29 November 2011

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

This new release has shot to my shortlist of best books released this year. I loved the plot, the characters, and everything about it. Juliette is a broken girl, but that is to be expected when she’s been in jail for 2 years and had no human contact for almost 1. I like that she still has agency and pushes to overcome doubts that she was born wrong. I think that, in her position, it would be very easy to give in to depression and despair, and although she brushes those she always manages to pull herself back enough to keep on going. The plot in this book is great, surprising but it has a flow to it that seems very natural and makes you want to keep reading. The romance is especially good. The two characters seem to support each other while still being independent and making choices jointly. Even though he’s stronger the boy never overpowers Juliette, instead they both recognize the strengths and weaknesses of themselves and their partner and work together to utilize them to get themselves out of bad situations. The very end seemed a little forced or not well set up in the former parts of the book, but since I think it is a setup for future books I will forgive it.

28 November 2011

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

The Legend of Beka Cooper gives Tamora Pierce's fans exactly what they want—a smart and savvy heroine making a name for herself on the mean streets of Tortall's Lower City—while offering plenty of appeal for new readers as well.

Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt—if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal.

This has been a hard review to write. I’ve been sitting on a review for Tortall and Other Lands for even longer. Mostly because any Tamora Pierce book is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of enjoyment. You can see on my post of Books I am Thankful For that I wax poetic on Wild Magic, my first exposure to the author. Really, though, I love all her books and I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite. I own multiple copies and re-read at least one series a year, finishing all of them about every 3 years so I can start over. As you can tell, I have a serious soft spot for the author, and showed up at the bookstore at 10 am to pick up my book.

Trying to put my prejudice aside, however, I will say that I thought this was a good book. I remember when I first started with Terrier I was a bit put off by the first person journal style the book has, but by the third book it seems normal. I’m glad too, because this book was worth it. In fact, I’d say that this book functions as a good stand-alone as well as a great series ender. In fact, the book itself seems kinda like a trilogy. It is MASSIVE, you can feel all 600 pages when you pick up the book. However, don’t let that throw you off. Every page is packed with action and tension, and I never felt a lull or down spot. Pierce knows very well how to weave through action, clue-finding tension, and romance scenes to make them all seem fresh and integral to the plot. Beka is a great character, independent and career driven for a job she loves.


I know that a lot of people didn’t like a lot of things about this series. Beka’s abusive relationship is often questioned. I didn’t feel that was a bad thing, though, because SMART GIRLS GET IN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS. In fact, because they’re smart they’re less used to asking for help so they let abuse go on far too long. I love this part of the series because it teaches a very valuable lesson to the people who have never educated themselves about abuse.

The other gripe I keep seeing is the ending. I felt that it was heartbreaking, but I thought it was well set up in the book. Beka kept noticing the status differences, so you know the couple did, too. And I believe that could eat on a person until they did something out of character to change it. Love makes people do crazy things, and the love in that relationship has been set up in the series so that I believe he would do something horrible to keep her close.

***End Spoilers***

Then again, I may be seeing the whole book through rose-colored glasses. But I think that’s ok. It gives me so much joy that I don’t care if I’m a little biased. And I think you should read it and let it give you joy too.

Gratitude Giveaway Winners!

Thankfulness Giveaway!

The Thankfulness Giveaway ended yesterday, and this morning I chose two winners.


Hannah Lorraine
Megan Kyser!!!

Your emails have been sent, look for them soon!

And, since we blew past 150, 200, and 250 followers I'm planning a massive giveaway soon. It won't be until next week, though, I need a little down time :D

22 November 2011

RIP Anne McCaffrey

Tor and other sources are reporting that Anne McCaffrey died yesterday (Monday). After I graduated high school I found her Acorna series. It was the first series I can remember waiting on books to be published for (before that I only had access to older stuff, so it was waiting on the library to get it in instead). She also wrote the incomparable Pern series, which made her the first woman to win a Hugo and the first woman to win a Nebula award. She's also won a Heinlein award, been named a SFWA Grand Master, and been inducted in to the SF Hall of Fame. She will be missed, but her great works will live on.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

One hour to rewrite the past . . .

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.


Although this book shows its origins as a first novel from McEntire overall I think it’s a win.. Emerson is a great character. I love how she’s snarky in the right way that teenagers are and how the author uses it as exposition and to lighten heavy tensions in the plot. However, I also feel that’s all I can really say about her, and “snarky” is not really a personality-defining trait. Michael, Kaleb, and Jack are even more undefined, making the romance angles rather puzzling to me (if I’m expected to fall in love with a boy, or accept that a heroine falls in love with a boy, I wanna know why, and “he’s pretty” just doesn’t cut it). I think the plot makes up for these shortcomings, though, and really makes the book worth reading. The pacing is good overall, even though there is a middle romance section that kinda drags a bit. I like the twist in the plot where the seeing ghosts turns in to time traveling, and I wish there was a little more explanation behind the science of time travel, but I also recognize that the general teen audience doesn’t feel the same way so I’ll give it a pass. The book concludes logically but leaves an opening for another book, so I’m looking forward to the sequel!

18 November 2011

My Very Un-Fairy Tale Life by Anna Staniszewski

"You know all those stories that claim fairies cry sparkle tears and elves travel by rainbow? They're lies. All lies."—Twelve-year-old Jenny has spent the last two years as an adventurer helping magical kingdoms around the universe. But it's a thankless job, leaving her no time for school or friends. She'd almost rather take a math test than rescue yet another magical creature! When Jenny is sent on yet another mission, she has a tough choice to make: quit and have her normal life back, or fulfill her promise and go into a battle she doesn't think she can win.

This is a cute book. It is perhaps a bit younger-directed than the books I usually read, being aimed at what I suspect is the 8-12 crowd. It’s not long, due to that, but it is a good story. Jenny is a great character, and she will be relatable to children and pre-teens. The fantastic setting is a great plot twist, with just enough explanation to things that it’s fantasy without making it too complicated. It’s a great author that knows just how much to explain the magical workings without going into so much detail that the reader is lost. The twists and turns on Jenny’s journey are wonderful, and the author has crafted an adventure that highlights the strengths and weaknesses of her lead without making her jump through too many hoops or do things that seem out of character or too overpowered. Her helper, Anthony, is a delightful character as well, with just enough sarcasm to lighten the tone when it’s needed. The villain is truly villainous, and what he lacks the magic council makes up for! In all, this is a delightful quick read, and I rather hope Jenny’s adventures become a series so I can read more about her and her world!

17 November 2011

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Micah will freely admit that she’s a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she’ll ever tell you. Over the years she’s duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents, and she’s always managed to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as naturally as breathing? Taking readers deep into the psyche of a young woman who will say just about anything to convince them—and herself—that she’s finally come clean, Liar is a bone-chilling thriller that will have readers see-sawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly.

I think the best way to describe this book is “mystery”. From the first page to the last you’re not sure what you’re reading, and slightly uneasy that you don’t quite understand what’s going on, but the author puts that tension to work and keeps the reader guessing throughout the entire book. At first I wasn’t sure how I would react to having a liar as a narrator, but it doesn’t take long before you realize that Micah’s lies are part of the exposition and start to enjoy the game of guessing whether what’s being told to you is the full truth or not. Add in the major twist in the middle that makes this book solidly fantasy and the ending that makes the reader still unsure if anything they’ve read is true or false to Micah, and you’ve got a thoroughly entertaining read. It takes great skill to make a liar accessible and identifiable as a protagonist, and even more skill to make that person sympathetic, but Larbalestier accomplishes both brilliantly. The plot has predictable reveals of Micah “revising” her story, but the revisions are so different that they don’t seem formulaic or staid at all. If you don’t mind being a little uncomfortable I think you should try Liar, it packs a great payout.

15 November 2011

Sirensong by Jenna Black

When Dana is invited to Faerie to be officially presented at the Seelie Court, it’s no easy decision. After all, everyone knows Titania, the Seelie Queen, wants her dead. But Titania claims not to be the one behind the death threats; and her son, Prince Henry, makes the decision a whole lot easier when he suggests Dana might be arrested for (supposedly) conspiring with her aunt Grace to usurp the Seelie throne. So she and her father better do as they're told…

The journey through Faerie is long – and treacherous. Dana thought it would be a good idea to have friends along, but her sort-of-boyfriend, Ethan, and her bodyguard’s son, Keane, just can’t seem to get along, and Kimber’s crush on Keane isn’t making things any easier. When a violent attack separates Dana from their caravan, the sexy Erlking saves her just in the nick of time… and makes it clear that he hasn’t given up on making her his own.

Arriving at Titania’s beautiful palace should be a relief. But Dana is soon implicated in an assassination attempt against Titania’s granddaughter, and is suddenly a fugitive, forced to leave her father behind as she and her friends flee for their lives. Will she be able to prove her innocence before the forces of the Seelie Court – or, worse, the Erlking – catch up with her? And will she save her father before he pays the ultimate price in her stead?

Review of Previous Book in Series: Shadowspell

I was pretty upset with this series after the prior book. In fact, I debated quite a bit over whether or not I should even get this book. In the end I’m satisfied that I didn’t make a bad choice.

I’m not sure I would recommend the series to a new reader, but the third book didn’t have a lot of the problems of the second so it’s not a total loss. The biggest issue it still has is Dana’s forced into action by her father. Although Dana really doesn’t want to go to Faerie she’s really left with no choice, which grates on me because of all the other choices that have been taken from Dana in this series. The Ethan-Keane triangle is still rather annoying, although it does come to a conclusion which is nice (although I’m not sure I’d choose either boy with how they treat their love interest). The book has a lot more action, though, which is really a strong point. The plot moves a lot faster past agonizing emotional moments so they seem a lot less grating, and the fighting scenes are really well written and so vivid I can easily imagine what’s happening. The travelling/running/hiding parts, though, tend to drag and pull down what could be a really sparkling plot. Add in a healthy amount of issues with the Erlking still being a creepy, squick plot line and I’m a little glad the series is over.

Gratitude Giveaway!

Thankfulness Giveaway!

For this giveaway I decided to give away some books I have that I just didn't love. I hope someone will be thankful to get them, and I will be thankful to see them get the love they deserve!

I will choose two winners and email them at the same time. First to respond gets first choice of books, second to respond gets choice of what's left. All books are read once by me and come from a non-smoking home.

14 November 2011

+50 and +100 Followers Giveaway Winners!

The False Princess Mermaid Beauty Queens Liar's Moon Hunger Rage

Winners have been chosen for my +50 and +100 Followers Giveaway!

I've emailed the winners! I've also hit 150 followers, but I've got another giveaway hop started this week (Gratitude Giveaways Hop) so I'm going to put off the +150 followers giveaway until December. Right now it's got 10 books in it, hopefully I can find a few more to add.

Scored by Lauren McLaughlin

Set in the future when teenagers are monitored via camera and their recorded actions and confessions plugged into a computer program that determines their ability to succeed. All kids given a "score" that determines their future potential. This score has the ability to get kids into colleges, grant scholarships, or destroy all hope for the above. Scored's reluctant heroine is Imani, a girl whose high score is brought down when her best friend's score plummets. Where do you draw the line between doing what feels morally right and what can mean your future? Friendship, romance, loyalty, family, human connection and human value: all are questioned in this fresh and compelling dystopian novel set in the scarily forseeable future.

I really identified with this book. Or, more specifically, I really identified with Imani. Imani is a great character, and we have a lot in common: good students, considered “good kids” by the teachers and public, from a low-income family striving to give their kids a better life, and seeing nothing in the future but college and the promise of a better life that it holds. In Imani’s world, the better life is by working the “score” system that can get her a full ride into a good school. The problem is that although the company that runs the score publishes their parameters no one really understands how it ranks students or why some have high scores and some have low. Association, though, is apparently one of them because Imani falls from the low 90’s to the 60’s because her best friend, Cady (a 70) is dating an “unscored” (someone who has not submitted to the scoring system) , something completely unheard of for the scoring system and earning her a score in the 20’s. At the same time Imani is assigned a scholarship essay on how the score system is bad, and her research leads her to some unexpected places and associations. The plot is great, flowing from action to action with just enough rest that it feels well-paced and not breakneck-throttle. Imani is a great character, and like I said when I started, I saw a lot of my teenage self (and I imagine a lot of other high-school overachievers) in her. Her conflict between friendship and loyalty and the opportunity to better herself with the score system is so realistic it’s heartbreaking. I recommend this book to everyone who likes a good traditional 1984 and Brave New World –type dystopia.

11 November 2011

Enclave by Anne Aguirre


In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.

Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first she thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.

As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.

I loved this book a lot. I read it right after Divergent, and the similarities really jumped out at me. Deuce seemed a bit more real to me, though, and the threats in her world were more vivid, so this book holds a little more love. Deuce is such an active character, and her relationship with Fade is a really neat situation. It's refreshing to see that Aguirre has constructed a world where gender really doesn't matter and has no past patriarchy to undermine the equality ideal and yet allows characters to have romantic attachments as equals without destroying the worldbuilding. The plot is full of action and I liked how Aguirre describes things in a matter-of-fact manner that lends a little more voice to Deuce. The halfway twist is a great way of turning the plot around, and even though Fade's world is a little more boring and slower-paced than Deuce's I didn't really mind because I needed a break from all the piling-on of horror that I had in the first part and the promise of two more books makes me excuse some slowing down for worldbuilding and exposition that will be needed later. I anxiously await Outpost, too bad it's going to be almost a year!

10 November 2011

Tiger’s Quest by Colleen Houck

Back in Oregon, Kelsey tries to pick up the pieces of her life and push aside her feelings for Ren. But danger lurks around the corner, forcing her to return to India where she embarks on a second quest-this time with Ren's dark, bad-boy brother Kishan, who has also fallen prey to the Tiger's Curse. Fraught with danger, spellbinding dreams, and choices of the heart, TIGER'S QUEST brings the trio one step closer to breaking the spell that binds them.

I thought this book took a bad turn. Although I liked Tiger’s Curse this book took a totally different direction, especially at first. I almost gave up on the first third of the book. The story starts out where Tiger’s Curse left off, with Kelsey returning to Oregon and leaving Ren in India. However, her life in Oregon is far from normal. For her “service” to Ren she’s gifted with a full ride to a college she didn’t have to apply to, a house, an outlandish car, all expenses paid, credit cards in her name . . . and the list goes on. I admire that Kelsey tried to move on and date, but the choices are so obviously not for her that I have to wonder if there was any effort at all put into them. Li is so transparent as a plot point setup that I was more annoyed than anything. I really wish this whole section of the book had been put into a one-chapter prologue at best.

After Ren returns, spends time romancing Kelsey (something that annoys me because he insists he must do it for her benefit even though she doesn’t want it in a horrible case of ‘mansplainin’) and they get attacked and Kelsey escapes with Kishan while Ren is captured. While I like that Kelsey has adventures away from Ren, with Kishan the quest seemed like less of a partnership. It never seemed to be them working together, more that one of them was holding the other one back. At least it alternated so that one person wasn’t always hobbling the other. I’m still holding out hope for the series as a whole, however, and I’ll get the third book in hope that all the dramatic romantic dragging out is done with and we can get back to amazing adventures.

09 November 2011

Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

Their love was meant to be.

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRÍs.

But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.

This book was so popular on Inkpop that Harper Collins published it. I think this is both a blessing and a curse. It’s going to sound like I hated this book, and I really didn’t. I thought there was a lot of potential and some great ideas. However, I do think that Harper Collins was a little afraid to mess with such a popular item that a large public had already seen, and I think it was a problem because the potential in this book was undeveloped. I feel like it needs one more time with a good editor to clean up some hanging threads, solidify character development, and tighten the direction of the plot. It still has a wonderful, indefinable spark that totally screams out *This is why I am popular!* but all writing can benefit from an edit by someone not engrossed by developing the work. That said, I loved Megan and her development. I totally felt what it was like to be a new girl in a new town trying to fit in when everyone there knew everything about everyone else. I liked her dad and how involved he was in her life. I felt that Adam could have used a little more work but he wasn’t entirely flat. His relationship with Megan was abrupt, I would have liked to see a few more scenes where they got to know each other instead of leaving their relationship totally up to destiny and the folly of teenage love at first sight. However it does make the plot with the druids more believable, I would try to break up that relationship too if I were an authority figure because it seems to be built on clouds and kitten laughs and nothing really solid and lasting. I do think, however, that this series is totally worth reading and I’ll be anxious to get the next book when it comes out.

08 November 2011

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

SWEETLY is a modernization of Hansel and Gretel and a companion book to SISTERS RED.

Twelve years ago, Gretchen, her twin sister, and her brother went looking for a witch in the forest. They found something. Maybe it was a witch, maybe a monster, they aren’t sure—they were running too fast to tell. Either way, Gretchen’s twin sister was never seen again.

Years later, after being thrown out of their house, Gretchen and Ansel find themselves in Live Oak, South Carolina, a place on the verge of becoming a ghost town. They move in with Sophia Kelly, a young and beautiful chocolatier owner who opens not only her home, but her heart to Gretchen and Ansel.

Yet the witch isn’t gone—it’s here, lurking in the forests of Live Oak, preying on Live Oak girls every year after Sophia Kelly’s infamous chocolate festival. But Gretchen is determined to stop running from witches in the forest, and start fighting back. Alongside Samuel Reynolds, a boy as quick with a gun as he is a sarcastic remark, Gretchen digs deeper into the mystery of not only what the witch is, but how it chooses its victims. Yet the further she investigates, the more she finds herself wondering who the real monster is, and if love can be as deadly as it is beautiful.

Sweetly is a twisty retelling of Hansel and Gretel. Ansel and Gretchen, though, make much more sense than the children in the original story. Sweetly’s characters all jump off the page with life. In fact, a lot of the time I was torn because I knew that two characters were in conflict but I wanted them both to win so badly. I found it really great that each character had such clear and sympathetic motivations. I also really liked the idea of magic candy, and the descriptions of sweets were so vivid I wanted to go buy tons of chocolate every time I picked up this book! The plot was well paced; although I knew where the book was generally going it developed well along the way and provided so many good twists that by the end I was completely satisfied even though I had predicted some of the ending. The romances in the book are good, acting as sub-plots and yet moving along in realistic patterns. The few action scenes are great, however, I think that this really set this book apart from Sisters Red because the plot concentrated more on plot and character than action and battle. It was really great to see some variety from Pearce and know that although she can write an amazing ‘war’ book she can also do justice to slower-paced stories.

07 November 2011

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.

When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

I feel really sad about this book because it was beautiful and well written and yet I didn’t like it at all. I think it’s really a romance book with an emphasis on historical society and a small dash of paranormal, and romance and societal intrigues really don’t do it for me. It’s too bad, though, because the book deserves some love. Amelia is a character that draws you in and makes you want to understand her. She’s in a new place and experiencing society for the first time, and Mitchell does a great job of showing you life through her eyes and with her particular viewpoint to color the explanations. Zora is a perfect foil, adventurous enough to draw Amelia into some plot-twisting situations as well as encourage her romance. I didn’t like the two paramours, Nathaniel or Thomas, as much as I did the girls. They felt a little flat and the romances seemed based on fluff rather than a solid grounding of connection, however, Mitchell does provide a seeming that this is how romance is done in the world of 1889 society so it seems less realistic and more juvenile and sad. I was a little skeptical of the twist ending, it seemed a little too abrupt and manufactured, but the journey of the book was so good that I’m willing to excuse it. I just hope this book finds love with others, because it deserves some love but I just can’t give it.

50 and 100 Followers Giveaway

The Spooktacular Hop gained me so many followers I'm doing my 50 and 100 Followers Giveaways together! And I'm only 2 people away from 150 followers, if I get two more by next Monday I'll add a whopping 10 books and start that giveaway right away, so tell your friends to friend me soon!

Here's what I'm giving away this week:


~Contest lasts until midnight EST on Nov 14th.
~I will email the winners on Nov 15 and they have 48 hours to reply or I may pick another winner.
~Contest is limited to US and Canada.
~I will randomly choose which winner gets which book.
~ARCs should not be sold. If I find out you sold an ARC I gave away as a prize I will ban you from any further contests. Even if I don't find out you will have very bad karma.

04 November 2011

Misfit by Jon Skovron

Jael has always felt like a freak. She’s never kissed a boy, she never knew her mom, and her dad’s always been superstrict—but that’s probably because her mom was a demon, which makes Jael half demon and most definitely not a normal sophomore girl. On her sixteenth birthday, a mysterious present unlocks her family’s dangerous history and Jael’s untapped potential. What was merely an embarrassing secret before becomes a terrifying reality. Jael must learn to master her demon side in order to take on a vindictive Duke of Hell while also dealing with a twisted priest, best-friend drama, and a spacey blond skater boy who may have hidden depths.
Author Jon Skovron takes on the dark side of human nature with his signature funny, heartfelt prose.

This was a pretty amazing book. I loved Jael’s voice, her characterization, and her development arc. It all seemed believable and genuine, and it also had some indefinable appeal that not only made me believe her as a character, but love her and want to see her succeed. The truth about Jael’s mother and uncle are revealed a bit at a time, and Skovron knows exactly how to reel in the reader with just enough information to keep them hooked. I also like the presentation of the Catholic Church as a multidimensional uber-being that doesn’t always know what every segment of itself is doing. The best part of the book, though, is Jael’s father. He is a great character, his motivations and actions are straightforward when you learn his secrets, and he is a great supporter of his daughter. It is very nice to see a healthy, close father-daughter relationship in YA today.

03 November 2011

For Darkness Shows the Stars Cover Release

I don't usually post new cover releases, but I can't wait on this book and I think the image is so gorgeous! Visit Diana Peterfreund's Blog for an excerpt from the book as well!

Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter


"The Luxe" meets the ancient world in the extraordinary story of Cleopatra's daughter. Selene has grown up in a palace on the Nile with her parents, Cleopatra & Mark Antony—the most brilliant, powerful rulers on earth. But the jealous Roman Emperor Octavianus wants Egypt for himself, & when war finally comes, Selene faces the loss of all she's ever loved. Forced to build a new life in Octavianus's household in Rome, she finds herself torn between two young men and two possible destinies—until she reaches out to claim her own. This stunning novel brings to life the personalities & passions of one of the greatest dramas in history, & offers a wonderful new heroine in Selene.

I know, I’m really stretching the idea of “fantasy” with this book. It’s really more of a fictional biography, but I’m gonna claim fantasy because there is one scene where Cleopatra Selene casts a spell and communes with a goddess.

I really liked this book. It cast the world of Ptolemaic Egypt in a new light for me and gave a new face to the legendary characters. Selene is a great character. I thought her determination and will were a great trait that she shared with her mother. At first I was a little surprised that she also didn’t share her mother’s legendary sexuality as a manipulation tool, but the book does a very good job at presenting Selene as not only adapting to survive but also rejecting the parts of her mother that she thinks led to her downfall. The romance in the book is barely there, but this is not a bad thing. Selene’s life is adventurous enough, and just staying alive takes up much of her time. The plot closely followed history, but it flowed very well and only seemed forced near the end where history took a strange turn that the author didn’t connect to the rest. That end was rather abrupt and out of character for Selene, and I feel it could have been better written so that it flowed better and fit the rest of the book. I forgive it, though, because it did make me happy about leaving her in a good place. In all I feel that this book is totally worth reading.

Books I am Thankful For

Beth Revis is running an amazing giveaway. The prize is tons of books, and the entries are so inspiring! I know I'm supposed to write a post about the book I'm most thankful for, but I am thankful for three, so this is going to be a long entry :D

1. I am thankful for Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper


My fourth grade teacher assigned this book in our English class, and my nine-year-old self was totally changed. It was a book I actually liked reading. I read ahead of the class. I re-read it. I couldn't put it down. I went on to read the rest of the series on my own. I learned to use the school library and checked out books for recreation. It started my life-long joy of reading, and I will always be thankful that it was assigned.

2. I am thankful for A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle


In the second semester of fifth grade we got assigned this book. It was my first Sci-Fi ever. I was totally floored to find that people could have scientific adventures, not just magical ones! Not only that, but it wasn't boys having all the fun, but there was a girl, and she was a girl like me with glasses and bad hair and a geeky brain that did math and not popular stuff! I think this is the first book that I totally identified with, and I think that was very important for me loving the genre as a whole.

3. I am thankful for Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce


If I had to pick just one book to be thankful for this would be it. In Elementary school I devoured my school's library, but I hadn't figured out genre much (and I had a very limited selection) so I read a lot of contemporary fiction and classic literature meant for children. In seventh grade, however, I moved not only to middle school but to an entirely different school in an entirely different state. They had this book and reading it changed my life. I didn't have a lot of friends in my new school, but I had books. I also had a role model. Daine was a fighter, she endured a lot of hardship and overcame problems and she was a girl! It didn't take me long to discover other girl-lead books like Pierce's Alanna and Sherwood Smith. I made a new friend over a joint love of this book, and we are best friends to this day (and still share books both good and bad).  I also learned the agony of waiting for a series to come out because for the first time I had started a series that hadn't been completed by the author. I am now a lifetime fan of Tamora Pierce and her books have inspired me to endure my military career, push on through college, and entertained me when I needed a pick-me-up. I have multiple copies of all of her books because I can't stand the thought of not loaning them out to people who haven't read them, but it frightens me that I would not have them to read myself if I loaned them out (and now, thanks to a few great con visits I have the autographed set that WILL NOT BE TOUCHED because dude, books personalized to me by Tamora Pierce!).  I don't think I would be the costuming, sci-fi movie watching, con organizing fandom girl I am today if it wasn't for this book.  (No that's not me crying on my keyboard, it must be raining inside).

02 November 2011

Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon

The story of two very different women, one mortal, one mermaid, and the clash between worlds best kept apart... It is a cold day at the end of the world when a young woman, a princess in hiding, looks out across a Northern sea and sees something she could not have seen. It looks...it can't be. It looks like a mermaid's tail. And, as she looks more closely, she sees that the mermaid is dragging a drowning sailor in her arms. Because, only hours before, another princess, the daughter of the sea queen, has decided to risk everything and take a look at the world above the sea: the world of mortals. And there she finds a storm, a shipwreck, a sailor, and sets in train events which will change both women's worlds forever.

This book was an excellent retelling of the original Little Mermaid legend. It made both the princesses even more realistic and choosing between them even more heartbreaking. The plot follows the original story very closely event-wise, but it freshens up the tale by totally throwing the character motivations out the window and giving them new backstories, lives, and reasons for action. Margrethe is a wonderful role-model as a girl, a leader who loves her country and her people and strives to bring better to them, especially when she realizes the truth about the wars, her father, and her chosen prince. Lenia is more of the mermaid stereotype, falling fast in love and having fewer motivations, but watching her grow and flesh out into a real person as she learns the advantages and pitfalls of human society is a real joy. As a reader I couldn’t put the book down, yet I was dreading the ending because, knowing the story, I knew that both girls couldn’t end up with the prince. My heart was breaking right up until the end (I won’t tell you what happened after that, you’ll have to read the book to find out!).

01 November 2011

Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

The adventures of Tam and Gabriel continue with more time travel, Talents, spy work, and of course, the evil Knights.

Since the gripping conclusion of Once A Witch, Tamsin Greene has been haunted by her grandmother's prophecy that she will soon be forced to make a crucial decision—one so terrible that it could harm her family forever. When she discovers that her enemy, Alistair Knight, went back in time to Victorian-era New York in order to destroy her family, Tamsin is forced to follow him into the past. Stranded all alone in the nineteenth century, Tamsin soon finds herself disguised as a lady's maid in the terrifying mansion of the evil Knight family, avoiding the watchful eye of the vicious matron, La Spider, and fending off the advances of Liam Knight. As time runs out, both families square off in a thrilling display of magic. And to her horror, Tamsin finally understands the nature of her fateful choice.

Review of previous book in series: Once a Witch

This is a great follow-up to a great book. Tamsin hasn’t changed much between stories, but her family sure has! Their reaction to her reveal of a talent is very logical and nicely presented in the frame of Tamsin’s sister, Rowena, and her wedding preparations. I love the development of Rowena and the reveal of her moral compass. It was totally believable and a nice touch that really made her a real person in my head. Tamsin’s powers develop, too, and I like how Tamsin discovers the boundaries and drawbacks to her ability while developing her own morality while using it. Gabriel is back as well, and he really turns into a boy I could like. He supports Tamsin and her quest without demanding to take over, and he’s there for her when she needs him without seeming like he’s charging to the rescue or has all the answers. I think the only characters I would have liked to see a bit more of are the villains. I never felt Alastair was fully fleshed out, and the other Knights aren’t really either in this book. Their motivation is clear, but rather flat and stereotypical. I really like the ending, though. It was bittersweet, but logical and it wrapped up the remaining mysteries nicely and in a reasonable manner. This series is highly recommended.

Giveaway Winners

Wow, the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop blew my expectations out of the water! So many good contests, and so many of you who thought that my contest was worth entering! Thank you so much! I'm very excited to announce the winners!

Savanna Ucinski


Grace S.

your emails are on their way! I hope you like your prizes!

To everyone else, the giveaway completely blew away plans for a 50 follower and 100 follower giveaway, so starting Friday I'll be throwing one massive giveaway! I haven't chosen what I'll give away, but I promise it will be at least 4 books that I love and I hope you'll love too.