Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fresh Batch (April 1st - 7th)

Exclusively titled for Xpresso Reads, Fresh Batch features the hottest releases of this upcoming week.

Flavor of the week:
Black Heart
Holly Black
Series: Curse Workers, #3
Release date: April 3rd, 2012
by Margaret K. McElderry

Goodreads / Purchase 
Cassel Sharpe knows he’s been used as an assassin, but he’s trying to put all that behind him. He’s trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He’s trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he’s trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he’s been raised to believe the government is the enemy.

But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes increasingly blurred. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what’s a con and what’s truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet—this time on love.
The Curse Workers series:

Black Heart book trailer:

Holly Black is a best-selling author of contemporary fantasy novels for kids, teens, and adults. She is the author of the Modern Faerie Tale series (Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside), The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), and The Good Neighbors graphic novels (with Ted Naifeh). She is also the co-editor of three anthologies, Geektastic (with Cecil Castellucci), Zombies vs. Unicorns (with Justine Larbalestier), and Welcome to Bordertown (with Ellen Kushner). Her most recent works are The Poison Eaters and Other Stories, a collection of short fiction, and The Curse Worker series (White Cat, Red Glove, and the forthcoming Black Heart). She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret library.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: The Night She Disappeared

The Night She Disappeared
April Henry
Release date: March 13th, 2012
by Henry Holt and Co.

Goodreads / Purchase
Gabie drives a Mini Cooper. She also works part time as a delivery girl at Pete’s Pizza. One night, Kayla—another delivery girl—goes missing. To her horror, Gabie learns that the supposed kidnapper had asked if the girl in the Mini Cooper was working that night. Gabie can’t move beyond the fact that Kayla’s fate was really meant for her, and she becomes obsessed with finding Kayla. She teams up with Drew, who also works at Pete’s. Together, they set out to prove that Kayla isn’t dead—and to find her before she is.
*A copy was provided by Raincoast Books for review purposes*

The Night She Disappeared, with only 240 pages, is a short but intense mystery. Kayla was only going out to deliver a pizza... but she never came back.

As some of you may know, mysteries, thrillers, horrors of all kinds are my favorite genre. I was enticed by this synopsis as soon as I read it, and I found myself absorbed in the story from the start. Told in multiple perspectives, we get to walk into the lives of the people directly affected by Kayla's disappearance, all the while trying to figure out what exactly happened to her. We even get glimpses of the kidnapper's point-of-view, which is especially disturbing. Mostly, though, we get to see what Kayla's friends and co-workers are going through; guilt, blame, and terror all make an appearance. There's also bonds that form between the characters which I found realistic to dire situations such as this. The psychological consequences are clearly not overlooked as April did a great job going into the minds of these teenagers, having it all feel real, while keeping an overall sinister vibe.

My favorite part of reading this novel was the way it was actually told. Its format includes paper clippings, evidence pieces, interviews, and other memorabilia. For lovers of detective work, this is a sure way to keep you glued into not only the characters lives, but the investigation as well. Along with its short chapters, it's a novel that is especially easy to read in one sitting.

Not only do we see Kayla's kidnapping as a real-life possibility, this book makes us aware of how grave, how incredibly serious this all is. We see faces on billboards, on TV, on milk cartons, but do we even notice anymore? Do we take the time to see if we recognize anyone? These millions of people who are missing, who have friends and families going through exactly the same thing these people are going through with Kayla, get lost in the statistics to never be seen again. Despite its size, this book sends out a big message. Take the time, SEE them!

A contemporary thriller that packs a punch, The Night She Disappeared is a novel that I think many readers will enjoy for its unique structure and spine chilling mystery. For such a short read - what have you got to lose?  

4 Hot Espressos

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review: Exiled by M.R. Merrick

M.R. Merrick
Series: The Protector, #1
Release date: June 28th, 2011

Goodreads / Purchase
Chase Williams is a demon hunter in the Circle, or at least he was supposed to be. On his fifteenth birthday, Chase stepped up to the altar to claim his elemental power, but it never came. Elemental magic is passed down to a hunter through the bloodline, but on Chase's birthday, the bloodline stopped.

Exiled without the Circle's protection, Chase has spent two years trying to survive a world riddled with half-demons and magic. When he has a run in with a frightened and seemingly innocent demon, he learns the Circle's agenda has changed: the Circle plans to unlock a portal and unleash pure-blood demons into the world. Vowing to stop them, and knowing he can't do it alone, Chase forms a reluctant alliance with Rayna — a sexy witch with an attitude and a secret.

In their attempt to stop them, Chase and Rayna find themselves in the middle of the Circle's plan, leaving one of them to decide what their friendship is worth, and the other's life depending on it.
*A copy was provided by M.R. Merrick for review purposes*

M.R. Merrick takes YA paranormal to a whole new level with his debut novel, Exiled, where we're taken on an enthralling action adventure filled with creatures from demons to trolls, alongside our strong, determined protagonist - Chase.

A heartbreaking and powerful start; we're immediately introduced to our dear Chase, when we're taken to his childhood, seeing him exiled from the Circle for having no elemental magic. Fast forward a few years, we meet a teenager who has matured beyond his years by having to keep himself and his mother alive, while constantly on the lookout for demons - killing them when necessary. We do see that he still has some boyish innocence however, when he meets the sexy, smart, and witty Rayna. Both of them are enticing, easily likeable characters, but together, they're infinitely entertaining. The amusing banter between them enlivens the story, giving us a great balance of lightheartedness inside this dark tale.

These are not the only people we get to know and love in this novel. It holds a fantastic cast of secondary characters that are just as enchanting, along with villains that are ruthless. From the unfortunate trolls we meet along the way, to Willy - the always delightful demon - we've got vivid personalities that clearly sets them apart, giving them important supporting roles that adds quite a bit more charm to the story.

It's hard to pinpoint which genre I would consider this; Urban Fantasy would be my pick: It's a fast paced adventure with plenty of fantasy and paranormal elements, a touch of romance, and non stop action. Surprisingly, it all fits incredibly well. I'm not a big fan of fantasy especially - they mostly overwhelm me with the endless hierarchies and politic, so I was relieved this was not the case with Exiled. I was kept intrigued by the inner workings of the demons and hunters. Their conspiracies and prophecies had me engrossed; impressing me with twists I never expected. Its plot is overall immensely creative, giving us a story that is unique, with an ending that will leave you dying for more.

Even though I'm hesitant to get into fantasy, I'm glad that I finally caved to all the threats rave reviews and gave Exiled a try. Intense and high in action, you should find yourself easily immersed in M.R. Merrick's imaginative world. It has a whole hell of a lot to offer for any and all reading preferences.

4 Hot Espressos

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: Slide by Jill Hathaway

Jill Hathaway
Release date: March 27th, 2012
by Balzer + Bray

Goodreads / Purchase
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.
*A copy was provided by HarperCollins for review purposes*

Slide is a refreshing, fast paced YA mystery that has original paranormal elements along with great character building; a very quick read that I would recommend to all fans of thrillers.

Vee is able to "slide" into someone else's head when she gets these fainting spells. This is when she figures out there's a murderer on the loose. I loved this sliding ability. It's original, clever, and it can make for some serious amusement. I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't elaborated more thoroughly, though. Curiosity gets the best of me and I want to find out why, how, and the purpose of these paranormal elements in books. Where do they come from? How did they get it? Who else is affected? When these bases aren't touched it simply feel out of sorts in an otherwise contemporary novel. Regardless, I still found it fascinating as it took us into the minds of several characters, and essentially enforced them with personalities.

I've been reading murder mysteries since I was in my early teens. I have always loved them - one of my favorite series was Veronica Mars (still sad it was cancelled). Consequently, I've developed quite the talent of figuring out who's guilty, so in my case I thought it was fairly predictable, but I wasn't too put down by it. I was still kept constantly entertained, mostly by the characters' relationships and family dynamics.

Jill's ability to write well rendered characters and their relationships is what I enjoyed the most in Slide. We've got very deep, emotional issues that are touched in this story. Absentee fathers, deaths (including suicide), bullying, affairs - she was able to create serious life problems that are dramatic, but also deeply realistic. It's incredible the way Vee deals with difficult situations she's thrown into. I loved her relationship with her sister the most. Being basically the one raising her, she has incredible patience and maturity to stand by her, supporting her through all her rights and wrong. This is only one of the many reasons why I absolutely admired Vee's character.

The mystery is fun, the characters are wonderful, and the pacing keeps you on your toes. Even though it didn't blow my mind, Slide is definitely a book I'd suggest for all fans of murder mysteries - a rare gem in current YA.  

3 Hot Espressos

Waiting on Wednesday (29)

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:
Jessica Khoury
Release date: September, 2012
by Razorbill

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

I'll be honest, the cover is not my favorite, but this sounds incredibly awesome! This is quoted on the author's site too which heightens my interest even more:

"Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost. This is a supremely compelling debut novel that blends the awakening romance of Matched with the mystery and jungle conspiracy of Lost."

What are you waiting on?
Link me up! :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Someone Else's Life Tour Stop

Someone Else's Life is a book I really enjoyed recently so I'm happy to have the tour stop drop by for my review and a really fun interview with Katie Dale! Enjoy! :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Giveaway - The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

The Calling
Kelley Armstrong
Series: Darkness Rising, #2
Release date: April 10th, 2012
by Doubleday Canada (HarperCollins US)

Goodreads / Purchase
Maya Delaney's paw-print birthmark is the mark of what she truly is--a skin-walker. She can run faster, climb higher, and see better than nearly everyone else. Experiencing intense connections with the animals that roam the woods outside her home, Maya knows it's only a matter of time before she's able to Shift and become one of them. And she believes there may be others in her small town with surprising talents.

Now, Maya and her friends have been forced to flee from their homes during a forest fire they suspect was deliberately set. Then they're kidnapped, and after a chilling helicopter crash, they find themselves in the Vancouver Island wilderness with nothing but their extraordinary abilities to help them get back home.

To my surprise, I have received not one, but two copies of The Calling in the mail. So instead of selfishly keeping both to myself (it was tempting), I'm giving one to a lucky winner to say THANK YOU for being fabulous and reading my blog! And thanks to Random House Canada for the extra copy!

Review: As the World Dies: Untold Tales Vol 1

As the World Dies: 
Untold Tales Vol 1
Rhiannon Frater
Release date: August 3rd, 2011

Goodreads / Purchase
THE FIRST DAYS: AS THE WORLD DIES introduced Jenni and Katie and their harrowing journey to the makeshift fort in the Texas Hill Country.
But theirs is not the only tale to be told.

In the first volume of the AS THE WORLD DIES UNTOLD TALES experience three terrifying tales of those who are forced to face the unrelenting and hungry walking dead.

Deep in the Texas Hill Country, a man and his little dog takes refuge in a bed and breakfast located in the hills above a doomed town where an infested rescue center might unleash the hungry undead…

On a deserted highway slicing through the desolation of West Texas, a woman struggles to survive as she faces the horrifying aftermath of the rise of the zombies…

And finally, discover what happens on the first day to Katie’s beloved wife, Lydia, as the world dies…

I will never get enough of this series.

With its extraordinary characters that all left a mark on my heart, and a story that kept it beating hard - As the World Dies by Rhiannon Frater has become one of my favorite series ever (and it's a short list). Thus, I rejoiced at the idea of the Untold Tales, where she takes us into the lives of different characters prior to their appearance in the original series.

In this volume, we get familiar with the stories of Lydia, Monica and Eric. Lydia is a significant character in the whole trilogy. Even though she is dead from the start, she has a huge influence on Katie's thoughts and decisions. She's the reason for Katie's unrelenting determination and strength, not only to survive, but to rebuild, to love again. I loved finding out what exactly happened in her final moments, as well as getting a glimpse at their previous lives together. It was truly bittersweet. As for Juan's cousin, Monica, she is a character I felt I never really got to know, so it was great to get a sense of who she is. Even though these stories are short, they're definitely still intense, with an abundance of emotion.

Eric's story is quite a bit longer. He is also a character that, although present quite a bit, I craved to know more about. What he went through before the fort is terrifying; we see him struggle with heartbreak, loneliness, and of course, zombies. I feel like I know him SO much more - so much so that a re-read of this series is forthcoming! Additionally, Eric's story is filled with cameos of other well loved character that gave me an immense feeling of nostalgia to the point of tears. It's like there were all these precious moments that was previously missed due to all the chaos of the first days, and now we get to see it, to live it.

Even if, like me, you don't generally read short stories, do not look these over - especially if you're already a fan of the As the World Dies series. They are filled with as much humor, love, horror and thrill as the full length novels. If you're new to this series, you will get to glimpse Rhiannon's impeccable talent of leaving you on the edge of your seat, while making you ADORE these characters completely.


"Fuck you, Aliens!" - Calhoun in Untold Tales Vol. 1

5 Hot Espressos
 As The World Dies: A Zombie Trilogy:
Want to read my thoughts on the previous books?

You can win an advanced copy of Siege HERE

Sunday, March 25, 2012

In My Mailbox (27)

"In My Mailbox" is a meme, created by Kristi at The Story Siren, that features books I have
received/ purchased/ borrowed during the week. 

Hi guys! *waves* Spring is here I am so happy - it's a BIG deal in Canada! We had awesome weather all week (2 weeks ago it was snowing and this week we had beach weather... yeah). I just hope it lasts. So, HUNGER GAMES!? Did you all see it? I went to the midnight showing and I was blown away! It's honestly the best book to movie I've seen and definitely one that I will watch over and over (which I rarely do). The cast was perfect; every single one of them was just like I pictured and fit the roles perfectly. Really I could go on and on, I was incredibly impressed.

So I've got a couple highlights on the blog to mention this week, first I had a cover reveal for Cataclysm by Karice Bolton which you can see here. I've also got a new giveaway happening for the last book of my favorite series - As the World Dies by Rhiannon Frater - so you obviously have to check it out: enter here.

Here's what I got this week for review (click on cover or title links for Goodreads):

*Big thanks to Shannon Eckrich, HarlequinTeen, Thomas Allen & Son and Hachette Canada for the review copies*

I also bought: 
Yep, I continue to stalk Rhiannon because she keeps rocking my face off!

What did you all get this week?
Link me up! :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fresh Batch (March 25th - 31st)

Exclusively titled for Xpresso Reads, Fresh Batch features the hottest releases of this upcoming week.

Flavor of the week:
Jill Hathaway
Release date: March 27th, 2012
by Balzer + Bray

Goodreads / Purchase 
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

Slide book trailer:

Jill Hathaway lives in the Des Moines area with her husband and young daughter. Having earned her BA in English Education from the University of Northern Iowa and her MA in Literature from Iowa State University, she teaches high school English and dual credit courses for Des Moines Area Community College.

SLIDE, her debut, will be released from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in 2012.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: Notes to Self by Avery Sawyer

Notes to Self
Avery Sawyer
Release date: November, 2011

Goodreads / Purchase
Two climbed up. Two fell down.

One woke up.

In the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury, Robin Saunders has to relearn who she is and find out what happened the night everything changed.

*A copy was provided by Avery Sawyer for review purposes*

After a brain injury, Robin is dealing with amnesia, having to learn her likes, dislikes, but most importantly: what really happened that night, the night she and her friend fell. A short book, but one dripping with emotions and filled with mystery.

From the very start, Robin is someone I understood. She took me in her head and made herself open so I could see her vulnerability, her worries and fears. She also has a great sense of humor that I adored. It's incredibly easy to get caught up in her story, making this a very quick read. However, it's not an easy one. Her best friend is in a coma for which her classmates blame her. In addition, she's unable to remember random details about her life, like how she likes her coffee, where her classes are, or how to shower - it's heartbreaking. The reactions around her are also really frustrating. These kids, they bully her, they mock her, they're endlessly cruel - it's incredibly sad but what's worse is it's realistic.

Avery takes the complex subject of brain damage and executes it extremely well. Robin's thoughts would wander, she would get confused, then we see her re-learn everything; figuring out how to become herself again. Flashbacks solidify this by showing us who Robin was before the accident, at the same time helping us understand how deep her friendship with Emily is. All the while, we're lead to the big mystery of how the fall happened exactly, and what Emily said that night that Robin keeps feeling is very important.

I didn't expect this book to be so profound, so packed with different emotions ranging from love to despair; I truly enjoyed it. Ultimately, Notes to Self tackles survivor's guilt: it's about finding oneself, finding the strength to move on after such a traumatizing accident, but also accepting that things happen out of our control. 

4 Hot Espressos

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Giveaway - Siege by Rhiannon Frater (US/Can)

Rhiannon Frater
Series: As the World Dies: A Zombie Trilogy, #3
Release date: April 24th, 2012
by Tor Books

Goodreads / Purchase
The zombie illness has shattered civilization. The survivors who have found tenuous safety in Texas defend their fort against the walking dead and living bandits.

Katie has made peace with the death of her wife and is pregnant and married to Travis, who has been elected Mayor. Jenni, her stepson, Jason; and Juan—Travis’s righthand man—are a happy family, though Jenni suffers from PTSD. Both women are deadly zombie killers. In Siege, the people of Ashley Oaks are stunned to discover that the vice president of the United States is alive and commanding the remnants of the US military. What’s left of the US government has plans for this group of determined survivors.

As The World Dies: A Zombie Trilogy:
Want to read my thoughts on the previous books?

Seriously, guys, if you have not heard me raving about this series you have definitely been living under a rock. As the World Dies by Rhiannon Frater is easily my favoritest series ever. It's about these two incredible women surviving the zombocalypse and really you simply HAVE to read it. If you're new to the series, get the first two, and enter the giveaway because once you start- that's it, you'll be hooked and DYING for this finale. It is really too epic for words! BIG thanks to Tor Books for the giveaway opportunity!

You can purchase The First Days HERE
You can purchase Fighting to Survive HERE
(You know you want to!)

Review: The List by Siobhan Vivian

The List
Siobhan Vivian
Release date: April 1st, 2012
by Push

Goodreads / Purchase
It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn’t matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, “pretty” and “ugly.” And it’s also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

*A copy was provided by Scholastic Canada for review purposes*

A light, quick read - The List follows eight girls who have been named ugliest or pretties on this "List" which has been posted around the school every year for decades. You think being a "prettiest" would be easy? Think again!

Although The List addresses several teen issues throughout the story, it ended up being a much fluffier read than I expected. With eight different points of view, we're taken into each of the four ugliest, as well as the four prettiest girls' lives spanning the week after being put on this List. Each girl has their own personal problems above now having to deal with being the center of attention. We've got an eating disorder, overprotective mother, outcast rebel, and of course plenty or romantic issues; all thoroughly interesting, some even deeply serious, but sadly most of these go unresolved leaving us with no idea of what's going to happen to these girls. I also kept wondering why the faculty had let this go on for so long, especially seeing the damage it does to the girls on it. I have a hard time believing that they simply let it be because it's a "tradition". Bullying is not taken lightly; parents would have spoken up years ago where I come from.

We've got eight lives to follow, which means a lot of POVs. I had to go back and check the List a few times to remind myself who they were, overall, though, I didn't find it was too much - having this list handy makes it easy to keep track. However, I've always been a fan of multiple perspectives. I found myself really liking the girls, too. They are a fun bunch, all with vastly different personalities that will either enamor or disgust you.

Without getting too profound, this novel is simply about the lives of these girls after they're hit with a target on their backs. Either prettiest or ugliest, this List doesn't favor anybody and consequences are dealt with. I wish it would have delved deeper into their lives, maybe have it span longer than a week, but all in all it's an entertaining read that I would be more inclined to recommend to the younger YA readers.

3 Hot Espressos

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan

Jenny Pox
J.L. Bryan
Series: The Paranormals, #1
Release date: July 22nd, 2010

Goodreads / Purchase
Eighteen-year-old Jenny Morton has a horrific secret: her touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague, the "Jenny pox." She lives by a single rule: Never touch anyone. A lifetime of avoiding any physical contact with others has made her isolated and painfully lonely in her small rural town.

Then she meets the one boy she can touch. Jenny feels herself falling for Seth...but if she's going to be with him, Jenny must learn to use the deadly pox inside her to confront his ruthless and manipulative girlfriend Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.
* * *

Not recommended for readers under eighteen.

When I first came upon this book months ago, I thought it was a paranormal romance based on the few reviews I had read. It's only recently that I was told it's actually more horror, comparable to Carrie, and aimed at 18+. This brought it right up my reading list because I love horror novels, Carrie was one of my favorite movies, and this premise screams at me (really!)! As promised, Jenny Pox is horrifically awesome with a deadly touch, a sweet romance, and a brilliantly wicked villain!

Jenny has never been able to touch anyone without causing them to break out in oozing boils, or at worst - die. Consequently, she has grown up without any friends, getting mocked for her "covered up" fashion and loner status. From the get-go, I wanted to take Jenny and hug her. She has such a sweet personality that, because of her touch, people never got to know. She also deals extremely well under her circumstances. It makes it easy to sympathize with her, besides rooting for her to kill everyone. What? For real!

A masterfully written villain, Ashleigh is quite the character. I loathed her; she is manipulative, she is malevolent, and she literally wants to rule the world. It's not hard to guess that she is the one making Jenny's life a living hell. As far as villains go, this one really gets under your skin. I thought her role was ingeniously crafted; you can easily imagine how, if something is not done soon, she can, and will, become unstoppable.

We do have quite the sweet romance woven into this horror novel as well. At first I wasn't too keen on Seth. I didn't understand why he was so open to cheating, or why he was with Ashleigh in the first place, however that was before I realized how much power she had over him. Afterwards, I warmed up to him and was positively rooting for him and Jenny to be together. They make an awesome team along with having great chemistry.

Comparing it to Stephen King's Carrie is not misleading. The plot is clearly different, but it has the same feel with plenty of deaths and gory descriptions. The ending: if you guess it, I will give you a million dollars! No kidding! In a way it's really different than what I was expecting, completely changing the bigger plot of the story, however it's so well thought of, taking me so much by surprise, that I think I loved it! I'm absolutely looking forward to reading the rest of this series and I definitely recommend it to fans of horror novels - although take note that in no way do I consider this a YA novel. Even though the characters are in their teens, there is sex, drugs, gore, violence, death - really, a whole lot of awesome! 

4 Hot Espressos
Jenny Pox is FREE at the moment for ebook!

Waiting on Wednesday (28)

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:
The Forsaken
Lisa M. Stasse
Release date: July 10th, 2012
by Simon & Schuster BFYR

A thought-provoking and exciting start to a riveting new dystopian trilogy.

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

You all know I love dystopians - and if you don't well.. now you do! *Hurray* But even if I didn't, a prison island? Epic, right?

What d'you pick this week?
Link me! :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Review: After the Snow by S.D. Crockett

After the Snow
S.D. Crockett
Release date: March 27th, 2012
by Feiwel & Friends

Goodreads / Purchase
Fifteen-year-old Willo was out hunting when the trucks came and took his family away. Left alone in the snow, Willo becomes determined to find and rescue his family, and he knows just who to talk with to learn where they are. He plans to head across the mountains and make Farmer Geraint tell him where his family has gone.

But on the way across the mountain, he finds Mary, a refugee from the city, whose father is lost and who is starving to death. The smart thing to do would be to leave her alone -- he doesn't have enough supplies for two or the time to take care of a girl -- but Willo just can't do it. However, with the world trapped in an ice age, the odds of them surviving on their own are not good. And even if he does manage to keep Mary safe, what about finding his family?
*A copy was provided by Raincoast Books for review purposes*

I started After The Snow with high hopes. Post-apocalyptic books often become favorites or mine, thus I was looking forward to a story happening after Global Warming turns our planet into Snowmageddon. Unfortunately, it took me completely off guard with the bizarre writing style, then failed to captivate me with its unusual and slow-moving plot.

Writing in slang/dialect can be done well, look at Blood Red Road for example, which I loved. However, it's a risk to take that will not always be taken well by all readers- which was the case for me and After The Snow. To give you an example: 

"The dog gonna tell me what to do. The dog gonna help me. The house look proper empty, don't it, dog?" -quote in ARC of After the Snow

I could not, for the life of me, imagine a 15 year old boy when I was reading this; I kept thinking of him as 5 or 6 which made it extremely hard for me to relate to him or get drawn by his narration. It also caused details about the world building to slip through my fingers, leaving me feeling misled.

I do prefer a high-action plot, but slower paces can also end up thoroughly fascinating. At first it had a lot of potential to become a truly enthralling story, regrettably I never understood where the story was leading up to, which, in the end, left me highly disappointed. The characters' intentions are never made clear, so I was constantly confused as to what the story actually was about. I was also thrown off by strange events and behaviors throughout the novel, like cannibalism, talking to a dog skull, wearing this dog skull, the dog talking back - really this dog disturbed me to no end. For these reasons and lack of explanations, the plot simply was not one I could easily swallow, nor understand.

The setting is the one part I actually enjoyed. The never-ending snow, the mountains and even the disturbing caves; it's all very well described with a lot of detailed scenery. This is what kept me going in the hopes that it would eventually tie off into a great, mysterious story.

I truly wanted to like this one, I do not enjoy writing negative reviews, at all, but sadly it has to be done. I can't exactly recommend this one to many, although you can always give it a try as it seems to be a book that would enchant a select few who get a kick out of unorthodox stories with peculiar writing styles. 

1 Cold Espresso

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: Fighting to Survive by Rhiannon Frater

Fighting to Survive
Rhiannon Frater
Series: As The World Dies: A Zombie Trilogy #2
Release date: November 8th, 2011
by Tor Books

Goodreads / Purchase
Picking up where The First Days ends, Fighting to Survive features the further zombie-killing, civilization-saving adventures of a pair of sexy, kick butt heroines and the men who love them. A hundred or so survivors of the zombie plague have found tenuous safety in the walled off center of a small Texas town. Now the hard work of survival begins—finding enough food; creating safe, weather-resistant shelter; establishing laws; and fighting off both the undead who want to eat them and the living bandits who want to rob and kill them.

Spoiler free even for those new to the series.

Zombies. They're freaking scary aren't they? They eat your flesh, they don't feel pain, and they never EVER stop. But what about humans? Humans who are dead set on surviving? Humans who have a screwed up sense of humanity in this dying world? And these humans, they may not eat your face, or pound themselves on a wall for days on end to get a taste of you, but they have intelligence, they have strength… and they have weapons. Zombies are NOT the only enemy anymore! I'm not even sure which I fear the most.

Fighting to Survive continues the story of our exceptional heroines Katie and Jenni. They're surviving at the fort, making a new life for themselves behind the safety of the walls. As in The First Days, Fighting to Survive gives us incredible character development. We get acquainted with a lot of the survivors; even if only briefly, these people could not be any more real. I know them, with all my heart I love them, and this makes everything especially terrifying. It's a zombocalypse, people die, and it matters! Even when it's the less important characters who we barely know - It matters! In this sequel we really get to see the day to day events of what it takes to survive and build a new community after disaster strikes. There are all kinds of people with different views, different opinions; It's a whole planet in a nutshell. But don't get too comfortable!

It's not all peace and quiet - that's not really Rhiannon's style now, is it? (how boring would that be!) - zombies are aplenty, in addition, we still have a vigilante to find, as well as new bandits to deal with. Tension is, again, high from start to finish. Even during the peaceful times, the underlying mood is constantly ominous with an always present gut feeling that a storm is brewing. I LOVE it!

A mastermind in suspense, Rhiannon knows how to build excruciating anticipation where you just want to read until your eyes bleed. It's such an extraordinary adrenaline rush I had to stop mid-ending to scream at her, let it out a little. The ending: foreboding, exciting, terrifying. Siege, the third and final book in this epic series, will undoubtedly be a thing of legend!

If you haven't started this series yet, you have no idea what you're missing. It's the most amazing story about survival that I have ever read, with scenes so haunting, characters so vivid, that I will be hearing their words and remembering their fears for a very, very long time.

5 Hot Espressos (x1000)

As The World Dies: A Zombie Trilogy:
Curious on my thoughts on The First Days?

Cover Reveal: Cataclysm

Karice Bolton
Series: The Watchers Trilogy, #3
Release date: April 2nd, 2012

Add it to your Goodreads
When it becomes obvious that the dark side will stop at nothing to control the mortal world, Ana is faced with a decision that could determine the fate of Fallen Angels everywhere. Determined to not use mortals as pawns, Ana does her best to prepare for the battles ahead while protecting the innocent souls around the world. As danger looms at every turn, she realizes that the ones she thought were prey might actually be the predators, and it will take an army like never before to stop the wickedness from spreading throughout the world.

The Watchers Trilogy:

I LOVE the covers of this whole series. The first two were redesigned not too long ago by Phatpuppy Art and they did a fantastic job! I read Awakening a while ago -  you can find my review here - and looking forward to finishing the series. 

What are your thoughts, lovelies?