Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (20)

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 Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton(Goodreads profile)
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Debut novelist Kiki Hamilton takes readers from the gritty slums and glittering ballrooms of Victorian London to the beguiling but menacing Otherworld of the Fey in this spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and danger.
The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood. 
Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.
Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…

Can't wait to read this one! I've been looking forward to it for so long now. As you probably know, I love faeries, and Victorian London is always a fun setting. Plus, the early reviews for this one are incredible. NO ONE DISLIKES IT (that I've found).

I have enough swag for this book (bookmarks, postcards, button) and I can't wait until I get to add the actual book to my library. Release date isn't too far away now!

What are you waiting on this lovely Wednesday?

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Red Glove by Holly Black

Major spoilers for White Cat in summary!

Red Glove by Holly Black
(Goodreads profile)

Source: Purchased
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 325

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she's human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila's been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila's love is as phony as Cassel's made-up memories, then he can't believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel's oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can't trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

I love the Curse Workers series: it's clever and compelling with plenty of action and a spectacular new world. Holly Black ups the ante in Red Glove with a plot as quick and twisty as ever.

I've mentioned this before but I am completely enamoured with the concept of this world. It's fascinating and dangerous, and I never know what's going to come next. Holly Black keeps the tightly-woven plot moving with new revelations scattered at every turn.

All of this is done with one of my favourite male characters, Cassel, as narrator. Cassel is the black sheep in a family of criminals and while he's certainly no angel himself, he does have a good heart. I've loved watching Cassel develop as a character through these two books because there are some changes that are evident in him and I always like to see character growth.

I honestly didn't know if Red Glove could out-do its predecessor but it definitely did. The mystery is back and as intense as ever, and I can't wait to see where some particular threads go in Black Heart. The ending of this book is definitely a shock, but it was nowhere near as huge for me as the first book. That being said, it still leaves me anxious Book 3 - I can't get enough of these books!

A fantastic sequel.

Cover Comments: How creepy is that red smoke coming off the glove? I love it! I think it's great that this cover continues the same pattern as the first and I like Lila's (it is her, isn't it?) expression - someone looks spooked!

Sweet Venom 2

Looking for the Sweet Venom 2 Title Hunt? You've come to the right place!

Once you've found all of the necessary information be sure to head over to Tera's blog here where you'll find the entry form.

The prizes?

Five signed copies of Sweet Venom and a grand prize of a $50 bookstore gift card. The hunt is open internationally! How awesome is that?

Anyways, without further ado, my letter is:

W

Good luck with the rest of the hunt! Odds are, I'm looking too :)

Monday, 29 August 2011

Ruby Red by Kersten Gier

Ruby Red by Kersten Gier
Translations done by Anthea Bell
(Goodreads profile)

Source: Library
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 324

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.
A quick, charming adventure through time!

Prior to reading this novel, I was a bit curious about the fact that it had been translated. I can't remember ever having read a translated novel before (although I could be wrong) and I was interested to see if it would make any difference to the reading experience. I have to say, Anthea Bell did a fantastic job! The novel is set in England and is filled with British phrases but never felt too overwhelming. I might have even read all of the dialogue with a British accent...

The main character, Gwyneth, is a very relatable narrator. Quite the average teenager, she spends most of her free time hanging out with her best friend, Lesley, who is lovely, supportive and exactly what Gwyneth needs when the threads of her life start to unravel. The secondary characters were all pretty memorable and left a lasting impression as well.

I think my favourite aspect of this novel was the time travel, a theme I can't seem to get enough of! There is this whole secret, mysterious air to the time travel, and a lot that Gwyneth is still trying to figure out, making for a fast-paced adventure. There is also the romantic attraction between Gwyneth and Gideon, who I thought made an adorable couple. 

The ending came a little suddenly for my tastes but it sets up well for the next book. Looking forward to Sapphire Blue!

Cover Comments: I like it! Obviously the red colour scheme works well for the book and the silver detailing is gorgeous. In real life, the red jewels are actually like little rhinestones - very fun!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

In My Mailbox (8)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren which gives bloggers a chance to share the books, swag, etc. that they've received each week.

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Book title links go to Goodreads profiles.

Sirenz by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman (+ swag bag): I won this from Lisa at Read Me, Bookmark Me, Love Me. It looks so fun! I'm looking forward to reading it. This actually came last week, but I somehow forgot to include it in that IMM post so, here it is! Thanks, Lisa!

Abandon by Meg Cabot (signed!): Thank you so much to Heidi from YA Bibliophile for this one! This one also came last week, actually on the same day as Sirenz - guess my brain decided to temporarily erase that day from memory?

Captivate by Carrie Jones: I read this one on Friday, and liked it a lot more than the first book. Review should be up... someday. (From the library.)

Mercy by Rebecca Lim: This one is also from the library. I've heard mixed reviews for this one but it sounds pretty good. 

Glimmerglass by Jenna Black: I have a huge thing for faeries so I'm excited to start a new series about them. Another library loan.

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan: I bought this from Chapters last Sunday right after posting my IMM and read it straight away. I liked it a lot! Especially Anubis - every time he comes into a scene, my only reaction is "heheheeeeeeeee!"

Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr: This was on sale for $7 at Chapters (hardcover) and I loved the first two books in the series so I went for it. Fair warning: my thoughts after reading will probably be: SETH. I LIKE HIM. I WANT HIM. WANTWANTWANT.

What I didn't get this week but should have:

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead:

Why don't I have this yet?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!

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Hope you had a great book week (FILLED WITH BLOODLINES)!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

To Rate or Not to Rate?

So, I've noticed that the first thing I look for on a review is a rating. A group of paragraphs can tell me a lot but how the book compares to others and whether or not it's one of those READ OR DIE books is harder. I've read reviews that make the reviewer seem crazy for a particular title and then I'll look at the rating and, what?! A three out of five? Knowing how a book rates on a set scale is actually really nice (not to mention convenient) when I'm browsing on Goodreads.

All of this, and yet I don't rate books in my own reviews.
There is a reason for this other than the fact that I'm lazy. Off the top of my head, I can say that Divergent by Veronica Roth would be a five stars for me. I loved it, couldn't put it down. At the same time though, if five is the highest on the scale (as it normally is) wouldn't say, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, earn a five out of five? Great. Awesome. Harry Potter, 100%! But... does my brain consider Divergent and Harry Potter to be on the same level? Heck no. No offence meant to Divergent at all - I loved you! - but c'mon, it's Harry Potter. I am so biased it's not even funny.
Now, I'm not saying that this would be a major problem. Everyone here probably understands that my love for Harry Potter is like no other and chances are, I'm not going to run into another series like that one.
That's really the Big Deal about book ratings though. Not all three-stars would be equal in my mind. Maybe that's not such a huge thing though, I don't know. I've been going over some books in my head and I definitely could rate them if I tried (I'd probably like my half stars though LOL).
So now I thought I would ask you! I'll post a poll in the side bar (right at the top) and if you could vote on it, I would really appreciate it!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody

My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody
(Goodreads profile)

Source: Won
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, Giroux (Macmillan)
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 320

PLEASE READ THIS! MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!

Okay, maybe that was a bit melodramatic, but I’m sorry, I’m feeling a bit melodramatic at the moment.

Here’s the deal. My name is Brooklyn Pierce, I’m fifteen years old, and I am decisionally challenged. Seriously, I can’t remember the last good decision I made. I can remember plenty of crappy ones though. Including that party I threw when my parents were out of town that accidentally burned down a model home. Yeah, not my finest moment, for sure.

But see, that’s why I started a blog. To enlist readers to make my decisions for me. That’s right. I gave up. Threw in the towel. I let someone else be the one to decide which book I read for English. Or whether or not I accepted an invitation to join the debate team from that cute-in-a-dorky-sort-of-way guy who gave me the Heimlich Maneuver in the cafeteria. (Note to self: Chew the melon before swallowing it.) I even let them decide who I dated!

Well, it turns out there are some things in life you simply can’t choose or have chosen for you—like who you fall in love with. And now everything’s more screwed up than ever.

But don’t take my word for it, read the book and decide for yourself. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scream in frustration. Or maybe that’s just me. After all, it’s my life.

My Life Undecided is a light, fresh read that left me entertained and satisfied upon completion.

When the main character, Brooklyn, says that she is "decisionally challenged" she means it. Even though she's only fifteen (same age as me, actually) she ends up in awful situations and doesn't realize something is wrong until it's too late. Even though at first it seems like Brooks is taking the easy way out by giving up all decision-making duties, it was really very interesting to see how much she learned throughout the novel about life and herself.

The supporting characters were great. My favourite by far is Brian, the dorky debate team member that I just want to hug because he is adorable. Three cheers for smart guys! Also, I feel the need to mention that I am in awe of the preparedness of Brooks' school's debate team. I'm on the debate team and I wish we worked that hard! Anyways, getting back on track, I hated Brooklyn's best friend, but I guess she's cool in the kind of way that Voldemort is cool.*

I don't want to give too much away, but the story had almost a fairy tale ending. It kind of reminds me of A Cinderella Story - the feel, not the actual events - which I mean in the best possible way (that is one of my absolute favourite movies after all).

Overall, My Life Undecided turned out to be a quick, enjoyable novel. Looking forward to reading more from Jessica Brody!

Cover Comments: It's cute! Also, I make that exact face all the time (and probably wear that much jewellery LOL).

*Okay, that is a slight exaggeration. I can in fact confirm that Brooklyn's best friend is not as evil as Voldemort. Slightly less evil.**
**DONE NOW. She is evil but just regular teenager evil, although you must admit that Voldemort was a rather evil teenager.........

ARGH I AM SORRY. Just watched Harry Potter (6) again. I cannot be held responsible for the words coming out of my mouth.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (19)

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...
Fateful by Claudia Gray
(Goodreads profile)

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 13, 2011

In Fateful, eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, overbearing family she works for. Once the ship they’re sailing on reaches the United States, she’ll strike out on her own. Then she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets....

Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves are real and they’re stalking him—and now Tess, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over.

Featuring the opulent backdrop of the Titanic, Fateful’s publication is poised to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the ship’s doomed maiden voyage. It is sure to be a hit among Titanic buffs and fans of paranormal romance alike.
This book has such an amazing concept - werewolves on the Titanic. I can't wait to read it! I read Claudia's book Evernight and wasn't overly impressed but that was yeeeeeaaaars ago and I want to give it another shot someday. Anyways, yes. Fateful.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
(Goodreads profile)

Source: Net Galley
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 432

Anyone who’s had something truly crappy happen to them will tell you: It’s all about Before and After. What I’m talking about here is the ka-pow, shake-you-to-your-core-and-turn-your-bones-to-plastic kind of crappy. 
Sixteen-year-old Laurel’s world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new reality in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel’s life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss—a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways. 
Jennifer Castle’s debut novel is a heart-wrenching, surprisingly witty testament to how drastically life can change in the span of a single moment.
The Beginning of After is a moving tale of a girl whose life is changed forever when tragedy strikes her world.

The thing I appreciate most about this novel is that the process of Laurel dealing with her grief felt very, very realistic to me. What would you do if a police officer knocked on your door to tell you that your family had died in a horrible car accident? Do you know? Because I have no idea. Would I cry or just stare blankly at the walls or be angry or try to go on like normal? No idea. None. For the most part, Laurel doesn't really know either, even after the event has taken place. She's trying to take control of her life but everything is spinning out of control, even if it appears to be fine. There are ups and there are downs, but I just love that it all made sense.

I really liked Laurel's character as well. I could relate to her a lot (at least from before the accident). She studies hard, is close with her family, and mostly keeps to herself. It was positively chilling to see how her life is affected after the accident. My heart broke for her and the pain she went through. However, as sad as I was that her family had died, it was mostly because I could see how it destroyed Laurel and her grandmother. We don't get to know much about her family and who they were (although I could connect with her dad most of all), but I think it worked for this particular story.

There is a romantic aspect of this book but it doesn't take centre-stage and instead builds slowly and sweetly. As stated in the summary, there is definitely a connection between David and Laurel and I loved observing as it progressed at a natural pace.

Elegantly written, The Beginning of After is a book that I recommend to readers looking for an emotional journey. Well done!

Cover Comments: Oh, it is so pretty. I also imagine that it's one of those covers that looks even better in person. The colours are gorgeous and those detailed swirls are awesome. Pretty is definitely what I think of when I see this cover!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

In My Mailbox (7)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren which gives bloggers a chance to share the books, swag, etc. that they've received each week.
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Book title links go to Goodreads profiles.

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter - So glad to have this one! I loved Heist Society and I'm ready to jump back into Kat's world (and... okay. I'm a little excited to go back to Hale as well). Thanks to Chrystal from Snowdrop Dreams of Books for this one! :)

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen - I won this from Hilde at The Turn of the Page. I've already read it from when I checked it out of the library but I'm hoping to go to one of Sarah's signings when she comes to Toronto next month. Either way, it's nice to have a copy of my own!

Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren - I won this (I know, I win way too many books) from the lovely group of bloggers behind Teens Read and Write. I've started it and am trying to stop while I get through some eARCs that will expire soon but... so good!

Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse - This comes from the library. I haven't heard too much about it but I like the excerpt on the back (it involves donuts).

Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston - Also from my library. I'm so excited to read this one! I love Lesley's work aaaaaand Honey gave it an awesome review. I trust her judgement.

Wondering what that gun charm is about? ARE YOU SCARED? Don't be. I won it during Sarah Rees Brennan week (hosted by YA Bibliophile and The Reading Housewives of Indiana) from Becky at Just a Tilted Lamp. It is awesome and will be given to my friend who is a little obsessed with weapons/wars/armies. Ahem.

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That's all for me this week. What did you get in your mailbox? Leave a comment and I'll make sure to stop by and see. 

Friday, 19 August 2011

The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan
(Goodreads profile)
Source: Library
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 400

The Goblin Market has always been the center of Sin’s world. But now the Market is at war with the magicians, and Sin’s place is in danger. Thrown out of the Market she loves, Sin is thrown together with brothers Nick and Alan—whom she’s always despised.

Alan has been marked by a magician and is being tortured so that the magicians can get to Nick. As Sin watches Alan struggle to protect the demon brother he loves, she begins to see him in a new light—but she and Mae are locked in a fierce rivalry over who will inherit the leadership of the Goblin Market, and a decisive battle with the Aventurine Circle is looming. Mae’s brother, Jamie, is holed up with the magicians, his loyalties in question. And Nick—well, who knows what a demon might do to save his brother? How far will Nick go to save Alan—and what will it cost them all?

The Demon's Surrender marks the conclusion of an amazing series. I've read all of them just this year and I continue to be blown away by Sarah Rees Brennan's signature plot twists and snark. While this book wasn't my favourite of the trilogy, I did very much enjoy it.

As the summary suggests, the narrator of this novel is Sin Davies, the beautiful and enticing dancer of the Market. I really enjoyed getting Sin's perspective in this book because I really feel like she became a lot more than that to me. She transforms into a real person: a determined girl that cares about her family and her future and has to work hard to get what she wants.

That being said, I did miss some of the moments from the previous two books involving Nick, Alan, Mae and Jamie. Not to say that they aren't present, because they are (some more than others), but Sin isn't really a part of the group that they form and so certain things are left behind.

One of my favourite things about this book is how much Alan there is. Now I know most fans of this series are Team Nick, but me? I like the smart, sneaky reader, Alan, and trust me when I say that he is definitely present in this one!

Just like the previous two novels, Sarah keeps the plot moving with dark, exciting twists and revelations. I've pretty much given up on guessing what's going to happen next because I end up just being surprised every single time.

If you're looking for fast-paced urban fantasty with great characters and hilarious dialogue, look no further. A must-read series!

Cover Comments: I believe my comments for the first book were something along the lines of, "NIIIICK!" so this one is going to have to be, "ALLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNN!"

Honestly though, I really like it. The colours are bright but still manage to give a fair representation of what's inside.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
(Goodreads profile)
Source: Purchased
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 441
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

I am... amazed. Delirium is a stunning novel that destroyed all expectations that I had going into it. Was the plotline great? Yes. Did I connect with the characters? You bet. Was Lauren Oliver's prose as gorgeous as in Before I Fall? Heck yes!

One thing that I've appreciated in Lauren's novels so far is the character development. As human beings (or vampires, werewolves, zombie cats, etc.) I expect to see people shaped by their experiences and interactions with other people and things. Lauren Oliver does not disappoint. If I wanted to, I could map out the ways that Lena changes throughout the novel: feelings, actions and thoughts. Better still, the journeys of the characters actually make sense in correlation to the events of the book.

And then there's... Alex. Alex who laughs, listens, cares and lights Lena's world up like a chain of Christmas lights. I loved everything about this boy and the relationship between him and Lena was beautiful from the beginning to the end. Seeing them get to know each other - fall in love - stands out so brightly against the dull and heartless background of the place they live.

Speaking of that, how creepy is this story's backdrop? A place with no love sounded horrifying to me at first - as it should! I don't think I really sat down and considered the possibilities of that until much later though. The worse part of the no love deal to me personally is the fact that a parent can't love their child. They provide them with the basic necessities because of instructions for the government but would they actually care if their child got sick? Probably not.

I can't leave without gushing again on how amazing I find Lauren Oliver's writing. There are sentences and passages that I feel like tattoo-ing all over my body because they were so lovely. It actually took me a while to read this one because I kept going back to re-read certain things. Each sentence is strung together with care and they deliver a punch of emotion every time.

Finally... the ending. How do you end a book like that?! Seriously, you might as well as just rip out my heart and stomp on it! I am dying - DYING - to read the sequel. March 2012? Not soon enough!  

Cover Comments: I like it well enough but... so much less than the new covers! Honestly, if my copy wasn't signed, I might buy the new one just because it's pretty and will match the rest of the series when it comes out. I still might. Can't resist the pretty.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

In My Mailbox (6)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren which gives bloggers a chance to share the books, swag, etc. that they've received each week.

***
Book title links go to Goodreads profiles.

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott - I read (and reviewed) this one a while ago from Galley Grab but recently won a hard copy from the author.
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab - Thanks so much to Susan for offering up this copy in a giveaway. (Also, Victoria said I summed up her life which is, I don't know, kind of cool.) I already read it and it's a new favourite :) Loved.

My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody - I also won this one from the author, and it's signed. I haven't started yet but it looks so fun. Hopefully I'll get to it soon!

Hourglass by Myra McEntire - I won this from Pamela so thank you, Pamela! I read it yesterday and I loved it - time travel, awesome protag., cute boys... sold. Review should be up soon-ish.
The Pledge by Kimberly Derting - This addition is courtesy of Galley Grab, which is slowly becoming my BFF. Can't wait to dig into this one!

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That's all from me this week. What did you get in your mailbox?

Friday, 12 August 2011

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
(Goodreads profile)

Source: Net Galley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 473

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.
Minor spoilers possibly in this review. Nothing major, but consider yourself warned.

I really, really wanted to like this book. The premise sounds interesting, the cover is gorgeous and I know a lot of others that really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, The Girl in the Steel Corset just wasn't a book for me.

Let's start with the positive though. I very much liked the idea of the "Organites" which are basically thought to be a life source and the way that they played into the novel interested me. Actually, the steampunk aspects of the book were my favourites. It makes the historical time period a lot more interesting but I can't help but feel that it was a little convenient how so many things existed outside of their time in this novel, powered by steam.

I'm a little torn on whether or not I liked the main character, Finley. She has two very distinct personalities that fight for dominance inside of her, but I feel like both of them were a little extreme for me and I couldn't connect very well to either. However, as the novel went on, Finley's personalities start to merge together and I liked her newer self a lot more. If only I could have seen more of that Finley! As for the other characters... I feel kind of apathetic. Griffin was okay, but I think I may like him more for his "power" than his personality. The way he dealt with the spiritual realm, the Aether was fascinating. I thought Jack was kind of a random addition and Sam annoyed me more than should be considered healthy for a fictional character. Overall though, none of the characters stick out too much.

In a novel of this size (it clocks in at almost 500 pages) I expect the plot to be engaging. With this book though, I thought the plot dragged and I honestly struggled to keep reading. I feel like if certain scenes were cut out entirely (certain parts just seemed repetitive) it would have been a much better reading experience. Moreover, I guessed the villain the second they were introduced which is pretty disappointing since I was hoping this would give me a little more mystery and adventure.

So, the verdict on this novel is unfortunately going to have to be negative for me. As always though, I really do hope that you enjoy it as much as others seemed to have.

Cover Comments: I love it. The background and the dress (where can I get one of those?) and the font and aaaaaah. This should have been a book of pretty dresses. The only area it loses points on is the zipper on the back - almost wish someone hadn't pointed that out to me!

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Other reviews:

(What can I say? It's L-day. Later.)

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
(Goodreads profile)

Source: Won
Publisher: Hyperion Books (Children)
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 288
The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.
These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.
But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.
There are so many words that I can use to describe The Near Witch - mesmerizing, atmospheric, spellbinding, beautiful, lyrical... take your pick. All I know is that this is one of the best books I have ever read.

Victoria's writing is gorgeous. There is a lyrical quality to it and it immersed me completely in the town of Near. I feel like I took a trip to the moors, felt and heard the howling wind. I couldn't keep my eyes off the page, but at the same time, I wanted to take it slow so that I wouldn't miss a word. There is a skill to conveying whole images in a few words and it's definitely one that Victoria possesses.

As for the story, it really did read like a fairytale (albeit a spooky one). There is imagination and children's games and just so many other elements that I loved. The plot builds slowly in the beginning but in doing so, has the tension and intrigue built up so much that I was on the edge of my seat by the climax. There were parts that were peaceful and parts that were horrifying (in that fascinating kind of way, y'know?) and all of them blended together seamlessly.

The cast of unique and memorable characters are the icing on the cake for me. I loved Lexi as a protagonist because she is smart, stubborn, tough and can think for herself when it really matters. Cole AKA 'The Stranger' was a great love interest and I think that he and Lexi make a fantastic team.

So, if you haven't read this one yet, my only question is: Why not?

Cover Comments: I'm not really sure how I feel about this one! It's definitely a lot (A LOT) prettier in person and I like the overall jacket (back and spine) more than the front alone (sorry, couldn't find a picture). Also, when you tilt it in the light, there are these like white swirl things on the cover! That amused me for a while. So, yeah. I like what they were trying to do with the cover. I can see how the unsure-but-reaching-and-almost-touching ties in with the story.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (18)

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...

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

(Goodreads profile)
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers (Bloomsbury)
Release Date: August 16, 2011 (Hardcover)

Luis Fuentes has always been sheltered from the gang violence that nearly destroyed his brothers’ lives. But that didn’t stop him from taking risks—whether he’s scaling a mountain in the Rockies or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis can’t stop looking for the next thrill.

Nikki Cruz lives her life by three rules—boys lie to get their way, don’t trust a boy who says “I love you,” and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Her parents may be from Mexico, but as a doctor’s daughter, she has more in common with her north-side neighbors than the Latino Blood at her school. Then she meets Luis at Alex’s wedding, and suddenly, she’s tempted to break all her rules.

Getting Nikki to take a chance on a southsider is Luis’s biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by Chuy Soto, the new head of the Latino Blood. When Chuy reveals a disturbing secret about Luis’s family, the youngest Fuentes finds himself questioning everything he’s ever believed to be true. Will his feelings for Nikki be enough to stop Luis from entering a dark and violent world and permanently living on the edge?

Ah, the final Perfect Chemistry book! I love this series :) The first was my favourite but the second was great too. Can't wait to find out more about Luis! PLUS, Alex and Brittany (at least it better be Brittany!) are getting married. <3 <3 <3
 
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
 
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Release Date: August 23, 2011
 
When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive - this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone's out for blood.

I need this book nownownownownownow!

ADRIAN.

That is all.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Clean by Amy Reed

Clean by Amy Reed
(Goodreads profile)

Source: S&S Galley Grab
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: July 19, 2011 (Already out)
Format: Hardcover 
Pages: 288
You’re probably wondering how I ended up here. I’m still wondering the same thing.
 
Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva have one thing in common: They're addicts. Addicts who have hit rock bottom and been stuck together in rehab to face their problems, face sobriety, and face themselves. None of them wants to be there. None of them wants to confront the truths about their pasts. And they certainly don’t want to share their darkest secrets and most desperate fears with a room of strangers. But they'll all have to deal with themselves and one another if they want to learn how to live. Because when you get that high, there's nowhere to go but down, down, down.
Clean is a hard book for me to review. It deals with dark subject matter and is really just an emotional ride.

I've read a fair number of stories that focus on abuse, addiction, eating disorders, etc. but I've never read one quite like Clean. This is due to the fact that there are five different perspectives to take into account: Kelly, Olivia, Jason, Christopher and Eva. The reasons for them being in rehab are all different and we get a glimpse into all of their lives, past and present. I was worried that with so many characters, they would turn into stereotypes, and at first look, it might appear that way. Believe me though when I say that this is not the case here. All of the characters felt so real and were so well-developped. None of their stories seemed too unbelievable and I needed to know that they were going to be okay when I was reading.

Stories like this one kind of rip you open from the inside, but I love that about them. They are raw, powerful, intense and moving. You feel so many emotions and want to help these characters because what they're going through is scary. It really hit me while reading this book how easy it would be for someone to get to this point given the right combination of circumstances. How hard is it to climb back up once you've hit rock bottom?

I loved the ending of this book. It is hopeful and sweet but also leaves a lot up in the air, which I think makes it a lot more realistic. All in all, a powerful, well-written novel.

Cover Comments: It's really interesting! I love the white - definitely makes me think of a rehab centre - and the pose/expression of the model (Kelly? Olivia? Eva?) is great. Is she meant to be trapped in a box? That's what it looks like to me, but it may just be a regular room. Either way, great cover.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

In My Mailbox (5)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren which gives bloggers a chance to share the books, swag, etc. that they've received each week.
***

Only 2 books this week! It's probably for the best though since I actually had to return some library books unread which I HATE doing. I guess I'll just have to put them on hold again... *drawn-out sigh*

First, I got Withering Tights by Louise Rennison from my fantastic library. (Goodreads profile)


HELLO, CUTEST BOOK EVER.

Well, the cover at least. Seriously though, doesn't it look totally adorable? There's pink and stripes and an OWL and green and just... love. I haven't read it yet because I have some other books I need to get to first but I'm reaaaally excited to read it. It looks cute. I like cute <3

***

Next, we have The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente which I won from Peace, Love & Reviews. (Goodreads profile)


Alright, STORY TIME!

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Sonia. She was on Goodreads when a book title caught her eye. This title was super long and super interesting and just super COOL. So she admired it. THEN she noticed the blurbers (is that a word?): Neil Gaiman, Tamora Pierce and Holly Black. Her brain nearly EXPLODED with the awesome because oh my gosh, if someone was going to blurb her book, SHE WOULD WANT THEM.

Anyways. A while later, she noticed a giveaway on someone's blog. Then another one. Then another one. She kept entering until finally, she was like, "how many giveaways for this book ARE there right now?!" So she Googled it.

After the deadline for the giveaway had passed, her inbox was blessed with not one, not two or three, but FOUR e-mails saying she'd won.

-

I KNOW, RIGHT? So, I won 4 copies. After I'd sent off my mailing details to the first though, I just told the second and third to draw a new winner because really, what kind of greedy person needs 3 copies of the same book when other people could get the chance to have it? (No offence if you've done that.. LOL.) For the fourth though, I asked on Twitter if anyone (US/Canada) wanted it and then just gave the person their mailing info. WHEW. Anyways, totally stoked to read this book. My little sister started it and she's really liking it so far.

***

I love how even when I only get 2 books, I still manage to have a gigantic IMM post. This is why I don't vlog... can you imagine how much rambling you would be subjected to?

What's in your mailbox this week? I'd love to see!

Friday, 5 August 2011

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
(Goodreads profile)

Source: Library (Copy also won in giveaway)
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Release Date: Already out (May 10, 2011)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 402
Who is the real McLean?

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.

Combing Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

Sarah Dessen is sort of like royalty in the YA universe - and for good reason, too. I've read all of her books and each of them has been compelling, heartfelt and real.

I liked McLean's character. Although the relationship she has with her mother is strained to say the least, she is very protective of her dad and obviously cares for him a lot. She's turned her whole life into this big game of dress-up, except each new destination her father's job takes them means a whole new personality in addition to the wardrobe change.

Except... now she's not pretending. She's finally giving herself a chance to be herself which, you know, would be great except for the fact that she has no idea who that is. Over the years of re-inventing herself, with names and costumes and clubs, McLean has lost herself.

Luckily, Dessen has equipped her with a great cast of supporting characters: Dave (quirky boy genius), Opal (so full of surprises), Deb (my new hero) and a few more. I loved all of these characters. The relationships between characters are really a huge part of the magic in Dessen's books for me. It was more than the budding romance between McLean and Dave; it was the father-daughter relationship between McLean and her dad and the friendship that is blossoms between McLean and Deb.

Once again, Sarah Dessen has managed to win me over with a story that is fun, comforting and insightful.

Cover Comments: I really love how all of Sarah Dessen's books have that light, colourful vibe going. I can totally picture McLean doing this (I mean moving is such a huge part of her life) and the little details like the bracelets around her wrists are great.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Source: Library
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: In stores (April 26, 2011)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 323

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job. 
Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from. 
When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty comes a strikingly original look at friendship, love, and sisterhood—in a future that is eerily believable.
Bumped is... bizarre. I can safely say that I have never read anything quite like it and that I did really enjoy it.

Megan McCafferty doesn't give readers a chance to adjust to the dystopian world she has created. The unfamiliar ideals, lifestyle and vocabulary come full-force from the first page and you sort of have to let go of any confusion you may and just go with it. I know a lot of others have complained that they had difficulty understanding the language at first but I really never had that problem - if you read carefully, I think the slang is easy enough to pick up from the context of the novel.

I don't know if I really liked Melody or Harmony, to be honest. Then again, I don't know if I was supposed to (can you see how confused this book has made me?!). The circumstances they have both grown up in are on the extreme side of the spectrum and as a result, their way of thinking is far from anything I'm used to. For instance, Melody can't "bump" (translation: have sex with) her best friend, Zen, because he is - wait for it - too short. Seriously! He's kind, funny and smart but that height? Forget about it. On the other hand, Harmony has been brought up in a strict religious setting where she has been taught that what Melody is doing is the worst thing a person can do. I could actually handle more of Harmony than Melody (I have a lot of close friends that are very religious) but I seem to in the minority there.


I really liked Megan's style of writing. The beginning was a little slow but the action does pick up and the text is sprinkled with clever slang. Seriously, some of the phrases that were added ("motherhumping!" "fertilicious!") were such clever play-on-words that I think it really added to the overall tone of the story. It makes you think, and I definitely believe that there are things that I missed while reading just because of how fast I read it (it's hard to put down) but it's also a satire which lightens it considerably.

Definitely one of the most confusing books I have ever read, but also one of the most thought-provoking. Nice job!

Cover Comments: Oh, it's adorable. I love the egg and the colour scheme - white with pink is always cute on a cover.