind of zombies, much to my chagrin, but after getting over that realization, Something Strange and Deadly was a very good read.

We follow Eleanor Fitt (of the Philadelphia Fitts, thank you!) as she becomes embroiled in the ever growing scourge of Philadelphia, the walking dead. On the day her beloved brother, Elijah, is to return to town, a message is delivered to her, in the hands of a zombie, telling her that he has been taken hostage by the necromancer controlling the dead and that she should stop looking for him. As a fine lady of society, Eleanor should do as the note says, and worry about Elijah from the comfort of her sitting room. BUT, Eleanor is not your typical proper lady. Instead, she takes up with the Spirit-Hunters, a questionable group in town to help them be rid of the zombies, and ends up getting caught right in the middle of the action, also catching the eye of their resident inventor, Daniel, a most unsuitable match.

Like I've said, Eleanor is not much like the girls of the time. All for the sake of her brother she ruins several dresses, bashes in a few zombie legs, and even dresses up like a man on a few occasions. She's a go getter and really just does what needs to be done without really relying on anyone else, let alone a man, to help her.

I did call the big twists rather early on in the book, something I'm never too happy about doing, but that didn't really detract from my enjoyment, especially in the end when EVERYTHING IS GOING DOWN. I like endings like that. :) You're on the edge of your seat, just waiting for the next big thing to happen. (It always so happens that someone calls me or I have to do something right at that moment. Boo.)

Aside from the non-gruesome zombies and the decently easy to pick apart plot, I really enjoyed Something Strange and Deadly. Eleanor and all of her supporting characters were fascinating (especially Jie! More of her please!) I'm definitely looking forward to the follow up.

Risk a paper cut? Personally, I'm a sucker for zombies, especially in a period setting. Nothing is more enjoyable. Oh! You're the same? You'll like it. :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Girl of Fire & Thorns by Rae Carson

Release date: September 20, 2011
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Format: Ebook
Pages: 424
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.
I put off reading this for a long, long time. But a month or so ago, I saw that it was being offered for $2.99 for my Nook, so I figured, "Why not?" I started it, and absolutely could not put it down. I was fascinated by the lore of the Godstone, Elisa's journey, and the world Carson created. I had a small freak out, after a big incident, when I thought I might have to stop reading, but I persisted and ended up adoring the book entirely.

I've always been a fan of high fantasy, of world's created solely from an author's imagination, where things not of this world are accepted as more commonplace. Some authors try to write high fantasy for a young adult audience, but somehow fail. This is not one of those cases. The nations, people, and locations of The Girl of Fire and Thorns are fascinating and exotic in their own way. I loved seeing them all through Elisa's eyes as they're opened to a new world and a new outlook on life.

Elisa was one of the most interesting characters I've read in a long time. Most heroines in young adult fiction perceive themselves as being unattractive or undesirable when they really are not in any way. Elisa is a lazy princess, one who sits about the castle eating truffles (I don't think she actually ate truffles, but you get the idea), and therefore her body reflects that. She feels useless, and kind of is, except she knows she is meant for some kind of purpose. She doesn't know how she's going to accomplish it, and she fears she won't be able to. As she explores the country of her husband, she finds herself becoming someone she feels could actually accomplish her purpose, mentally and physically. I loved watching her transformation and learning along with her.

The plot and pacing are fantastic as well. I found myself completely engrossed time and time again. Not only could I not get the characters and world out of my head, I couldn't stop wondering what was going to happen next and knew if I kept reading just a teensy bit more I'd find another scene to love. Even after I finished the book, I wanted more. I wanted more of the world. I wanted more of Elisa, her family, and friends. I wanted more of her story.

Risk a paper cut? Absolutely yes. The story enthralled my imagination and my heart, leaving me begging for more.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Florence by Ciye Cho

Release date: July 1, 2012
Source: Egalley received from author
Pages: 336
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and taken below the waves to the mer world of Niemela, she is the ultimate gift for merman Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of a dark ocean.

Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand--and find out where she belongs--Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart... and her very soul.
I haven't been accepting many self-published books for review recently. Not because I don't want to, but because I have so many things piling up on me. Not only do I have books to read and review that I've already accepted or requested, along with books I've bought or been given, but I also have work and friends to keep up with, plus I'll be starting back at school soon. But when I got an email from Ciye Cho asking me to review his book, Florence, my fancy was caught.

Florence follows Florence Waverley, a very average, unnoticed teenager, as she is taken into the world of the Niemelans, mermaids who live in secret on the bottom of the ocean, hiding from human eyes and from the dangers of the world around them. She is seen as an outsider in her world, as well as theirs, but slowly she finds a place for herself as she becomes involved in the Niemelans battle against the Darkness, the forces that would destroy them, and involved with the two princes of the people.

I was enchanted by the idea of a human brought into the world of mermaids, rather than a mermaid in the world of the humans like we normally get. And the world created by Cho for our mermaids to live in is fascinating and beautiful. Every person has a role and nothing goes to waste for their people. They work to protect themselves from the mystery and danger of the Darkness, something else I was intrigued by. Normally, mermaids are at one with their surroundings, generally working with the creatures, rather than against them. To see the Niemelans battle against giant undersea creatures was quite a treat, and an aspect I loved.

At first I thought Florence was a rather boring protagonist, average in her world, average in the Niemelans, but she grew into so much more. Somehow, in a place where she should have felt most at odds, she seemed to find a home and a place, and blossomed into a new person; a person with a purpose and with drive, and a pleasure to read. I also deeply enjoyed the progression of her relationships with Kiren and Rolan, two very different princes and two very different relationships. It seems like it'd be a love triangle, but it wasn't really, and that was something I appreciated. Both princes are much more than they seem, but one is better than one could imagine and the other is deeply troubled with a heartbreaking story.

There were times where I felt like dialogue was a little stilted and the story got slow, and I thought the beginning had a bit of a slow start. But once we got into the world of the Niemelans it picked up for the most part and I really couldn't put Florence down.

Risk a paper cut? Florence is an above average mermaid book that turns the tropes on their heads. Easily worth the read for a new look on the mermaid genre.

Visit the book's site for sample chapters!