Friday, December 14, 2012

Falling Kingdoms - Morgan Rhodes

Oddly enough, I've considered myself a huge fan of fantasy books for years--but reading this book made me realize that I've moved away from fantasy a lot. Mostly, I've been hitting nothing but urban fantasy for so long that reading this book was like a refreshing wake up to a genre I used to love.

Falling Kingdoms is a fantasy novel by Morgan Rhodes that's due for publication this month, Dec 2012. According to the book itself, at least, Morgan Rhodes is a pen name. A google search tells me that if you're a fan of Michelle Rowen, you might be a little more interested in this book than you thought.

Falling Kingdoms is the story of a land split into three kingdoms, where magic is real to some but not to others, and where a series of young people find themselves swept into politics and danger created before their time. Cleo is a young princess of a rich kingdom who watches in horror as a noble of her kingdom kills a boy from the poor kingdom next to them, without the power to speak up against it. When chaos breaks out between the kingdoms, she runs from her home seeking a cure for her sick sister and is forced into dangerous politics she wanted no part of. Magnus is the son of the king of a religious kingdom nearby, the king of blood, so known because he taxes his people into starvation and slaughters any who might be accused of witchcraft. To protect his beloved sister and make his father proud, Magnus is willing to do anything--he just hopes that in making his father proud, he doesn't hurt his sister in the process. Jonas is a poor boy in a poor kingdom, who watches as his beloved older brother is slaughtered in front of him by a noble of a kingdom which flaunts its wealth while his people starve. For revenge on nobility everywhere, he is willing to do almost anything. When rumors of war begin to break out over the kingdoms, he finds his chance to do so much closer than he had imagined.

This book is fascinating in many ways. At once it is both three separate stories while also being one huge interwoven fantasy, and the effect is amazing. There are so many different perspectives on every situation that it is incredibly difficult to figure out who the victims are and who tho villain is--if there is one at all. While one chapter has Jonas spewing vitriol and hate about how Cleo is a heartless noble, and even the reader can't deny that she has done wrong, the next will be about how heartbroken Cleo is about what happened, and how self-sacrificing she is in the name of helping her sister. I think my favorite part about this entire book was this sort of depth to the story--no matter how much one part makes you want to hate a character as a villain, the next section of the story gives you such a heartbreaking look into the motives of that villain that you can't hate them. As a reader, I found myself hating various side characters, but I couldn't not love every one of the main characters.

Another cool thing about this book was the way it looked at magic. In the kingdoms of this book, magic is either outlawed completely, and witches burned if they are suspected, or else it isn't believed in at all--despite the fact that it is very much real. It's so rare that it's barely remembered, thought of as a legend or a fairytale, yet there are still characters willing to risk everything for the very chance that it might be true.

My absolute favorite thing about this book, that I can't say too much about without spoiling a pivotal scene, is completely about the magic. Unlike in many other stories, where the entire plot is about seeking out some magic power that can save the world and usually does, magic isn't some godlike plot device where the main character finds some magic ring and is suddenly able to save the day. Even in a world with magic, like in Falling Kingdoms, there are no easy answers--and even magic can't make everything okay.

The last thing that really stands out about this book is how interwoven some of the lore and plot points are. A story will be mentioned, for instance, that is barely remembered by the reader--until suddenly, something about that story or fact or whatever is massively important, just waiting for the reader to pull everything together. I -love- books like this.

In fact, I really like this book a lot. I wouldn't say it's a new favorite, and I probably won't reread it constantly, but I could see myself reading it at least once more in the future. It's decent, it has a good story, and I'm going to look into the sequel when it comes out.

That being said, it's not perfect and there are some things that might turn a reader off. There are some squicky issues that I don't want to go too in depth with, because I'm not sure how much I might ruin for you. Nothing too bad, and nothing that terrible, but I know there are some readers who might really hate a certain character because of one of his major motives--so if you think you might be easily grossed out, specifically by anything of a incestuous nature, maybe give this book a pass.

My only real problem with the book is that it suffers from what I'm going to call 'sequel-itis', a common problem found in books that are coming out nowadays. The entire premise of Falling Kingdoms, as given by the first few chapters, is about a type of magic that must be found in order to save things. I won't say too much, but suffice to say that this magic is mentioned constantly, hinted at, discussed, and it's a huge thing. Yet, by the end of the story, the main characters have yet to even look at this magic. It has not been searched for, it has not been anything, it's just been SET UP for. This entire book literally could be read like nothing more than a set up for some magical awesome journey that I'm sure is going to be found in a sequel. And some people like that, so maybe that's not a bad thing for you, but I hate it. I won't go to much into why, because that's a rant for another post, but I have a problem with series that take one single plot and just stretch it out into two or three or five books so that you can't even get a conclusion to the very first story unless you're willing to pay for five books. I feel that if you're going to have a series, each book should have its own complete plot while the series collectively might have another overarching plot--like how the Harry Potter books each had a story of Harry saving the stone or Harry winning the tournament, and the overall series was about Harry defeating Voldemort.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Falling Kingdoms, and it doesn't have sequel-itis near as bad as some other books I've read recently...but at the same time, I felt very bereft and unhappy when I finished this book and there was no real conclusion. I would have rather had a good conclusion with such a good story that I wanted to buy a sequel on merit alone, rather than no conclusion and a need to buy a second book just to get the rest of the first story. But I digress.

I think that fans of Tamora Pierce's fantasy novels might really like this book, although it doesn't have as much magic as they might like. Fans who enjoy stories with semi-villains with motives they can relate to would also enjoy this book. I'd also recommend the book for fans of Game of Thrones, actually, who enjoy YA books. I haven't read much of Game, but from what I HAVE...well, they have a very similar, fantasy and political feel to them.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Oh my goodness, I am so, so sorry!

Ahh! I didn't mean to go so long without posting. I thought I'd figured out blogger's queue system, and had a few reviews set to post occasionally while I knew I'd be too busy to uphold everything. Apparently, I was completely wrong! I really sorry! The hiatus was only actually supposed to last a month, with preset reviews before that, and it just didn't happen. Ugh.
So so sorry, guys. I have a few reviews backed up and waiting, since they didn't get posted, that I'll work on getting up, and I have an entire month off starting on the 18th to figure out the queue system, read, review, and prep a bunch of new ones in case my course load prevents me from posting again this semester--which, considering that I'm taking 6 courses -and- recently got promoted at work, is very likely to happen.
I'll get one of the reviews I have saved posted today and work on setting up lots more for later.
Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Zom-B - Darren Shan

I found this book in a stack in the middle of the publisher's wing at Book Expo, and I swear I lucked out majorly because when I tried to bring ZenitaD back to get one herself, they'd vanished. It was one of the first ones I read, and the first thing I noticed when I opened the front cover of this ARC was a huge letter on the first page, telling me to watch out when I reviewed because of spoilers. Zom-B is a very interesting book in that it has two very big things you can spoil--one being the ending, and one being something that you just KNOW is something you shouldn't mention as soon as you find it in the book. But the problem is that the spoiler they tell you not to spoil, despite being at the end of the book...well, it's -damn- hard not to. Because of that, I'm only going to provide you with the synopsis provided to me--I'm not sure how I'd sum this book up myself without messing up.
"When news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B Smith's racist father thinks it's a joke-- but even if it isn't, he figures, it's ok to lose a few Irish. B doesn't fully buy into Dad's racism, but figures it's easier to go along with it than to risk the fights and abuse that will surely follow sticking up for Muslims, blacks, or immigrants. But when zombies attack B's school, B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors, making allegiances with anyone with enough guts to fight off their pursuers."
Actually reviewing this book is pretty difficult. It's supposed to be the first book out of what is going to be a 12 book series--the second book is already listed on Shan's website, despite this book not even officially being out yet. When you read Zom-B, it's very obvious that it's only the beginning. The last thirty pages or so, the ending, literally seems to only set up a platform for a new book to begin. It's kind of disappointing, in that regard, because so many things about B's story aren't touched. As a reader, I don't mind series--but I tend to have a problem when there isn't any resolution whatsoever in the first book. There's a difference between book one in a series, and book one being spread out over a 'series'. If you're going to write a series, that's fine, but have the decency to finish one mini plot per book, so it doesn't feel like you just cut one big book into tiny little pieces. When I want broken stories, I read comics, not books, thanks.
That being said, it's a fantastic opening. There are a lot of real issues that are tackled in this book, so don't count it out just because it involves zombies. B's father is a huge racist, and seeing the effect that this has on B is There really are no words, and I'd probably recommend this book just for that, even ignoring the actual plot. It's a very bleak look at bigotry, and adding in that 'spoiler' I can't actually talk about...well, it's fantastic.
I can't say much more without spoiling everything, so I'll just say that I would recommend Zom-B, despite the fact that I really wish it wasn't just a beginning. I'm personally going to be getting my hands on a copy of the sequel if it kills me, because I hate cliffhangers--and let me tell you how big of a damn cliffhanger this book has. As to whom I'd recommend this book to? Well, that's a little iffy.
Fans of Darren Shan's earlier works are obviously going to want to get into this one, because it's very much his typical style, I think. I don't think I'd recommend it to fans of typical zombie books, like World War Z, because for all that it is called Zom-B and the later books look like they're going to be very heavily zombie related...well, this one kind of isn't, and I don't want to recommend this to a crowd of zombie lovers until I read the second one and actually know how the zombies play out. But like I said, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in books about the effects of bigorty and hate on children--it's a fictional account, yes, but it handles this issue spectacularly. If Zom-B sounds interesting to you, pick up a copy on September 27th, when it comes out!

(This review was originally supposed to be autoposted on 8/27/12, and is being posted now due to queue problems. Sorry, everyone~!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Alice in Zombieland - Gena Showalter

 "I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I'd tell my sister no.
I'd never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I'd zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I'd hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I'd tell them I love them.
I wish... Yeah, I wish." (Alice In Zombieland, prologue)

Alice in Zombieland is the first book in Gena Showalter's new White Rabbit Chronicles, and I got my hands on a copy in the Harlequinn Teen Hour line at BEA on Wednesday. I'd been really wanting it since I'd seen the cover advertisement, so I was pretty excited when the exhibitors began randomly passing them out. Needless to say, I had this book open as soon as I got on my first bus home, and had it finished by the end of my four hour commute.

Like the title implies, Alice in Zombieland is the story of a girl named Alice. Orphaned after a tragedy takes her parents and sister away from her, Alice is forced to move to a new school and live with her maternal grandparents. She makes new friends, misses the ones she's lost, and generally acts how you'd expect a girl to act whose lost everything. Well, except for a few small things. Like the fact that there's this boy she can't ignore--literally can't ignore, because something she can't control forces her into visions whenever she's near him, visions of love and violence and confusion-- and there's also the fact that she might be going crazy, because she's seeing things that shouldn't exist, things that she used to think her father was crazy for talking about.

Alice in Zombieland is literally nothing I actually expected with my first impression of the book, and that's actually pretty amazing. For one thing, besides the fact that the main character's name is Alice, I really don't see a connection between Alice in Wonderland and this book. There's a few very small references, but no real big 'AHAH!' moment for me. There's always the possibility that I might just be missing references or something, but still. It doesn't actually matter, but it definitely skewed my ideas for what this book was going to be about.

Secondly, Showalter breaths new live into the zombie myths with this book. The zombies Showalter writes are still very obviously zombies: living dead, rotting, shambling, feeling no pain, etc. But they're also a bit more than that, although I really can't say much without ruining what I feel is a part of the book that you should read for yourself. Without spoiling it for you, let me just say that I like Showalter's idea of a zombie a -lot-, particularly because it somewhat makes Alice's story more applicable to real life, in the way that so many other authors manage to make vampires seem like things that could actually lurk in the night.

Like all YA books today, it seems, Showalter threw in a nice dash of romance in this novel, and surprisingly, I'm pretty okay with that. I absolutely despise how every other YA book I pick up is nothing but a romance story with some paranormal aspects, sans explicit scenes. Like, I love romance. I do. But sometimes, I'd really enjoy reading a book that has an amazing plot and doesn't get derailed for seven chapters by whiny teenage romance. That being said, Showalter really pulls it off. The romance in Alice in Zombieland is played off really well, without really allowing it to completely overshadow the story. It's woven in expertly, and I really applaud Showalter for her efforts.

Overall, I really liked Alice in Zombieland, so much so that I've already passed it on to a fellow book blogger because I want the word of this book to get out. It's a great story, has a lot of humor, and I loved it! I'd recommend it to fans of the zombie genre in general, as long as they don't mind tossing a bit of paranormal and magic into their zombie mythology. I'd also recommend it to the huge YA romance fandom, as Showalter's romance is amazing. Finally, I'd kind of like to recommend Alice in Zombieland to fans of Hack/Slash, with the understanding that Alice is a lot more children friendly and less violent. The attempted female zombie slaying kind of speaks to me in both cases, haha.

Alice in Zombieland actually comes out in September 2012, so keep an eye out around that time to get your copy on this amazing book!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas

I grabbed Throne of Glass at Book Expo, mostly because of the fantastic cover, and I'm glad I was in the right place to get a copy. Throne of Glass is a book that comes from very humble beginnings: it's background is similar to 50 Shades of Grey, in that it used to be a story published online that is now becoming a book--but unlike 50 Shades of Grey, the writing is phenomenal and the storyline is fabulous.

Throne of Glass is the story of Celaena Sardothien, once the greatest assassin known, now a prisoner in a mining work camp where the average lifespan is a month. Celaena is brought from the dreary mines to be given a choice: she can become the king's champion and work for her freedom, or she can be left to languish and die in the mines. The choice seems almost too easy, except that there is a catch: in order to become the king's champion, Celaena must come to the castle to compete against twenty three other criminals and soldiers who also seek the position--and that competition may very well be to the death. But Celaena used to be one of--if not the--great assassins of the land. She's ready for the challenge--and if she happens to find a friend, the one thing she never thought she could have again, in a foreign princess...well, that's a bonus she never imagined.
It's just a matter of winning--and surviving the great evil that lurks in the castle, slowly picking off her fellow competitors one by one.

Throne of Glass is an absolutely fantastic book. There are honestly no words for how much I loved it. Celaena is a once all powerful assassin now withered and weak from malnutrition and horrible prison conditions. She's determined to improve, reaching her old levels of strength and health--and it galls her utterly that she can't show off for fear of making herself a target, that she can't even claim her own name because of it's infamy. She's a strong heroine with the skills to back it up--without being an all powerful character who makes the book boring because of a lack of challenge. The balance between power and challenge makes this book absolutely fantastic--because no matter how good Celaena is, someone else is better.

The story is also spectacular! Celaena has to compete in various challenges and fights, struggling to win so she can work to earn her freedom. If she looses, she goes back to the mines. If she wins, she must labor under the command of the king who sentenced her to that hell to begin with. And all the while, there's a darkness, an evilness that lurks the castle, threatening Celaena as it mercilessly slaughters her competitors one by one. Add to that a hint of mystery and intrigue, and a spiteful foreign princess struggling to keep her land from being taken over by the kingdom Celaena fights to represent, and you have one hell of a fantastic story.

But whoever suggested that Throne of Glass is similar to Hunger Games, however, as the cover of this book proclaims, may need to go back and reread both books. If you're looking for a Battle Royale type book, Throne of Glass really isn't for you--the challenges are more like deadly Big Brother competitions than Hunger Games free for alls.

But if you're looking for a lovely fantasy story about magic and fighting and assassins, you need to pick up Throne of Glass. I'd recommend Throne of Glass to Tamora Pierce fans seeking something new, as well as fans of Maria Snyder, particularly the Study and Glass series. I'd also recommend Throne of Glass to anyone seeking out a great, fun book about a strong female heroine with just a hint of romance--not so much as to turn the book into nothing more than teenage trash romance, but just enough to provide another layer of story.

Throne of Glass is utterly amazing, definitely one of my new favorite books, and I'd recommend it to everyone! I especially appreciate Throne of Glass for proving that just because a story is published online first doesn't mean that it's going to be smutty trash, for that matter. Throne of Glass comes out on August 7th--this upcoming Tuesday, in fact! So find out why I love it so much and grab a copy for yourself!

You won't regret it!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cursed - Jennifer L. Armentrout

Cursed is one of the ARCs I snagged at Book Expo. It was one of those books that I read the back of, and instantly knew that I had to read it, no matter what. In this case, the driving 'omgomgomg' factor was the main character's special talent. If there's one thing that Shatter Me and X-Men have taught me, it's that chicks who kill with a touch tend to be pretty awesome.

Cursed is the story of Ember McWilliams, a high school student who died in a car crash. Unlike most tragic stories of teenager death, however, Ember had a little secret: her sister, Olivia, was a healer. In fact, she was such a good healer that she brought Ember back from the dead. But everything comes with a catch, and after her visit to the afterlife, Ember is cursed with the inability to touch anything without it dying. No more pets, no more hugging her sister, and no chance of ever having a boyfriend or a family. To make matters worse, her mother is stuck in some kind of dark trance after the death of her husband in the same accident, so Ember has to take care of Olivia on her own. But things are okay--usually. Until the day that everything changes and Ember's worst nightmare becomes her reality.

The next thing she knows, Ember and her sister are placed in a new home in West Virginia, where she has to adjust to a new life. Here, she lives with a family of adopted 'gifted', and they promise to take care of her sister. In order for Ember to feel safe, though, she has to trust the man running the house. But when she learns that the accident that killed her and her father wasn't an accident, she can't help but feel suspicious of the man who collects super powered children like baseball cards.

In all honestly, I'm not sure if I've ever read a book by Armentrout before. The books listed on her website don't sound like I've ever read them--but do, I might add, have some incredibly sexy covers--, but I could have sworn that her name was pretty familiar when I got in her line at Book Expo. Either way, I'm pretty happy I chose the line I did, because I thought this book was fantastic.

To begin with, I loved Ember's power. That's probably a given, since I already said that I enjoyed Shatter Me and Rogue, but it still needs to be said. I just love the idea of it, and I could read a thousand books about super powers like it and still be in love with it. Honestly, I kind of love -everyone's- powers in this book. Her sister is a super healer who can bring people back to life, one of the girls is an empath, there's a telepath, and... well, one of the boys is an 'enerpath', and that's a made up term, so don't ask me entirely what that means. Something about being able to bring down houses and make garbage cans split by draining energy. Wish I knew more about it, but it seems pretty cool.

The plot of this book is pretty interesting, and I liked following Ember on her path to figure out all the mysteries that are thrown her way. It's a little predictable at times, but overall, it's a pretty good storyline, and I look forward to any potential sequels that follow up on the many topics that were brought up but never concluded.

 Character-wise, I felt that most of the characters were very real, very human and flawed in the right ways. Ember's little sister was a very good character, and definitely encompassed to me what a 6 year old is. At times I wanted to hug her and cuddle her, and other times I kind of wanted someone to just take away all her pretty toys and make her stand in a corner for a while (or worse), because she was so typically bratty. But at the same time there are slight exceptions. The main love interest, Hayden, was my least favorite character possible, because he was so...meh. He was super powerful, magically able to handle Ember's death touch, gorgeous, and honestly...kind of bland, too me. Even his big background reveal towards the end of the book, which I obviously can't spoil for you...well, it was a really big issue, but it was also the exact same kind of thing I've read in a million other stories. The love story itself is deep with angst and happiness and fluff, but I feel the male lead could have been better.

That being said, I think the book was really good overall. I'd definitely recommend it, particularly to fans of Shatter Me who want to try a book of the same flavor minus the dystopian influence. I'd also recommend it to the readers who are hungry for semi-paranormal stories that don't involve vampires, fairies, or werewolves for once. Finally, all the current YA readers who are dying for another love story without the love triangle influence, like I typically am, should definitely pick up a copy of Cursed when it comes out on September 18, 2012!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Updates, Updates, Updates!!

Hey guys! I'm back from Bucknell, and ready to jump into books again! A whole month without college or essays to write--so of course I'm going to spend that time writing book reviews, haha.

But that's not what you care about, I'm sure, so now on with the results of the Cursed Giveaway!

Our winner of the ARC is Zoey Talbon! Posted print screens to show proof provided to the side~.
So Zoey needs to comment on here or email me at so that we change exchange information, I can ask a question, and I can send her the prize! The deadline for this is August 3rd, however--so Zoey, make sure you get in contact with me by then, or I'll have to redraw a winner, and I really don't want to do that!

If you didn't win, don't worry--I'm going to probably be hosting another giveaway in a few days, maybe two. So keep an eye out, and remember that if you followed me during this giveaway--you get an extra entry into the next, if you choose to claim it!

Have a great day, guys!

So I spoke to Zoey and she already has a copy. So I'm rerolling the winner and taking her out of the list! Not doing the screenshot thing again, sorry, mostly because I don't want to fight with it again.

My new random role is a 5--which makes TeresaMaryRose the new winner of the giveaway. Once again, I'll be sending an email her way, and she has until August 3rd to respond back so we can talk shop and address information!
Congrats, Teresa.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Poison Tree - Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

See, I've been a fan of Atwater-Rhodes since I was a little kid, so getting my hands on this ARC was pretty exciting for me. I was obsessed with Hawksong since long before there was a sequel, and Midnight Predator was a book I reread consistantly for years. That being said, I haven't touched one of her books in a very long time, so as excited as I was, I was probably missing a lot of continuity when I read this. That being said, it reads pretty amazingly as a stand alone, too.

Poison Tree is the story of two girls and the many people intertwined in their lives. Alysia is a young girl trying to work her way up in SingleEarth. Not so long ago, she was on the streets and probably would have died there if it hadn't been for an assassin who saved her from that life. But now she's working, in college, and a human representative for the powerful organization SingleEarth. Sarik is a shapeshifter who ran away from her tribe and was taken in by SingleEarth when she was fleeing. Both girls are on the run from their past, but realize that they may have to face it order to save SingleEarth when the organization is targeted by a hunter.

There are a lot of different stories going on in this book, and I rather enjoyed trying to pull them apart. I probably would have benefited from rereading most of Atwater-Rhodes' other books, since I think they all twist together in this one, but it was definitely a good book by itself. The fact that Sarik is a shapeshifter makes me really curious how Hawksong ties into this, and I'll probably end up rereading a lot of things in order to figure it out!

The characters in Poison Tree are pretty great, and my favorite part of the book was definitely every scene with Sarik and the other shapeshifters. Specifically, Sarik is trying to help out two orphaned shapeshifter boys whose father, the kind of a tribe, was killed during a coup for the tribe. The boys are so...adorable and deep, and I would love another book that would explain what happens to them. I wish I could say more without spoiling things for you!

Overall, anyone who has read any of the other Atwater-Rhodes books and enjoyed them should definitely pick up Poison Tree when it comes out. And if you haven't ever tried one of this amazing author's books, but enjoy paranormal stories with just a hint of romance and depth, I'd suggest you either give Poison Tree a chance, or get introduced to the writing by looking up my favorite book by this author, Hawksong.

Poison Tree comes out July 10th, so get ready to meet Alysia and Sarik!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Giveaway Time - 6/24/12

The Giveaway Prize: Cursed by Jennifer L Armentrout
Hey guys!
Sorry about the lack of reviews recently; you can blame that on a mix of the Bucknell program I'm in, which takes up most of my time, and the fact that most of the books I have reviews ready for aren't out until after August. That means I typically have to push the reviews off until closer to the release date. Sorry about that.

That being said, though, I finished my review of Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout and the review is ready for later. What does that mean for you? Well, that means that I have an ARC in my possession that I'm ready to grant to some other lucky reader and/or reviewer who didn't get their chance to grab one yet! Interested yet?

This contest is only open to residents of the continental United States, because it's a test giveaway and I'm not ready to tackle figuring out customs and costs for shipping halfway across the world. Every entry gets you one slot on a numbered table, and the winner will be chosen using a random number generator. This giveaway will run from today, June 24th, until July 20th.

Here's how you can enter:
  • Follow me: If you're already following me at the time of this post, say so in a comment and you get two entries into the giveaway. If you chose to follow me after this post, let me know that you've started following me, and you get your first entry.
  • Tweet: Tweet a link to this post and get a entry in the giveaway. Tell me you tweeted me and link me to your twitter in a comment to claim this entry.
  • Comment: For this entry, all you have to do is comment on this post and tell me what Hogwart's house you'd be in, and why. You can include your notices about the other two entries in the same comment.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments, and I'll do my best to answer you as soon as I can. Thanks, and good luck!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Expo America and Giveaways: A Note

Hey, guys! Just got back from my second day at book expo, and let me tell you how much -stuff- I have. A good number of the books are personally signed, but I made sure to get quite a few that aren't so I'd have giveaway fodder.
I'll post up a BEA wrapup when I have time after I get settled into my dorm at Bucknell this weekend, but for now, I'll offer this:
Above is the random scattering of books that I got, not including a few posters, totes, etc. Isn't it great?

I'll be starting a new giveaway as soon as my next review is posted, and it will last for two weeks, just to get us started. The bookmark giveaway is officially cancelled, due to...well, a lack of interest. Some possible books that I may have up for giveaway in the next few months are: the Haunted Mask Goosebumps, Origins, Cursed, and more. Check out the picture to see what other sorts of special treats may or may not show up on the giveaway list!

Keep track of what's going on guys, and hopefully I'll have some goodies for you! And remember, the followers I have before I start a giveaway get an extra entry into any contest or giveaway that I offer, so follow me if you want a chance at some goodies.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Retro Reviews - Bloody Jack - L. A. Meyer

I first read this book when I was still in middle school, and I loved it. I loved everything about it. A few years later, I had the most amazing realization that this book was only the first in a series that I've followed since. The newest book in the series came out last fall, and I'm rereading the series again so I can continue on. That being said, I couldn't resist not throwing a plug out for one of my favorite series, or at least the first book.

Bloody Jack is the story of a young girl in London who is orphaned and thrown onto the street after her parents and sister die of disease. She survives on the streets in a gang, begging and stealing and sometimes reading signs for those who never learned, until the day that her gang leader is killed and she decides its time to try and move on. She dressed like a boy, Mary Faber, known now as Jacky, manages to get herself posted as a ship boy on the HMS Dolphin, at which point her taste for sailing and adventure blossoms.

I love this series, I really do. I love gender bending stories of all kinds, but Bloody Jack holds a special place in my heart because I love the main character so much. Jacky is a headstrong, stubborn, and practical girl that you can't help but fall in love with, particularly in later books, but in this one too. She's just this great character to read about, always doing something interesting and handling things in a practical way. And what's even greater about these books is that Jacky isn't some super special snowflake character who never has anything bad happen to her: she's stubborn and, frankly, badass in a lot of cases, but she's also very human and real. She's awesome, but she's still this very human little girl.

There's so much that I could say about this series that I'm resisting, because I don't want to ruin the first book for you, but I will say that this series is one of my absolute favorites. If you -haven't- read Bloody Jack before, you NEED to pick up a copy, even if it's just at your local library, to give it a shot. This series just gets better and better the farther in you go, so if you have read Bloody Jack, and liked it, make sure you pick up the sequel, Curse of the Blue Tattoo. Actually, BUY ALL THE THINGS, because this series is just amazing!

So if you're a fan of spunky and strong female characters who are still reliably human, give Bloody Jack a shot. If you like gender bending books, and especially if you are a fan of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, you need to try Bloody Jack. And if you're just looking for a good series to read, well, this book is definitely one you should pick up.

And if you like Bloody Jack, the series is currently nine books long, with a tenth on the way this year! So pick up your copy soon, so you can get started. You won't regret it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Moonstone Series (Unbidden Magic Series?) by Marilee Brothers

So let me start out by saying that despite reading this series, and attempting to research into this question, I have approximately no clue what the official name of this series is. When I got the series from NetGalley, it was being offered as the Moonstone Series. Trying to search that term, however, gets me other people's reviews of that name, and that's about it. The Unbidden Magic series is what this is listed as on Goodreads, and I think on the author's site, but I have to assume that if Netgalley is offering it to me as the Moonstone series, that's probably what I should consider it.

The first book in the series, Moonstone, sets up the story of Allie, a young girl who, after an accident at home, suddenly finds herself with an interesting range of powers that she has absolutely no idea how to control. One day she's just doing her best to slide by, taking care of a mother who suffers from fibromyalgia (self-described), the next she finds herself able to control a giant rampaging bull and being gifted a magical moonstone pendant by an elderly friend, the town witch.. Nobody ever said life was predictable.

Allie's powers come with a catch, however: there are people who are willing to do anything to get their hands on the moonstone, and they quickly prove that they're more than willing to hurt whoever gets in their way. Throw in a hippie guardian angel, some daddy issues, a touch of fairy and demon magic, and a few studdy boyfriend options, and you have the Moonstone series to date.

It's hard for me to figure out how I felt about this series as a whole, because it has such an interesting blend of good and bad elements. It's far from a perfect series, and there are a LOT of things that annoy me about it, but a lot of the same things that annoy me also make me happy in other ways.

Take Allie's mother, Faye, as an example. The woman is incredibly selfish, and, if we're being honest, is nothing more than a drain on society. She lives with her daughter in a trailer on the land of a family member, doesn't work, hooks up with a sleezy lawyer, and claims to have fibromyalgia in order to claim disability from the state. She's an incredibly self-centered woman, and there are several times in the story that Allie is almost taken away from her. I honestly hate her character, and the fact that Allie doesn't think there's anything wrong with this, just accepts it and continues with her life, bothers the hell out of me. It seems like Allie should know better, should hate her for the way she's treated, but she doesn't. And while I hate that, there's also a part of me that knows that this portrayal isn't exactly a false one, for a young girl. And although I like to think of my main characters as older, sometimes, Allie really is just a teenage girl; the fact that she loves her terrible mother is like this great, unmentioned depth to the story. Like, if Brothers had made a bigger deal out of this, elaborated on it more, Allie and her mother would have been so much more real.

Another aspect of the story that was both amazing and terrible was Allie's love life. First off, in about every book, Allie finds a new guy that wants to hook up with her. And that's a little weird and excessive, but alright. I kind of love the fact that Allie isn't one of those typical heroines who date one guy in a book and suddenly they're in so much love and they're devoted to each other and they're perfect and they're going to get married and have babies becausethey'resoperfectforeachotherandamaizngandaljhdflkajsdlf. Like, maybe that happens when you do finally find that one guy, but how often does that happen when you're a teenager? Not just a teenager, how often does that happen as a teenager, with the very first guy they fall in love with and date? Not that damn often.

Much like Tamora Pierce, whom I love for this same reason, among others, Brothers' main character doesn't fall in love with a guy in one book, and become the super couple where the rest of the series always has their relationship problems traipsing all over and hijacking the plot. Allie meets and hooks up with different guys and doesn't just automatically settle down, and I love that about her. 

On the other hand, if I had to pick one thing I absolutely hate about the modern YA book fads, it would be the stupid love triangles that every single book seems to have, and it seems that this series isn't an exception. But I will give Brothers mad props for not letting those love triangles take over the book completely, turning an otherwise good plot into nothing more than a teenage girl's relationship problems. 

Overall, I'd say that I had a few problems with this series, most notably the way that the plot just tended to conveniently fall together--for instance, a plot revolving around a prophecy that nobody even bothers to question, just believes in the first time they hear it--but I also feel that it's pretty good. It's not a perfect series, but that's okay. It's a really nice series to read if you're just looking for something small and simple to read in your free time, and I'm sure that younger readers who enjoy it even more than I did.

I would recommend this book to typical fantasy fans who enjoy simplistic YA books, and I think I'd recommend this book to fans of the new YA fairy fad, like fans of The Faerie Path books by Allan Frewin Jones. 

Like always, if you think you might be interested in this series, the first four books are published and released, and can be found at your typical bookstores. If you can't find the first book there, then it can also be found on Amazon!

And as a final plug, if you're interested in winning a signed Last Breath bookmark fom Rachel Caine's tours, the giveaway won't be ending until June 10th. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Teenage Bibliophile's First Giveaway!

Hey guys!
As promised, I'm hosting my very first giveaway this month! As I've already mentioned, I'm afraid this giveaway isn't for anything as big and shiny as an ARC. This is a test run of sorts, I guess you could say! If it's successful, Zenita and I are in the planning periods for a June BEA giveaway. But that's all you're getting from me on that topic until later! ;)

So for my first giveaway, I'm giving away a signed bookmark from Rachel Caine's Last Breath, the 11th book in the Morganville Vampire's series! It's nothing too big, but if you missed seeing Caine on tour, it's a nice little memento that you missed and that I'm happy to share.

How do you win, you ask? Well, you enter my raffle, of course. You can enter up to three times. For your first entry, all you have to do is comment on this post and tell me who your favorite Morganville Vampire character is and why. Nothing too big, just something short and fun! For your second entry, all you have to do is tweet a link to this giveaway, and include the link to your tweet in your comment. Finally, for the third entry, all you have to do is follow this blog and make a note that you follow it in your comment.

And because this is my first giveaway, and I'd like to give kudos to the followers I already have, I'll give a free fourth entry to any of the 13 original followers I have as I'm typing this. I have your names written down, so just mention that you were one of the people who already followed me, and I'll give you an extra entry. Thanks for being with me for so long!

So to sum up, this is a giveaway for a shiny signed bookmark from Rachel Caine's Last Breath tour, and you can enter by tweeting, following, and commenting with your favorite character.

Good luck guys! I'll close the giveaway on May 31st, so make sure you get your entries in before then!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Minireviews 4/30/12

Hey guys~! It's a Monday and because I'm currently sitting in an emergency room waiting room without any of my books, I have a few good hours ahead of me of time to waste. And spare time on a Monday can only mean one thing: Monday Mini reviews! [Insert confetti shower]

The Law of the Lycan series by Nicky Charles
The Law of the Lycan series in its entirety is currently available on the Barnes and Noble store available for the Nook as well as Smashmouth. Those of you with Kindles might also find it on the Amazon store, but without access to a working one any longer, I can't be certain. It's also, I might note, a completely free series that so far consists of three pretty interesting books.
Each of the three books tells the story of a different couple, although all three couples have been heavily connected in between books. In the first book, The Mating, Elise is the daughter of the Alpha of her pack and comes home one day to find herself chosen to be mated to the Alpha of another pack, Kane, to solidify an alliance. In the second book, The Keeping, Melody is a reporter trying to find the story of an artist that her employer is very interested in, a secretive man named Ryne. The third book, The Finding, is about Cassie, a returning character from the second book, but being as I haven't finished it, I can't be sure about any of the other details.
Although I'm sure that each of Charles' books could easily deserve a review of their own, and I may decide to write one for them in the future, my intent when I was reading this series was to escape from the numerous amounts of essays and reviews I have on my To Do List, so I didn't originally intend to review them at all. But the fact that the books are free -and- enjoyable means that I simply couldn't resist.
Charles' characters that I've seen so far have been very interesting, as have the plots. My favorite book so far is actually what I've read so far of the third, but I don't think I have a favorite character. The reason I don't is because, although I'd say that this series is spectacular for being a free story, I wouldn't be half as enamored of the series if I'd had to pay for it. There are some characterization issues, some sections of the books where the writing is a little iffy, and parts of the book were frustrating because of how utterly unbelievable some of the character reactions were. An example of something that bothered me was the romance of the first book: it just happened. They met, they mated, and there is suddenly love and adoration despite the fact that they barely know each other.
But keeping in mind that these books ARE free, they're really good for what they are. Free books in the nook and amazon stores, from my experience, have always tended to be trash writing, porn, or excerpts that aren't free books at all. To find a book that is actually decent is always a nice surprise. So if you can handle a few small flaws, definitely look into downloading your own free copy of The Mating to get started on the series. It's worth it.

The Legend of Korra as of 4/30/12 (Episodes 1-4)

Or, translated from happyfangirl:
Korra is the sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender. It takes place after Aang's death with the new Avatar, a girl from the sourthern water tribe named Korra. Korra is a headstrong girl who has already mastered the physical aspects of every element except for airbending, but has yet to understand the spiritual side. She's passed on to Aang's son, the only current airbending master, in the hopes that she will learn the spiritual side of bending while learning airbending. In order for her to train with him, however, she has to move to Republic City, the capital city. There she deals with the Equalists, an anti-bending group, joins a pro-bending team, and struggles to learn airbending.
Honesty, I freaking love this series. Everything about it so far has been spectacular. It has humor that is true to the original series, the characters are great, and a lot of interesting topics are being covered. I love the fact that the main antagonist is a group of nonbenders against bending, and I love that this series looks like it will be going more into what it's like to be a nonbender in a world where benders are glamorized and rule. A lot of other random questions also seem like they'll be answered, such as the question of what happens when two different kinds of benders have kids.
Since Korra is only on its fourth episode so far, there isn't a lot I can say besides I love it. I love it so much, and I am beyond excited for the rest of the series.
And if you haven't heard about Korra because you've been hiding under a rock somewhere, or you just haven't decided to watch it yet because you're afraid it will ruin the original, let me be one of the many to tell you that you have to start watching it now!

So I only heard about Sherlock pretty recently. The reason I'm not going to give it a full review is because, chances are, you've already heard about it and I was just really slow on the uptake. But having seen the first season and loved it, I have to say -something- about it!
Sherlock is a BBC series based on the original Holmes novels. It's a new take on Holmes and Watson in modern day London. This Sherlock Holmes is a sociopathic genius who, as one of the character's puts it, simply 'gets off' on solving mysteries. John Watson is a Afghanistan Vet who moves in with Holmes in order to be able to afford a flat in London, and who gets roped into helping Holmes out with whatever he needs. He runs a blog that he uses to write up his adventures with Sherlock.
Every episode of Sherlock is about the length of a movie: 1.5 hours. Each season has only three episodes, but every episode is so long and full that it's okay. I've only seen the first season so far because the second season isn't out in the US yet, but I'm already in love with the series.
Sherlock's character is so screwed up and unique that I fell in love with him from the start. If the people gushing about Cumberbatch on Tumblr are anything to go by, I'm far from the only one. Watson is also a very interesting and amusing character, but Sherlock is obviously the star of the series.
There isn't much about Sherlock I can say that others haven't said already, but if you -haven't- seen this show, then I'd definitely recommend you try the first episode. It's available on Netflix if you're a subscriber, and I'm pretty sure it would be easy to find elsewhere if you aren't. It's entirely worth watching.

Breaker by Shire.Conspire and Primeval by Xaphrin both on FF.Net
I rarely bother to review fanfiction, but these fics are exceptions. My shipping love when it comes to Teen Titans is Raven and Beast Boy, but I haven't found a decent fanfiction for them in...well, ever, until now. Everything I find is always horribly written, has a ship I dislike, or is so short that it's barely worth reading.
Breaker and Primeval are both fanfictions that run about the same general subject, except that they're kind of polar opposites of each other. In Breaker, one of Raven's emotions comes to the forefront after Beast Boy's actions feed it until it's strong enough to fight Raven for control. This emotion is summed up with the name Depravity, and it is everything that Raven pretends doesn't exist: her animalistic self, all of her violence and hatred, her lust, her cruelty, all in one package. It begins to fight Raven for control and slowly take her over at times, until Raven turns to Beast Boy to try and keep Depravity under control.
In Primeval, the opposite happens when the Beast begins to wrestle control away from Beast Boy to try and seek a mate. Because of Beast Boy's affection for Raven, she is chosen. The Beast is for Beast Boy what Depravity in Breaker is for Raven: the animalistic side that wants nothing to do with humanity.
Both of the fics have joined my list of favorites, but I do have to warn anyone reading and interested that they're both graphic, sexually and otherwise. If that isn't something you want to read, avoid these fics like the plague. But if you're a BBRae fan who doesn't mind, then I'd definitely recommend these fics for you. They're the only good fics I've found so far for this ship.

That sums up my short list of Monday Minireviews this time. Remember to check back later this week for a chance to win a signed bookmark from Rachel Caine!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Random Notes and Goodies!

Hey guys! As you probably know, I've been really busy with school, so I'll apologize for the millionth time for being so slow to post these last two months! But I figured I should give you a heads up!

Book Expo America is quickly approaching, and Zenita Dee and I will definitely be finding our way there this year too, haha. I'll be going at least one day, possibly two, but I have to miss June 7th because I'll be at Bucknell University participating in this really awesome summer program that I'm lucky as hell to have gotten into. I'll try to write up a recap of Book Expo sometime right after, so that I don't forget amidst the chaos of school again.

Starting this May, I'm also going to start doing giveaways~
Most of my giveaway goodies will probably come from Book Expo after I've reviewed them, since my bookshelf is already doubled up, but I'm going to see what I can do for other stuff, too.
The first giveaway will start on May 1st. It's nothing superawesomeamazing, because this is my first giveaway and it's a test more than anything else, haha. The official announcement will tell you how to enter, but I can tell you now that the prize is a signed bookmark from Rachel Caine's Last Breath release. If you're interested, be sure to check back.

Finally, I'd just like to thank those of you who are returning visitors. It's really nice to actually see that I'm not reviewing to an empty room!

Thanks guys! Check back in the next few weeks for the contest, and I'll see you soon with a review for The Moonstone Series by Marilee Brothers!

The Stone Girl - Alyssa B Sheinmel

Hey, guys! Three more weeks, max, until I’m done with all these finals and projects and can post more regularly, haha. But until then, I had some of that magical stuff called free time today, and I decided to dedicated it to books~
So I got a hold of The Stone Girl a few weeks ago from NetGalley, and I'm happy to say I finally had the time to get it read. But before I can go on with the review, I feel I have to note that The Stone Girl, and possibly this review, may contain triggers for anorexia and eating disorders. If that's not a problem for you, then on with the review!

“There are two things that are true about Sethie: one is that she is always hungry, a mean, angry kind of hunger that feels like a piece of glass in her belly; the other is that she is always missing Shaw.”

Sethie’s real name is Sarah—but don’t call her that—and she’s a student at an all girl’s school. Once upon a time, she used to be heavily involved in school, taking SAT tutoring and staying late to work on the yearbook every night. But now she has Shaw, a boy she loves and adores, who calls her kiddo despite being younger than her, and does all those lovely boyfriend things with her that she wants. Her time with Shaw is a lot of waiting for him to be late when she’s early, and sex and pot and fun and love. And Shaw likes pretty girls—so, of course, Sethie has to stay pretty. She has to stay –skinny-. If she’s skinny and pretty and enough for Shaw, one day he’ll take her hand in public, because that’s what boyfriends do, right?

The Stone Girl is Sethie’s story of dealing with anorexia amidst a whirlwind of love and friends and loss and heartbreak. It’s the type of book that you come away from having learned from, and it’s also a good read. The story itself is told from Sethie’s perspective, and because Sethie is sick, that means that the reader is in the head of a girl with skewed perceptions, something that becomes more and more apparent as the story goes on. What’s particularly interesting about being in Sethie’s perspective is seeing how her perspective changes as she falls deeper and deeper into the draws of anorexia and bulimia.

Characterwise, I find myself pitying Sethie too much for her to be my favorite character, but I do love her development. Her spin into a kind of madness is very realistic, and the author’s portrayal of her is great. Reading about her battle and confusion about everything is beyond interesting. One of my favorite parts of the books comes from Sethie’s confusion in the nurse’s office at one point: “They don’t say whether you’re anorexic if you only starve yourself some of the time. They don’t say whether you’re bulimic if you’ve only thrown up a handful of times.”

If I had to pick a favorite character, I’d probably pick Ben, a boy that Sethie gets to know later in the book. Ben is college kid and an overall nice guy who finds himself very interested in Sethie. I can’t say too much without spoiling too much of the book, but Ben is the really nice guy in the story, the one who is there to support Sethie. He’s the only who helps her realize the heartbreaking moments in her life, and the one who tries to help her get through them. He became my favorite character at a specific point in the book when he first realizes what Sethie is going through and—instead of taking advantage of her—sets himself up to be her safety net when she realizes what she’s been doing.
In all honestly, I think that Sheinmel was excellent with all of her characterizations. Sethie was the perfect mix of confusion and desperation, Janey the perfect mix of reckless teen and wise older friend, and even characters that aren’t very likable tend to have their portrayal skewed by the fact that the book is in Sethie’s perspective. 

Overall, I liked The Stone Girl for what it was, but if I’m being honest, books like this really aren’t my thing, and I may not be the best person to judge one. I’m a big girl and I’m comfortable in who I am, so I can’t really relate to the tribulations faced by the main characters. And if you’re like me, then this book might not be for you. But if liked books like Wintergirls, then you’ll probably like The Stone Girl. If you can relate to issues with eating disorders, then The Stone Girl is something you might really like. And even if you can’t really relate with the main character, like me, The Stone Girl is still a really interesting story that’s worth picking up. If The Stone Girl -does- interest you, it comes out on August 28th, so make sure you get your hands on copy!