Monday, 30 May 2011

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: eARC
Pages: 256

Abby accepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.

Until the accident.

Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her.

She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen.

Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could...

This was my first Elizabeth Scott novel, and after reading it, I can wholeheartedly say that I'm eager to read another.

Between Here and Forever tells the story of a girl with rock bottom self-esteem put into a difficult situation that she tries her very hardest to change. It is unique, haunting and touches on a lot of tough topics.

Abby... is a difficult main character to love. This girl literally has no sense of self-worth and spends a lot of time comparing herself to her older sister, Tess, who to her is like perfection personified. Just when I thought her character was going to build a little confidence, the notion was knocked down immediately. It was scary for me to read about Abby because I do know people like her. It's terrifying for me to believe that people could think that lowly of themselves, but there are those that do just as much as Abby.

In terms of the writing, I really liked it. There is some quality that I just can't put my finger on that made me want to keep reading. It was a great combination of dialogue and description - something that can be difficult to balance.

The characters in this story were so diverse. I'm talking personality, race, sexuality... you name it. There were multiple issues looked at and I really appreciated that aspect of the story. It* makes for a story that sticks out in my mind and stays close to my heart. I appreciate my diversity in YA.

Overall, I think Between Here and Forever was a really great book. Act now and there may or may not be a hot boy in the deal - read and find out!**

*Yes, that's right - IT. Spoilerspoilerspoiler if I elaborate.  
**Okay, you caught me. There is a hot boy.

Cover Comments: I like it. My brain hurts too much right now to decode the symbolism behind the flower but whatever it is, I'm sure it's brilliant and meaningful. Unless it's just a pretty flower, in which case I would have gone with a blue one because clearly, blue flowers are magnificently more attractive than yellow ones. Yes, I'm tired. Yes, I need to sleep. Good night.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Interview: Kristi Cook

Today, I am joined by Kristi Cook, author of the teen novel Haven. (My review can be found here.) I had the pleasure of asking Kristi some interview questions and I hope you enjoy reading her answers as much as I did!

Could you describe Haven in seven words for us?

Oh words?! Okay, here goes....romantic paranormal fun at boarding school for psychics. How's that?!

When you are writing, do you have time for reading? Or do you find involvement in other books distracting from your own work?

I always make time for reading--always! But when I'm writing like crazy under a tight deadline, I definitely read less, and usually stay away from stuff that's "similar" to what I'm writing, so I read more realistic YA fiction then, or even historical romance.

Quick - the zombie apocalypse has started! What are the top five things you need to take with you as you run for shelter?

Damn those zombies! 1) my kids 2) my pets 3) my laptop 4) my flash drive 5) my Kindle (This is assuming my husband can "take" himself--and I'll put him in charge of bring food and water!)

Are your characters based on any real people that you know?

Not really--they're more based on people that I'd *like* to know!

What kind of scene is easiest for you to write? Hardest?

The easiest is any scene with a lot of dialogue--two (or more) characters having a conversation, and even more fun if it's a scene with some romantic tension! I like to write dialogue--my books would be nothing but talking, if I had my way. The hardest for me to write is action-type scenes. I guess I just have a hard time describing action, and I worry that I'll bog down the scene with too many details trying to desribe the action I "see" unfolding in my head.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

King crab dumplings at my favorite sushi restaurant, Haru. Not sure how healthy that would be, but still...

Do you have a particular routine you go through when writing?

Not really--though I do need to be in certain places in order to write--either my home office, or my dining room (where I set up my computer during the winter months when it's too cold in my office!). I'm not one of those people who can drag my laptop around with me and write wherever the muse strikes, though I wish I was! Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I don't, depending on my mood or how focused I am.

Thanks so much, Kristi! It was wonderful to have the chance to learn a little more about you and I can't wait to see what you write next.

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Thursday, 26 May 2011

Booking Through Thursday (9)

This week's Booking Through Thursday question is...
Do you ever feel like you’re in a reading rut? That you don’t read enough variety? That you need to branch out, spread your literary wings and explore other genres, flavors, styles?
Sure! There are definitely times when I get tired of a certain genre and wish for something new. However, it doesn't really happen too often for me. Unlike some others that I've had the pleasure of meeting, I don't need to be in a certain mood to read a book - once I start, I'll adjust and settle into the world.

What about you? How often do you spread your literary wings? 

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. The purpose of the event is to spotlight the upcoming releases that readers are most looking forward to.

This week, I've chosen...

Winter's Shadow by M.J. Hearle
Release Date: June 1, 2011
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Blake Duchamp...

He's all that Winter Adams can think of. Ever since their fateful meeting at Pilgrim's Lament. Ever since he looked at her with those emerald eyes. Ever since he saved her life.

But Blake isn't all that he seems. There is a strangeness about him, something dark and otherworldly. Something dangerous. In his attic is a secret he would kill to defend, but Winter seems to have a special ability to make him forget his duty. And he is her only protection against the gathering darkness.

The only problem is, to protect Winter, Blake must risk exposing her to an even greater danger. Himself.

This isn't actually being released where I live (Canada) as of right now, but it will be out June 1st in Australia! It looks really good and I love the fiery red hair on the cover. What are you waiting for this lovely Wednesday?

Cover Revealed: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

This morning, Mundie Moms revealed the cover for the upcoming Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare, the sequel to Clockwork Angel. I loved the first book and have high hopes for the second (especially since Jem will be playing a more prominent role!). Be sure to click through the link to Mundie Moms for the chance to win some exclusive Clockwork Prince t-shirts and chapter samplers. Anyways, here is the cover!

Clockwork Prince will be released December 6th by Simon & Schuster.

I love it! Honestly, I have adored every single cover of Cassandra Clare's books and this one may just be my favourite yet. I think I'll have to wait until I can actually hold the book in my hands to see but - it's Jem! JEM! It matches very well with the Clockwork Angel, a cover which I also loved. I think the only problem with Clockwork Princess will be that I won't have a cute cover boy staring up at me! Jem is.. just what I pictured him as. Perfect!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Source: Library
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 264

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future–and each other.
Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.
Gayle Forman is a literary genius, in every sense of the word.

Where She Went was as beautifully heart-breaking and moving as its predecessor. It is the combination of solid, well-rounded characters, lyrical writing and outpouring of emotion that make this book what it is.

The main character, Adam, is fascinating to read about. He is bitter and angry and has pushed everyone away from him after Mia left. The frustration and grief he feels is palpable and my heart ached for him. Even through all of this, I was still as drawn to him as I was in the previous book.

Gayle Forman's writing is superb. She has the ability to convey truckloads of emotion in a few short sentences and everything just flows so seamlessly. I can't imagine a better person to tell Adam and Mia's story.

The actual timespan of the events in the novel is short but it didn't feel at all rushed to me because of the use of memories from the past. There are parts that made me cry, some that made me smile and a few that made me want to pull out my hair (no worries - my scalp remains unharmed). In the end though, everything was wrapped up nicely and I am completely satisfied with how everything turned out.

If you haven't picked up one of Gayle Forman's novels yet, I hope you do soon! If I Stay and Where She Went are two favourites of mine and I can't recommend them enough.

Cover Comments: I like it a lot more than the paperback of If I Stay for some reason. I actually really love the BACK of the book, where all of the praise for If I Stay is. Oh, the jacket flap on the inside of the book is really pretty, too! It looks like bubbles in different shades of blue. Yeah, so - pretty cover.

My review of If I Stay can be found here.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Source: Library
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 372

Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.

So, I know you've seen the raving reviews for Anna and the French Kiss. You've heard how amazingly cute and wonderful it is and, oh, Étienne St.Clair... marry me? Well then what are you waiting for? Why haven't you picked up this book?! The praise is all true and completely justified on this one.

Anna was a fabulous main character. She is a bit of a neat freak, a movie buff, genuine and hilarious. I want this girl as my best friend, please. The characters in Anna and the French Kiss are like real teenagers; quirky and flawed and all completely unique in their own way. It's easy to get wrapped up in their stories because they're all so relatable.

I would be remiss to not mention Étienne in this review. He was wonderful and I totally swooned every time his name appeared on the page. He's more than just a pretty face (although he has that going for him, too). He's sweet, funny and thoughtful... plus, he speaks French. What more can I say?

I've heard people say this book isn't a romance novel - but it is. It's a really, really good romance novel for teens. Stephanie Perkins perfectly captured the attraction between Anna and Étienne and filled the pages of the book with humour and sheer cuteness. Seriously! I could not stop the grin on my face and there were plenty of times I laughed (loudly) out loud.

So, what I'm saying is: you have to read this book, NOW. If you've already read it, you have to let me know so that we can gush about it together.

Cover Comments: It's cute! (I have totally said that word 4938274982734 times in this review.) I like the softer colour scheme and the font is SO PRETTY. I wish Étienne was shorter, though. His shortness delights me.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

Source: Library
Publisher: Hyperion Books (Disney)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 327

As the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar, Bilqis SanGreal grew up knowing she wasn't normal. Instead of hanging out at the mall or going on dates, she spends her time training as a warrior in her order's ancient battle against the Unholy. 
Billi's cloistered life is blasted apart when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from Jerusalem, gorgeous and with a dangerous chip on his shoulder. He's ready to slide back into Billi's life, but she's met someone new: amber-eyed Mike, who seems to understand her like no one else and effortlessly stakes a claim on her heart.
But the Templars are called to battle before Billi can enjoy the thrilling new twist to her life. One of the order's ancient enemies has resurfaced, searching for a treasure that the Templars have guarded for almost a thousand years - King Solomon's cursed mirror, a source of unimaginable power. To save the lives of millions, Billi will have to put her heart aside and make sacrifices greater than she could have imagined.

The concept behind this story utterly fascinates me. Devil's Kiss includes stories from ethnicities and religions that scatter all across the board. I loved how it was all woven together; even things like the weapons from various cultures made me a little giddy as I was reading.

Billi was a character that I really liked. She was fierce and confident - two traits I love in my MCs. I mean, Billi's life? It sucks. She spends her days being tormented in high school, comes home to an unsympathetic father and then proceeds to the nightly routine of being beaten up in Templar training. Even through all of this though, she endures and sacrifices so much for what she knows is right.

I loved how surprised this book could make me. I appreciate those moments in a book when you have to gasp aloud and Devil's Kiss did not disappoint. The turns weren't just little nudges in new directions; they were full-out swerves that completely threw me for a loop.

Fans of the darker YA novels (who doesn't like that sword wielding and blood dripping?) should definitely check this one out!

Cover Comments: I really, really love this cover. The wispy swirls and scattered sparkles work really well with the gray theme and I like the metallic tint to the sword! I have to say though... I didn't notice the guy in the background (by the trees?) until later and it really freaked me out when I did. Is that Kay? He looks like such a stalker! Very pretty though - the cover, not the stalker, that is.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (10)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. The purpose of the event is to spotlight the upcoming releases that readers are most looking forward to.

This week, I've chosen...
The Vampire Stalker by Allison Van Diepen

Publisher: Point (Scholastic)
Release Date: June 1, 2011

What if the characters in a vampire novel left their world--and came into yours?

Amy is in love with someone who doesn't exist: Alexander Banks, the dashing hero in a popular series of vampire novels. Then one night, Amy meets a boy who bears an eerie resemblance to Alexander. In fact, he IS Alexander, who has escaped from the pages of the book and is in hot pursuit of a wicked vampire named Vigo. Together, Amy and Alexander set out to track Vigo and learn how and why Alexander crossed over. But when she and Alexander begin to fall for each other, Amy wonders if she even wants him to ever return to the realm of fiction.
Vampires. Stalkers. Fantasizing about hot, stalker vampires.

I'm there.

Don't forget to leave me a comment with your WoW link so I can stalk you like a vampire see what you're waiting on this week!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Source: Purchased
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (Harper Collins)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 487

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.
Divergent is an explosive thrill ride of pure awesome that I am unlikely to forget for a very, very long time.
The whole book was just... intense. My eyes were glued to the page and I refused to put it down. It kept me up late into the night and even after I finished it, I couldn't get it out of my head. I still can't get it out of my head.

Tris was an amazing main character. She's tough as nails but has also been shaped a lot by her past, building her into a strong character with a more compassionate side as well. I absolutely loved the relationship she had with Four. They challenged each other constantly, and I feel that in doing that, the best was really brought out in them both. When Tris needed a push in the right direction, Four was there. When she needed someone to let out her frustrations on, he was there. Together, they just formed a very strong bond that I sincerely enjoyed reading about.

I'll admit it - this is a pretty big book. It's close to 500 pages but I read it in less than a day. The action is non-stop and there wasn't a second that I felt was boring. Divergent is a dystopian that I had no trouble understanding - I understand the inner workings of the society, which is something I've sometimes struggled with in others of the same genre.

Overall, Divergent is one of those books that you should all go read. It was a heart-stopping, nail-biting adventure and I can't wait to delve back into the world Veronica Roth has created in the next book! Amazing.

Cover Comments: It's cool! Whenever I see the circle of fire, I think "RING OF SAURON!" Anything that can make me think of Lord of the Rings passes the test.

Additional Comment: By the way, I am 100% Amity. Who wants to jump off a building when you can lounge in the back of a truck, strumming a banjo? I sure don't.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Source: Library
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 280

When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor's family, she is forced to move from Los Angeles to New York City to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she has never met. In their historic Fifth Avenue mansion, filled with a century's worth of family secrets, Michele discovers the biggest family secret of all - an ancestor's diary that, amazingly, has the power to send her back in time to 1910, the year it was written. There, at a glamorous high-society masquerade ball, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life. And she finds herself falling for him, and into an otherwordly romance.
Soon Michele is leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves - and to complete a quest that will determine their fate.
Timeless is one of the first time travel stories I have ever read and I must say, I really enjoyed it!

The overall concept of this novel is simply fascinating to me. The idea that a diary can transport a girl between multiple time periods, launching her into a world where her true love is alive... very cool.

Alexandra Monir flawlessly transitioned between the different time periods. There was clearly a lot of thought put into each one of them and it was very easy for me to differentiate between them. For example, a lot of the lingo from the Roaring Twenties? Yeah, I recognized that! New York City was described with vibrancy, making the city seem glamorous and lush. It's crazy - this is the second time in a few days that a book has made me want to go to New York (the other was Dash & Lily's Book of Dares if you're curious).

I liked Michele's character. Even after the tragedy that is mentioned in the summary, she keeps going and tries to stay positive. She is thrown into an unfamiliar, overwhelming environment and I really feel she did a good job adjusting to it the best she could, even if she sometimes had to escape to the past.

The only part that really fell a little flat for me was Michele's friendship with Caissie. It's not a huge part of the overall storyline or anything (at least in this book) but I feel that while there was a lot of potential, Michele only seemed to rely on Caissie to get her out of difficult situations. I mean, I think it's great that they can help each other out and all, but there needs to be some deeper substance to their relationship before it can grow into that. That might just be my opinion, though and it definitely wasn't a hugely distracting portion that took away from the story.

The ending! Woah. Okay, who saw that coming? I sure didn't! I am really excited to see where the story goes from that point in the next book.*

Overall, I would really recommend giving Timeless a try. It is a fresh take on meeting your 'true love' that gracefully tosses together past and present, tied together in a neat bow with a paranormal twist.

Cover Comments: SO PRETTY, SO PRETTY, SO PRETTY. *hugs*

*Sorry. I'm a horrible tease, I know.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Booking Through Thursday (8)

This week's Booking Through Thursday question is...

Do you read books “meant” for other age groups? Adult books when you were a child; Young-Adult books now that you’re grown; Picture books just for kicks … You know … books not “meant” for you. Or do you pretty much stick to what’s written for people your age?
For the most part, no. I read a very limited amount of adult books, such as novels by Jodi Picoult. I think her books have a lot of crossover potential though, and aren't really strictly adult anyway. I probably was reading YA before I was technically considered a young adult, but only by a few years so I don't know if that really counts at all!

What about you? Do you read books that aren't "meant" for your age group?

My Library Is Better Than Yours*

*Okay, not really. I'm sure your libraries are absolutely, positively wonderful. Anyways!

I love libraries.

You've probably seen the 'source' section of my reviews. Most of the time, the books that I read and review are from the library. I don't buy that many books and it's great to have a resource that allows me to read so many for free.
Yesterday, my mom, sister and I went out shopping and when asked where we wanted to go, I immediately responded with the library. My mom rolled her eyes and guessed that I would probably live there if I had the chance - I would.

When I got to the library yesterday, I headed over to the holds rack and started piling my books into my giant bag (my books totally have their own shelf they dominate, by the way). After I had loaded all thirteen into the bag (they were dangerously close to toppling out) I walked to the self check-out counter. I opened my wallet, and... NO LIBRARY CARD. I'd forgotten it at home. I went to the librarian desperately, prepared to ask if I could just rattle off my barcode number and still get my books - is it weird to have a fourteen-digit barcode number memorized? I think I would have cried if I had to go pile them back on the shelf and then return to get them again. Luckily, before I'd even finished have the sentence, the librarian assured me that as long as I had some form of ID, it wouldn't be a problem. She was so kind and accomodating - the way all librarians I've ever encountered have always been.

Now, I know library looks aren't for everyone. I have a friend who refuses to borrow books from the library because she doesn't know what people before her have been doing with them. I get it, I do. Sometimes there are crayon marks, sometimes there are tears, sometimes the entire binding is literally falling apart. Heck, I recently read one that someone had taken it upon themself to annotate (really weird comments, too). At the end of the day though, the words inside are the same and it's just as easy for me to get swept up in the story.

For me, going to the library has always been a magical experience. You're surrounded by so many different stories, so many different lives and worlds that it's just a matter of picking one to delve into.
I love my library for always keeping up with the newest releases, my librarians for their friendliness, CC, my library card (I know what you guys are thinking...) for being the coolest inanimate object ever and my mom for taking me to the library at least once a week.

THANK YOU, all of you!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Source: Library
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (Random House)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 260

"I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares was an entertaining ride that allowed me to hop on right from the opening pages.

This novel switches perspectives from Dash and Lily, and I can't think of two more opposite characters. Dash is snarly, Lily is sweet. Dash is cynical, Lily is innocent. Nonetheless, they were such an adorable pair and I delighted in reading through their notebook exchanges. I really loved Dash from the moment I was introduced to him. He's the sarcastic, word nerd that was always up for a challenge and I always read his chapters with a smile (okay, I read the entire book with a smile). Lily, on the other hand, was a little annoying in the beginning because of how utterly innocent and fragile she was but after a while, I was won over by her sweetness and never looked back.

I'm not normally a person to make a huge deal of setting but in this book, New York was just such a prominent feature that I couldn't help but fall in love with it. All of the places described seemed magical and wonderful from Cohn and Levithan's descriptions. One day, I just want to take this book with me and read in all of the places in the book. Also, I need to visit the Strand sometime.

So, does the thought of a modern, bookish fairytale appeal to you? Well then look no further because that's exactly what Dash & Lily's Book of Dares was like to me. Cute, entertaining and creative.

Read it. I dare you.

Cover Comments: I really had no problem with this cover when I first saw it. I mean, it was nothing special, but whatever. Then, I saw this post from Heidi at YA Bibliophile (it's number two on the list) and I will never think of it in the same way again.

Friday, 13 May 2011

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

Source: Library
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 377

There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.   
Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again.  
But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?
The Dark and Hollow Places contains just the right amount of awesome that I've come to expect from Ryan's books. Her writing is gorgeous, her characters are complex and her zombies are creep-tastic. What more could you possibly want?

I've probably talked about this in my reviews for Carrie Ryan's other two books but oh my gosh, the writing. It is so beautiful. There were plenty of times through my reading where I just paused, went back, and re-read passages.

Something that really stood out to me in this novel was how hopeful things could be even when it was a terrible, horrible situation that the characters were in. The zombies weren't really the main villains in this novel. No, this time, it was the humans. It was horrifying and disgusting how vicious and cruel mankind had become in the novel and even scarier because it was portrayed in a perfectly realistic way. Even with all of that, there were always those precious sparkles of hope that keep you from going crazy.

In regards to the main character, Annah, it took me a while to adjust to her. She is very different from her sister, Gabry, the narrator for the previous book, and I have to say that I missed Gabry's voice. Annah is scarred - both physically and emotionally - and is a very hardened character as a result of the life she has been forced to live. By the end of the book though, I really did appreciate her as a character. She perseveres and if there's one thing I learned from her, it's that you have to keep going, even when things get tough.

Speaking of lessons, I liked how much emphasis there was on one that I took away from this book. There was a lot of debating between the characters about what it truly means to be alive. That perhaps there was more to living then breathing, eating and sleeping. You love, you lose, you win, you cry - all of it is what separates us from the zombies.

A fantastic book with a gripping plot - a must-read series!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (9)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. The purpose of the event is to spotlight the upcoming releases that readers are most looking forward to.

This week, I've chosen...
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 24, 2011

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.
Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.
But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on—even if it seems no one believes her.
So, technically, I already have an eARC of this book from NetGalley. I haven't started reading yet but it looks really interesting, really fresh, and I can't wait to get started. Plus, look at that gorgeous cover! I like the name of the book, too. It sounds so... cool. I was definitely intrigued when I first heard the name.

What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Leave a comment and let me know!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers

Source: Library
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (Macmillan)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 230

When Eddie Reeves's father commits suicide, her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father's and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie's vulnerability has weakened her, and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on... but are some questions better left unanswered?

Courtney Summers' writing never fails to send me on an emotional rollercoaster. Her stories imprint themselves into my brain and play total mind tricks on me! Needless to say: I love them.

In Fall For Anything, the main character, Eddie Reeves' father has recently commit suicide. Her mother is near catatonic, a person that she makes no secret of hating has moved into her house and her entire life has been turned upside down. I really felt Eddie's loss and confusion. There were many parts that made me cry from the expert way that Summers was able to convey the emotions present in the novel.

I thought that Milo, Eddie's best friend, was a very intriguing addition to the story. He tried so hard to understand what Eddie was going through and help her overcome it but he wasn't perfect and sometimes, he just didn't understand. I liked that he stuck with Eddie but also provided a voice of reason when she needed it (regardless of whether or not she listened to him, that is).

I've noticed that with Courtney Summers, there is always an 'oh my goodness, did I read that right?!' moment. She does such a fabulous job of building up the story and then in one move - bam! - everything has transformed into something crazy. I obviously won't tell you what it is in this book, but man, that killed me.

Courtney Summers, you've written another gut-wrenching novel that I thoroughly enjoyed - please keep them coming!   

Cover Comments: I like it. The downard position of the model's head conveys the right emotions, I think and I like the photographs strung up at the top.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Booking Through Thursday (7)

This week's Booking Through Thursday question is...
And–the reverse of last week’s question. Name one book that you hope never, ever, ever gets made into a movie (no matter how good that movie might be).
Oh. This is even harder than last week's question! I've honestly been racking my brain for an answer and I just can't think of a specific book that I don't want turned into a movie! If the movie didn't already exist (I hated the movie, by the way), I would have said The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold because I knew they would mess that up completely.

OH! I have one. I love the book A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. If you haven't read it, it's an emotionally exhausting book that is guaranteed to make you want to roll into a ball and cry your eyes out. It's wonderful though and a story well-told by Hosseini. I don't think I'd want to see this in a movie. I feel like it would just kind of ruin the book for me since I had such an intimate connection with it and I don't know how well the substance of that book could be portrayed - you know what I mean?

Other than that, there's nothing I'm really 'against' seeing as a movie. You should have asked me which existing adaptations I hate ;) I could have given you a decent list.

Final Verdict: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and possibly others that I can't think of right now.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (8)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. The purpose of the event is to spotlight the upcoming releases that readers are most looking forward to.

This week, I've chosen...

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Release Date: May 10, 2011

Since her parents’ bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother’s new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.
I love Sarah Dessen's books - all of them. This one sounds like it will be a great addition! As a drama kid, I always like a good identity switch so it should be interesting to read about McLean.

What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Leave a comment and let me know!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Trailer: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

The lovely Maggie Stiefvater, author of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, has released a trailer for her upcoming novel, Forever, which is slated to be released July 12th of this year. There's a wolf - you should watch it! If you're interested in pre-ordering a signed copy of this book, you can do so here.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

Source: Library
Publisher: Doubleday Canada (Random House) 
Format: Paperback
Pages: 391

My name is Chloe Saunders. I'm fifteen, and I would love to be normal.
But normal is one thing I'm not.
To start with, I'm having these feelings for a certain antisocial werewolf and his sweet-tempered brother - who just happens to be a sorcerer - but, between you and me, I'm leaning toward the werewolf.
Not normal.
My friends and I are also on the run from an evil corporation that wants to get rid of us - permanently.
Definitely not normal.
And finally, I'm a genetically altered necromancer who can raise the dead, rotting corpses and all, without even trying.
As far away from normal as it gets.
*Spoilers are contained within this book for The Summoning and The Awakening. Read at your own risk!*

I love this series. It's action-packed and exciting with clever dialogue and lovely descriptions and I'm sad to see it end. That being said, I really enjoyed this book, even though it wasn't my favourite of the trilogy.

My wish was fulfilled in that there was some more focus on developing everyone's powers. In this book, Simon, Tori and Chloe all get special training from others that share their talents. To be honest, I spent these scenes (well, one in particular, anyway) ready to throw the book at the wall because of how much the 'tutor' was annoying me. Due to the experiments that were performed on them, the younger characters all have enhanced powers, something the adults are unwilling to understand and accept.

I really have enjoyed seeing Chloe grow through the series. I've seen her transform from the meek, innocent little girl that watched and listened to a stronger one that isn't afraid to speak up for herself. Chloe is a character that I can easily connect to and that I love to cheer on as she makes decisions for herself.

The other characters in this story also evoke strong emotions from me. While I love both Simon and Derek, Derek is definitely my favourite of the two. He is protective and clearly cares for Chloe a lot but doesn't flaunt his love like some sort of lovesick puppy. Tori is someone that has really grown on me. When I first started the series, she made me want to rip out of my hair, but I feel like I understand her better and I like the tentative friendship she and Chloe are building. Most of the newer characters in this book grated on my nerves and are one of the only things I won't mind losing with this series.

There was a lot of focus on this book on the Edison Group and all of the experiments and secrets they've been hiding. While it does make the book a little slower than the previous in the series, this book is by no means boring. There was one scene in particular involving Derek and Chloe that made my heart pound frantically - I love when a book can get that kind of reaction from me.

All in all, a wonderful conclusion to a stellar trilogy! Definitely something that you want to check out if you haven't already.

Cover Comments: It's preeeeetty! All of the covers for this series are beautiful.

Cover Revealed: Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick

Earlier today, Hollywood Crush revealed the cover for the upcoming Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick, the final book in her Hush, Hush saga. Make sure you check out the link to the Hollywood Crush article, which also contains a sneak peek of the book! Now, I haven't gotten the chance to read the second book, Crescendo yet, but I loved the first one and I'm sure the rest of the series will be great as well! Anyways, without further ado, here is the cover of Silence:

Silence will be released on October 4th by Simon & Schuster.

Woah! Is that not a gorgeous cover? I love all the book designs in this series and I'm so glad they were consistent with the dark tones. I think it's fitting that the first book has Patch, the second has Nora and the third and final one has them together - hopefully that means everything works out! I mean, the cover doesn't really promise sunshine and daisies, does it? Anyways, fantastic work from the art department over at S&S. What are your thoughts on the cover?

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Source: Library
Publisher: HarperTeen (Harper Collins)
ISBN: 978-0-06-177981-7
Pages: 327

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies - or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world... and the imprints that attach to their killers. 
Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girl he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.
Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer - and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer... and becoming his prey herself.  
The Body Finder is a perfect blend of romance and suspense that will keep you flipping pages until the very end.

I honestly ate up the relationship between Violet and Jay. The fact that they had been best friends since childhood made their love for each other seem much more realistic and a lot sweeter as well. I liked how attentive they were to each other's feelings and emotions - they fit together like a puzzle piece. I won't lie - there were times where I was reading and literally wanted to yell at the pair to hurry up and kiss already, but their closely knit friendship was enough to keep me satisfied.

Along with the romance came some heavy doses of mystery, something I also really loved. I'm a big fan of crime shows so the type of suspense that The Body Finder provided was right up my alley. When the book first delved into the murder story, I think I might have held my breath until it was over - it was that good. I really admire the way Derting laced together the high school love story and the creepy murder tale without making it sound choppy or predictable.

I am so eager to get started on the next book, Desires of the Dead, and see what Kimberly Derting has in store for us! I absolutely loved it.

Cover Comments: It's alright. There's nothing fancy to it, but I can kind of see how it has that echo-ish feel to it.