Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: The Selection Stories: The Prince & The Guard

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication Date: February 4, 2014

Series: The Selection, 0.5 & 2.5

Genre: Young Adult Dystopia

Acquired From: Public Library


Two novellas set in the world of Kiera Cass's #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series are now available in print for the first time. The Prince and The Guard both offer captivating views into the hearts and minds of the two men fighting to win America Singer's love. This collection also features exclusive bonus content, including a sneak peek at The One, the eagerly anticipated third novel in the Selection series.
Before America arrived at the palace to compete in the Selection, there was another girl in Prince Maxon's life. The Prince opens the week before the Selection begins and follows Maxon through the first day of the competition.
Raised as a Six, Aspen Leger never dreamed that he would find himself living in the palace as a member of the royal guard. In The Guard, readers get an inside look at Aspen's life within the palace walls--and the truth about a guard's world that America will never know. 
--From Goodreads


I'm not much of a novella reader, but I thoroughly enjoyed both of the novellas included in The Selection Stories. The insights into both Maxon and Aspen were almost more than I could ask for, and it made it even harder for me to make a decision as to who I wanted America to end up with! For that reason alone, I give The Selection Stories a solid 4 out of 5 stars.
It was remarkable to get an inside view into how Maxon viewed the Selection. He seemed unsure about it from America's perspective, but reading it from his own was more than I could have expected. He was sad and uncertain, and always under the thumb of his father. It was eye-opening to see what he truly wanted out of life... Just someone to love him.
Aspen was more than I remembered from America's memories of him. I expected him to be cruel and unhappy, but it seemed that he was the exact opposite. It was a great thing to see the way his character developed outside of the memories that America had of him. It was a wonderful way to end the series. And I'm so glad I picked them up! 

Book Review: The One by Kiera Cass

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: June 5th, 2014

Series: The Selection #3

Genre: Young Adult Dystopia

Acquired From: Public Library


The Selection changed the lives of thirty-five girls forever. Now, only one will claim Prince Maxon's heart...
It's swoon meets the Hunger Games in the final installment of The Selection trilogy!
For the four girls who remain at the palace, the friendships they've formed, rivalries they've struggled with and dangers they've faced have bound them to each other for the rest of their lives.
Now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.
America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown--or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose--and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants. 
The breathtaking finale to The Selection trilogy will make you swoon! 


I fell in love with this series the first time I picked up the first book. And I waited for what seemed like forever for the final book to see what would happen. It was an amazing story, and I couldn't wait to see who America ended up with. Thanks to The One, I finally know (no spoilers here!). And I give The One a solid 5 out of 5 stars. With no reservations at all!
It is one of the best novels I've ever read, and I know that I'll come back to it over and over again. Kiera Cass is a master storyteller, and I love every single word that comes out of her pen. She's wonderful. She creates beautiful characters and wonderful scenery. She's one of the best authors I've read in a very, very long time.
America is incredibly real with her struggles, her hopes, and her dreams. She approaches the things that come at her with strength and love, something that we should all aspire to. I felt her pain, her joy, and her love. I wanted what she wanted, and cried when she cried. America truly is a wonderful character that should be part of the greatest characters of modern young adult literature. 

Book Review: The Afterlife by Ksenia Anske

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: August 5, 2013

Series: Siren Suicides #3

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal and Urban Fantasy

Acquired From: Personal Collection


Ailen Bright is more lost than ever. Her father has betrayed her yet again, but keeps her longing for his love alive with some almost-heartfelt confessions, though few and far between. She and Hunter can never be together without fighting the urge to strangle each other with their bare hands. And to top it off, two-faced Canosa won't leave her alone. Her resolve to do the right thing is wavering as she tries to protect the ones she loves, simultaneously searching for a reason to keep on living, and the final chapter of Siren Suicides comes to a tumultuous close, bringing death, life, and love.


It may have taken me a while to get to this one, but I can't tell you how much I loved the final installment of the Siren Suicides. Once again, Ksenia Anske has done a fantastic job dealing with life, death, and the problems of adolescence. It was a brilliant novel that I can easily give a 4 out of 5 stars to. 
One of my favorite things about this novel was how Ailen had such a hard time dealing with her own feelings and uncertainty. She was incredibly real and had struggles that were almost too big for her to handle. She was simultaneously fragile and viscous. I loved reading about her struggles and her personality. 
The one thing I didn't like about this novel was the ending. It was a little bit too "soap opera" dream sequence for me. But regardless of the ending, the rest of the novel was brilliant and wonderful. I loved it, and will definitely read it again. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Back to Blogging

It's been a long time since I've blogged here, but that doesn't mean I haven't been reading for my reviews!

I've got three books to put up reviews for and will be getting to that in the next few days. I am on my reading schedule, and will be picking up with the first one on the sidebar. I apologize to those writers who have been waiting for reviews from me as I've had some personal and job issues that have kept me from following my regular blogging schedule.

So look for new reviews and recommendations in the next few days!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review: My Sisters in Death by Ksenia Ankse

Publisher: Self-published

Publication Date: August 5, 2013

Series: Siren Suicides #2

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

Acquired From: Personal Collection


In the second installment of the Siren Suicides trilogy, Ailen Bright finds herself in a sticky situation. Her new supernatural abilities haven't solved anything--in fact, they've royally messed up her life. She can't be with the one person she loves (though her self-control is wavering by the second), her old, well-dressed dog of a father hasn't learned any new tricks, and her supposed siren sister doesn't seem to have her best interests at heart.
A pawn in the game between her father and the Siren of Canosa, Ailen is constantly searching for her next move. Through all the hardships, however, Ailen's self-doubt begins to dissipate as she comes to accept her new identity.


I actually tore through this book much faster than I did the first one. And as much as I enjoyed the first book, I absolutely adored My Sisters in Death. It was a wonderful ride that is definitely going to be one of those that I come back to over and over. That's why I give My Sisters in Death an easy 5 out of 5 stars.
In the second book of the Siren Suicides trilogy, you get to see Ailen really come into her own and become a Siren in the realest sense of the word. She comes into her powers and learns to embrace the new creature that she's become, even when it means embracing the darkest sides of her new personality. Anske writes the turmoil of a teenager trying to accept herself and stand up to an abusive father in the most clear and endearing way, even though it is tinted with the paranormal throughout.
I would suggest this book to anyone who loves paranormal stories with a little bit of love, a lot of angst, and a whole lot of ass-kicking. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Book Review: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Publisher: Quirk Books

Publication Date: January 14, 2014

Series: Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #2

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal 

Acquired From:
 Public Library


The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. There, they hope to find a cure for their beloved headmistress, Miss Peregrine. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. And before Jacob can deliver the peculiar children to safety, he must make an important decision about his love for Emma Bloom.
Hollow City draws readers into a richly imagined world of telepathy and sime loops, of sideshows and shape-shifters--a world populated with adult "peculiar," murderous wights, and a bizarre menagerie of uncanny animals. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience. 
--From Jacket Cover


It took me quite a long time to read this one, mostly because at the start I had to go back and figure out what had happened in the last book. That was one of the things that bothered me about this one--Hollow City is definitely one of those books that could benefit from one of those Previously... sections at the start. It reminds you who the characters are all right, and what their particular peculiarity is, but it doesn't mention much about what happened in the previous book. I'd like to have seen that.
Hollow City is just as interesting and peculiar as the first book, although it lacks the uncanny insights from Miss Peregrine as she is unable to speak throughout the book. The peculiar children race from Wales, battling wights and hollowgast to find another peculiar headmistress who can heal Miss Peregrine, and in that is the adventure of this book. I can honestly say I enjoyed it, and I give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars.
Like its predecessor, Hollow City is awash with interesting vintage photographs that make the story seem even more realistic than just with the writing. Riggs has crafted another tale that will keep you up at night wondering if there really are peculiars out there, and what, exactly, might be hiding in the shadows. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Mortal Heart

For this week's Waiting on Wednesday, we're talking about one of my favorite book series. The final book in the His Fair Assassin series is called Mortal Heart, and it looks to be the best of the three!

I simply adored this series from the second I picked up the first novel, Grave Mercy. It's the kind of story that I love to read--great characters, interesting mystery, medieval background, and unconventional love. The stories are rooted in great mythology of their own making and are beautiful examples of storytelling.

Like nearly every other book series that I read, I'm dreading the day that the series comes to an end. But I know that it's going to be a great ending and that Robin LaFevers will send this one out with a bang.

The pre-release synopsis of the book sets the stage for a final installment that is just as action packed and beautiful as the first two.

In the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFevers New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. 

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn't mean she has. 

Mortal Heart, the third and final installment in the His Fair Assassins Trilogy is set to be released from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on November 4 of this year.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Review: Follies Past

Publisher: Petticoat Press

Publication Date: November 11, 2013

Series:  N/A

Genre: Regency Romance

Acquired From: Author


"I must now mention a circumstance which I woud wish to forget myself, and which no obligation less than the present should induce me to unfold to any human being..."
So begins Mr. Darcy to lay before Elizabeth his faithful narrative of Mr. Wickham's villainy toward his sister, Georgiana. The facts he sets out are brief but potent. They contain a story unto themselves, and that story is the subject of this book.  
Taking its facts from Austen's own words, Follies Past opens almost a year before the opening of Pride and Prejudice itself, at Pemberley, at Christmas. Fourteen-year-old Georgiana has just been taken from school and is preparing to transfer to London in the spring. It follows Georgiana to London, to Ramsgate and into the arms of the charming and infamous Mr. Wickham.
To read this book is to stp back into the charming world of Jane Austen's England, to pass a few more hours with some of her beloved characters, sympathetically portrayed as they might have been before ever they came to Netherfield, and to discover a host of new characters each with engaging histories of their own. Authentic in its use of language and meticulously researched, it is a truly diverting entertainment.
-From Goodreads


I was delighted to be able to read Follies Past because I am such a fan of Jane Austen in all her forms. And one of the things I have always wondered about is the events that led to the story that Mr. Darcy exposes to Elizabeth in regards to Mr. Wickham. And Follies Past answered those questions with wonderful prose and a delightful and fulfilling cast of characters.
Melanie Kerr is almost as wonderful as Austen herself in her telling of the villainy of Mr. Wickham as he attempts to get revenge on his former friend by duping his sister into an affair. Twisted throughout the story of Georgiana is the duplicitous actions of Caroline Bingley, a fortune hunter of the highest order, and Clare Langford, a devoted and self-judging friend to Georgiana. Just as Austen would have followed the highs and lows of a young lady of no fortune or consequence, Kerr does the same and brings the story to a satisfying and wonderful conclusion.
It is for this reason I can give Follies Past a wonderful and full 5 out of 5 stars. And I suggest it to anyone who is a fan of Austen herself.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Blood of Olympus

This week's Waiting on Wednesday is all about Rick Riordan's new book in the Heroes of Olympus series. The next book is purported to be the final book in the series and will tie up the story of the union between Camp Jupiter and Camp Half-Blood and their attempts to thwart the awakening of Gaea.

I'm looking forward to reading this new book because I have been in love with Riordan's work since I picked up the first Percy Jackson book. I was remarkably sad to see the first series end, and I was so very glad to see that he picked up the story in a second series. As a fan of both books in general and books that involve history and mythology, The Blood of Olympus and, in fact, all of Riordan's books are a wonderful thing for me!

The early release blurb for the book sets up a great sense of anticipation for the book:

Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the "Argo II" have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen--all of them, and they're stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood--the blood of Olympus--in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman Legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it "might" be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the "Argo II" will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea's army of powerful giants. As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over. (From Goodreads)

The fifth book in the Heroes of Olympus series, Blood of Olympus, is set to be released on October 17, 2014 from Disney-Hyperion.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Girl with the Windup Heart

It's that time again. For this week's Waiting on Wednesday we're talking about Kady Cross's latest novel in the Steampunk Chronicles. We're talking about The Girl with the Windup Heart.

I've been a fan of this series from the second that I picked up the first book. It is a wonderful look at the Victorian era and has a thousand wonderful twists to follow. I love the automatons, the characters, the romance, and the mystery. Kady Cross truly is a master of the genre novel!

The newest book in the series brings into sharp relief a new character who was introduced in the previous book: Mila. An automaton girl who has a working human brain and organs, Mila has been set loose from the Machinist and his minions. Now she's joined our heroes, particularly in the company of the criminal Jack Dandy.

The pre-release synopsis, as posted on Goodreads and the other major book retailers, tells the full tale of what to expect in The Girl with the Windup Heart.

In 1897 London, a final showdown is about to begin.

London's underworld is no place for a young woman, even one who is strong, smart and part-automaton like Mila. But when master criminal Jack Dandy inadvertently breaks her heart, she takes off, determined to find an independent life, one entirely her own. Her search takes her to the spangled shows of the West End's most dazzling circus.

Meanwhile, taken captive in the Aether, Griffin King is trapped in an inescapable prison, and at the mercy of his archenemy, The Machinist. If he breaks under the hellish torment, The Machinist will claim his powers and control of the Aether itself, and no one in either world will be safe-especially not Finley Jayne and her misfit band of friends.

Finley plunges headlong into the Aether the only way she knows how, by temporarily dying. But she cannot parry The Machinist's maneuvers for long. To defeat him for good, Griffin will have to confront his greatest fear and finally come fact-to-face with the destructive power he wields. 

The Girl with the Windup Heart is set to be released May 27th from Harlequin TEEN.

Book Recommendation: Last Light Falling The Covenant by J. E. Plemons

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Publication Date: March 5, 2014

Series: Last Light Falling #1

Genre: Young Adult Dystopia

Acquired From: Author


If your fate had already been chosen for you, would you change it?
Fifteen-year-old Arena Power blindly accepts her destiny in a world filled with tragedy, chaos, and a lingering wickedness that will tempt every man's soul until the last days on Earth. Set in the United States in the year 2053, America, like most of the world, has undergone catastrophic earthquakes, famine, and an economic collapse, which has rendered the nation hopeless. It has turned to other nations, like Russia and China, to help restore what was a once a world power. Unfortunately, the new America has grossly caused civil unrest and will eventually be the precursor to a much bigger war of biblical proportions.
Orphaned at the age of nine, Arena and her twin brother, Gabe, have learned to rely on each other through the toughest times. Not only do they share the same birthday and the tragic loss of their parents, they both have a birthmark on the back of their necks in the shape of a crucifix. This is only but a small sign of the destiny that will follow. On their fifteenth birthday, they receive a mystery letter and key from their estranged Uncle Finnegan. This key will unlock their fate, and it will be up to a priest, who has vowed to protect them since birth, to unfold the layers of their destiny--to undo the evil that has spoiled the world, and to help unleash God's wrath upon those who have turned from Him in the last days of history. 

Last Light Falling wasn't really my cup of tea. The premise was interesting and the characters were very strong willed, but for me the writing style just didn't work for me. There were places where the sentences made no sense at all and there were some descriptions that were just trying too hard. However, for those of you who might enjoy something along the lines of a dystopian version of Left Behind this is the book for you.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Book Review: Fury of the Seventh Son by Joseph Delaney

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Publication Date: April 15, 2014

Series: The Last Apprentice/Wardstone Chronicles #13

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy and Horror

Acquired From: Public Library


Finally, Tom Ward, the spook's last apprentice, will confront the Fiend for the last time.
Tom Ward has battled boggarts, ghasts, witches, dark gods, and the most terrifying creatures to roam the earth. He's allied with the witch assassin Grimalkin, with a powerful boggart, and with Alice... the young witch who is also his true love. And he has kept one step ahead of the Fiend, the most evil being in the world.
Now, he will vanquish the Fiend once and for all. But it will require a terrible sacrifice: not everyone Tom cares about will survive the final battle. 
--From Goodreads


Since I first picked up the very first book in the Last Apprentice series, I've been hooked. As a sucker for fantasy novels, this was an amazing read for me and I've recommended it to a lot of people. That's why I give Fury of the Seventh Son a solid 5 out of 5 stars.
Delaney has always been fantastic at writing an amazing story. He weaves fantasy with just enough reality to make everything authentic. He writes wonderfully well-rounded and real characters who make you believe as they do and makes you wish that you knew them beyond their adventures on the page. His world is beautiful and breathtaking.
I think my favorite thing about this book was that it really allowed Tom to come into his own. He became a character that was strong despite his fears, and it presented him with some challenges that it seemed that he never anticipated. I was breathless for much of this book because I just couldn't believe what was happening--and in many parts, I didn't want it to!
Quite honestly, the story ended in a way that I didn't like. But looking at it, it ended the only way that it could. And with the threat of the Kobalos hanging on the last page, it's been left open for another book or even an entirely new series. So maybe things aren't over just yet.  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Book Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Publication Date: January 7, 2014

Series: Defy #1

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Acquired From: Public Library


Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and fried Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.
The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect? 
--From Goodreads


Before I picked up Defy, I'd read a lot of other reviews from other people. While the cover isn't entirely intriguing or drawing in regards to the story itself, but the other reviews I've read had turned my head enough that I couldn't help but read it. And I'm so very glad that I did.
Defy is a wonderful fantasy story about a girl who is forced to hide her true identity just to survive. I absolutely loved how Alex was judged not by her looks--not even when it was revealed that she was a girl--but by her skill and courage. It was a great thing to see that a character was praised for her strength and her character rather than her beauty. Especially at the end of the novel (no spoilers!), it is uplifting to see how inner beauty is praised in this book. 
Maybe that's why I can give this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars. It was beautiful and breathtaking in its descriptions. The back story of the characters and the world in which the story is set is strong and well put together. It draws the reader in and doesn't let go until the final page.  

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Lair of Dreams

This week's Waiting on Wednesday is all about the new Libba Bray book Lair of Dreams.

The book is the sequel to the wildly popular Diviners, a novel about a young girl in 1920's New York City who is capable of "reading" objects and telling the past and future just by touching something.

The sequel picks up after the events of the first novel (duh!)--after Evie helped to solve a string of murders. And now Evie's powers are common knowledge among the public. She's outed herself as a Diviner and gotten all of the publicity that comes with it.

I absolutely adored the first novel. It was honest and a wonderful look at a paranormal telling of the heyday of jazz and speakeasies. And I thought it was awesome how Bray talked about Evie and her trouble with parties and gin. It was interesting and more than entertaining. I'm absolutely looking forward to the next installment.

The pre-released description from Barnes & Noble is short, simple, and sets the stage for a highly anticipated sequel:

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O'Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to "read" objects, and therefore read the past, she's become a media darling, earning the title, "America's Sweetheart Seer." But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviner's abilities...

Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

Lair of Dreams will be released August 5 by Little, Brown Books.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: Alienated by Melissa Landers

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Publication Date: February 4, 2014

Series: Alienated #1

Genre: Young Adult Science-Fiction

Acquired From: Public Library


Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.
Handpicked to host the first-ever L'eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she'll have inside information about the mysterios L'eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara's blog following is about to skyrocket.
Still, Cara isn't sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L'eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn't seem more alien. She's certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.
But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class. 
Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn't just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life--not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet. 
--From Goodreads


This is one of those books that I absolutely could not put down! I absolutely adored this book beyond words. It was one of the most breathtaking views on the young adult sci-fi genre that I've read in a long time--second only to the Across the Universe trilogy. That's why I give Alienated by Melissa Landers a solid, no holds barred 5 out of 5 stars.
I think what I loved the most about this story was that it was alarmingly real. It showcased a lot of human emotion and desires, as well as gave a startling glimpse into human prejudice. It begs the question of how we would react if there were human-like beings out amongst the stars who made contact with us. The story is carried along, not by the romance that blooms between Cara and Aelyx, but by the rising panic and prejudice in the surrounding community.
Perhaps my favorite part is the impassioned speech made by Cara at the end of the novel--it sings of the human condition and the potential we all have inside of us to do good no matter what wrongdoing is going on around us. Cara embodies perhaps the most human of our emotions--hurt, love, passion, courage. And when she begins to fall for Aelyx, it's a slow motion fall into something that is otherworldly and beautiful. 
Landers did a fantastic job of building a reality that is both real and otherworldly. I can't wait to read about Cara's first steps on planet L'eihr! 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Review: Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publication Date: April 23, 2013

Series: Unraveling #2

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Science Fiction

Acquired From: Public Library


Four months after Ben disappeared through the portal to his home universe, Janelle believes she'll never see him again. Her world is still devastated, but life is finally starting to resume some kind of normalcy. Until Interverse Agent Taylor Barclay shows up. Somebody from an alternate universe is running a human trafficking ring, kidnapping people and selling them on different Earths--and Ben is the prime suspect. Now his family has been imprisoned and will be executed if Ben doesn't turn himself over within five days.
And when Janelle learns that someone she cares about--someone from her own world--has become one of the missing, she knows that she has to help Barclay, regardless of the danger. Now Janelle has five days to track down the real culprit. Five days to locate the missing people before they're lost forever. Five days to reunite with the boy who stole her heart. But as the clues begin to add up, Janelle realizes that she's in way over her head--and that she may not have known Ben as well as she thought. Can she uncover the truth before everyone she cares about is killed. 


I absolutely tore through this book. I read the majority of it in a single day just because I couldn't put it down. Elizabeth Norris is a master of the art of writing a great mystery interwoven with science fiction. She absolutely made me fall in love with the characters she wrote and the worlds she created. Because of that, I can honestly give Unbreakable a solid 5 out of 5 stars.
I think the thing about this book that I loved the most was the action. It was high octane and there wasn't a second of down time in the novel. In some books, that might seem like the author is trying to hard to keep the reader's attention, but with Norris it was a fine line of perfection. Barclay and Janelle go from one problem to another and go up against a world that isn't going to let them solve their case easily. 
More than anything, I sincerely hope this isn't the last time I read about Janelle and Ben. Because, ladies and gentlemen, this is how you write a young adult novel. This is a set of strong characters who are so real that they jump off the page. And it's all about a girl who is badass enough to take down the bad guys with enough snark and sass to make an impression. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Redeemed

For this week's Waiting on Wednesday, we're continuing the theme of book finales. This week, we're talking about the electrifying conclusion to the epic House of Night series.

Although the final cover has yet to be revealed, Redeemed is shaping up to be a great conclusion to the series that has captivated audiences for the last several years. With well rounded and interesting characters, the series is a great example of how to tell a great story.

Mother-daughter writing team P.C. and Kristin Cast have woven an intricate tale of love, lust, betrayal, and the epic fight between good and evil. It is a vivid example of how the most beautiful things might just be the most evil. Along with the small novellas that are interspersed into the series, the story of Zoey Redbird and her fight against the evils of the corrupt priestess of Nyx, Neferet, is a dark and full tapestry of characters and emotions.

As a conclusion, Redeemed is shaping up to be one of the best in young adult literature in the past few years. Barnes & Noble presents the story as:

In the final electrifying novel in the HoN series, Neferet has finally made herself known to mortals. A Dark Goddess is loose on Tulsa and the world. No single vampyre is strong enough to vanquish her--unless that creature has the power to summon the elements as well as the ability to wield Old Magick. Only Zoey Redbird is heir to such power... but because of the consequences of using Old Magick, she is unable to help. Find out who will win and who will lose in this epic battle of Light versus Darkness.

Redeemed is set for release on October 14, 2014 from St. Martin's Press. Check back later for the cover reveal.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Book Review: Unite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication Date: February 4, 2014

Series: Shatter Me 1.5 & 2.5

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal and Dystopian

Acquired From: Public Library


Destroy Me tells the events between Shatter Me and Unravel Me from Warner's point of view. Even though Juliette shot him in order to escape, Warner can't stop thinking about her--and he'll do anything to get her back. But when the Supreme Commander of The Reestablishment arrives, he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner cannot allow.
Fracture Me is told from Adam's perspective and bridges the gap between Unravel Me and Ignite Me. As the Omega Point rebels prepare to fight the Sector 45 soldiers, Adam's more focused on the safety of Juliette, Kenji, and his brother. The Reestablishment will do anything to crush the resistance... including killing everyone Adam cares about.


Although it took me longer than usual to read this one (thanks to a lot of real life stuff that got in the way of reading), I really enjoyed Unite Me. It was well on par with the full length novels and just as good as novellas released from other series. I have to admit that I liked hearing the story from Warner's perspective more than Adam's, but I had a soft spot for Warner from the beginning. Overall, I give Unite Me a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Admittedly, Destroy Me was my favorite of the two novellas because it is told from Warner's perspective. And it gave a lot of insight into how Warner thought and felt, which made his attraction to Juliette in the later books more real to me. There were parts of the story that rang a bit hollow, like a few of the scenes with Anderson, but overall it was a lovely addition to the Shatter Me universe.
I don't know why, but I never really connected to Adam as much as I did to Warner. I suppose that's what made the second story, Fracture Me, a little harder for me to connect to. Something about Adam always felt a bit off, mostly because I felt like he was in love with an idea of Juliette rather than the real person. Fracture Me brought the story down a little for me, but Destroy Me really brought it back.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publication Date: January 28, 2014

Series:  Cruel Beauty Universe

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance/ Fairy tale retelling

Acquired From: Public Library


Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom--all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been training to kill him. 
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-entrhalls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secretes, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? WIth time runing out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.


I was drawn to this story mostly because my favorite childhood fairy tale was Beauty and the Beast. Plus the cover looks so interesting that there's nothing else I could do but read it. And I absolutely adored Cruel Beauty. That's why I give it an easy 4.5 out of 5 stars.
The story is clean and wonderful. Nyx is a strong character who is irrevocably broken by the fact that she has so much hate in her heart. She is a character who is real and hateful and loving and mischievous all at once. I absolutely adored her strength and her power to acknowledge the kind of person she was. 
I also loved the fact that Ignifex and Shade were such great mysteries. It wasn't so much that they were charismatic, but that they were clearly such strange and unusual characters. They were brilliantly written and wonderfully real. I absolutely loved their unusual relationship with each other, and their complete and total opposite but similar personalities.
This one is definitely going on my shelf to be read over and over.  

Waiting On Wednesday: Fury of the Seventh Son

For this week's Waiting on Wednesday, we're sticking with the theme of The Last Apprentice series. Today, we're all about the thirteenth and final book in the series: Fury of the Seventh Son.

Tom Ward has had a hard life as the Spook's last apprentice. He's had to fight things out of the dark that he never expected, including the Fiend himself. And now only Tom can rid the world of the Fiend forever. The thirteenth novel in the Last Apprentice series looks to be a great and amazing conclusion to one of the best middle grade and young adult series that I've ever read.

I love the blurb that's been released with the cover of the book:

He's the seventh son of a seventh son.

He's the only one who can stop the greatest evil.

Tom Ward, the Spook's last apprentice, has everything he needs to vanquish the Fiend, once and for all: the three blades recovered from the dark, the gifts from his witch mother, and the skills he's learned from Master Gregory. And Alice, the one he loves most, is willing to sacrifice herself to fulfill the spell.

Or is she?

Racing against time, all of Tom's old allies--and old enemies--return. They will clash in a final battle more epic than any he has fought before. And a danger Tom never dreamed of will be revealed. 

Who will survive? Are you brave enough to find out?

I just love that! And I absolutely can't wait to find out exactly how everything finishes up in this great series. Joseph Delaney is an amazing writer, and he is great at making things scary, gross, and addictive all at once.

Fury of the Seventh Son is set for release from HarperCollins on April 15.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Short Hiatus

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted a review or Waiting on Wednesday as the schedule shows. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to take a short hiatus (I'll be back to posting regularly on the 7th) because I've just gotten a new job. I've been spending all of my time preparing for it.

I will post an updated schedule of events on the 7th.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Book Review: Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons

Publication Date: June 18, 2013

Series: Cahill Witch Chronicles #2

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

Acquired From: Public Library


With the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate's friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers--if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.
Cate doesn't want to be a weapon, and she doesn't want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood's schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she'll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.
In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura, and Tess's quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England. 
-From Goodreads


The Cahill Witch Chronicles may be one of my favorite sets of novels since The Lord of the Rings. Jessica Spotswood is a master of evoking strong emotion from her readers when it comes to her characters. I've tweeted many times about how much I long to rip Maura's pretty red hair out of her annoying little head. And that, I think, is one of the greatest things I can say about this series. I feel strongly about it, and that feeling is what keeps me coming back for more. That's why I gave Star Cursed a solid 5 out of 5 stars.
There's a great set up for the second novel in the series, and it does well to tie the story back to the first novel. It isn't so "stand alone" that you easily forget what happened in the first book. And I absolutely adore this. Spotswood pulls back previous scenes from the first novel so that you remember them and brings them into play in the new story. She definitely doesn't let you forget the troubles that her characters have been through.
The characters themselves are strong and believable, with their own strengths and flaws that make it easy to think of them as real people. The only bad thing about this novel is that Maura might be too evil, and that's a good thing! 
Star Cursed will definitely be added to my shelf of favorite books that will be read over and over.  

Waiting on Wednesday: Seventh Son

Because I've reviewed a lot of The Last Apprentice/Wardstone Chronicles novels lately, and with the end of the series coming up this year, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the upcoming film adaptation Seventh Son for this week's Waiting on Wednesday.

The film, originally set to be released (as the poster to the left shows) in January of this year, stars Jeff Bridges (True Grit) as the Spook Master Gregory, Ben Barnes (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian) as the apprentice Tom Ward, and Julianne Moore (Magnolia) as the evil witch Mother Malkin. Other notable cast members include Djimon Hounsou, Alicia Vikander, and Jason Scott Lee.

An 18th century adventure story centered on young Thomas, who is apprenticed to the local Spook to learn how to fight evil spirits. His first great challenge comes when the powerful Mother Malkin escapes her confinement while the Spook is away.

Currently set for release in early 2015, Seventh Son tells the story set out in the first novel of The Last Apprentice series. It is being released by Legendary Pictures, the production company responsible for such blockbusters as Wrath of the Titans, Clash of the Titans, 300, and Sucker Punch. Known for gritty, dark fantasy, it seemed to be a good fit for Legendary Pictures to take on the project of turning Joseph Delaney's horror novels into a feature film.

When I first heard about the fact that the novels were being turned into a film, I was pretty excited. Add to that the fact that Jeff Bridges and Ben Barnes had signed on to the project, and I was ready for the film to come out. But when the trailer came out, I wasn't entirely sure if it was going to work. I wondered if anyone on the film production staff even read the first novel. Still, on the grounds of a pure action adventure film, it looks like a good movie.

Seventh Son will hit theaters on February 6, 2015.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Book Review: The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Publication Date: May 28, 2013

Series: The Steampunk Chronicles #3

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

Acquired From: Public Library


In 1897 London, something not quite human is about to awaken. 
When mechanical genius Emily is kidnapped by rogue automatons, Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What's left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons--or forfeit her friends' lives.
With Griffin being mysteriously tormented by the Aether, the young duke's sanity is close to the breaking point. Seeking help, Finley turns to Jack Dandy, but trusting the master criminal is as dangerous as controlling her dark side. When Jack kisses her, Finley must finally confront her true feelings for him... and for Griffin.
Meanwhile, Sam is searching everywhere for Emily, from Whitechapel's desolate alleyways to Mayfair's elegant mansions, He would walk into hell for her, but the choice she must make will test them more than they could imagine.  
To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist's ultimate creation--an automaton more human than machine. And if she's to have any chance of triumphing, she must summon a strength even she doesn't know she has...


It's very rare for me, but there was absolutely nothing I could find in this novel that bothered me. I absolutely loved every moment of The Girl with the Iron Touch, which makes it easy for me to give it a solid 5 out of 5 stars
The story itself was wonderfully fast paced with lots of mystery and one great twist after another. The novel is rich with problems for the characters to face and overcome, and it connects strongly to the other novels in the series. The twists seem random and disconnected at first, but as the story goes on, the pieces fall into place that puts together a solid picture that allows you to see a diabolical mastermind at work. 
One of my favorite things about The Steampunk Chronicles is the relationship that exists between Finley and Jack Dandy. It's something that is wonderfully entertaining and very real. While Finley is truly in love with Griffin, it's clear that she enjoys the attention from Dandy. It always makes me love the story even more when there isn't so much melodrama around love triangles, but the fact that the characters openly admit that they love one of them and just likes the attention from the other. 
Overall, The Girl with the Iron Touch is lovely and entertaining. It's a novel that I'll definitely be adding to my collection to read again later.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Kalona's Fall

It's back to books for this week's Waiting on Wednesday, and we're looking at the next installment of the House of Night novellas. Today we're talking about Kalona's Fall.

Since his appearance in early books of the House of Night saga, Kalona has been a character that I've always wanted to know more about. Now it seems I'm getting my wish as P.C. and Kristin Cast have given us a behind the wings look at the Tulsa House of Night's most mysterious creatures.

The early release synopsis from Barnes & Noble reads like this:

In Kalona's Fall, the shadows in Kalona's past will finally come to light... We will learn about the winged immortal's secret history and discover how he went from being the Goddess's Warrior and Guardian to her enemy and betrayer. Did Darkness taint Kalona as it did Neferet, or has the powerful immortal always preferred power over honor, and control over faith? This novella will be crucial to fans' understanding of Kalona, before his role in the explosive final installment of the House of Night, Redeemed, coming in October 2014. 

Such an enigmatic character definitely deserves his own story. And I'm glad to see that the final installment of the House of Night novellas is about perhaps the most interesting character in the entire series. It's going to be the most interesting and the best novella, on par with Neferet's Curse.

Kalona's Fall will be available July 29, 2014 from St. Martin's Press.

You can bet I'll be reading this one over and over.

Book Review: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: February 4th, 2014

Series: Shatter Me Trilogy

Genre: YA dystopia and science fiction

Acquired From: Public Library


With Omega Point, destroyed, Juliette doesn't know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won't keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world... but that's not all he wants with her.
The Shatter Me series is perfect for fans who crave action-packed young adult novels with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu. Tahereh Mafi has created a captivating and original story that combines the best of dystopian and paranormal, and was praised by Publishers Weekly as "a gripping read from an author who's not afraid to take risks." Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and satisfying end.


I can easily and unreservedly give Ignite Me a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars. There were a thousand things about this novel that I absolutely loved, and only one thing that I wish had been included. 
Mafi has a unique way of writing and using language, and it makes the story come so alive with emotion and action. The story is beautiful, organic, and fast paced. When the characters are confused, you're confused with them. Mafi makes it easy for you to become a part of those characters and the feelings that they have. It was beautiful and lovely. 
There was also a lot of character growth and new developments in this novel. The characters really came into themselves, and we saw the true colors of a lot of them. This made the novel seem so much more real and there's very little suspension of belief that occurs because of it. The story is incredibly organic and strong with a fantastic writing style and strong theatrics.
There was only one thing that would have made the novel better, and that would have been a recap at the beginning of the novel. It's one thing that bothers me when there are long gaps between release dates for books that sometimes I forget what happened in the last one. A general recap at the beginning of the novels would be good.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Book Review: Diamonds & Deceit by Leila Rasheed

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Publication Date: January 7, 2014

Series: At Somerton #2

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction

Acquired From: Public Library


A house divided...
London is a whirl of balls and teas, alliances and rivalries. Rose has never felt more out of place. With the Season in full swing, she can't help but still feel a servant dressed up in diamonds and silk. Then Rose meets Alexander Ross, a young Scottish duke, Rose has heard the rumors about Ross's sordid past just like everyone else has. Yet he alone treats her as a friend. Rose knows better than to give her heart to an aristocrat with such a reputation, but it may be too late.  
Ada should be happy. She is engaged to a handsome man who shares her political passions and has promised to support her education. So why does she feel hollow inside? Even if she hated Lord Fintan, she would have no choice but to go through with the marriage. Every day a new credit collector knocks on the door of their London flat, demanding payment for her cousin William's expenditures. Her father's heir seems determined to bring her family to ruin, and only a brilliant marriage can save Somerton Court and the Averleys' reputation.
Meanwhile, at Somerton, Sebastian is out of his mind with worry for his former valet Oliver, who refuses to plead innocent to the murder charges against him--for a death caused by Sebastian himself. Sebastian will do whatever he can to help the boy he loves, but his indiscretion is dangerous fodder for a reporter with sharp eyes and dishonorable intentions.
The colorful cast of the At Somerton series returns in this enthralling sequel about class and fortune, trust and betrayal, love and revenge.
-From Goodreads


I absolutely flew through Diamonds & Deceit. It was such a wonderful read, and I have to say that I enjoyed it much more than the first novel. Therefore I can easily give Diamonds & Deceit 4.5 out of 5 stars.
There were a lot of things to love about this novel. There was a lot of great character growth in this sequel, particularly from Charlotte, even though it didn't happen until the very end. It was fast paced and contained a good number of twists and turns to keep your interest. And it was filled with emotion that made you feel as if you were part of this world. While the romance was a key plot point, it didn't dominate the story. It fleshed out the other emotions--particularly the betrayal and venom that came throughout the story--in a way that made the novel feel very real. There was mystery and tragedy. A beautiful, breathtaking story that I'll gladly read again.