Friday, September 30, 2011

Remembrance by Michelle Madow: Review, Interview & Giveaway



I'm very happy to have author Michelle Madow stop by Xpresso Reads to talk about her debut novel, Remembrance - which you must definitely check out if you haven't already. To add fun to the mix, Michelle has offered up an ecopy of her book to one of YOU! That's right! *Throws confetti*


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review: Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones

Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson, #2)
Darynda Jones
First published August 16th, 2011
St. Martin's Press

When Charley is rudely awakened in the middle of the night by her best friend who tells her to get dressed quickly and tosses clothes out of the closet at her, she can’t help but wonder what Cookie’s up to. Leather scrunch boots with a floral miniskirt? Together? Seriously? Cookie explains that a friend of hers named Mimi disappeared five days earlier and that she just got a text from her setting up a meet at a coffee shop downtown. They show up at the coffee shop, but no Mimi. But Charley finds a message on the bathroom wall. Mimi left a clue, a woman’s name. Mimi’s husband explains that his wife had been acting strange since she found out an old friend of hers from high school had been found murdered a couple weeks prior. The same woman Mimi had named in her message. 

Meanwhile, Reyes Alexander Farrow (otherwise known as the Son of Satan. Yes. Literally) has left his corporeal body and is haunting Charley. He’s left his body because he’s being tortured by demons who want to lure Charley closer. But Reyes can’t let that happen. Because if the demons get to Charley, they’ll have a portal to heaven. And if they have a portal to heaven…well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty. Can Charley handle hot nights with Reyes and even hotter days tracking down a missing woman? Will Cookie ever get a true fashion sense? And is there enough coffee and chocolate in the world to fuel them as they do?

Oh my goodness!! I'm still laughing. I think I liked this second book even better than the first. Darynda definitely didn't slack off with book #2. She gave us another great, fabulous, funny as heck novel.

What a ride!!! Charley is back to her old tricks and witty sarcasm. I found the plot in this one much more interesting and equaling a wild roller coaster ride. She is working on a new case, trying to solve the mystery behind Mimi's disappearance; Someone is hiding a big secret from way back in high school. In the meantime, Charley is also trying to find the sexy and stubborn son of Satan. There was much more suspense and action in this book. The humour did not falter, though. There was plenty of it and it was still the best part of it all.

"Two men from the FBI are here,” Cookie said.
Crap. “Men in black are at the office?”
“Well, yes, but they’re actually in more of a navy.” 
Crapola. I so didn’t have time for men. In any color. “Okay, two questions.
Do they look mad, and are they hot?”
After a long, long pause, Cookie said, “One, not really. Two, no comment at this time. And three, you’re on speakerphone.”
After another long, long pause, I said, “Okie dokie then. Be there in a jiff.”

The mystery behind Charley and her "powers" are becoming very interesting. There is more to this Grim reaper business than she thought. Mistress Marigold is also intriguing - what's up with her? But I'm most curious about Owen and what Charley did to piss him off. Third Grave Dead Ahead is bound to be awesome!

Although the character development is modest, it's there nonetheless. All the characters are really enjoyable. They fit very well into Charley's eccentric life and all have distinct roles to play in the story. I particularly enjoy Garrett (and Cookie of course), he's like the amusing little brother who's fun to pick on.

Not everything is tied up in this one. There is still much mystery left to uncover and I can't wait until February to read more. Darynda has become one of my favourite authors and I will thus be reading anything and everything she is willing to dish out. If you want pure fantastic entertainment, these books are for you!!

“Never be afraid to dart around in public humming the Mission Impossible theme.”

4/5 hot espressos

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)
Cynthia Hand
First published January 4th, 2011
HarperCollins

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Lovely!! I really, really enjoyed this. It's a YA novel, but somehow it felt very different. For once, it wasn't just about the paranormal aspect, or the exciting new world the protagonist is thrown in. It was about finding oneself. Trying to fit in. Finding love. Life (with wings!)!! Everything I was hoping for while going into this.

Clara is part angel, and she has just received a hint of what her purpose on earth is. After finding out the location, they pack up and move there. It's quite a big change for Clara and her brother: California to the middle of nowhere, hick town. I loved the setting of this book. I loved the scenery descriptions. The country appeal. I'm a country girl myself - not as hardcore (I don't ride horses or fish) but it still had the small town charm that I grew up in. Everyone is in everyone's business knows everyone else, it's sweet!

The whole time I was reading I was completely into the story. I never once pondered where we were going with this and what the point of it all was. It just had a great flow that you could just breeze through the story and enjoy every minute of it. The plot of soft and sweet. It's not tedious, it's not a hit in the face, it builds up gently and manages to suck you in completely. You get a chance to care for the characters, for their lives and their relationships.

As for the characters. I adored them. Especially the way they were all present. They all had a purpose in the story and they all had distinct voices and personalities. I love when an author manages to do that. What really stood out for me was the fact that her mother was very present and motherly - which is often overlooked in YA. Likewise, her brother was also how I imagine having a brother would be like. Sometimes a pain in the butt, sometimes an accomplice. I imagine we haven't heard the end of him as well. But the protagonist - Clara - she's great! Finally a girl who does not see a guy and immediately yearns for him as though she can't live another second without him. Those often lack way too much chemistry. The romance in Unearthly was totally and completely sweet! It did NOT go at all in the direction I was sure Hand was going to go make it go in. It really took me by surprise that she took a much different route from other YA novels. I truly enjoyed how it all transpired.

The highlight of this book is definitely the character development with just a bit of world build up. The angel picture I have in my mind is absolutely stunning. I loved all the details we were given and how beautiful it all seems. as for the plot - there wasn't any big plot developments, but it's coming. I'm happy she didn't go all "Whoo apocalypse" right away. I love getting to know and care for the characters before the big story materializes. It builds up realism as well as charisma.

This novel was pure flowing beauty!

5/5 hot espressos

WoW (3)

Waiting on Wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

My pick this week:
                                   Dearly Departed
                                   Lia Habel
                                   Release date: October 18th, 2011

Love can never die.

Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?  
 
The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune, and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

When I read this premise it really got my attention. It sounds so original. I mean, cute zombies? I must read this! The cover is also gorgeous. I love the colors and the font used. It's very dark and sexy. This is also what I picked to be October's Brew (sidebar).

What upcoming book is on your mind this week?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dusty Reads (1)

Dusty Reads is a weekly post featuring a book that has been sitting unread on my home shelf for some time.
This book is exclusively chosen by Giselle.

This is my first Dusty Reads post. I find that blogs often feature new and upcoming books, so we tend to forget about the great books that we planned to read back when, but never got around to. So this may help someone discover an older book that is just as good as all the ARCs everyone is dying to get a hold of. Here's what I picked:


     Twenty Boy Summer
    Sarah Ockler

"Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"Okay."
"Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?"
"Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?"


According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.


I've had this on my shelf for about a year. I thought it was a perfect choice for this week's Dusty Reads since it's a challenged book. It sounds like a very emotional but fun story. 

Have you read it? What did you think?

Shatter Me ARC Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered to win my giveaway. I've selected a winner for a signed copy of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. Winner was picked by random number generator.


Congratulations to

Be on the lookout for my email.




Shatter Me is Tahereh's debut novel that will release on November 15th, 2011.
It's a great dystopian that I hope you all enjoy. If you're interested in what more I had to say, click here for my review.




Don't forget to check out my other giveaways:


Thank you so much to all my followers. I hope you're enjoying my blog. :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host (The Host, #1)
Stephenie Meyer
First published January 1st, 2000

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that takes over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed.

Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

Wow, just amazing!

At first, I wasn't sure about it because the sci-fi part is hard to grasp, but don't worry, after the first 80 pages or so you won't be able to stop reading (it has about 600 pages). It has to be the strangest book I've read, but also the best. It definitely ties in with Twilight, and the only reason I don't think it beat it is because Twilight sucked me in for a longer period of time.

Meyer is an amazing author who is able to pull you into the story and allow you to feel like you're actually there, experiencing what they experience and feeling what they feel. She paints a striking picture of the characters and the sinister world that they now live in, in the mind of everyone who is fortunate enough to be touched by it. The story is a real page turner. It's so freakishly amazing how their world is changed and what they have to do to survive. It's also incredibly unique and touching. I instantly fell in love with this book and all of it's characters.

The characters in the story were very likable and I found them a lot more realistic than the ones in Twilight. The story was more adult and had a lot more depth to it. It's original, exciting, scary, romantic, and thought-provoking. Stephenie really proved that she has more than one story to tell. If you loved Twilight, and especially if you're a bit older - you will absolutely love this book.

5/5 hot espressos

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Review: Wayward by Ashley Girardi

Wayward (The Witch Wars Saga, #1)
Ashley Girardi
First published March 27th, 2011

Born without magic, seventeen-year-old Helena "Hex" Wayward is an embarrassment to her power-hungry relatives.

As the weakest member of the world's most deadly magical family, Hex learns early how to avoid confrontation. There's no defending herself against an errant curse or the pit-demon that her cousins like to summon during family reunions.

When the dark magic inside of her -- magic that she never dreamt even existed -- erupts in a violent display, it kills a member of a rival family. Now, Hex's family hopes to use her magic for their own sinister purposes and their enemies just want her dead. Abandoning her magic will leave Hex defenseless but she's seen how quickly power corrupts even the best intentions.

She has to make a choice:

Save her life or save her soul.

Ah man, up until at least three quarters through I was really enjoying this. But there are too many flaws in this book for me to justify giving more than 2 stars. I say three quarters through because I thought maybe those flaws would be explained or fixed during the story, but they weren't. It just wasn't all that exciting.

In of itself, the story is interesting. It's about witches, the most powerful witch - Wayward - to be exact, who doesn't agree to use her powers at all, never mind for evil. However, she's being forced into it by a deal she can't refuse. I love witches, them and necromancers are probably my favourite supernatural beings, but I found this one fell a bit flat and had a lot of inconsistencies.

For starters, I didn't understand why Wayward refused to use her powers, especially when it came to defending herself in a fight. Would someone know if she used them? Then why would she use magic to make a girl choke just cause she didn't like her? I didn't understand. Then there was her family - her siblings. Why was she so afraid of them? What was Marco planning to do to Sam? She was saying "eat her"… was that literal? Is he a witch or a vampire? Huh!!? o_O

The most prominent factor that I'll call a flaw, is that the villain wasn't very villainy. I wasn't afraid of him - or understood why Wayward was either. We're told he runs the Blooded - powerful beings that kill witches who tell humans about the magic - but we're never really made to be afraid of the Blooded, so why am I supposed to be afraid of Valentine again? I thought he was fairly sweet at the beginning. It also wasn't made clear if she hated him or secretly loved him.

Those were the biggest issues I had with the book. I did like the protagonist, Wayward, and the romance in the story. Wayward is a really likeable character. She wasn't full of herself or dumb. She knew what was going on and she didn't let anyone walk all over her. For the romance, I liked how it was realistic. It wasn't love at first sight or perfect from the get-go. It was normal, awkward high school romance; cute and sweet.

It wasn't horrible, it just never really captivated me. I was also let down by the ending and lack of deep plot development. If you really enjoy witches, you may still want to give it a try. You never know. 

2/5 hot espressos

In My Mailbox (2)

"In My Mailbox" is a meme, created by Kristi at The Story Siren, that features books I've received/purchased/borrowed during the current week. 
Let's see what I got this week. (click on images for Goodreads synopsis)

I have received for review: 

I have gotten from giveaways:

     


Freebie on Smashword:


I am actually off to go shopping for books bright and early tomorrow morning: My favorite thing to do when I'm not reading! I will feature those next week. 

What did you get this week?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)
Susan Ee
First published May 21st, 2011

It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

I read an angel book once that I won't bother naming and it was terrible, and as it was my first, I was a bit uncertain as to whether or not Angelfall would be another failure, but nope, it is Full. Of. Awesome!!

In a post-apocalyptic world where Angels have taken over, Penryn is only  trying to survive with her schizophrenic mother and crippled sister. These aren't angels to swoon over these ones, these are mean ass, I-will-kill-your-unborn-child, angels. I'm not sure if this is a debut novel, but if so props x1000 to the author. She swept me away into a world where no one is safe, no one can be trusted, and everyone is fighting for their lives, for the world they're losing. She balances death and destruction with a bit of comic relief, and the romance is slowly putting out roots instead of giving us a doe-eyed, naive love-struck character disregarding this apocalypse to fall in love with the enemy. The pacing was perfect; just the right amount of action to keep you wanting to turn the page, but not so much you want to pull your hair out. The plot surprises you with a few unpredictable events and often makes you want to cringe at the enormity of the situation. I was completely enthralled by the characters as well. Especially Penryn who is a great protagonist - kindhearted, strong, competent, courageous - everything that builds an easily likeable, badass character.

I did find the explanations about why the angels invaded earth, (and a few other details -- what's with the children? And the scorpions?) were somewhat missing; I thought that strange. I presume it will be explained in the following books, but I still expected to get at least an idea or a glimpse into the big picture. Regardless, I was blown away.

The ending, it was insufficient - I want more NOW!

Get this book…

Get it!!
5/5 hot espressos

Fresh Batch (Sept 25th- Oct 1st)

This week's hot releases
Fresh Batch features some of the hottest releases this upcoming week. These are exclusively chosen by Giselle.

Flavour of the week:
               

          Lola and the Boy Next Door
               Stephanie Perkins


Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.




Other releases (click on image for Goodreads synopsis):

        
        


Which release are you most looking forward to this week?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: The Willows: Haven by Hope Collier

The Willows: Haven (The Willows, #1)
Hope Collier
First published September 13th, 2011

When tragedy strikes, seventeen year-old Ashton Blake sets out on a cross-country road trip, leaving the comforts of Malibu for the mountains of Kentucky. Along the way, she encounters Gabe Willoughby—the mysterious drifter with eyes like the sea and a knowing smile. Getting to know Gabe raises questions about her past. But no secret can be buried forever, and Ashton soon finders herself in a world where water is air and myth becomes reality.

Just as Ashton comes to accept her newfound heritage, she’s summoned to fulfill a treaty laid down centuries before — a treaty that will divide her love and test her loyalty. In the end, her future isn’t her biggest concern, her humanity is. To run may mean war, but is she strong enough to stay?

This wasn't really a book for me. I just couldn't get into it. There were a lot of inconsistencies and confusion around the plot. I read 70% and skimmed the rest. I just wanted to get it over with, but I hate to leave books unfinished.

Ahston, a 17 year old, just got news that her father died from a heart-attack. She goes on a road trip to get to his funeral and comes  upon a handsome guy who accompanies her and eventually tells her that she's not who/what she thinks she is.

The premise is what interested me at first. The book did have a good and exciting start. It was all very mysterious and made you want to know what was going on. But the unveiling left me very confused and the realism just wasn't there. When Ashton found out that she was different, she never asked WHAT she was. She accepted that she wasn't human and that Gabe had abilities out of the ordinary. Though she never asked for definitions. She accepted plainly that she was special, without wondering what made her that way!? That was the biggest issue I had with the book. That wasn't the only occurrence of the type either. She was attacked, twice in a few days time, and never thinks anything of it. It was just a very strange way to have it play out.

The story often left you feeling like you were missing something. Details weren't readily available to the reader. I had to go back a few pages a couple of times thinking I missed a passage that explained what was happening or why the characters were acting a certain way. Because of this, I didn't grow to care for them or their situations. I found Ashton to be incredibly gullible and a little stupid. You don't go running off in the woods after someone just attacked you - twice.

Those issues aside, the lore in this book is definitely original. The world is lacking a lot of depth, but it was still different from other YA paranormals I've read. It's based on mythology. I don't want to say more in fear of giving away any unwanted spoilers. It also has quite a bit of action and the pace is steady.

Although it wasn't for me, if you like mythology and paranormal YA, you may want to give it a try. You never know. It does have a beautiful cover!

2/5 hot espressos

Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1)
Darynda Jones
First published February 1st, 2011

Charley sees dead people. That's right, she sees dead people. And it's her job to convince them to 'go into the light'. But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she's been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.


“You rented the apartment with a dead guy in the corner?” I shrugged. “I wanted the apartment, and I figured I could cover him up with a bookcase or something.

Pee. In. My. Pants. !!! Really, you'll have to wear Depends while reading this! This was such a fun, fantastic novel. And, oh my god, Hilarious!!! Charley Davidson (that's right!) is a grim reaper, she sees and helps ghosts cross to the other side, but sometimes she helps solve their murders - which is why she is also a private investigator.

The humor is by far the greatest asset of this book: "oh my god she did not just say that" snarky humor that is just pure awesome. There are so many great lines that I bothered to write them down for future witty comebacks. And talking about witty, Charley is the wittiest and most fun loving character I've ever read. She is just priceless and often crazy. I wish I was Charley. I want to form a Charley fan club where we can all share our boobs' names. Yes, I'm afraid I have a girl crush on Charley!

Ok, I'll admit it, the thought of those two having hot, unsafe animal sex was a bit creepy, especially since my aunt didn't have any teeth.

The plot is a murder mystery mixed into the craziness that is Charley's life. She's just starting to realize that being the grim reaper is only a small dot in the world(s) she's mixed in. I can't say any more without revealing spoilers. I thought it was great. I liked how she had a best friend she could trust who just believed in her and her abilities without questions. I also quite enjoyed Mr. love interest. The romance is mysterious; slow but passionate. Charley is getting visits from a beautiful spirit that she can't help but feel weak in the knees for. But in the requisite love triangle, we also have the snarky unbeliever who is clearly fascinated by her. I enjoyed their silly bantering and flirtatious behaviours. I really loved both of them they're both great additions to the story.

I'd just had a near-sex experience with a blazing inferno.

This was my first grim reaper book, so it felt really unique and different to me. Darynda did a great job luring me into her novel and making me adore her characters. It's sexy, smart and sophisticated and anyone with a sense of humor will think it's fabulous.

If I couldn't be a good example, I'd just have to be a horrible warning.

4/5 hot espressos

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review: Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Blood Magic (Blood Journals, #1)
Tessa Gratton
First published May 24th, 2011

For Nick Pardee and Silla Kennicot, the cemetery is the center of everything. 

Nick is a city boy angry at being forced to move back to the nowhere town of Yaleylah, Missouri where he grew up. He can’t help remembering his mom and the blood magic she practiced – memories he’s tried for five years to escape. Silla, though, doesn’t want to forget; her parents’ apparent murder-suicide left her numb and needing answers. When a book of magic spells in her dad’s handwriting appears on her doorstep, she sees her chance to unravel the mystery of their deaths.

Together they plunge into the world of dark magic, but when a hundred-year-old blood witch comes hunting for the bones of Silla’s parents and the spell book, Nick and Silla will have to let go of everything they believe about who they are, the nature of life and death, and the deadly secrets that hide in blood.

Blood Magic is about witches: Finally something other than Vampires and Werewolves! I liked it, I thought it was fun and fresh, but it wasn't enough to really compel me to say "you know, this is a very good book". It was missing something though I cant quite put my finger on it. Regardless, I still almost gave it a 4 star.

The plot is part magical lore, part mystery. Silla's parents died tragically, and although everyone is convinced it was a murder suicide, Silla is not. After receiving a spell book from Deacon, whoever that is - and to her amazement they're actually working- she's even more convinced that someone was involved in her parent's death.

The mystery part is what intrigued me the most. Everyone is made a suspect and even if I wanted to guess there were too many choices to even bother, so I just enjoyed it and kept reading. It was intriguing, and I was excited to see how it would all play out. A bit more than half way through though it was made obvious (to me anyways) who it was. I still enjoyed how it ended, the climax was fun and there were a few other little unforeseeable twists in there.

The narration went back and forth between the two protagonists, Silla and Nicholas, which is always fun. We get deeper into the characters' development that way. The romance between them was much better than I expected and played a big part in the story. They had a lot of chemistry and the "romantic" scenes were pretty intense. It was a nice change from the "we want to but we can't" themes we often see nowadays. As for the supporting characters, I didn't really care for them much. They weren't boring, but they didn't stand out either. Except for Lillith - what happened there, anyways? She was this mysterious character who I thought was going to be part of the twist or at least have some role in it, but then the author seemed to just forget about her; we never got any explanation about what part she was really playing in all of this - it can't be nothing. So I don't know? Maybe she has plans for her in the following books? Or maybe she's really just a mundane step mom (boring)? There was no hint of anything. It seems like a waste to not give her a cool twist. A reason to be. Anything. I guess I will read and see.

In addition to the two narrators, there were flashbacks of an old witch writing a journal of her life after learning about the magic. Those were really interesting until the very end where it got confusing. Maybe I just don't retain information well, but I wasn't completely following it all. I still got the twist and what happened to Silla's parents, I just wasn't sure about who the Deacon was. Maybe we didn't even find out yet? Either way it didn't feel very important so I didn't bother going back to reread it.

So it's nothing especially special (yes I said it!). If you want a change from the many vampire and werewolf (and lately - angel) books coming out, this is a nice change of pace. It's not perfect but it's still a good and refreshing story.


3/5 hot espressos

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

100 Followers Giveaway

Giveaway is now CLOSED. Winner is Ashley of Book Labyrinth.


Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Legend
Marie Lu
Release date: November 29th, 2011

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Im such a sucker for dystopians. I love the energy; the rush I get from them. When I got a hold of an ARC of Legend I was thrilled. Now I know I had a good reason to. This is one of the good ones. A dystopian well worth reading!

We've got two narrators: the notorious criminal, Day, and the noble citizen, though a little rebellious, June. Day has escaped death before, and he's only trying to survive while taking care of his family, especially his sick brother. June got a perfect score on her Trial and she's trying to get revenge for her brother's death. Their paths cross and the story takes hold in the most unprecedented way.

I truly enjoyed both of these narrators equally - which rarely happens. They both have great characteristics that make each POV really interesting and addicting. I couldn't wait to find out how their situations would play out. It was brilliant. We go through the story on both sides, night and day, and we're persuaded to root for each of them the all the same. It was original and well thought out.

The plot was typical dystopian; the world is completely changed and a new government has taken over, and they may or may not have everyone's best interest at heart *cough*. The reason for the present peril and what happened to the world wasn't explained as much as I would have liked. I hope the next instalments discloses more details. We did get enough to still make sense of it and enjoy the story, though.

It was fast paced, which is always welcome in this type of book. There were no slow or boring parts, and it also didn't go in the direction I imagined it would. Which is great because it took me off guard and kept me really glued to the story.

This is another one not to miss, folks!

You will have a chance to enter to win this ARC starting tonight. Open internationally.


4/5 hot espressos

Freebie!

Anathema by K.A. Tucker is currently free on Smashword.





Evangeline has spent her teenage years in obscurity. Her foster parents have the emotional aptitude of robots and her classmates barely acknowledge her existence. About to turn eighteen and feeling like a social pariah, she is desperate to connect with someone. Anyone. 

When Evangeline meets Sofie after literally stumbling upon her café, she believes she’s found that connection. Willing to do anything to keep it, she accepts a job as Sofie’s assistant and drops everything to fly to Manhattan, where she is thrust into a luxurious world of Prada, diamonds, and limitless cash. 

With such generosity and kindness, it’s easy for Evangeline to dismiss certain oddities . . . like Sofie’s erratic and sometimes violent behavior, and the monstrous guard dogs. She’s even willing to dismiss her vivid dreams of mob-style murders, beautiful homeless people living in caves, and white-eyed demons that haunt her each night as figments of her imagination—especially when one of those figments is the gorgeous Caden. When she wakes up with bite marks on her neck, the fairy tale quickly turns into a nightmare. She slowly unravels the mystery surrounding Sofie and friends, and the reality of the bites and the “dreams.” What she discovers is far more mysterious and terrible than anything she could have imagined. 

In a world where everyone has motive to lie for personal gain, Evangeline must decide which deception is least likely to get her killed



Don't miss your chance. It's been getting rave reviews and who doesn't like free stuff? :) Click here to grab it.



WoW (2)

Waiting on Wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

My pick this week:
                                   Dark Companion
                                   Marta Acosta
                                   Release date: June, 2012 

When foster teen Jane Williams is invited to attend elite Birch Grove Academy for Girls and escape her violent urban neighborhood, she thinks the offer is too good to be true. She's even offered her own living quarters, the groundskeeper's cottage in the center of the birch grove. 

Something's not quite right about the school -- or is it Jane? She thinks she sees things in the birch grove at night. She's also beginning to suspect that the elegant headmistress and her sons are hiding secrets. Lucky is the gorgeous, golden son who is especially attentive to Jane, and Jack is the sardonic puzzling brother.

The school with its talented teachers and bright students is a dream for a science and math geek like Jane. She also loves her new friends, including hilarious poetry-spouting rich girl, Mary Violet. But the longer Jane stays at Birch Grove, the more questions she has about the disappearance of another scholarship girl and a missing faculty member.

Jane discovers one secret about Birch Grove, which only leads to more mysteries. What is she willing to sacrifice in order to stay at this school...and be bound to Birch Grove forever?


I saw this a while back on Goodreads and have been awaiting it since. The cover is gorgeous for one, and the premise sounds original as well as intriguing. I love suspense and creepy stories, and this sounds like exactly my type of novel. Sadly, I have a long time to wait! :(  

What about you? What book are you awaiting?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why
Jay Ashey
First published October 18th, 2007


Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.



I absolutely loved this book. What an eye opener. In Thirteen Reasons Why we listen to audio tapes that was sent to 13 people by Hannah who committed suicide, to explain her reasons why.

First I want to mention that to all the reviewers who say that her reasons weren't "good enough" for her to kill herself, you're wrong. Everyone doesn't cope with situations the same way, and problems that may seem minimalistic to you, can send the next person into depression. We all have our own ways of working through our issues, and some have a much harder time than others. These were her reasons to commit suicide, which were enough for her, who are we to judge?

Personally I thought it was amazingly done and very realistic. There weren't any embellishments or glorifications, it was true portrayal of teen suicide. We go through the story with Clay while he is listening to Hannah's tapes. The narration goes back and forth between the tapes and what Clay is doing/thinking. I really though this was a great way to pace the story and build up the suspense. And every single page is full of suspense. I really could have stayed up all night reading it.

The story contains a lot of emotions; Intense and raw emotions. We go through them with Hannah as well as Clay, simultaneously. Hearing her tapes makes us realize that our actions, however small, can have a whirlwind of an effect on others. Yes, sending those tapes may have been a little mean. But obviously there was a lot going on with Hannah and she needed to get this out. I don't condone her for it, but I can understand why she thought it necessary.

It's not an easy subject to talk about, but suicide is not something to take lightly. Asher did an amazing job of taking a sensitive subject and writing a very touching, mesmerizing novel.



5/5 hot espressos


Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)
Tahereh Mafi
Release date: November 15th, 2011


Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old-girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

I was very excited to have gotten a hold of this ARC. I saw this book a while back and the cover first attracted me to read the blurb, which sounded fascinating. After reading it, I'm happy to say that it didn't disappoint. It was quite the joyride: an exciting, fast paced dystopia. I've been a fan of dystopian novels since The Hunger Games and I'm always happy to find new gems in this exciting genre. I love the exhilaration, the emotional struggle and high speed survival that books like these are filled with.

Juliette has never been able to touch someone without inflicting pain, or worse. When her parents didn't know what to do with her, they send her away to be locked up an institution. It's a dystopian world, not so far in the future, where what's called The Reestablishment is trying to take over, and they want Juliette's power for themselves.

At first I wasn't really fond of all the striked out thoughts Juliette was having. They were distracting and I felt like I wanted to skip over them, but worry not, they dissipate towards the middle when she starts getting more rational. I do admit that it does help make her seem frenzied. Which is to be expected from someone with her ability. Being locked up definitely did not help her sanity either. So, though it's an annoying format, it served it's purpose.

The writing was respectable. I saw a few minor plot holes here and there, but for a debut author - a 23 year old nonetheless - I was impressed. I found Juliette's situation to be very well portrayed. You could see that the stress of her situation affected her mentally as well as physically. It was realistic and true. The romance was a bit fast though; your typical YA love at first sight deal. But I looked to my inner teenage lust full heart and I okayed it. :)

I enjoyed the fast pace of this book. Weeks go by in a flash of a few pages. This doesn't always work in novels, but it sets the mood in this one. It does seem to go by faster than expected a time or two, but the story isn't affected by it and we get to move along with the plot instead of dwindling on idle facts. Towards the end, the story takes on a more casual pace and the world building get more elaborate. We delve deeper in the superpowers and conspiracies of their new age. The second novel should be pretty amazing!


4/5 hot espressos

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Ransom Riggs
First published June 7th, 2011
A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.


A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography,Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

This book started with a bang. It was very creepy, exciting and really intriguing, but it all went downhill from there. Once the mystery around the house was explained - which was fairly early and without any nuance - it became a very boring and almost childish story, which I didn't expect at all.


One thing I can say I enjoyed was the photographs- they're scattered throughout the book, all black and white and remarkably creepy. They add a nice eery touch to the story and gives it a really unique flair.

The plot is what I didn't like. After its strong beginning, it fizzles into this bland and predictably dull tale. Don't get me wrong. It's very unique and unconventional so I can see it's appeal. It's also well written and does stem from great creativity, but I found it lacked too much detail and sophistication. The characters, too, fell flat and as a few things went unexplained we were left with scattered holes in the plot.

This book is marketed for young adults but definitely feels more juvenile, like a child's fairy tale, which is not what I expected hence leaving me feeling a bit underwhelmed.



2/5 hot espressos

Review: White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat (Curse Workers, #1)
Holly Black
First published January 1st, 2010

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.


Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.

It's safe to say that it's not the cover that attracted me to this book. I was actually quite surprised to see its many great reviews. Yes, I'm a book judger. Oh well. I picked this up as an audiobook and actually liked it a lot.


Some people are born as workers in Cassel's world. Workers can "work" people with their hands. By touching someone, they can alter their memory, kill, give good luck, bad luck. You name it. Cassel is the only one in his family who is not a worker. He's been getting these weird dreams that make him sleepwalk in very unfortunate scenarios.


I found the plot of this book very original and quite fun. I loved Cassel, the protagonist. I loved that it was a male lead. They're so rare but they're great. No girly angst. Cassel was charismatic and I quite enjoyed the narrative by Jesse Eisenberg. His voice was very fitting for Cassel's character. The plot twists aren't too difficult to figure out. But it didn't hinder my enjoyment of the story. It was still fun to walk through it with Cassel and see him figure it out.


The book isn't dark. But i think it may be heading that way. Cassel is very innocent in the start, so I think it contributed to the lighter, fun read. By the end, though, we saw glimpses of grimier times with conspiracies and intricate politics.


I'm happy that I gave this one a chance regardless of the dreadful cover. It's not what I expected at all. I was also told the sequel is just as good. This is one to not pass up if you like paranormal.


4/5 hot espressos

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In My Mailbox (1)

"In My Mailbox" is a meme, created by Kristi at The Story Siren, that features books I've received/purchased/borrowed during the current week. This is my very first IMM post. Hurrah!

This week, I have received for review: 

   


I have gotten from giveaways:

      

This is it for this week. I have not purchased any this week. I've been too busy to shop *gasp*. Yes, it is true. :(

What's in your mailbox this week?