Saturday, 30 April 2011

Inkpop Challenge: Hereafter!

So, you may or may not have heard about the weekly challenges that Inkpop is having in relation to the Dark Days of Supernatural. This is the eighth week and once again, there will surely be some fabulous prizes to be won and some wonderful stories/poems/essays to be read!

You can learn more about the actual challenge here including information about submission and what you should write. The deadline for this is May 5th so get writing!

I was actually lucky enough to snag one of the prize packs last week for a comment I left on a short story (I think that was a random draw) and I wish you all the best of luck as well. Happy reading/writing!

The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter

The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
ISBN: 9780373210268
Pages: 304

Every girl who has taken the test has died.
Now it's Kate's turn.
It's always been just Kate and her mom - and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld - and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he's crazy - until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails...
The Goddess Test is a magically delectable debut novel featuring Greek mythology with a modern twist.

First, let me just say how much I loved Kate as a character. It's rare that I come across a narrator while reading that is kind and selfless to the degree to which Kate is and I loved that. I loved that she could put her own problems aside to help someone else and that the world didn't have to revolve around her. I especially loved the relationship that she had with her mother. My heart broke for both of them as they struggled to deal with her mom's cancer and the love and helplessness Kate felt came through to me crystal clear.

The relationship between Kate and Henry was another thing that I really enjoyed. It took its time and developed at a steady, gradual pace through the novel so that I could just see every aspect of it. I seriously appreciated the lack of insta-love (which isn't always horrible but is getting a bit tedious). Kate and Henry start off as simply reluctant friends and its nice to see the easy progression in their relationship. I'm excited to see where the romance goes in the next book!

In regards to the mystery aspect of the novel, I really didn't figure out who the person responsible for all the problems in the book was until the very end. It was such a huge 'oh my goodness!' moment when I did realize what I'd been missing that I think my jaw must have been trailing along the floor - I definitely didn't see it coming!

Aimée Carter weaves a beautiful tale rich with mythology, romance and mystery. Book two, Goddess Interrupted, cannot come soon enough!

Cover Comments: It is so pretty. Especially after reading the book, I just think that its perfect in every way. Gorgeous!

Friday, 29 April 2011

Haven by Kristi Cook

Haven by Kristi Cook

Source: Simon & Schuster Pulse It Program
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster)
ISBN: 978-1-4424-0760-2
Pages: 401


Violet doesn't understand why she feels drawn to the Winterhaven School. She just know it's the right place for her. When she discovers the school's secret, it all makes sense: Everyone at Winterhaven has psychic gifts. For the first time in her life Violet doesn't have to hide her visions. She's always seen them as a curse, but now she can hone her ability and try to control it.

But she's thrown completely off balance when she meets the most alluring - and most mysterious - boy in school. She's never connected with anyone the way she does with Aidan, and the intensity takes them both by surprise. But as their relationship deepens, she begins to have visions of Aidan's death - and sees that she's the one who's fated to kill him. 

Violet's never been able to prevent her visions from coming true. But this time she'll do whatever it takes... even if it means sacrificing herself for the boy she loves.

Haven had everything I was hoping for: an authentic cast of characters, a wonderful boarding school and just a light, fun storyline with touches of mystery.

I really loved the setting of this book. There was a wide cast of characters and I think it worked really well for the story to have it set in a boarding school away from parental influence. It just gives the characters a closer feel when they're all living in the same building.

The Winterhaven gang was fun to read about. Kristi Cook is able to make them sound like real teenagers and while it did get a little confusing in the beginning, I think the characters all had pretty distinct personalities that you can differentiate between in a group setting. Can I just say... You know that Aidan effect you were talking about, Kristi? Yeah, it can apparently be transmitted through text as well. Can I have an Aidan, please?

Even though I guessed a lot of the twists in the book early on, it didn't take away from the overall experience. There was definitely quite a mood shift from the beginning of the book to the end but it was done subtly. Haven is a book with a fun atmosphere that, for the most part, isn't too heavy but isn't all daisies and sunshine either. Anyone looking for a great story with a magical, boarding school adventure should definitely check this one out!

Cover Comments: I like the colour scheme of this cover. I think it matches the book really well and I suppose the books represent the boarding/high school experience. I have no idea what that butterfly is for (am I missing something?) but I do like butterflies - they're pretty! :)   

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Booking Through Thursday (6)

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

If you could see one book turned into the perfect movie–one that would capture everything you love, the characters, the look, the feel, the story–what book would you choose?

Oh... movies. This is a hard subject for me. I'm really not much of a movie-watcher. I tend to stick with the ones I like unless something particularly interests me (like Prom - doesn't that look cute?) I mean, I think I've seen A Cinderella Story about seven thousand times - my sister, whom I force to watch with me every time even though she hates it - can attest to that. Yes, I torture my siblings. Don't pretend you don't. ANYWAYS.

I really think that Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead would make a fantastic movie. I love the entire series and I think they have a lot of potential to be translated well on the screen. There is great, funny dialogue, a lot of action and some steamy romance between Rose and Dimitri as well as Lissa and Christian (they're my favourite!) I believe that they're currently working on making it into a movie and I really hope that works out. As long as they don't completely butcher it... which is likely... I'll be pleased and I think it will be a great addition to YA-books-turned-movies.

Final Verdict: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead!

What about you? Do you think your favourite book would make a good movie? Let me know in the comment section - I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (7)

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...
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: May 24, 2011

From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island. Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.
Okay, does this book not sound hilarious to you? It sure does to me! I mean, come on, teen beauty pageant contestants forced to fight for survival on a desert island with no access to email in non-exfoliated darkness. 'Oh, the horror' is right! This book sounds delightfully funny and I'm sure I'll have a great time reading it. Can't wait!

So, readers, what are YOU waiting for this week? Leave a comment and let me know!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Source: Library
Publisher: Tor Teen (Macmillan)
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2808-3
Pages: 365

Frannie Cavanaugh has always been a bit of a loner. She's spent years keeping everyone at a distance, even her closest friends. That is, until Luc Cain enrolls in her school. He's hot, sarcastic, and dangerous - and Frannie can't seem to stay away.

What she doesn't know is that Luc is on a mission. Because Frannie isn't exactly ordinary. She possesses a skill so unique that the King of Hell himself has taken notice, and he's sent Luc to claim Frannie's soul. It should be easy. All he has to do is get her to sin, and Luc is as tempting as they come.

Unfortunately for Luc, Heaven has other plans, and he's just started making progress when the angel Gabriel shows up. Gabe will do anything to keep Luc from getting what he came for, and his angelic charm might just be enough to keep Frannie on the right path.

It isn't long before Luc and Gabe find themselves fighting for more than just Frannie's soul. But if Luc fails to win her over, there will be Hell to pay... for all of them.

Is it just me or does the tagline alone make you want to read this novel?

Personal Demons has such a unique and fresh premise that really was delightful to read. The idea of high-ranking demons and angels coming down to Earth to fight over a human girl with super powers was just so interesting that it alone absorbed me into the story.

Something that I really enjoyed reading through was the banter between Luc and Gabe who had been rivals for centuries but got a new purpose to fight in the form of Frannie. There were a lot of great one-liners that had me laughing out loud and I really did come to like both of their characters. Small things that really stood out to me such as Frannie's sisters all having the same first name made nice extra touches and served in creating a more memorable novel.  

Frannie, the main character, surprised me. When I first started reading, I had a picture painted in my mind of a rebellious small-town girl that would easily be swayed by Luc and instantly become the damsel-in-distress. While it definitely does seem like that at times, Lisa Desrochers gives you other things to consider that ultimately make her a much more likeable character.

This novel functions through the use of two perspectives: Frannie and Luc. The point-of-view shifts were used well and it was nice to be able to escape into the mind of one when the other got too frustrating. I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed to learn Gabe wouldn't get a part in the sharing but I got over that quickly as I was swept up in the story.

As much as I liked Luc... Gabe was my favourite. Given the choice, I definitely would have gone for the angel. I'll retreat to my lonely corner of Gabriel supporters now and leave you all to reminisce/read this book.  

Overall, a very enjoyable read with an interesting storyline and strong characters. Nicely executed!

Cover Comments: ... I really dislike it. I'm sorry. The book was great and I have no problem with the characters shown, I just... don't like. It's weird. Sorry.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
Source: Library
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-385-73684-8 
Pages: 404
Gabry lives a quiet life, secure in her town next to the sea and behind the Barrier. She's content to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. Home is all she's ever known, and all she needs for happiness.
But life after the Return is never safe, and there are threats even the Barrier can't hold back.
Gabry's mother thought she left her secrets behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, but like the dead in their world, secrets don't stay buried. And now, Gabry's world is crumbling.
One night beyond the Barrier...
One boy Gabry's known forever and one veiled in mystery...
 One reckless moment, and half of Gabry's generation is dead, the other half imprisoned.
Gabry knows only one thing: if she is to have any hope of a future, she must face the forest of her mother's past.
I had high expectations beginning this novel and, let me tell you, The Dead-Tossed Waves completely and utterly surpassed them.

There's just some quality to Ryan's writing that makes the words flow off the page. There is plenty of despair and desperation in this dystopian, zombie series and it is all described exceptionally well through the text. It's one of those books that just gets to you because of how strong the main character's voice is and I loved that about it.

I had a much easier time connecting to Gabry than I did with Mary, the main character of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, probably because we're a lot more similar than Mary and I are. Gabry is filled with a different kind of strength than Mary and is a lot less reckless. She is less outspoken and more vulnerable but there was a quiet kind of courage nonetheless.

Then we have Elias... Oh, dear, I loved him. Sure, he had some issues, but in a post-apocalyptic world of zombies and death galore, I think it's acceptable. The bottom line is that he was kind and patient and I never once felt like he was trying to push Gabry into something she wasn't ready for or putting her in harm's way.* Can we have some more, please?

I kind of hope that now that this series is over (written and published, that is. I have yet to read the final book), Carrie Ryan will try for a happier novel. I feel like the worse thing that could possibly happen really did occur, over and over again. I will cheerfully concoct a long-winded happy ending for all of these characters if the final book doesn't give me one - I think I'll need it for my sanity!

So, what I hope you take from this review? If you haven't read this series, you're missing out. There is death and infection and killing and grief but sometimes you're rewarded with precious bits of hope that are enough to keep the pages flying. It's a marvellous story and I highly recommend it.

Cover Comments: I love this cover! The position of the cover model, the frothy water... all of it just works. Beautifully done!

*If you've read the book... er, excluding that. I know that statement probably got some raised eyebrows.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Booking Through Thursday (5) ... on Friday

This week's Booking Through Thursday question is...
CAN you judge a book by its cover?
This is a hard question. First off, I think that anyone that claims not to is lying. It's only natural to form an opinion of some kind from the first glimpse you catch at a book. Sometimes this a great thing and sometimes... not so much.

Truthfully, you can't judge a book by its cover. A lot of the times, a cover is the most fantastic thing you've ever laid eyes on and then the story inside just doesn't do it for you. Sometimes, though, it's the complete opposite! For example, I really don't like the covers of a lot of Tamora Pierce books but she's one of my favourite authors and I'm so glad I decided to give her a try.

Instead of the covers, I think a much better way of finding a stellar book is from recommendations (well hello, book bloggers!) or from just reading that summary.

Final Verdict: While a cool cover will definitely give a book an initial edge, it really has no effect on the story inside.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Source: Library
Publisher: Philomel Books (Penguin Group)
ISBN: 978-0-399-25482-6
Pages: 452
Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything - including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?
Nightshade is the kind of story that hooks you from the very first page and doesn't let go until long after you've finished. When I say it jumps straight into the action, I mean it. The first thing I read after opening the book was about a girl attacking a grizzly bear!

This girl is, of course, our lovely main character, Calla. I really admired her strength throughout the novel and the amount of dedication and loyalty she had to her pack. She sacrificed a lot more than others even realized for their safety and there were definitely some moments I just wanted to hug her. That's not to say she couldn't take care of herself because she proved time and time again that she had no qualms about getting her hands dirty!

A love triangle is a large part of this story and incorporates Calla, Ren and Shay. Ren was... amazing. I had a fangirl crush on him for the better part of the story. While he can at times seem like a jerk, it's clear that he genuinely does care for Calla a lot. Add that to the fact that he's unfairly attractive and you have an irresistable alpha male. Shay, on the other hand, is sweeter and more vulnerable. Maybe it's because I was too wrapped up in Ren to give him a chance, but I just didn't connect to Shay as much as Calla obviously did. He seemed more like a brother than boyfriend material to me.

Even though the characters were a huge part of the story for me, the plot was also fascinating. The Keepers, Searchers and Guardians were a really interesting dynamic and clearly well thought-out. A lot of unanswered questions are waiting in my mind upon the completion of the book, particularly in regards to the Searchers. Nightshade left off at an enormous cliffhanger and I'm absolutely dying to get my hands on the next book.

Cover Comments: I love this cover! It's purple (and sparkly!), there's pretty flowers (and it's sparkly!) and on top of that, there are sparkles. How much cooler can you get? As much as I love this cover though, I have to admit it doesn't really reflect the story. I'm sure most of you have seen the paperback version (picture below if not) which admittedly, when I first saw, really disliked. It's kind of growing on me now though, especially after having read the book. The sequel cover, however... that's upsetting. I really love the old version (even if there were no sparkles) and I'm sad they changed it. Oh well. I'm sure the story inside will be utterly amazing.

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

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 Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed in the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister Sadie have been in trouble. As descendants of the House of Life, the Kanes have some powers at their command, but the devious gods haven't given them much time to master their skills at Brooklyn House, which has become a training ground for young magicians.

And now their most threatening enemy yet - the chaos snake Apophis - is rising. If they don't prevent him from breaking free in a few days' time, the world will come to an end. In other words, it's a typical week for the Kane family.

To have any chance of battling the Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra. But that would be a feat more powerful than any magician has ever accomplished. 

First they have to search the world for the three sections of the Book of Ra, then they have to learn how to chant its spells. Oh, and did we mention that no one knows where Ra is exactly?

Narrated in two different wisecracking voices, featuring a large cast of new and unforgettable characters, and with adventures spanning the globe, this second installment in the Kane Chronicles is nothing short of a thrill ride.
(Summary taken from Rick Riordan's website).

This is the second book in a trilogy, the first being The Red Pyramid. I really liked Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series and when I heard he was releasing another one with Egyptian mythology, I knew I would fall in love with it just as I had with Riordan's former works.

In general, I'm a Greek mythology lover. I like Egyptian mythology well enough, just not as much. Unlike with Greek mythology, I had a very limited knowledge of the Egyptian universe and was left having to learn things through the story. Let me tell you though, by no means did that make this book less enjoyable. If you've been thinking about starting this series and haven't, I really recommend you give it a try!

Anyways, about the sequel now! The ending of the last one was a complete shock (to me, anyways) and there were a lot of things left unexplained. I'm most looking forward to reading more about Zia! Her and Carter are adorable together. I also really like the relationship between Sadie and Carter - two siblings that are only just getting to know each other well. The family dynamic in there is hilarious and I'm looking forward to more teasing and sibling banter.

Pretty cover, too! I like my pretty covers.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
Source: Library
Publisher: HarperTeen
ISBN: 978-0-06-121468-4
Pages: 325

Unbeknownst to mortals, a power struggle is unfolding in a world of shadows and danger. After centuries of stability, the balance among the Faery Courts has altered, and Irial, ruler of the Dark Court, is battling to hold his rebellious and newly vulnerable fey together. If he fails, bloodshed and brutality will follow.
Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life.
That tattoo does bring changes - not the kind Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic. Those changes will bind Leslie and Irial together, drawing Leslie deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils.
I was worried that a sequel to Wicked Lovely (which I loved!) would lessen the appeal of the series for me but that was definitely not the case! Ink Exchange was a dark, haunting tale featuring a courageous heroine and a stellar cast of supporting characters.

The main character, Leslie, is so much more than originally meets the eye. She struggles daily to keep her emotions in check and her carefully-built façade up for the world. I really liked the inner turmoil Leslie went through - it made her seem that much more real to me as a character.

I also loved reading about Niall and Irial for similar reasons. They were both intriguing characters and in the end, I liked them both. The Dark Court is featured in this novel instead of the Summer Court, which is a stark contrast. I felt like in the last book, we only got to hear about the Summer and Winter Courts whereas in this one, we also got some more information about the High Court.

This novel is definitely a lot darker than the previous one. For that reason (and the fact that there just isn't enough Seth in this book) I'd have to say I preferred Wicked Lovely but I really did love this one as well. It's a fresh take on faeries that you don't want to miss!

Cover Comments: This cover is alluring in a creepy kind of way - it's a perfect fit! I like the tattoo and the wings especially and the consistency from the last cover. Great cover!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Booking Through Thursday (4)

This week's Booking Through Thursday question is...
I was reading the other day a quote from JFK Jr who said on the death of his mother, that she died surrounded by family, friends, and her books. Apparently, Jackie’s books were very much a part of HER, her personality, her sense of self. 
Up until recently, people could browse your bookshelves and learn a lot about you–what your interests are, your range of topics, favorite authors, how much you read (or at least buy books).

More and more, though, this is changing. People aren’t buying books so much as borrowing them from the library. Or reading them on their e-readers or computers. There’s nothing PHYSICAL on the shelves to tell strangers in your home, for better or worse, who you ARE.

Do you think this is a good thing? Bad? Discuss!
Okay, so I'm going to mostly talk about the whole e-book versus physical book debate because that's the underlying question here, right?

Personally, I like hard copies of books. I don't own an e-reader and at this point, I don't really want one. However, I do see why so many people read e-books! They're environmentally-friendly, cheaper and you can walk around with more than one. I also understand why people just don't think it's the same as reading a 'real' book.

In regards to how I feel about people not knowing about you based on the books on your shelves.. I don't really think it's such a huge deal. If I really want to know what a person is like, I'll talk to them, not judge it solely on their collection of literature. I mostly just like to peruse people's bookshelves to see if we share any common interests.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below and let me know! 

New Books For New Bloggers

New Books For New Bloggers!
You might have noticed the new button on my sidebar. If you haven't, take a look - it's gorgeous! (You could also just look at this massive, beautiful header, lol). This button declares my participation in the New Books For New Bloggers program. This is a great idea from the fabulous blogger behind Into The Morning Reads where there are giveaways, weekly prompts, advice from more experienced bloggers and more.

If your blog has been up and running for less than 6 months and has less than 50 followers (at the time you join - obviously, your blog can grow after this!) you qualify to join. It's a fantastic way to discover other new bloggers, get valuable tips and maybe even win a giveaway or two. I encourage you all to join!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (5)

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...

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
Release Date: May 3, 2011

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, 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 alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are-and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating 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 unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

This has been a popular choice for WoW and all the things I've heard about Divergent have been positive. I mean, people have said it's better than The Hunger Games - The Hunger Games! That is absolutely high praise. I just discovered the first 100 pages online so I'll be reading through those later.

This book has been on my mind a lot just from all the great reviews and the interesting concept. Earlier this week, we had a test on diverging mirrors in physics and all I could think was 'diverging? Hey, like Divergent! Yeah, I want to read that book.'

I love the cover because, like trees, I have a weakness for smoke and the background of this one looks pretty cool. Also, the flaming symbol (I have no idea what that is) is really pretty!

From the summary and my limited knowledge of the factions, I would probably categorize myself with something boring like Amity. What about you? What faction do you think you would belong to? What are YOU waiting on this week? 

Let me know! I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Source: Library
Publisher: HarperTeen
ISBN: 978-0-06-121465-3
Pages: 328
RULE #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty - especially if they learn of her Sight - and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.
RULE #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.
RULE #1: Don't ever attract their attention.
But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King, who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost - regardless of her plans or desires.
Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.
Faery intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning twenty-first-century faery tale.
I actually read this book a few years ago but after re-reading it, I am ready to confirm that it is one of my absolute favourite faerie tales.

The first thing that I have to talk about is the writing. Melissa Marr crafts a beautiful world and I think a lot of that stems from the style with which she writes. The words are lyrical and mesmerizing and there were honestly times I just paused to think 'wow, that was nicely put.'

I also really like the concept of this story. A girl that's seen faeries all her life and now discovers the king of the Summer Court is stalking her? Yes, please! I spent a lot of the book just waiting for the shoe to drop and the faeries to realize that Ash could see them. I liked the pace of the novel which told a great story in which lots occurred but that didn't seem dragged out by any means.

The last thing is the characters. I loved Aislinn and I loved Keenan and Donia and Niall and all the others too but I especially loved Seth. Please excuse me for a moment while I turn into an uncontrollable fangirl and fantasize about him. Right from his introduction to the scene, he was sweet and patient. It was refreshing to see a character that, once introduced to the abnormal, didn't run screaming but instead thought over what he had been told logically. I can't wait to read more of these characters!

The Winter Queen, Beira, who also happens to be Keenan's mother, fit her role perfectly. Her character was cold and ruthless - my favourite type of villain. I loved the contrast and interactions between her and Keenan just because it showed a more vulnerable side of him and an even more cruel one of her. It was interesting to see the way their characters played off of each other. 

Overall, a fabulous must-read!

Cover Comments: I find this cover incredibly stunning. The bluish tint to everything and the vines around the title are unique and the flower covered in... snow?... is beautiful. Complete cover win!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Source: Simon and Schuster Pulse It Program
Publisher: Simon and Schuter BFYR 
ISBN: 978-1-4424-0905-7
Pages: 358
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.
After all the hype surrounding Wither, I was scared it wouldn't live up to my expectations. I shouldn't have! My hopes for the book were surpassed as I delved into this stunning debut novel.

The book wastes no time in getting to the heart of the story and my heart was pounding from the first page alone. Although the book isn't filled with action, the enchanting world and characters more than make up for it.

From the minute I was introduced to Rhine, the main character, I knew that she wasn't going to be your typical damsel in distress. Despite being in one of the toughest situations I've ever read about, she maintains strong and keeps her head throughout the novel. She isn't under any false illusions about what's happening around her and is smart enough to strategically plan out her future. It was refreshing to read about a character that wasn't naive and got themself pulled into countless misfortunes because of their own stupidity. Rhine is a character that knows what she wants and does what she has to in order to get it! 

Gabriel, the servant that attends to Rhine, was sweet and thoughtful. I really enjoyed his character and I found myself rooting for him as Rhine got more and more attached. I liked the contrast between the two sister wives, Jenna and Cecily. With both the hardened and innocent wives, it is easy to see why they are who they are and how they came to be that way. Housemaster Vaughn, or, in other words, Linden's father, was beyond creepy. My hat goes off to DeStefano for making a villain that made me shiver everytime he spoke. Finally, we have Linden, whom I fully expected to hate. The problem, if you want to call it that, is that I didn't. He was sheltered from the world and just genuinely seemed clueless about what was going on - I actually found it rather endearing. I want him to have a happy ending. After all, it's not his fault his father is an absolute creep!

The last thing that I want to talk about is the marvellous world Lauren created. It's dark, frightening, realistic and I loved it. From the elaborate parties that were hosted to the homeless orphans trying to steal food, everything was beautifully crafted. I can't wait to explore more of this universe in the next two books of the trilogy.

Lauren DeStefano is definitely an author to watch out for. For those of you who haven't read Wither yet, I highly recommend it. For those that have, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Cover Comments: This cover is absolutely gorgeous! I'll need to purchase a hardcopy sometime so that I can add it to my collection.

Friday, 8 April 2011

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Source: Purchased
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
ISBN: 978-1-4424-0354-3
Pages: 424

The Mortal War is over, and Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She's training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And - most of all - Clary can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine's Circle, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second bloody war. Clary's best friend, Simon, can't help her. His mother just found out that he's a vampire and now he's homeless. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side - along with the power of the curse that's wrecking his life. And they're willing to do anything to get what they want. At the same time he's dating two beautiful, dangerous girls - neither of whom knows about the other.

When Jace begins to pull away from Clary without explaining why, she is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: She herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever in
City of Fallen Angels. 

Okay, so I'm going to try my very hardest to get through this review without squealing, clapping or displaying any other enthusiastic kind of excitement. City of Fallen Angels was that good.

It feels like so long ago that I read City of Glass but I was sucked back into the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders from page one of this sequel with no problems. Clare blends together the elements of romance, suspense, action and humour effortlessly. Her writing is delightfully descriptive and the use of imagery is as stunning as before.

In City of Fallen Angels, the spotlight shifts slightly off Clary and refocuses on Simon Lewis, newly-made vampire. I thought it was fascinating to read from Simon's point of view as he went through the inner and outer struggles of being a vampire, as well as a Daylighter. His character was really pieced together nicely and it was a pleasure to read from his perspective. In addition to Simon, there are also lots of chapters focusing on other characters such as Jace and Clary. All of these flow together nicely and nothing written by Clare seems forced.

One thing that I doubt anyone can help but love about this series is the boys. They're all just so... crush-worthy. Especially Jace - you have to love Jace. City of Fallen Angels, I'm happy to say, also introduces a new boy but I'll let you decide if he's worthy enough to be added to your fictional crush list or not. Aside from the completely shallow reasons I have for loving Cassandra's male (and female) characters, I do think that they all have a solid background and personality, leaving characters with a ring of authenticity. A character that I particularly enjoyed in this novel was Alec, whom we got to see a new side of.* I hope to see much more of him and Magnus in future books.

Another tremendous installment of The Mortal Instruments series. If you haven't picked this series up yet, move it to the top of your list because it's definitely something you don't want to miss.

Cover Comments: I really think that all of Cassandra Clare's covers are gorgeous - this one is no exception. They're some of my all-time favourites with the detailing, colours and almost iridescent light that shines from the runes. Beautiful!

* In an attempt to avoid spoilers, I tried to be vague in my review - I don't know if I succeeded or not! If you have read the book and want to chat with me about it, please don't hesitate to e-mail me (thestoryqueen(at)hotmail(dot)com). I can't get enough of talking about this book with others that have read it so I would be thrilled to see a message from you!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Booking Through Thursday (3)

This week's Booking Through Thursday question is...
So … the books that you own (however many there may be) … do you display them proudly right there in plain sight for all the world to see? (At least the world that comes into your living room.)
Or do you keep them tucked away in your office or bedroom or library or closet or someplace less “public?”
Well, to be honest, I don't own very many books (really, I don't!) but the ones that I do own are kept on the same shelf. It isn't because I'm trying to hide them, I'm actually very proud of all of my books, but they're in my closet.

I know it sounds weird! It is weird when you think about it. What kind of bibliophile leaves books in a dingy little closet? In my defense, I have a walk-in closet where in addition to a lot of clothing, I keep a desk and computer. Really, I don't even refer to it as a 'closet.' My sister and I have called it the 'little room' since we were both really young and I'll probably always call it that.

Plus, there's the fact that I'm a teenager living in my parents' house and they don't read the same books as I do (or possibly any at all). It wouldn't really make much sense for me to store my books in a place so accessible to everyone in my family if I was the only one reading them.

How about you? What do you do with YOUR books? Leave a comment and let me know - I'd love to hear from you!

Note: That isn't actually my closet...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (4)

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...
Abandon by Meg Cabot
Publisher: Point (Scholastic)

Release Date: April 26, 2011
She knows what it's like to die. Now Death wants her back.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce knows what happens to us when we die.

That's how she met John Hayden, the mysterious stranger who's made returning to normal life—or at least life as Pierce knew it before the accident—next to impossible.

Though she thought she escaped him—starting a new school in a whole new place—it turns out she was wrong. He finds her.

What does John want from her? Pierce thinks she knows... just like she knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven. But she can't stay away from him, either, especially since he's always there when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she might find herself back in the place she fears the most.

And when Pierce discovers the shocking truth, that’s exactly where John sweeps her:
The Underworld.
(Summary taken from Meg Cabot's website).

So last week I featured The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter, another re-telling of Hades and Persephone. Most of what I have to say about my love for the myth is stated there so if you're curious and missed it, go check it out here!

I love everything that I've read of Meg Cabot's even though it has been a while since my last book of hers. I'm really interested to see where she goes with this story since it does sound a lot darker than her normal work.

Kristi from The Story Siren did a Fragment Friday post back in March about Abandon where she read out a couple of pages and just that little bit was fantastic. I can't wait to read the real thing!

Two re-tellings of Hades and Persephone coming out on the same day and I could not be happier - three cheers for Greek mythology!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

XVI by Julia Karr

XVI by Julia Karr

Source: Library
Speak (Penguin Group)

Then, with one brutal strike, Nina’s normal is shattered; and she discovers that nothing that she believed about her life is true. But there’s one boy who can help – and he just may hold the key to her past.
But with the line between attraction and danger as thin as a whisper, one thing is for sure… for Nina, turning sixteen promises to be anything but sweet.

Some girls can't wait to be sixteen, to be legal. Nina is not one of them. Even though she has no choice in the matter, she knows that so long as her life continues as normal, everything will be okay.

I really liked the vivid setting of this novel. Right from the beginning, Karr sets the scene by highlighting the differences between modern day life and the dystopian setting of the novel. The whole world was just terrifying when I thought about it more. I mean, how far off is it to think that the government could control everything by saying they were just protecting everyone?

The writing, while simple, was effective and Nina was a strong female lead. It was just really nice to read right from the beginning about a character in a sex-crazed world that didn’t want to lose sense of who she was for some random guy. Perhaps it was just more clear when compared with her best friend Sandy, the “ideal” sixteen-year-old but I appreciated her having a mind of her own even with the media infiltrating everything.

The supporting cast of characters were good for the most part as well. I really liked Wei and Derek (although I was a bit wary of him in the beginning) but I wish I could have known Mike a little better. I didn’t love Sal as much as I wanted to. While I sympathized with his situation, I wish he would have been a little more understanding about the fact that Nina didn’t grow up in the same environment as him. I preferred Wei who was fierce, unique and a great friend.

The ending came a little quickly for my taste but I like the way things were left in the end – not too sugary sweet but not in complete despair either.

All in all, XVI was a good, solid debut novel.
Cover Comments: I'm not a huge fan of this cover... I think the idea behind it was good but the XVI over the model's face isn't very clear and the colours are pretty bland.  

Sunday, 3 April 2011

White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat by Holly Black

Source: Library
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
ISBN: 978-1-4169-6396-7
Pages: 310
Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago. 
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen. 
Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.
Everything about this book just completely drew me in – I loved it!

The whole concept of ‘workers’ was fascinating. I mean, obviously, I’ve read books with magical powers before but the unique twist on it was wonderful. I really liked that there were actually effects to what happened to the workers when they used their magic instead of them just being all-powerful.

Another thing that was just really cool was how bare hands were a total taboo! I distinctly remember parts of the book where Cassel would just think about how gross it would be for people’s hands to touch. I guess in a world where anything can happen from a single touch, it’s important to keep your hands to yourselves!

I really loved Cassel as a character. Not only was it just a really nice change to read from a male’s perspective in YA, but I genuinely liked Cassel’s personality. He was funny and kind of a complete pushover when it came to Lila. I actually found his relationship with Lila adorable – she bosses him around, he does what she says but they both do care for each other.

The ending of White Cat was unbelievably evil! I really do feel sorry for everyone that had to wait almost a year for Red Glove… I only have to wait about a week! Despite that, I still wish I’d have bought this book when I saw it at the store last April – ah well, now I know to go with my instinct.

White Cat shaped up to be a truly excellent read.

Cover Comments: I love this cover! The colour scheme matches the story really well and I like how big the font is. The leather and the cat and the red smoke around the series title... it's all just perfect. This cover is definitely worthy of the story it guards!